by Wesley Blackburn
So in today’s reading, we see that things are finally coming together for Abraham (formerly Abram; his name was changed by God to reflect the fact that he would be the father of many nations). After waiting for 25 years, at the tender young age of 100 years old, he and his wife Sarah (her name was changed as well) would be given a son, Isaac.
I can’t imagine the celebration and joy that had to overwhelm Abraham and Sarah. After all this time, all this waiting, God finally blessed them with the thing they desired the most: a son. It had to be incredible. The celebration that occurred had to be incredible as well. Maybe you’ve been there; you’ve been waiting for something amazing to happen, and then it finally does! It’s almost too wonderful to even fathom.
But then God has one final test for Abraham. God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to Him. I can’t imagine what would go through my head at this moment, and I’m not even a parent.
Unknowingly to Abraham, God wants to test Abraham and see if he’s really willing to give up the thing he loves the most, his son. But Abraham really does believe that this is what God is calling him to do. So, Abraham goes through the steps. He loads up for the trip. He gets some wood to burn. He gets the stuff he needs to start a fire. He even loads up a knife that he knows will eventually be used to kill his own son.
Not one of these acts goes unnoticed by God. And at the last moment, God stops Abraham from killing his son, seeing that Abraham really was genuine in his trust in his Heavenly Father. Later on in the Bible, the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews would comment on Abraham’s incredible faith, saying that “by faith, Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received 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.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
In our lives, we face some similar tests of faith. Not that I can really relate to being asked to give up an only son, but I have a little bit of a sense of what that must have felt like. Several years ago, I was working as a volunteer worship leader at my home church (Madison Christian Church) in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, when I felt God tugging at my heart to start working with a church in the southern suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. I’d been burned working at a church before, and even my time at my home church hadn’t always been full of all happy, easy situations. But in Columbus, I felt secure. I felt safe. I knew people and had some idea of what to expect. To me, security and safety are two of the things I love the most. At Dayton, I’d be hopping into something entirely new and different. It was very scary to me.
But God wanted me to sacrifice my sense of safety and security and trust Him. I did it, and amazingly enough, my experience at Southwest Church in Springboro, Ohio was exactly what I needed. It helped me to see that maybe I really can do this ministry thing. It opened up doors for me to be at Suncrest. And then, when I was approached about being part of our brand new Highland Campus launch (including the scary notion of fundraising some money for the first two or so years), it made trusting God a little bit easier, because I’d seen how incredibly He had provided in the past.
Throughout our lives, we’re going to face situations where God is asking us to turn on all that we thought was true and simply to trust Him, even when it doesn’t make sense. That’s exactly what Abraham did, and God rewarded him incredibly for that. God will do the same for us, if we will only trust Him to do as He has promised, just like Abraham.