Faith is living in light of what God has said, resting in what he has done, and entrusting the future to his care.
It is an incredible story, a clear case study in what faith is and does:
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Heb. 11:17–19)
God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky and that through his descendants all the nations of the earth would be blessed. But Abraham and his wife, Sarah, didn’t have any children, let alone a clue about how he would pass down the promise to the next generation. They waited and waited. Decade piled up on decade, but no son came. Abraham was an old man, and Sarah was decades beyond her childbearing years. Then, in a miracle of God’s faithfulness, a son, Isaac, was born. There must have been some kind of celebration that day! God was true to his promises. He did have the power to deliver. He would keep his covenant. Blessing would come to this sin-broken world. It seemed like the end of a beautiful story.
Then God came to Abraham and told him to sacrifice the promised son! It made no sense whatsoever. All God’s promises of faithfulness and all the hopes of his covenant rested on this boy. If Abraham killed him, it would all be over. If Isaac died, nothing that had happened for decades would make any sense. You can imagine Abraham saying: “God, ask anything of me, but not this; please, not this. You promised me a son. I waited in faith, and now you want me to kill him. God, I just don’t understand.” We don’t know all the emotions that were inside Abraham, but there is little hint of angst and anger in his reactions. Abraham immediately began to prepare to do what God had called him to do. We know that grace had visited and transformed the heart of this man, or he would not have been able to react as he did.
It’s clear that Abraham did not know why God was asking him to do what he had asked, and it is clear that he did not know what God was going to do. Abraham reasoned that maybe God would resurrect Isaac after the sacrifice, but that was not what God was intending. This is where this passage exposes what faith is about. Abraham wasn’t relying on what he could see or understand. No, he was at rest because he acted on the firm platform of God’s commands, as well as his presence, promises, faithfulness, and power. Faith believes that God really does exist and that he rewards those who seek him. But faith isn’t natural for us; it is ours only as a gift of God’s grace. Seek that grace again today.
For further study and encouragement: Genesis 22
Taken from New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp, © 2014, pp. 132-162. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.