Bible Order: Judges 20–21
Chronological Order: Psalms 91, Joshua 1–3
Old Testament Only: Deuteronomy 14:1–16:8
New Testament Only: Luke 1:57–80
Daily Verse: James 2:22
It’s About The Giver Not The Gift
Passage: Genesis 22
God sure did take an active role in growing Abraham spiritually. He takes an active role in our lives as well, although most of us are too self-absorbed to notice. This is one of the reasons God provided us with the story of Abraham. It is usually easier for us to see what is going on in someone else’s life than our own. To review, we’ve seen God call Abraham from Haran to go to the Promised Land. God would give Abraham direction and, when he went astray, God would call him back to the path. God only moved Abraham to the next level when He knew Abraham was ready. He never asked more of Abraham than he was able to do, even if Abraham himself didn’t know he was ready and able.
Today we begin the story for which Abraham is most well-known. I recommend you read all of the 21st chapter of Genesis before moving on to this commentary. I will be breaking down several passages from this chapter as I have done in the past. There is always jeopardy when we parse Scripture into smaller bites. Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. So, first get the big picture and then join me for a zoom into the detail.
Genesis 22:1-2 ESV
 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”  He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
What is the purpose of God testing someone? God tests us for the purpose of strengthening our faith. Some people think faith is just a catch-all phrase that people use when they have no evidence or proof for what they believe. You’ll hear people refer to a “leap of faith” as if one has no idea where they will land in the great undiscovered unknown. Ignorance is not faith.
Let me be clear. I don’t guess God exists. I don’t believe God exists. I don’t think God exists. I KNOW God exists. I know this as certainly as I know my mother and father exist. I know them. I have experience with them. My faith in them is based on the many years of experience I have with them sacrificing for my sake. Do I know my mom and dad? Can I depend upon them in my time of need? Yes I can; it has been proved time and time again. The same is true of my relationship with God. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and let me tell you brother I know His voice.
As I have strode down the path of my spiritual walk with Christ He has led me, and supported me, and reproved me, and taught me, and encouraged me, and seen me through every challenge I have ever faced. I don’t need to use words that hedge my meaning when I speak about God. I don’t guess, believe, or think God exists because I know He exists. You don’t know my parents but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You may not know God but that does not mean He does not exist. Your lack of evidence is not evidence.
Abraham, by this stage in his life, knows God. God has seen him through one challenge after another. God has made Abraham miraculous promises and has delivered on every one. In his old age Abraham received what he desired most, a son through his marital relationship with Sarah. He desired, and received, a son to inherit his wealth; a son that would make Abraham a father of a great multitude. Now that Abraham has such knowledge of God and faith in Him, it is time to grow that faith in a way that will grow the faith of others and paint an incredibly vibrant picture of the hope we all can have in God.
“Abraham. This thing you so desire – offer it up to Me.” This in essence is what God said to Abraham in the Scripture above. The rhetorical question being asked is this: “Abraham. Is this son you desired more important to you than Me?” This request may sound odd to modern ears but there was a man-made god at this time named Molech to whom people in this day offered their children, usually a first born son, as burnt sacrifices. God wasn’t asking something unheard of by Abraham. The testing of faith here came down to this; I have promised you that I will make you a father of a multitude through Isaac; do you believe me? Do you believe I will do what I said I would do? Is my gift greater to you than He who gave it?
I realize there are two separate questions here but they really are connected. If we believe God keeps His promises, then why would any worldly gift be more important to us than He who gave it? If God promises an earthly gift and asks us to sacrifice that gift, do we have enough faith in God to believe He will still deliver on His promise? Brother I mentioned that God does not ask more of us than we can handle. Abraham had grown spiritually to the point that He could ask this of Abraham. Through this process Abraham’s faith will be strengthened, but that is not the only goal of God’s request. So many others throughout history have needed, and will need, to learn about faith in God. So many need to hear the central message of this story. Believe it or not, Abraham already knows the central message and he says as much to Isaac.
As Abraham led him to the place of sacrifice, Isaac said “here is the fire and the wood, but where is the sacrifice?” Abraham’s response is extremely enlightening.
Genesis 22:8 ESV
Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
Did you get that? This is before Abraham reached out his hand to slay his son and God intervened to stop the proceedings and provide the sacrifice. By the time God had asked Abraham to make this sacrifice, Abraham’s knowledge of God, or as we say “faith in God”, was sufficient for him to know he could obey God without fear. He knew that God would provide the sacrifice. That is not to say that this wasn’t a terribly difficult thing to do. I can only imagine the stress Abraham must have felt, but his faith in God was stronger than his fear and doubt.
We’ll discuss in the next day or so the ulterior motive behind God’s request for this sacrifice. Today let us take away from our reading a better understanding of how God works in the lives of His children. If you have submitted your life to Christ, you are His child. He will see to your spiritual maturity. He will lead you, guide you, provide for you, and correct you. When He asks something of you, you will be ready – whether you think you are or not. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. Seek God first; the gifts will come. Make your life about the Giver, not the gift.
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!