Stage Five (Gen. 22)
by Bob Whitaker
We are considering another stage of faith that developed in the life of Abraham – Genesis 22. This part of the story might not the final stage of faith in Abraham’s journey, but it was certainly the most epic. We might describe this step of faith with these words: Trust me when faith produces terror.
At this point in Abraham’s life the promise is finally fulfilled – Isaac has been born. What a euphoric experience the birth of Isaac must have been! What a delight it must have been to see him grow up in Abraham’s household. Isaac was the living, walking, breathing, laughing illustration of the faithfulness of God. If you are a parent, you know the joy of young children – every smile, every wiggle, every step, every word is a joyful celebration. Abraham and Sarah were experiencing this…and then the hammer drops.
God says to Abraham, “I want you to take your son, your only son, to the land of Moriah and sacrifice him on an altar.” What must have gone through Abraham’s mind? “Lord, you promised, we waited and then you fulfilled the promise. Remember how I chose to believe that nothing was impossible with you? And now this! I’ve walked with you all these years and still I have no answers but I also have no choice because I know I must follow you.”
It is interesting that this devastating news came at a high point. Isaac was now a young man, he had survived infancy, and the promise was even more real. Still, Abraham trusted God. When they got to the foot of the mountain it was Isaac who asked this penetrating question: “Father, we have the wood and the fire but where is the sacrifice?” To which Abraham replied, “God will provide the sacrifice.” Abraham made another remarkable statement of faith to his servants at the bottom of the mountain. “Stay here while the boy and I go to worship and then we will return.”
You know the rest of the story. When Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, an angel called out for him not to harm the boy, and there appeared in the thicket a ram which was used for the sacrifice. The New Testament sees this as a picture of Jesus Christ, but of course, unlike Isaac, Jesus was not spared from death – he was sacrificed for us. The writer of the book of Hebrews said that Abraham had the faith to believe that even if Isaac died, the same God who produced the miracle of his birth is the God who would produce the miracle of resurrection. What a wonderful picture of Jesus Christ.
As with the example of Abraham, sometimes faith produces terror. Sometimes God calls us to do things, to walk through situations that seem impossible but remember, nothing is impossible with God. Walk with God through the fear and the fire because in the end God will always produce a resurrection. That’s what God always does!