How He Could Do It

God’s command to Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering has to stand as one of His most difficult orders ever. Could you or I have done it? Most of us shake our heads as we contemplate such a question, and doubt that we have it within us to do what the father of faith did.
How did Abraham comply with God’s request? The answer may surprise us by its simplicity.
Hebrews 11:17 confirms that Abraham obeyed the Lord: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son” (NKJV). Some might object that Abraham didn’t actually complete the mission so he didn’t technically offer his son. In Abraham’s mind, however, he had offered his son. The knife never pierced Isaac’s skin, but Abraham had made the commitment. He “offered up his only begotten son.”
Verse 19 goes on to tell the reasoning in the faithful father’s mind: “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” Abraham had a firm conviction that God would not fail him. Even if he must do the unthinkable deed, God would somehow raise the slain son back to life. By this faith, Abraham’s task was made possible.
But here’s the challenging question: Where did Abraham get the idea that God might raise his son back to life? Had anyone at this time ever been resurrected? Upon what could he base such hope?
Look back to verse 18: “Of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.'” That’s what God told Abraham in Genesis 21:12. Abraham was reluctant to send away Hagar and Ishmael even though he now had his beloved Isaac. God confirmed that Sarah’s demand to “cast out this bondwoman and her son” was the right thing to do, because “in Isaac your seed shall be called” (Genesis 21:10,12).
Those words stuck in Abraham’s heart. When God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham recalled the promise. Had he forgotten this promise, how could he have had the faith to do God’s will?
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Abraham heard God’s promise and meditated upon it. Faith enabled him to stand under the weight of the trial.
It will work the same with us. God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). As with Abraham, we will be placed in circumstances that will test our faith. Success or failure will be determined by whether or not we have heard God’s promises and have placed our faith in them.
Bible study. Knowing God’s promises and expectations. It’s such a simple formula many don’t take it seriously. But Abraham took God seriously, and that’s why he is regarded as one of the truly great figures in history.

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Tim Hall

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