Devotional of the week: A Test of Obedience (1 in Genesis 22 series)

By Aert de Gelder - collectie.boijmans.nl 

By Aert de Gelder – collectie.boijmans.nl

We embark on a new seven-week series in which we explore a famous story from Genesis. That the Lord would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son may boggle our minds, but we will see what was behind this request as we travel through the passage. We can be inspired and encouraged by Abraham’s obedience to God’s voice, knowing that the Lord of this patriarch is too the God who made us and formed us, and loves us as his own.

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:1–14 (NIV)

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). So said Jesus to his disciples, but this statement could equally apply to Abraham. The man known as the father of the nations was one who obeyed (Hebrews 11:8). Much was given to him, but much was also required.

When we consider the story in our text, however, we may wonder why the Lord would put his servant to the test. We’ll see hints later in our series, but for this week, consider how we respond when we feel tested. Are we like Abraham, who when God calls him, says, “Here I am”? He has learned how to discern the voice of God over time and thus presents himself before him, ready to listen and obey. His trusting relationship with God prepares him to follow his commands.

I don’t believe God will put us to the test in such an extreme way as he did with Abraham, but I’ve seen him allow hard things in life, which tests our faith. One day I asked a friend whose husband and daughter had died about her relationship with God. She said, “Who else can I turn to? He’s my rock.” What a humbling, faith-filled response born out of the crucible of pain and suffering.

May our faith be strengthened, that we may be found ready.

Prayer: Father God, shine your light on the Scriptures, that we might understand and love you more. Amen.

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