Message: God’s promise to Abraham was to make nations from him. He had already waited a long period of time, tried manipulating things his own way and then 14 long years later he finally received the son he was promised. Now his boy is older and a relationship is established. He is old enough to talk and comprehend well enough that he questions his father when they are going up the mountain to make a sacrifice…without an animal for that sacrifice. God is requiring him to sacrifice his son which would be hard enough for him to wrestle with himself, but he actually got as far as to tie up his son and place him on the altar. No doubt Isaac picked up what was going on and was probably vocally and physically fearful. I feel like the guilt of experiencing his son’s feelings of betrayal would be harder to handle than even his own feelings of loss. When he finally picks up the knife the angel called out to stop him. In this story what I really got out of this is that God will promise us things, but we will also be tested in the very thing he promised. The test won’t be easy because God needs us to know we will be trustworthy for the promise he gives us so that we don’t abuse it. I have heard many people preach this story with the idea that Abraham knew all along that God would provide a sacrifice other than Isaac. I believe he probably hoped that but the test wouldn’t have been a real test if he wasn’t 100% willing to move forward. The promise God made Abraham was extraordinary so the sacrificial test was equally extraordinary.
Command: Be willing to sacrifice back to God any gift or any promise that God gives us.
Promise: God is faithful so if we trust him with the promise we can trust him in the testing too.
Warning: If Abraham had held back during his time of testing we would not be reading about his entire lineage right now. Who knows if we would even exist?! Our own promises from God hang in the balance if we aren’t willing to be put to the test.
Application: It occurred to me as I read this that God will test us the hardest in the very things he has promised us. None of us are ready for the promises God has for us until we are tested and proven. The harder we hold tight to them by trying to control the outcome ourselves, the more we resist the very promise God wants to give us. I have seen myself stubbornly fight against God’s hand because circumstances seemingly threaten the very promise he has given me and I feel like it’s my responsibility to preserve it. There are areas of my life I have literally had to tell God that I needed his help in cooperating with his plan so that I don’t stifle it with my own control. If it feels like it’s being pulled from under me, this is the time I need to tell God I surrender it. Even if that means I am to let go of dreams and desires that I believe to my core that God has given me so that he has the opportunity to resurrect them. I read the Joanna Gaines story about her dream to start a cute little antique shop. It was thriving but her children were young and her husband needed her help with his business. She knew God was telling her to shut it down. After she shut it down and was locking the door for the last time God spoke to her again and told her to watch what he would do with that sacrifice. A few years later Magnolia was born and now people travel to Waco, Texas to visit the town that was dreamed up by Joanna Gaines. I cried as I read about her trust and obedience to God with her dream. This sacrifice story is very different from Abraham’s but it was her promise. We weren’t called to father nations like Abraham was, but we were called to all kinds of other things and each of us has a different promise.