15 The Lord’s angel called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “‘I solemnly swear by my own name,’ decrees the Lord, ‘that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be as countless as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the strongholds of their enemies. 18 Because you have obeyed me, all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants.’”
Genesis 22:15-18 NET (New English Translation)
What is it that you most value in life? Is it a relationship, a job, or a family that you hold dear? Followers of Jesus understand that the things that we have and the things that we have been given are all gifts from the One who saved us, the Lord. Indeed God had blessed us with many things; whether that thing would be good health, a good job, a good place to sleep, or even a wonderful relationship. What would happen however, if God decided to take away that thing that He had given to you, would you love Him still? Is our love for the Lord conditional? This was the question that God posed to Abraham as He tested him in Genesis 22.
Previously in Genesis 21, the Lord fulfilled His promise to Abraham, giving to him his son Isaac in his old age. I can imagine that the old man was very pleased and loved his son with all his heart; but did he love Isaac more than God now? That was what God intended to find out. The Lord often tests the hearts of the faithful to see where their heart is grounded upon, whether it was set on Him or some kind of gift that He had given.
In Abraham’s test, God instructed him to take his beloved son Isaac to a mountain of the Lord’s choosing and sacrifice his son as a burnt offering to Him. This command, I am sure, brought great distress to the old man’s heart. “How can God make such a command?” was probably what Abraham was thinking, nevertheless, he did as the Lord commanded. He took with him Isaac and two of his servants to the mountain that God selected. Then he and his son went up the mountain with Isaac carrying the firewood and Abraham carrying the fire and the knife. On the way to the top of the mountain Isaac asked where the sacrificial animal was, and Abraham answered that it would be the Lord who would provide the lamb.
Was Abraham really going to obey the command of God and sacrifice his son? I believe he was and the reason I say this is because of Abraham’s intimate knowledge of the nature of God. He knew that the Lord was One who would never break His promises and since Isaac was the son of the promise that God had given to him, Abraham knew God would not let harm come upon Isaac, even if he was to be killed. This also showed that Abraham also believed that nothing was impossible for God. For if He was able to bring forth life from bodies that were considered too old to produce life, then it was possible for God to even bring forth life from one who was dead. When God saw the faith of Abraham, He called out to him to stop what he was doing and put in the place of Isaac a ram for the burnt offering and pronounced blessing on him.
Abraham’s heart was tested and it was shown that his love was for God and for Him alone. What will happen when God tests us? Where will our hearts be in relation to our Lord when He decides to take away the things that we hold dear? Will we be angry at Him and turn away from God? Or will we trust in God that He knows what He is doing and that He has reason for taking away the gift. The Lord needs to be One whom we must value above all things. Jobs fail, relationships are broken, health diminishes, and homes fall; but the Lord will always be there for us.