How To Navigate The Tests of God: Abraham and Isaac

Genesis 21-22: God tests Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac

First, read the story on your own lol. It's key in understanding the rest of the post. However, to sum it up, several passages before, God told Abraham, "Friend of God", that his wife Sarah would birth him a son, despite the fact that they were both REALLY old. They didn't believe God would do it, (and tried to "help" God out by having Abraham conceive a baby with another woman, Hagar) but He did. Isaac was a miracle baby that God had promised to them and then in Genesis 21, God tests Abraham by telling him to kill Isaac as an offering to God. Crazy, right? But just as Abraham was obediently going to do it, God stops him and tells him it was a test to see how far Abraham was willing to go to prove his love. Wow.

So as I meditated on this today, I zoomed into verse 2 of chapter 22. Notice what was required in the test. Even today, I believe, whatever the situation you're experiencing, I bet, looks similar to what God was testing Abraham on.

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.

  • Release your valued treasure. Cling to nothing else more than you cling to God.
    • Isaac was promised to Abraham. He was Abraham and Sarah's miracle baby, yet God was calling Abraham to release him in this teset. Was it because God didn't like Isaac or something was wrong with him? No. God was trying to see just how much Abraham loved Him vs. Isaac. You see, there will be things that are in your life that, if you're not careful, will distract you from being devoted to God. They may even be things you prayed for like your dream job, your dream spouse, money, material objects, whatever. God may have blessed them with you because He loves you, but He never desires to see you love anything else more than Him (Deuteronomy 6:5). When you start putting anything else before God, be prepared to get tested or have it flat out snatched from you. You cannot expect to accomplish great things for God when you're clinging to anything more strongly than Him.
Pre-test yourself by:
          • 1) asking yourself, periodically, what in your life do you treasure and if it's an idol 
          • 2) asking the Holy Spirit to reveal anything to you that you're more devoted to than God.

  • Surrender your control. selflessness, and humility.
    • Listen to God's tone in verse 2. I mean, those are commandments. "Take", "Get", "Offer", and He also throws in "NOW" which makes me toughen up as I reread it lol. There were no questions asked of Abraham here. He was TOLD. He wasn't in control. God didn't ask any questions. There was an expectation of obedience. If God tests you, He's expecting your obedience. You WILL NOT be in control. The sooner you realize that, the better. (It's like when your mama asked you to do something you didn't want to do as a kid, but you knew it wasn't a question, so you had to just do it because you knew the penalty would be greater if you tried to decline?) That means you have to surrender your will and your direction. God was specific to Abraham regarding His desires. He said the land of Moriah. Do you think another location was an option? Not if Abraham wanted to pass that test. Like when you do a GREAT job writing a paper, include your citations in all, but get no credit because you danced around the topic and missed the point of the assignment God was providing answers in Moriah only. So, in your situation, realize that you're not in control. Stop trying to "help" God. Stop trying to figure it out. Surrender and follow the directions He gives. The directions that He chooses to withhold, He will give soon enough; just be in position to hear from Him. (see bullet 1; Remove anything that will distract your devotion from God and block you from hearing His voice)

  • Be willing to leave the familiar 
    • God told Abraham to take Isaac to the land of Moriah to sacrifice Isaac. This wasn't Abraham's home. I don't know what about Moriah was important, but I do know that home is where the heart is; where happiness and family is. If Abraham would've been somewhere at home trying to sacrifice Isaac in broad daylight, Sarah would've tried to stop him, and he probably would've listened since he let her convince him to cheat with Hagar. Abraham would've probably tried to "help" God too, because when we are in our domain and think we're in control, we try to manipulate situations, thinking that we're the expert on them. So God had to call him to detach himself from what was comfortable. He will call you to do the same during your test.
    • Whatever test you're experiencing, God wants to use it to draw you closer to Him. Chances are, if you stay in the same state of familiarity and complacency that you're in, you won't feel the need to depend and cling to Him. Leaving what's familiar forces you to look to God because you know He knows, and you don't.
      • What is "the familiar" to you? What is "home"? If you want to accomplish greater things for God, be willing to journey away from it and enjoy the trip. Don't try to be the leader of the unknown. Trust the Leader who knows everything.

  • An offering/sacrifice
    • Isaac was the sacrifice. Isaac- Abraham's only son, as God called him. As I said earlier, we know Isaac was Abraham's prized possession. Notice that God didn't ask Abraham to offer his servant or his "illegitimate" son, Ishmael. Sorry, Ish, but you aren't Abraham's treasure like Isaac. God is only pleased when what we offer Him what is the best because that's what the Creator of the Universe deserves; He doesn't deserve nor desire scraps. It's shown countless times in the Bible. God wants pure sacrifices, and He doesn't want leftovers. God blesses us with so much, the least we can do is be willing to sacrifice and give to Him. What is your prized possession? Be willing to give it to God. Don't just give out of routine; give as a sacrificial offering. It's going to cost you something.
      • God's been working with me on this. He has blessed me so much financially, out of nowhere, and lately, He's been working on me when it comes to offering in church particularly. My church obligations have become like a bill. I give, and there's no flexibility in it. I pay X amount for tithes, X amount for offering, X amount for missions, etc. No fluctuation. The Holy Spirit has been pushing me in this area because an offering should be a sacrifice, I believe, in direct relation to what God has done for you. It should please Him. How selfish that God would bless me with, for example, $1,000 in a month and I still give my monthly $10 sacrifice? Your offering is a part of worship and praise to God. Don't just give out of compliance, but offer Him your best because He's worthy of such. AND GIVE HIM YOUR BEST (See story of Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel because God was more pleased with Abel's offering because it was the firstfruits/best that Abel had to give). PS offering isn't just limited to finances. Whatever you have is His, so give it to Him and perform it as praise to Him; job, service, gift, talent, whatever.
  • Wait for more specific directions; walk by faith and not by sight
    • God said, " of the mountains of which I will tell thee of". That means, He told Abraham to move to the land of Moriah (a general area), without giving Him the specifics. WOW. *raises hand* This is where I am. You see, maybe God doesn't give us the full directions and locations of where to go because then we'll plot and scheme to try to go ahead of Him before we're ready. Imagine if God told you, as a single, who you'll marry before it was time to marry him. If you're me, you'd run to him and elope within the hour lol, regardless of whether or not God said it was time. You'd miss out on the specifics that God has for you to learn on the journey. It's the same from a spiritual context. God will give us clues and hints to where He's leading to get us to trust Him and start moving, but because He's the leader, He doesn't have to give us, as followers, every single direction upfront. We just have to submit to the fact that He knows best and be willing to follow where He leads. This is walking by faith, not by sight. In your test, you have to be willing to walk ahead by trusting that God has a final destination at the end of the test. Don't limit Him by telling Him what you see in front of you. Just take the steps in the area He's leading.

  • Move with immediacy
    • Verse 3 says that "Abraham rose up early in the morning". He moved quickly! God told him to go. He didn't ask questions. He didn't ask permission from Sarah. He got his things and moved. I'm guilty of it too, but some of us get a word from God, know what He says, but ask for confirmation 50 times to be sure before we move. You failed. To pass God's tests, hear the commandment to move and move. Get going. And if He says be still, be still. Whichever it is, be obedient to it.
  • Be discreet. Isolation may be required.
    • In verse 5, Abraham sees that he is just about at the spot and so, taking the sacrifice, Isaac, he tells everyone else to stay put. They weren't needed for the next part of the process. When Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, an audience wouldn't be required. Everyone doesn't need to see or know every detail of what you're going through.
    • Notice also, the Bible never mentions that Abraham went home and told anyone, including his wife. Understand that when God is testing you, it's not for everyone to have to know, because you open yourself up to get feedback and criticism from others, that only serves as a distraction. Whatever God has told you is for you. It's not up for debate. Your test is not everyone's business. Yes- you can testify and glorify God for what He's done and did afterwards. That's different, but ultimately, passing your test requires an intimacy between you and God for the sake of clearly hearing what He is saying to you.
  • Endure. Unexpected travel time may be required.
    • The journey from where Abraham was to where he had to go would last 3 days. Not only was God asking him to kill his beloved son, He wanted to put in work and travel for 3 days? WOW, but yeah, that's how God's test are. Not only is He asking you to sacrifice, He's asking you to endure potential hardships and do extra work in the process. The endurance that God is requiring of you now has purpose in your next. Be willing to go the extra miles for God.
  • Reverence and fear of God
    • Verse 12. An angel comes to tell Abraham to stop, just in the nick of time. Ultimately, it wasn't that God wanted Abraham to kill Isaac, but if Abraham would be willing to sacrifice what he valued most to be obedient to God. It may not be that God wants you to actually suffer, as much as God wants to see if you're willing to suffer to glorify Him. It may not be that God wants you to lose the job, but He wants to see if you're willing to for His sake. It's about the attitude. Abraham's reverence for God far exceeded his desire for anything else and showed his devotion to God. God knew He could trust Abraham.
And so he did. Immediately, Isaac was spared and Abraham was blessed abundantly; for generations to come. WOW. He was later written in the "Hall of Faith" (Hebrews 111) and thousands of years later, his legacy lives on.

God intentionally tested Abraham. It says so in verse 1 of chapter 22. Many of you who are reading this may be in an unfamiliar situation that you cannot comprehend. Have you ever considered that God is intentionally testing you? Testing your faith? Testing your love and devotion for Him? You see- God has plans for you. Plans to prosper you. Plans that are in the center of His will to do something great for Him, but you have to be ready. Think about a parent-child relationship. There's a period of time, no matter what culture, where the child is under the wing of their parent. There are things that they have to learn under the watch-care of Mom and Dad before they are deemed mature enough to go into the world and be successful. It's the same with God. He loves us too much to just throw us into situations before we're ready, so He tests us purposefully as means to mold us and stretch us to His image in order to prosper in the level that He plans to lead us in to. You're the clay; Submit to the Potter.

Don't allow your success or circumstance to exceed your love and devotion to God.  Surrender to Him. Give Him your all and watch Him give all to you. Your blessing lies on the other side of this test.

Studying To Pass The Test, 

Dear God, Thank you for being You. Thank You for Your love for each and every one of us. So much love that even in Your holiness and our filthiness, You thought we were worth the actual sacrifice of your only begotten Son, so that we have access to You. In all our muck and mire, you saw vessels that You could use for your glorification and sanctification. I'm in awe that you'd even want a relationship with me. I am completely and utterly unworthy of such. The fact that you'd be willing to fight my battles, in spite of how wishy-washy I am. I have "snap chat" faith and you still lead me beside You. What a God! Help us, God. Help us cling to You during the test and after; no matter the circumstance. Let us set you high and exalted and never let You leave our sight. Keep us affixed to you, O God. Strengthen us to hold your hand , no matter the circumstance. Stretch our faith and grow us God to be more like you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers- Why Not Trust God Again?
The Mississippi Mass Choir feat. Leandria Johnson- God's On Your Side
Raquel Melissa- He'll Do It Again
Marvin Sapp- Never Would've Made It