God said to Abraham, "I will bless her, (his wife Sarah), and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."
Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you
will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an
everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year."
I have often wondered why God tests us if He knows already how we will behave and the outcome of our behaviour. Is it to make us stronger perhaps? To make us trust Him more?
In the passage above, God promises Abraham that through his son Isaac there will be many descendants.
Let's imagine God spoke to you and He promises that through your offspring good things will happen in future. You are happy and you trust the Lord your God. And then ... ... ...
Some time later God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. "Take your son," God said, "your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will show you." So Abraham got up early the next morning, saddled his donkey, and took along two of his servants and his son Isaac. He split wood for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had designated. (Genesis 22:1 onwards)
If this story happened today the police and social services
would soon be knocking at Abraham's door. Poor Isaac would never recover from the traumatic
experience. And Sarah would probably divorce Abraham.
Why would God go to such dramatic lengths to test Abraham's love and obedience? If God is all-knowing, surely He would know that Abraham loved Him and would obey. Did God not think of the traumatic effect this episode would have on Isaac?
But let us look beyond the human emotions which we often use as a measuring yardstick when we consider earthly things. Here, God is not just testing Abraham for the sake of testing him. He is also strengthening his faith in God.
We all believe we have faith in God. But that faith is really only truly tested when we go through a bad time in our lives and we learn that we are not alone. God is with us. Protecting us as He has promised.
Without experiencing the bad times, and without experiencing God's hand in helping us through these bad times; then our faith is only just that! A word ... a blind belief ... which we don't even know why we believe it, or whether we could truly maintain it when things go wrong.
You see ... our bad times are an opportunity for us to experience God's closeness to us. To experience His love and protection. Our bad times are not just a test for the sake of a test.
Of course, God knows how we will react to the "test" as we perceive it. Yet He let's us experience it in order to strengthen our faith and to experience His love and protection.
Remember that God had already promised Abraham that through Isaac there would be many descendants. This would not have happened if Isaac had been killed. So Abraham had a tough decisions to make. Either trust God's earlier promise or not.
Note that Abraham trusted God. On the way up the mountain with Isaac he said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy
go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Genesis 22:5)
He said we will come back to you. So in his heart he knew that God would not let him go through with sacrificing Isaac as a burnt offering.
As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?"
Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is
the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. (Genesis 22:6 onwards)
Abraham had faith indeed. He knew he was being tested; yet he held on tight to God's earlier promise that through Isaac there will be many descendants.
When I go through difficult times, (often), I ask the Lord, "Why are you testing me so if you already know how I would react?"
Perhaps instead I should thank God for reminding me that in all of the difficult times I have been through in life He was always there beside me. Now, looking back, I am sure of it. Too many experiences for me to mention or tell you about. But on each one I am certain He helped me through them.
Now read this from St Paul's letter to the Corinthians. “Every test that you have
experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His
promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain
firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to
endure it, and so provide you with a way out”. (1 Corinthians Chapter 10 Verse
Let’s face it – God is not in the business of losing His followers. Those devoted to Him. It does not further His cause one bit if His own followers are so tested by the world’s evils that they loose their Faith in Him. This is contrary to His love for us. He will not allow us to just perish.
Also, let us remember that although God spared Isaac, He did offer His only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for us. A sacrifice which Jesus accepted willingly to redeem us from our sins.