After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” Genesis 22:1
The life of Abraham serves the Church as an example of unquestioned faithfulness to God and the striving to do His will. Even as the world had fallen into disobedience to God’s will, God’s call to Abraham is a call for humanity to once again to live in His presence. As God called Abram to leave his homeland for a land unseen, Abram did so following the promise of the God he also could not see. As his wife Sarah was said to be barren, Abraham believed God would indeed make him the Father of a great nation. And finally, as God called Abraham to offer up his only son as sacrifice, Abraham demonstrated that he was willing to do so without question in order to remain faithful to the God who is sovereign and almighty.
The testing of Abraham is a most confusing text, yet through the narrative we begin to understand the lengths God is willing to go in order to save His people for their sin. Since the fall of humanity, the wages of our sin demand death. Living in disobedience to God means living apart from our Creator. There is no life apart from God, therefore living apart from our Creator means living in certain death with no hope for salvation. In his time of testing, Abraham followed God’s call choosing life with God by offering the death of his son.
We can’t deny the powerful images within this text just as we cannot imagine making such a choice in order to save our own lives. But through the testing of Abraham, God’s people can see the lengths God will go in order to bring salvation to those who are lost in sin. God is not only the God who tests faith, but He is also the God who provides the means for salvation whether faith is weak or strong.
As Abraham was about to take the life of his son Isaac, God intervened and provided the suitable substitution for sacrifice. The ram caught in the thicket by its horns was no mistake; it was no coincidence. God provided Abraham and his son Isaac with the atoning sacrifice. In the same way, God offered His only Son Jesus for the same purpose, to provide the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. As Christian people we believe that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus. As we continue to strive to follow God’s will and purpose for our lives, our grateful response to grace is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices by showing the love and compassion of God for our neighbor in word and deed.
As we progress through this journey of Advent, the texts of the season help us to come to the understanding that in all instances and in all matters of faith, God will provide for the needs of His people. Perhaps you don’t feel you have the strong faith of Abraham. Perhaps you feel your faith is weak and fragile. Even so, faith, strong or weak, is still faith. Because Christ gave His life as atonement for our sin, we no long face such testing as Abraham. God’s grace is freely given to those who believe; given by the almighty and loving God who is provider of all that we need.
Good and gracious God, just as you found your servant Abraham to be faithful in following your will, strengthen us through your Holy Spirit to follow your Son Jesus Christ. Give us hearts for love and hands to work according to your will, so that those who we meet may come to realize the joy of your salvation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.