Abraham’s Faith Proved – Not Tested
Abraham’s Faith Proved
1 NLT Some time later, God [proved Abraham]. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, 7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
I have three points to make concerning the above story:
1) God did not “test” Abraham but God “proved” Abraham.
In the first verse (Gen 22:1) I changed the phrase in the New Living Translation from “God tested Abraham’s faith” to “God proved Abraham”. The word “faith” is not in the original text and the Hebrew word “nasah” is better translated “proved”. In other words, God gives us opportunities to prove our love and devotion to Him. Our whole life on earth is one of “proving” in which God craves our fellowship and desires us to demonstrate our love and devotion to Him – He DOES NOT tempt, test or try us as so many believe.
James 1:13 KJ2000 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man:
In the above story God was giving Abraham the opportunity to become more “God-like” – to become more like Him. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” Now, after Abraham’s proving, he would be the only person on earth who can truly understand (as much as a human can understand) what God Himself was willing to do out of love. Surely this experience – this common ground that only God and Abraham were acquainted had to enhance their relationship.
2) For someone so full of faith Abraham sure did lie a lot.
Twice before Abraham told half-truths by saying that Sarai was his sister (Gen 12:11-13; Gen 20:2). While this deception is excused by many because Sarai was Abraham’s half-sister, there can be no doubt in the above story Abraham told a “full-blown lie” to his son.
While on their way to Abraham’s greatest accomplishment the boy asked, “where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” Abraham replied with the lie, “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son.”
I have heard some excuse sins of the Patriarchs by saying things like, “Well that is just Old Bible, that is not New Testament teaching.” But here is the problem, while customs and traditions change, God does NOT change. The things God hated in the Old Bible He still hates today – and the things God loved in the Old Bible God still loves today – and the behaviors He had mercy on in the Old Bible He still has mercy on today.
Or are we to believe that God has less mercy today? – Absolutely not! If anything God is more merciful so if God was merciful to Abraham’s sins we can be assured He is merciful today. As today, God was not looking at Abraham’s sins but his devotion, his fear of God and most importantly the future sacrifice of God’s only son – the blood of the Lamb of God.
3) It was Abraham’s “fear of God” than impressed our Lord, not his faith.
In the scripture and in our Christian society, Abraham is held up as the “Father of Faith”. While truly he was a great man of faith it was NOT his faith that impress God.
I have heard this story preached and taught over and over and I have yet to hear anyone that didn’t completely ignore what God said about Abraham’s obedience. For God said, “now I know that you truly fear God.”
To further explain, read my post on “The Fear Of God – What It Is and What It Is Not.”