What happens when God is testing us? God asked Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son, his own flesh and blood. What kind of God would ask (even if it's just a test) a person to kill his own son?!
Read the full story of God testing Abraham here (Genesis Chapter 22).
God tests His people sometimes. This is not to make us fail and feel bad, but to transform our life experiences, to open our eyes to ourselves, our need for God and the power of God.
“Go up to the land of Moriah, take your beloved son and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:2)
What a cruel thing God has asked Abraham to do! God surely knew the outcome of the event. What's the point of the test? Why would God want Abraham to go through such horrible experience? For any parent this would be the most impossible thing to do.
However, by now Abraham had learned to recognize the voice of God and obey, and to trust Him even when he couldn’t understand God's plan. He knew that God would be faithful to His promises about this boy.
So Abraham cut wood for the sacrifice and put it on his son's shoulders to carry up to the mountain for the sacrifice.
“Where is the lamb?”
Imagine the tension! Abraham's son asked,
"Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" (22:7)
Abraham answered with confidence,
"God Himself will provide a lamb for the sacrifice." (22:8)
When they arrived, Abraham built an altar, placed the wood on it, bound his son and placed him on top of the wood. The son submitted to his father just as Abraham himself was obedient to God.
Abraham then lifted up his knife!
If the Lord asks me to do something very unusual or costly, do I know and trust God enough to obey with confidence?
At this very moment, the angel of the Lord called Abraham to stop, “Now I know that you fear God, because you did not withhold your son.”
Abraham saw a ram caught by the horns in the bush.
He took this ram and used it as a substitute for his son on the altar. God really provided!
This event had a lot of significance not only for Abraham, but for all of God's people.
What was Abraham's true blessing?
God's command was the ultimate test: What is Abraham's true blessing and heritage? Was it his son? Or was it God Himself?
The event placed Abraham's heart on God rather than on his son as his true source of hope and salvation. What does your heart's ultimate desire rest upon today? God's blessings or God Himself? Why is this distinction important?
What allowed Abraham to trust God with such confidence?
How did Abraham know God would provide? Do you think he really believed in it when he said it?
Abraham had already been 'harshly' tested while he waited for a son with Sarah. This was the blessing that defined who he was. And he had no time for another son. But Abraham obeyed, though one can only imagine his struggles! He trusted that the Lord who gave him his son through a miracle, would also be able to keep His promise.
God will provide the right answer at the right time. The problem is our faith.
Abraham called this mountain ‘the Lord will provide’. The ‘burnt offering’ is the sacrifice that signifies a total surrender to God. It is also a symbol of atonement for the sin of mankind (see video below). The Lord provided a ram for this as a substitute. Only God can provide, and He always does at the right time.
God provided a substitute...
What could be in the son's mind as he noticed there was no lamb while he was being put on the altar? This son would become the blessing of all nations because a ram was sacrificed in his place. God provided the ram. Abraham didn't need to. Why do you think this unique experience was so important for his relationship with God?
Moriah: a sign of a bigger sacrifice in the future
The location of this historical event was Moriah, a place we know today as Jerusalem! Each part of this incident is a sign pointing to God's faithfulness in keeping His promises in the future, when God would provide a lamb as an everlasting substitute for the world. God would reveal this plan to many future Prophets later. You will read more about this promise in the later chapters.
Your Response: Listen to God and Pray...
1. What have you learned about sacrifice and why it is so important?
2. What does God reveal about Himself and His relationship with His people in this reading?
3. Is God speaking to you through this story? How would you respond to God?
4. Who can you share this story with?