Two years ago, my husband Peter suffered a small stroke. By God’s provision, he has made a strong recovery, but this journey tested our faith in new ways. God does that sometimes. He wants to know that He alone is enough. In Genesis 22, the same enduring God who gave and preserved life, now “tested” Abraham by instructing him to sacrifice his “only son,” whom he loved.
Yes, Abraham had another son—Ishmael. But Isaac was Abraham’s only son through Sarah, his only covenant son. In multiple ways, this account points ahead to God’s own sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus. Abraham’s faith had matured, so he responded purposefully to this call: “Here I am” (v. 1). Early the next morning, he followed the command. For three long days, Abraham and Isaac traveled to the place of sacrifice, giving Abraham time to confirm or abandon his commitment. When they came near, Abraham told the servants, “Stay here . . . We will worship and then we will come back.” The plural pronoun “we” indicates a confident faith, driven by a desire to worship God alone.
Abraham placed the wood on Isaac’s back, and Isaac himself carried it to the altar—a foreshadowing of Christ and His cross. On the way, Isaac observed that they had no lamb (v. 7). Again Abraham responded with faith, pointing to God Who would “provide the lamb” (v. 8). And God did provide. Just in time. When Isaac was lying on the altar and Abraham had reached for his knife, God broke in. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” God said, “For now I know that you fear God” (v. 12). Here God revealed another purpose for this test. Yes, it strengthened Abraham’s faith, taught Isaac about obedience, and showed readers a father’s sacrifice. But God also gained something. “Now I know that you fear God” (v. 12).
>> God’s call is often challenging, and it can test our faith. What motivates our obedience? Is it the good gifts we hope to gain on the other side? Or is God Himself enough?
You see into our hearts, and we ask you to purify our motives as we serve you. Banish pride, fear, self-serving attitudes, and anything else that we pursue instead of you. You alone complete us, God.