Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son – the son of promise – the dear child that Abraham and Sarah had waited a century to have. It was this very son, Isaac, whom Abraham was to take to the mountaintop and sacrifice – to kill.
As Abraham and Isaac approached the fateful place, Isaac looked around, saw the fire and wood, but no animal for the offering. “…Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Isaac asked his father.
“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide…’” And he did. We know this story well. As Abraham prepared to offer his son, the Lord stopped him, and provided a ram to take Isaac’s spot. God provided.
The Lord tested Abraham (verse 1). A test from God is designed to move you forward in faith. The purpose of Satan’s temptations is to trip you up so that you might fall backwards. This was a test. And Abraham passed. He was blessed accordingly (verses 15-18). Why the blessing? Because Abraham obeyed God (verse 18).
This is the nature of covenantal living. If you obey God and the conditions of his covenant, God promises blessings (because he graciously sets the terms of the covenant… not because he has to). If you disobey, he promises curses. What either of those may look like is not so clear. That God promises to work this way is very clear.
I wonder what blessings God desires to pour out upon us for our obedience today…and for tomorrow. Deeper faith maybe? More influence for the Kingdom perhaps? Greater responsibility? God specifically said that Abraham’s descendents would be blessed through his faithfulness. Might our obedience now impact our children and our children’s children after them (for a thousand generations)? I believe the answer is yes to all of those questions.
If God chooses to bless us in material ways, that’s fine. (And we really ought to point out that he already has and then some.) But shouldn’t the blessings we desire be things like, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven”? And shouldn’t the provisions that we hope God will bestow upon us be along the lines of an ever-increasing knowledge of him (John 17:3), a growing conformity to him, an ever-expanding influence for his Kingdom, a radical extension of his Kingdom into every sphere of life – that everyone in our “territory” would bow before our King in willing and joyful submission?
Abraham was obedient and God blessed him. Will you be obedient too? How? How is God calling you to faithfully follow him today? Abraham was asked to sacrifice the whole world to him – his beloved son. What form of sacrificial living is God calling you to? Will you obey?
Grace and Truth,