Today's reading of Genesis 22-23 includes what is possibly the greatest challenge to Abraham's faith that he ever faced.
Earlier in his life, Abraham heard the calling of God. Because Abraham followed God's instructions, God promised to bless Abraham and make him into a great nation and bless all the peoples of the world through Abraham's Offspring. However, when God made this promise to Abraham, there was one tiny detail complicating matters...Abraham and his wife were "advanced in years'" (they were old!) and they didn't have any children. But God promised Abraham a son by his wife Sarah, and Abraham believed God. And it was credited to him as righteousness.
Fastforward several years, and Abraham has spent most of his life believing the Lord and obeying Him. God finally gives him and Sarah the son he promised them. Then God asks of Abraham the unthinkable...He asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. There's no telling what went through Abraham's mind when God asked this of him. Regardless of what he might have thought, his trust in his God shined through his actions, as early the next morning, Abraham got up, took his son Isaac, a couple of servants, and some donkeys with provisions, and he headed to the place that God showed him.
Abraham was prepared to do what God asked of him, regardless of whether he understood why, or how God would keep his promise to make a great nation through Isaac. Even to read this story now, I'm still not 100% sure why God would make such a promise to someone, then ask such a thing from them. I know the Scripture says that the Lord said to Abraham that "...because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants willtake possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
Many generations after Abraham's death, one of his Offspring would be born. He would live a perfect life, give His life as a ransom for many, and be buried in a tomb, only to be raised back to life. So regardless of the fact that I don't understand why God asked what He did of Abraham, I also know that God would never ask something of a person that He Himself is not willing to give.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."--John 3:16
1. What do you think Abraham was thinking when he took his son to the altar?
--He had to have questions in his mind about why God was asking him to do this, but despite those questions, he was obviously focused on his trust in God to keep His promises. In fact, the Hebrew writer tells us that Abraham believed God could raise Isaac back from the dead if necessary.
2. In your view, what is the most important lesson from the life of Abraham?
--Believe that God sees us, He hears us, and believe that He keeps His promises. He always fulfills His gracious plans in His own perfect time.