Bible Reading: Genesis 22:1-19
“After all these things God tested Abraham” [Genesis 22:1]
Isaac was now a young man, and Abraham would probably have been at least 115 to 120 years old. The word ‘lad’ [verse 5] can be translated from Hebrew as a ‘young man’. The words “After all these things” summarises everything that has happened in Abraham’s life until this moment. It has been a life with some amazing highs including God’s covenant with him, his financial integrity, defeating kings to rescue Lot, intercession for Lot, and the birth of Isaac. There have also been some low times, such as the move to Egypt, using Hagar to produce a child, and lying to Abimelech. After all these things – this amazing life, God tests the elderly Abraham.
God’s testing is not limited to young people, but can come at any time in a person’s life. Because a person has become spiritually mature does not mean that there will be no tests. It might even be that the more spiritually mature a person is, the more likely it is that there will be tests of faith and obedience.
God knows everything so this test could not possibly have been for His own sake, because He knew in advance how Abraham would respond. It was also not to trip Abraham and watch him fall because that would be contrary to God’s nature. This test was primarily for Abraham’s sake.
There perhaps are two reasons why God tested Abraham. Firstly, to keep him focused. It is possible that Abraham was so satisfied knowing that God had fulfilled His promise and he enjoyed Isaac so much that he forgot that the real goal was not Isaac but the Lord Himself. I have discovered that when God has blessed us, it is possible to so enjoy His blessing that we lose our focus on His purpose. Sometimes the blessing becomes more important to us than God Himself.
Secondly, God tested Abraham in order to deepen his capacity to obey God and to develop his faith so that it became even stronger. Tests and trials strengthen our faith. Job testified to this when he said, “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” [Job 23:10]. James confirms this when writing about the various trials that test our faith by saying that these produce patience that leads to maturity so that we will lack nothing [James 1:2-4]. At whatever stage we are at in our walk with God, there is still room for growth.
James makes it clear that our faith will be tested. He says, “when” and not “if” [see James 1:2]. What should our response be when our faith is tested?
Why do you think that God tested Abraham and why do you think that the test God required of Abraham was to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering?