Put to the Test

He had waited years for an heir. God had told him multiple times that he would be the father of many nations. And at age one hundred, the promise was fulfilled. His son was born. Isaac. Born of Sarah, who was ninety. This son held great promise for the future. There was hope, because the family name would be carried on. Oh. How proud Abraham must have been.

And several years later, God put Abraham’s faith to the test. He instructed Abraham to sacrifice this son as a burnt offering. What?! And Abraham did exactly as he was told.

You can read the full story about Abraham’s obedience in Genesis 22.

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19

How many of us have seen the fulfillment of God’s long-awaited promise? Regardless of what was promised, the wait was excruciating. We thought the wait would never end. But we knew we had a clear promise from God. He led us down this path. Now he would fulfill his promise. Wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t he?

And then one day the promised event actually came to pass. Our hearts were filled with happiness and wonder. Relief. Confirmed trust in our Maker. We got the job. A baby was born. The lab results were negative. The debt was fully paid. The bank account was overflowing. Life was good.

And then another day came. And God asked for that promised thing or that promised person to be laid on the altar. He asked us to give the promised gift back to him. For his use. He asked us to sacrifice the gift that was so long awaited. And now we’re being asked to return it? What? To hand it over, as if it’s no longer ours?

But that gift was an answer to a long-prayed prayer.

God asks for our simple obedience. All the time. In every situation. Sometimes, obedience may feel complex rather than simple. But it’s either a Yes or No that God is looking for. That’s the simple part. It gets all complex and uncomfortable when we have to put that Yes into motion. Because that takes the control out of our hands. And we don’t know what God has in store for us when we give Him control.


And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6


Oh. God wasn’t planning to kill Isaac. He wanted to make sure Abraham was not making an idol out of Isaac, this long-awaited son. God tested Abraham’s faith. God may ask the impossible of us. What will we say? Will we surrender our most prized possession? Will we turn our long-awaited treasure back to God to use as he sees fit?

Or do we take that treasure and hide it? Do we hoard our treasured gift?

There are those who run from hard times. They take the easy road. Or they just ignore the request to make a sacrifice. But Abraham walked right into the face of obedience. Perhaps it was the hardest thing he had ever done. He loved his son. But he never looked back.

He took his son on a journey to worship God. A sacrifice was required. And his son knew it. But no lamb was taken on the trip for the offering. Isaac asked about it. Abraham replied that God would provide. And later when Abraham tied his son with rope and laid him on the altar, I wonder what Isaac was thinking.

I wonder the thoughts swirling through Abraham’s mind as he drew the knife to slay his son. Oh. He was willing to offer his promised heir if that’s what God required of him. But God stepped in and told Abraham not to harm his son. God saw that Abraham was willing to give up his beloved son, if that was what God asked. And in the distance, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. The sacrifice was provided by God. Isaac, the long awaited son, was saved.

Abraham responded to God in faith. Not knowing the outcome, he moved in step with God’s heartbeat. He was ready to sacrifice what was dearest to him in a courageous show of loyalty to God. I have to ask. Would I be willing to do the same? Would I be willing to hand over the thing or the person most dearest to me in an act of selfless love for my Savior?

We don’t know what we may be called to sacrifice. It may be financial security. Or a close relationship. It may be a fulfilling career. Or our dream home. A prized possession. Our freedom. Our health. Are we willing to sacrifice for obedience to God? Because if God isn’t first in our lives, is he in our lives?

Don’t Play God

Life isn’t fair. It rarely is. And when it isn’t fair, we tend to complain. Or we take matters into our own hands. And that’s exactly what she did.

She was barren. And as all men in those days, her husband wanted and needed an heir. Because, you see, they were very wealthy. And if she didn’t produce a son, her husband’s servant would inherit all their wealth upon her husband’s death. That’s how unfair life was in those days. Because she certainly wasn’t in line to inherit her husband’s wealth. She was a woman.

So she did the unthinkable. She offered her servant girl to her husband with the hope that a baby boy would be birthed from that union. And so it happened. The servant became pregnant. And the wife became jealous. What did she think would happen? When a woman offers her husband to bed another woman and he accepts, does she think it will be all sunshine and roses? Did she think she could claim the child as her own? Did she imagine warm and fuzzy conversations about choosing the name with her servant? No. The women turned against each other. Obviously.

Oh. God had promised her husband that he would have as many descendants as the number of stars in the sky. But God’s timing is his own. To him, a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day. When he made the promise, Abraham was at least seventy-five years old.

Sarah took matters into her own hands. She decided that she would play God and make sure her husband had an heir. And the whole affair blew up in her face. I wonder how long it took her to regret her actions. This boy child born to her husband was not the child God had promised. This child was an act of Sarah, Abraham and Hagar. Not an act of God. Abraham was eighty-six years old when this child was born.

If we choose to play God and move his agenda forward when he isn’t in control, chaos ensues. This one act created a nation of people who have tried to rule the world in an evil way. And it’s all because one woman made one wrong decision. And that decision has impacted the world for all times.

But we know that God is in control.

When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him. He again told Abraham that he would be the father of a multitude of nations. Then God told Abraham that Sarah would have a son at the same time the following year. When Sarah heard the news, she laughed silently to herself. But God heard her laugh and called her out on it. She was afraid and denied her laughter.

A year later, when Sarah was ninety years old , she gave birth to their son, Isaac. Abraham was one hundred years old.


What is impossible for people is possible with God. Luke 18:27


It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. Hebrews 11:11-12

At times, someone will promise us something and it doesn’t happen. And we know they’ve broken their word. We lose trust in them. We learn to doubt anything they say. We have selective hearing when they’re making a new promise. We know we can’t trust what them. Because they have failed us.

So when God dressed as a man paid a visit to Abraham and Sarah, he brought along two angels also dressed as men. And they sat outside the tent with Abraham. Sarah had no clue that the men who sat with her husband were of the heavenly sort. And when one of them said that she would have a child, she laughed to herself. She was almost 90 years old. Well. You can imagine what went through her mind. And God heard her laugh.

Sarah laughed because she was skeptical of God’s promise. Her laughter wasn’t filled with hope and expectation. Oh. She had already tried to fulfill the promise and made a sorry mess of the situation. Then God dressed as a man asked a question. Is anything too hard for the Lord? And his words stopped her in her tracks. He had heard her laughter, and he knew her barren anguish. He saw her heart, and he knew she believed. Perhaps a babe would spring from her worn body. Even at such an old age. Hope was rekindled.

If we look at the timeline from when God first promised to make nations come from Abraham, it took twenty-four years for the promised babe to arrive. Who of us wants to wait twenty-four years for someone to make good on their promise? We are slow to believe. Perhaps lengthy delays weaken our faith. Things thought impossible are achievable only through an act of God. And he proved his love for Abraham and Sarah by giving them a son to carry on their line. Isaac was the long-awaited son for this aged couple.

We can’t rush God. We just can’t. His timing is his own, and if he makes a promise he will keep it. God doesn’t lie. But he also doesn’t give in to our whining and whims in order to please us. In order to meet our self-imposed timeline. Eternity is at stake. And even though we can’t see the big picture, God is still working. Even when it takes years to see his promise fulfilled. Even if we don’t see his promise fulfilled in our lifetime. God will keep his word.

Walk by Faith

His father had packed up all his household and moved with his son, daughter-in-law and nephew many years earlier. Their destination was Canaan. But somewhere during the relocation, they settled in Haran. And that’s the city where they stayed until the father’s death. And then God asked Abram to pack up and move again. God asked him to leave his home country and travel to a place unknown. So what did he do? Abram packed up his household and all his belongings and began traveling. Destination unknown.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3

God made an enormous promise to Abram when he called him to move to an unknown destination. Abram believed the promise and packed his bags. Now mind you. He had many bags to pack. He was very wealthy and owned many livestock. He employed many people who ran his household and managed his herds. Plus, his wife and nephew came along. It was a huge undertaking.

As they began their travels, they had no clue where they would settle. They didn’t know how long they would travel. Was it a one week journey? Was it a year? When would they settle? Where would they settle? But God didn’t tell Abram anything about the destination. So they headed in the direction of Canaan, which was approximately four hundred miles from Haran. They set up camp in Shechem for a bit, but over time they kept moving in stages.

During this time of travel, they never had a real home. They lived in tents. They moved their herds and flocks from one place to another. Always looking for enough food and water to keep their animals alive. God provided for them on each step of the journey. After all. It was God’s idea to move them. He was faithful to them in their travels. And when they finally settled, they stayed in their tents.


For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7


It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

Hebrews 11:8-10

Abram followed God with each move. Oh. There were a couple of incidents over time that could have ended poorly. But through it all Abram stayed faithful. He followed God on a path that wasn’t clear to him. His faith endured the test of time. Oh. He didn’t see the fulfillment of God’s promise. He didn’t live to see it. But should that always be the goal? Isn’t trusting God enough? Or do we always expect to see the promise fulfilled?

Much later in his life, God made another promise to Abram. He promised to make a great nation out of Abram and his descendants. And then God changed his name to Abraham, because he would be the father of many nations. At this time, Abraham was ninety-nine years old, and he and his wife were childless.

God may call us to follow him to ends unknown. He may allow changes in our life that make us uncomfortable. But he will always lead us along a path that he has ordained. He will be with us in those unknowns. Our role is to trust him. To obey him. Will we be found faithful?

Faithful followers aren’t perfect. We stray from time to time. At times, Abraham’s decisions led to problems. But he always returned his focus back to God. And over time, his record of faithfulness shone through. We have to remind ourselves that we’re not called to perfection. We’re called to faithfulness. And in our faithfulness, we grow and become more like Christ.

Abraham was a stranger in a foreign country, but he was content. He was holding on to the promise that God had given to him. He knew that God would keep the promise, but he had no clue as to God’s timing. But he didn’t give up hope. He knew that in time a great nation would come from him, even though he was old and childless.

Abraham’s faith was the faith that was ready for adventure. God’s summons meant that he had to leave home and family and business; yet he went. He had to go out into the unknown; yet he went. In the best of us there is a certain timorousness. We wonder just what will happen to us if we take God at his word and act on his commands and promises.

Barclay’s Daily Study Bible

God may require us to leave our comfortable life and serve him in uncomfortable surroundings. He may lead us through deep waters that cause us to feel as if we’re drowning. Perhaps our faith is too cautious. Perhaps God would do much more amazing things through us if our faith was expanded. Don’t we trust God? We aren’t living by faith if we know every detail of God’s plan. Living by faith is living in the unknown.

And when we know God is leading us but don’t see the fulfillment of his promise, it’s hard to explain to those who don’t have faith. They may question our actions or motives. If someone doesn’t know God, they won’t understand our will to follow God’s way. The question is. Who should we follow? God or our friends? Obedience or comfort? Temporary status or eternal rewards? The answer seems obvious, because God is always faithful. He won’t lead us down a dead end street. Let’s walk by faith.