Then He said, “Take now 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.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us revelation of the word, and we know that we can read a passage over many times and receive new insight each time. The story of Abraham and Isaac is no exception as it has many layers of complexity. Here we have a man who was made a promise by God himself, but his natural circumstances caused him to doubt that promise. As a result, he tried to fulfill God’s will by his own hand. Despite this error, God still blessed Abraham with the son He had promised, but then He asked Abraham to sacrifice that very son. This certainly was a test, but not for the purpose of God discovering the measure of Abraham’s faith; He already knew what his servant would do. The test was for Abraham’s benefit.
This near sacrifice of Isaac serves as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice God would make of his own Son. It also serves as a critical stage in Abraham’s spiritual development. Considering his prior disobedience regarding God’s promise, Abraham’s faith certainly was not steadfast. Still, he had seen God deliver him a son, and now he would have to be willing to let that son go. Yet, he did not argue. He did not plead. For him, this was the moment of faith confirmed. To sacrifice this son would be to make impossible the promise he had received of so great a number of descendants. He already had tried to make his own way when things seemed impossible, but he had to learn this time to follow the Lord despite appearances.
On one side of his faith, Abraham had disappointment and disobedience. He acted on his own and created great family dysfunction. Then, the test came. This time he would be faithful, and on the other side of his faith would be even greater faith. This step in trusting God would only increase that trust. Like Abraham, each increasingly challenging step of this process serves to build upon our faith. In turn, we are prepared for the next greater challenge, which give us more increase. It is God’s perpetual faith machine. Father, prepare us to believe just a little more each day so that we can build on our faith and see daily growth.