This past Sunday I preached a message from Hebrews 11:17-22 entitled "Confidence in Christ". Expositing verses 17-19 about God testing Abraham, I said...
Testing accompanies faith--it is a given. The Bible teaches that Abraham was tested, meaning that Abraham did not go looking for this test. It meant that any number of people or circumstances may have been the cause of this test, but ultimately, the originator of the test was God. But the test was not about God. It was not about proving Abraham's faith to all his friends and neighbors. It was about proving Abraham's mettle. It was about proving Abraham to himself. It was about Abraham being shown his deficiencies and how God would be sufficient to meet his every need; past, present, and future.
This was an amazing test for Abraham. When God called Abraham to leave Ur, Abraham gave up his past. But in the sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham was asked to surrender his future to God as well. All Abraham's hopes for the future lie in that boy--all of God's promises being fulfilled lie in that boy--yet God asked Abraham to give up that as well. God was going to make sure that Abraham had no claim on his own future--only God did.
And what proof did Abraham have? Only a simple promise and the voice of God. Isn't it amazing how, through the Bible, level of belief decreases with increasing level of revelation? Abraham had no accompanying miracle, no manifestation of the power of God, no burning bush, no crucifixion; yet he believed. Compare the bitter, hateful Israelites of Moses' day.
They had all manner of revelation, including a promise and the voice of God. They had Moses' experience at the burning bush, the horror of the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, a cloud to lead them by day, and a pillar of fire by night, yet how many of them refused to believe! Abraham had only a a simple promise and the voice of God yet this caused him to conclude that God was able to raise Isaac up, even from the dead.
But all this is beside the main point: that God, despite all obstacles and events to the contrary, He is faithful to His promises.