Devotional of the week: Hebrews 11:13–19 (5 in series)

Our biggest test


By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” (Hebrews 11:13–19)


A cross from Canterbury Cathedral, marking the spot where Thomas Becket was murdered. Makes me wonder what sort of implement Abraham held over Isaac. His son was saved, but the Father God’s was not.


Our passage in Hebrews doesn’t gloss over the challenges that the heroes of the faith endured. One of the most moving is Abraham’s test in relinquishing his firstborn son, Isaac. Here God seems to be asking the impossible of Abraham – to sacrifice what Abraham thought fulfilled God’s promises. Abraham couldn’t conceive of how God would rectify matters, but went ahead in building the altar and arranging the wood, and even in binding up Isaac. What fear father and son must have felt when Abraham drew back his knife in obedience.

But God didn’t make Abraham follow through, promising instead that Abraham would have as many descendents as the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore. By faith Abraham passed God’s test, having followed God for many years. He had learned how to obey God’s instructions, even when he didn’t understand why or how God would make things right.

What about us? Have we learned how to discern God’s voice that we might obey with a willing heart, like Abraham did? What’s our greatest point of need? We might be praying for a wayward child. We might long to marry or have children or grandchildren. We might yearn for some strong and healthy friendships. We might be hoping for a home that will bring peace and refreshment to our family and visitors. We might be seeking paid employment that employs our passions and our gifts.

In all these things God wants to meet our needs, “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). He might test us to hone our listening skills, that we may hear his voice more clearly. But he will never fail us – he who sacrificed his only son that we might live.


Father God, you didn’t stop your son being slain on the altar, a worthy sacrifice for our sins. Thank you.

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