Abraham’s Faith is Put to the Ultimate Test

Genesis 22:10-11 – Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Genesis 21 ends with the serene portrait that Abraham’s life has finally all come together under God’s perfect blessing. Despite nearly losing his wife twice, Abraham still has Sarah. Despite waiting for 25 years, Abraham finally has Isaac. After residing near the Philistine king Abimelech for some time, the land he had been using at the kindness of the king was given to him complete with a well to provide fresh water for his large household. The serene scene ends with Abraham planting a tree as a sign of rest, as it appears the drama and uncertainty of his life has come to an end as he settles down to enjoy his days with his son and wife.

However, Genesis 22 is then a brilliant literary contrast to the portrait at the end of Genesis 21. Sometime later, when Isaac was likely a young man, Moses tells us that God tested Abraham. This statement clues us in that God intends not to lead Abraham into sin, but rather prove Abraham’s faith as our old English word for “test” means. Perhaps the point of this test was not for God to see if Abraham had faith, but rather for Abraham to demonstrate the depth of his faith in front of his son Isaac so that he too would learn to walk in faith as his father had.

Echoing God’s initial call to Abraham in Genesis 12, God commanded Abraham to “go” and sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. This would have required that Abraham slaughter his son, dismember him, and burn his body. Such a taking of a child’s life was directly forbidden later by God (Leviticus 18:21, 20:2). Obediently, Abraham awoke early the next morning without any noticeable hesitation and set out on the roughly 50-mile trek with his son to do as the Lord commanded.

Just before he murdered his son with the knife in the air above him, the angel of the Lord (again likely Jesus Christ pre-incarnate) called to Abraham from Heaven commanding him not to harm his son. God then provided a ram to be sacrificed. The angel of the Lord again spoke from Heaven reiterating God’s covenant promises to give Abraham blessing, descendants, land, and blessing to all nations of the earth. Of course, these promises would later be fulfilled when the Father would have His long-awaited, only beloved Son put to death in our place for our sins.

For those who are parents, or want to be parents, could you imagine having the depth of faith that Abraham did, the willingness to sacrifice your own son you had waited 25 years for? What comes to mind as you emotionally consider being in the place of Abraham or Isaac?

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