What I've Learned from Abraham's Times of Testing

4 Things Abraham Teaches Us About Times of Testing

Have any of you ever noticed in scripture that sometimes God tests His followers? It actually happens more often in scripture than I have realized. Moses was tested, the followers of Jesus were tested, and Abraham was tested.

Genesis 22 is the account of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and this has been, for me, the most profound account of God testing a follower I have come across. Now Isaac was a child born of God’s promise and power, even though his birth seemed impossible due to Abraham and Sarah’s old age. Isaac wasn’t Abraham’s only son, but was the only promised son, of Abraham, who God would confirm His covenant with, as well as his descendants.

And Genesis 22 begins with God testing Abraham.

A test is to evaluate your knowledge of something. I used to be a swim instructor and then a swim supervisor, and I would be the one to conduct tests. You had to pass the test to get to the next level of swim class, or in other words, to get to the next area of growth or expertise.

Tests are a good thing, but honestly, I tend to view it as something that reveals all the ways I fail to exceed expectation.

And I have used testing in the past to quit what is before me because of all of the things I have done wrong. (You can read all about the things I have quit in my first post for Candidly Christian a couple years ago). I can tell you story after story of the things I have walked away from, because of the mistakes I have made and the ways I haven’t exceeded expectations.

But when God tests us, it is not a simple quiz, but a test of our faith. The test isn’t to see if we will stumble and fall, but to confirm the depth of our faith, and genuineness of our commitment to Him.

Do we really believe what we say we believe? And when a test comes, will we stand firm in the truth that His word never fails?

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So, God calls to Abraham, and he immediately says “here I am”. He is ready to hear what God has to say. Now here is the test… “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.”

Now this seems to go against God’s promise, because right now Isaac doesn’t have any descendants. And not only that but maybe even His character, because years later God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites “I myself will set my face against those who sacrifice their children, and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name.”

Wait… what?!?

And I have to wonder, would we still walk in faith when obedience seems to go against His promise and His character? And these are questions I have actually had to ask myself. Would we sacrifice what we love most, what we believe to be a gift from Him, if He asked us to?

Abraham does. And he demonstrates faith the entire journey to Moriah, even telling his servants that “they” will both return after they worship.

And then, as him and Isaac are walking together, Isaac notices they have everything they need for a sacrifice, except the sacrifice itself. And Abraham again doesn’t’ falter, as he replies “God, Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice.”

And here is what happens next. Abraham lays his sacrifice on the altar. And I can’t even imagine how hard these moments are. Because true sacrifice is hard, and if it is not hard it is not sacrifice, and it is also not sacrifice if your offering is still in your hands and not on the altar.

And Abraham grabs the knife to slay his son, and an angel of the Lord shows us and stops him. The test was over, the promise was intact.

And then Abraham looks up and sees the sacrifice. But it wasn’t a lamb. It was a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. And for so long I wondered why it was a ram and not a lamb. That was until I learned what a ram was. An adult male uncastrated lamb. The strongest of its kind, and the one that would protect its flock. It was a reflection of another promised Son that would come.

God provided the ram to die in Isaac’s place, just as Christ was the sacrifice to die in our place.

7 Things Abraham Teaches Us About Times of Testing

4 Things Abraham Teaches Us About Times of Testing

So, what are four things we can learn from Abraham about times of testing?

  1. God’s promise will always stand firm through every test we will endure.
  2. Testing isn’t about revealing our failure, but about growing our faith and developing our character.
  3. Through testing we deepen our commitment to obey God, and also learn about God’s ability to provide. We can confidently persevere anything because we know who our God is.
  4. And when the test is over, He be sure that He won’t give us what we expect, but more than we can ever ask or imagine, because that is who He is.

Join The Conversation

We would love to hear from you. Let us know about a time God tested you, or how you handle tests that come your way in the comments below.

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