In Genesis 22:1-18, we have an amazing account of Abraham being tested by God — he is asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.
Abraham begins doing what God asks him to do, even though it sounds crazy! Abraham puts his own son’s life on the line. What we ultimately find is a great example of Abraham putting his faith into action without hesitation.
This is probably just as intimidating to you as it is to me, but it’s an amazing opportunity for us to learn what it really means to put our faith into action.
To live out the things God teaches us. To walk away on a Sunday morning and to actually do what the pastor challenged us with. To be obedient to the Holy Spirit not just on Sunday morning, but in my cubicle at work, in my classroom, at home with my kids.
Let’s look at see what we can learn from Abraham.
Here's the first thing I see — God already proved himself faithful to Abraham and Sara by her giving birth to Isaac as God had promised would happen. It was their only son. The word only here comes from the Hebrew word yachid which means “to be one”. This is the same word used in John 3:16 where God has give us “His only begotten Son”. This story is foreshadowing the greatest example of faith put into action by Jesus giving up his life for us.
Genesis 22:1 begins by Abraham replying to God “Here I am”. The Message translation says, “Yes, I am listening”. The first key to putting our faith into action is to say yes to God, no matter what.
No waiting on conditions. No looking for options. Simply say, “Yes God, I’m listening”.
Then in verse 3 we see that Abraham gets up early the next morning and saddles up his donkey and cuts the wood for the burnt offering. Now let me tell you, if God had asked me to give up my only son, I’m pretty sure I would have slept in as long as I could have the next morning and did everything I could to delay. Actually, I probably wouldn’t have even slept at all!
Here, we see an amazing example of Abraham at peace in the midst of a really difficult situation! He was able to sleep and then get up early the next morning! There was no partial obedience. It required Abraham being fully obedient — and obedience requires sacrifice.
We often miss this part of the story, but I believe it’s so important. Abraham also took two of his servants along. He knew he needed them. He needed them for accountability. He needed them for strength. They had a mountain to climb. It was a place out of their usual comfort zone. These men were obviously an important part of Abraham’s life. You don’t bring just anyone along to sacrifice your own son’s life.
Abraham recognized the need for others in his life and to not try to do this on his own.
In verse 5, Abraham tells his servants to “stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." Even when reality began to set in and the circumstance was getting harder, Abraham continued to worship God!
Again, I’m pretty sure this is not how I would have done this! Notice that Abraham says, “We will come back to you”. He trusted God so much that he knew somehow him and Isaac BOTH would return. All because he obeyed with an attitude of worship.
Lastly, we see in verse 8 that Abraham told Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” I know if this was me trying to answer my son asking questions about where the lamb for the burnt offering was, I would have stumbled all over my words and came up with some lame answer. Abraham continued to trust. It was on the mountain that the Lord provided!
He began “in the valley” — the hard part. He was immediately obedient to God. It was “on the mountain top” — after the hard part — that God provided the need. We need to be willing to climb the mountain — to do the hard part in trusting God — and He will be faithful to what He says.
In closing, I want us to see that Abraham again replied to God by saying, “Here I am,” even after he laid his own son on the altar. He was still willing to listen to God even in that moment. He was still putting his faith into action to the point that he had raised his knife to slaughter his own son.
In that moment, God provided a lamb caught in a bush for the burnt offering. Sometimes we have to look harder for the answer, but it’s always there. Abraham even named that mountain, “The Lord will provide."
God has a plan and it's better than ours. We just need to be willing to do whatever he asks.
Our faith is made complete by our actions. James 2:17 says, "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Let’s be alive and live our life to the fullest — to be willing to fully obey immediately. Partial obedience is disobedience. Our obedience requires sacrifice and we need to consider it an opportunity for worship and trust God for our needs. He will provide exactly what is needed in His timing, which is the right time.