“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” ~ Hebrews 5:8 (NLT)
Genesis Chapter 22 is about Abraham’s faith being tested. God told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, and sacrifice him as a burnt offering to the Lord. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. He literally waited his entire life for this child, and now, God was asking Abraham to sacrifice him. As a parent, I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that.
It was never God’s intention for Isaac to be hurt or killed. God knew how much the boy meant to Abraham and He used that deep devotion as the ultimate test of Abraham’s faith.
In the Old Testament, a burnt offering was a voluntary act of worship; an expression of devotion and surrender to God. Since we live under the New Covenant, we no longer worship with burnt offerings but we still have something very much in common with Abraham. God still calls us to be obedient to Him today and often this involves sacrificing something that is important to us…our “Isaac.”
Aside from Jesus’ obedience to the Father, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son is one of the greatest acts of obedience in Scripture. The purpose of testing our faith is to stretch us and strengthen our commitment to God. He does not test us so He can sit back and watch us fail.
When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, He already knew Abraham’s heart. God knew that Abraham would pass this test and be blessed through the experience. Through this act of obedience, Abraham’s faith grew even deeper. As you read further into this Scripture, you will see that Abraham and all of his descendants received abundant blessings as a result of his obedience. (Genesis 22:15-18 NIV)
Scripture does not specifically tell us if Abraham struggled with God’s command, but I have no doubt that he did. Obeying God can be a real struggle when it means giving up something we truly want or value.
I cannot even find a way to quantify the degree of faith that Abraham possessed but I know that I am not there. God is never going to ask me to sacrifice my son’s life but I find that the closer I grow in my relationship to Him, the more He asks of me. We all have an “Isaac” in our life, something or someone we love deeply and cling to, maybe even more than God.
Each time I am obedient to Him, my faith grows and, like Abraham, I am spiritually blessed. Does that mean it’s easy? Absolutely not. There are times that I want what I want and it’s very difficult to make the decision to be obedient.
Being obedient to God is a choice. God does not come down from Heaven and force anyone to obey Him. It’s easy to be obedient when it costs us nothing, but can be a choice we struggle with when we must surrender something we value.
Abraham’s act of obedience is mind blowing yet, it doesn’t even compare to the obedience that Jesus demonstrated. He was obedient to the Father to the point of death on the Cross. (Philippians 2:8 NIV)
Obedient to death. Next time you have to choose between being obedient to what God is calling you to do or following your own way, remember that nothing we sacrifice out of obedience can ever be worth more than the price Jesus paid to redeem us.
What is your “Isaac?” When God asks you to sacrifice that relationship, or habit, or material possession, or whatever it is that you are devoted to, will you have the faith of Abraham and be obedient?