Abraham Tested and Refined
Abraham Tested and Refined
At 75, Abe enrolled in the “School of Faith.” Now at 100, an still having soul-stretching experiences. We are never too. When we stop learning, we stop growing; we stop living.
Genesis 22 records the Divine commentary on this. It is a beautiful picture of Calvary; but main lesson is obedient faith that overcomes trials. It’s how to face and handle the tests of life to the glory of God.
Consider five simple instructions.
Expect tests from God (Gen. 22:1–2) or we will never know where we are spiritually. Abraham had his share of tests right from the beginning.
A. First was the “family test,” when he had to leave his loved ones and step out by faith to go to a new land (11:27–12:5).
B. This was followed by the “famine test,” which Abraham failed because he doubted God and went down to Egypt for help (12:10–13:4).
C. Once back in the land, Abraham passed the “fellowship test” when he gave Lot first choice in using the pastureland (13:5–18).
D. He also passed the “fight test” when he defeated the kings (14:1–16)
E. the “fortune test” when he said no to Sodom’s wealth (14:17–24).
F. But he failed the “fatherhood test” when Sarah got impatient with God and suggested that Abraham have a child by Hagar (Gen. 16).
G. When the time came to send Ishmael away, Abraham passed the “farewell test” even though it broke his heart (21:14–21).
Not every experience is a test from God. Distinguish between trials/temptations.
1. Temptations come from our desires within us (James 1:12–16) Temptations are used by the devil to bring out the worst. Temptations seem logical while trials seem very unreasonable. All believers face similar temptations to sin (1 Cor. 10:13),
2. Trials come from the Lord who has a special purpose to , used by the Holy Spirit to bring out the best in us (1:1–6). Very illogical. Not all believers experience the same trials of faith. --tailor-eg Lot never tested like Abe
Focus on promises, not explanations (Gen. 22:3–5)
Faith isn’t tested until God asks the unbearable, etc. Joseph, Moses, David, or Jesus: We live by promises, not by explanations.
Consider how unreasonable God’s request was.
1. Isaac the only son, and the future of the covenant
2. Isaac was a miracle child, a gift in response to their faith.
3. Abraham and Sarah loved Isaac and built their whole future around him.
Seemed like it was all wrong!
Our first response is usually, “Why, Lord?” or, “Why me?” We want explanations. Of course, we know that God has reasons for sending tests—
1. perhaps to purify our faith (1 Peter 1:6–9),
2. or perfect our character (James 1:1–4),
3. or even to protect us from sin (2 Cor. 12:7–10)—
But hard to see how they apply to us, but asking explanations suggests God goofed.
Abraham just obeyed by faith, figuring God could raise dead (Heb. 11:17–19). Abraham believed
a. when he did not know where (Heb. 11:8),
b. when he did not know when (11:9–10, 13–16),
c. when he did not know how (11:11–12),
d. and when he did not know why (11:17–19).
Faith does not demand explanations; faith rests on promises.
Depend on God’s provision (Gen. 22:6–14)
Two statements reveal the emphasis of this passage: “God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:8); and “Jehovah-jireh” (22:14), which means, “The Lord will see to it.”
On what could Abraham depend?
1. Not on his feelings, nor on other people.
2. But on the promise and provision of the Lord.
a. He experienced the provision of the resurrection (Rom. 4:19–21), so God could raise Isaac. (Apparently no resurrections yet, so was exercising great faith. According to Ephesians 1:19–20 and 3:20–21, we have Christ’s resurrection. We can know “the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10) in trials of life. When it’s hopeless, ask not “Why, but “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). Then remind yourself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13, NKJV).
b. And God did provide, a ram, just what was needed (Gen. 22:13).
Abraham discovered a new name for God—“Jehovah-jireh”—which can be translated “The Lord will see to it” or “The Lord will be seen.” The statement “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen” helps us understand some truths about the provision of the Lord.
* Where does the Lord provide our needs? In the place of His assignment. Abraham was at the right place, so God could meet his needs. We have no right to expect the provision of God if we are not in the will of God.
* When does God meet our needs? Just when we have the need and not a minute before. When you bring your requests to the throne of grace, God answers with mercy and grace “in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). God seems to wait to last minute, but that’s only from human point of view. God is never late.
* How does God provide for us? In ways that are usually quite natural. God did not send an angel with a sacrifice; He simply allowed a ram to get caught. It was in place at the right time, God was working w/ the ram that day.
* To whom does God give His provision? To those who trust Him and obey His instructions.
* Why does God provide our every need? For the great glory of His name! “Hallowed be Thy name” (Matt. 6:9–13), and it governs all the other requests. God was glorified on Mount Moriah because Abraham and Isaac did God’s will.
Seek to glorify Christ
In times of testing, it is easy to think only about self; instead, focus on glory to Christ. Stead of “How can I get out of this?” ask “What can I get out of this that will honor the Lord?”
If ever two suffering people revealed Jesus Christ, it was Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. Their experience is a picture of the Father and the Son and the cross and is one of the most beautiful types of Christ found anywhere in the Old Testament. Jesus said to the Jews, “Your father, Abraham, rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).
a. In Isaac’s miraculous birth, Abraham saw the day of Christ’s birth;
b. and in Isaac’s marriage (Gen. 24), he saw the day of Christ’s coming for His bride. c. on Mount Moriah, he saw Christ’s death and resurrection. Several truths about the atonement are seen in this event.
1. The Father and Son acted together. The touching phrase “they went both of them together” is found twice in the narrative (22:6, 8). Father and the Son love each other. Abraham did not withhold his son (Gen. 22:16), and the Father did not spare His Son but “delivered Him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32).
2. The Son had to die. Abraham carried a knife and a torch, instruments of death. But Isaac only a type so a substitute stood in
3. The Son bore the burden of sin. It is interesting that the wood is mentioned five times in the narrative and that Isaac did not start carrying the wood until he arrived at Mount Moriah. Abraham took the wood and “laid it upon Isaac his son” (Gen. 22:6), and “the Lord hath laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6.
4. The Son was raised from the dead, figuratively” (Heb. 11:19, NKJV)
5. He’s coming for His bride
Abraham returned to the two servants (Gen. 22:19), but nothing is said about Isaac, not mentioned again until meeting bride (24:62). We’re reminded that the next event on God’s calendar is the return for the bride, the church.
All this for him and us came about cus Abe sought in trials to draw closer to God. The greatest thing that can happen in trials is to become more like Christ. Calvary is not only the place Jesus died, but the place He sanctified suffering and, by His resurrection, transformed suffering into glory.
Look forward to what God has for you (Gen. 22:15–24)
There is always an “afterward,” God never wastes suffering. “But He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Abraham received several blessings.
A. He received a new approval from God (Gen. 22:12).
Abraham had described this whole difficult experience as “worship” (22:5). He sought to please God’s heart, and God commended him. It is worth it to go through trials if, at the end, the Father can say to us, “Well done!”
B. He received back a new son.
Isaac was now a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1–2). God gave Isaac to Abraham, and Abraham gave Isaac back to God. We must be careful that God’s gifts do not take the place of the Giver.
C. God gave Abraham new assurances (Gen. 22:16–18).
He had heard these promises before, but now they took on fresh new meaning. Charles Spurgeon used to say that the promises of God never shine brighter than in the furnace of affliction.
D. Abraham also learned a new name for God (22:14).
Jehovah-jireh, “the Lord will see to it [provide].” The Jewish temple was built on Mount Moriah (2 Chron. 3:1); and during our Lord’s earthly ministry, He was seen there. He was the true Lamb of God, provided by God to die for the sins of the world.
E. Back home, he heard another new name—Rebekah (Gen. 22:23)—the girl God was saving for Isaac.
The roll call of the names of Abraham’s brother’s family could have discouraged a man with only one son, but Abraham did not fret. After all, he had God’s promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore! (22:17)
F. Finally, Abraham came away from this trial with a deeper love for the Lord. Jesus tells us about this deeper love in John 14:21–24, and Paul prays about it in Ephesians 3:14–21.