Day 9Genesis 22:1-19 ... Final Exam

Abraham is renowned for his faith, but that faith didn’t come easily.  Although God had shown Abraham his overall plan for the future in spectacular fashion, the working out of that plan was to include many bumps and pitfalls.

God had told Abraham to claim the land of Canaan, but the land he found there was so drought-stricken and its people so famished that he fled with his family to Egypt.  There, he failed a test of faith by lying about his wife to save his own skin (chapter 12).

God had also promised Abraham many descendants, and that also led to a crisis of faith.  Nothing gave Abraham more delight than his dreams of a tent filled with the sounds of children-his children-at play.  But was that promise a cruel joke God had dangled before him?  At the age of eighty-five, Abraham gave up on his wife and slept with a female servant.  At least he would have once child he could call his own.  At ninety-nine, when he heard God reconfirm the original promise, Abraham laughed in his face.  Sarah pregnant at ninety?

What kind of game was God playing?  Whatever did he want?  God wanted faith, the Bible says, which means complete trust against all odds, and Abraham finally learned that lesson.  As it happened, God kept his promise and a son was born to Abraham and Sarah.  They never lived to see tens filled with happy children, nor their descendants multiply like the stars in the sky.  But they had one beloved son, whom they named Isaac, or “laughter,” as if to remind them of the very absurdity, the miracle, of childbirth at their ages.

Then God asked one thing more, the test of faith recorded in this chapter, a trial so severe that it made all the others seem like kindergarten games.  The Bible makes clear that God never intended to let Abraham go through with his plan of child sacrifice.  (Years later, when the Israelites actually committed infant sacrifice, God would call it “something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind,” Jeremiah 19.)  All along, God had provided another sacrifice, a ram caught by its horns in a thicket.  But Abraham could not know these things as he climbed the steep mountain with his only son.  He had to follow God’s orders in the dark.

Too many times Abraham had doubted God.  This time he would obey no matter what.  The angel of the Lord tells clearly what Abraham’s decision meant to God.  It had taken more than a hundred years, but Abraham finally learned to trust.  Ever since, he’s been known as a man of faith.

Point to Ponder: What is the hardest "test of faith" you have ever been through?