Abraham was one of God's great men. He is still honored today by the three most prominent religions of the world!
He was a man of great faith and courage, but his was also a life of many trials which tested that faith, and required tremendous patience. God had promised him a son and after a great many years of waiting, the promise of God was fulfilled in the birth of his son, Isaac (Hebrew for "Laughter") when He was one hundred years old.
After Abraham had passed all the tests of faith and patience, God tested him once more:
1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Our standards are often much different from God's. The rational Christianity of our day would often accept following God but never at the risk of our own families. It might allow for me as an individual to become a missionary and risk a difficult or dangerous lifestyle but God would surely understand if I declined because I have a family that must live at a certain comfort level.
Every good person wants to provide for his or her family and make them feel safe, healthy and relatively comfortable. Yet God called Abraham to do the unthinkable - sacrifice his own son! Not merely his own son, but the son of promise, the son he longed for and waited for so long for!
I love Abraham's response to God's test:
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning...
Some speculate that he wrestled all night with the difficulty of what God had asked him to do and by early morning had made up his mind to comply. But the Scripture doesn't tell us that. It only tells us that "Abraham rose early in the morning."
To me this indicates the immediacy and unhesitant response of Abraham to obey!
Perhaps it was the many years of waiting for Isaac and then seeing Isaac arrive in the impossible timing of his old age that made his faith so strong!
I often found myself struggling in my youth to obey God. When God gave me a command, I wrestled with Him, perhaps for some days or longer before I obeyed. Now I move more quickly when God tells me to do something. Not that I have arrived at spiritual perfection - I have grown but still have room to grow!
Part of my expedited obedience is simply a practical matter. I have learned the hard way that God's way is best! It is not that I am so wonderfully obedient but as it has been said, "My arm's too short to box with God!"
I imagine Abraham's faith to be on a higher level. He surely knew the practical consequences of obeying God as well as the negative consequences of disobedience. Isaac (Laughter) was the happy consequence of obedience and Ishmael was the result of his own impatience while waiting for God's answer.
Ishmael brought sadness to Abraham's life because he left when he was grown and could no longer be a part of God's great plan of making Abraham the father of the nation of Jews! Isaac brought great joy to Abraham as a sign of God's blessing and as the fulfillment of God's promise!
No sports fans - God did not allow Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. He is not like the other gods of the nations which demand human sacrifice. God provided another sacrifice - the ram in the bush.
What a great picture illustrating the death of Jesus as the lamb to be substituted as a sacrifice for us! God stepped in and stopped Abraham from killing Isaac and showed him the ram caught in the thorns. When the wages of our sins demanded death, God stopped us from being killed and showed us Jesus with a crown of thorns on His head!
If we rise early in the morning to obey God even when it seems like His commandments will kill what we love most, we will find that what is good will remain and God will provide the sacrifice for us.
When it comes down to it, nothing that is good will ever be taken from us by God. It may seem that way at the time but only what is bad for us will be taken by God.
If you feel like you have been waiting a long time for something you believe God has promised, look at Abraham. Wait for God! You will not be disappointed!
After you have experienced God's promises fulfilled and God seemingly tells you to sacrifice them, rise early to obey!
...Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
I Tim 4:8b
In the end, it never costs to obey God - it only pays!