Have you ever desperately asked and prayed for something and finally received it—only to have it taken from you again? Or perhaps worse, received it and then lived in perpetual fear of what could happen—a fear that robs you of truly being able to enjoy the gift?
When God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, there is more going on here than a terrible, costly offering. We know this because God later makes it abundantly clear to the Israelites that child sacrifice is utterly detestable to him (Deuteronomy 12:31). Instead, God is challenging his own promise to make Abraham a father of nations through Isaac. God is testing Abraham’s obedience to God –and more importantly his faith in God’s covenant and God himself—because Isaac represents God’s promise to Abraham.
In a sense God was asking, “Do you trust my word? Do you love me more than my blessing?” And centuries later God demonstrated with utter finality that he was worthy of both trust and love. Notice the striking parallel from God’s own mouth between Isaac (God’s promise to Abraham) and Jesus (God’s promise to mankind):
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love . . .”
– Genesis 22:2
And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." – Matthew 3:17
Just as Abraham prophetically said “God himself will provide the lamb”, John the Baptist prophetically proclaimed of Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
If you are in Jesus, if he has taken away your sin and been your sacrifice substitute, then God is worthy of both your trust and love—even when it doesn’t feel like God is blessing you.
The cold, hard fact is that often blessings from the hand of God don’t feel like blessing at the time. But if God did not withhold his own Son, whom he loves, if that Son was the Lamb slain in your place, “how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32)
1. What is the last thing you desperately prayed for? Did you receive it or not? How did you respond? How did the situation turn out?
2. What is your initial response in reading the story of Abraham and Isaac? Could you have responded in the way Abraham did?
3. Can you remember a hard time in your life that was a blessing from God when you look back in retrospect?