The Challenge to Faith

You can almost sense the apprehension as it steals across Abraham’s face, the anguish as it presses upon his heart, as word after word comes from the mouth of God. “Take thy son … Isaac … whom thou lovest … the land of Moriah …. ” What is it that God wants with Isaac? What can He be asking? “Offer him there for a burnt offering!!!” Each word, coming as a heavy blow of the hammer on the anvil, crushes the heart of Abraham further and further. The “when,” “where” and “what” are all carefully given. The only element missing is the “why.”

It is Abraham and not Lot who is tested. It is Isaac and not Ishmael who is demanded for the altar. It is the aged patriarch, near the end of his days, and not the youthful exuberant Abraham who is called upon to face the test. It is frequently the choicest of saints who pass through deep waters. It is at times the most prized object of a parent’s love or a spouse’s heart, the tenderest part of their entire world which is crushed. It is to the mature saint that God can entrust the fiercest trials. We should never sit in judgment on those who are passing through trial. The likelihood is that they are far more spiritual than we; that their lives are more pleasing to God than ours.

God began the process of preparing Abraham for this years before when Abraham learned the great lesson that God can bring life out of death. Listen to the words of Romans 4:19-20, “And being not weak in faith he considered not his own body now DEAD and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith.”

God was preparing Abraham for this final trial from the moment of conversion. His promise concerning Isaac was given to a man whose body was “dead.” Abraham learned through this that God can bring life out of death. This was the crucial lesson which would prepare him for offering Isaac upon the altar. The preparation for the trial also included six previous surrenders: his country, kindred, father’s house, the land to Lot, the goods to the king of Sodom, and, finally, Ishmael. The seventh and most severe trial is kept for the last. But God also fortified him for the trial by giving clear and distinct promises relative to Isaac.