God in his wisdom included many examples in Scripture of men who questioned God and lacked faith. With their human frailties, these people are a reminder that God can transform the most flawed among us in order to accomplish his will.
But a shining example of one who showed great faith was Abraham, who never seemed to doubt God’s goodness and wisdom.
When we first see Abraham (as Abram) in the Bible, God asks him to leave his comfortable life in the rather civilized and modern city of Ur and begin a new life, along with a new nation. Abraham does so, seemingly without regret or hesitation.
They went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan…Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him. – from Genesis 11:31 & 12:1,4
Much later in Abraham’s life, God asks him to sacrifice something much dearer than a comfortable home: his son, Isaac.
If you’re not familiar with Abraham’s story, it’s important to know that Isaac was particularly precious to his Abraham and his wife, Sarah, because they had waited decades to have him. He was a miracle baby, born to Sarah in her old age after God had promised the couple several times that they would have a child who would father a nation.
And, Isaac was their only child together.
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. – Genesis 22:1,2
In his carefully worded command, God indicates that he knows how deeply Abraham loves his son – and yet (in a foreshadowing of God’s own sacrifice of his son, Jesus) he still asks Abraham to sacrifice him, in the literal sense. Abraham was to bind Isaac, lay him upon an altar, kill him with a knife, and burn him.
My heart always skips a beat when I think about doing that to one of my children. I could not, and I can’t comprehend how Abraham could.
But as the next verse says, Abraham does not hesitate. He gets up early the next morning, and he begins what must have been a heart-rending three-day journey to Mount Moriah.
Isaac is old enough to know that an essential element of worship is missing, and he asks his father where the lamb is that they will need to sacrifice.
Abraham responds, “God will provide himself a lamb.”
But God does not choose to reveal that sacrifice until Abraham’s knife-hand is poised above his bound son.
And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. – Genesis 22:11,12
From Abraham’s perfect trust in God, I learn that I must trust God with my own children as well. Though I can’t imagine God would ever ask of me what he did of Abraham, I know I will have to give my children up to his will. I can’t keep them close to me forever, or they would never accomplish what he has for them. And as my daughter feels called to be a missionary in India, I have been preparing for a long time to let her go.
What inspires you about Abraham’s story? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.