LIFE'S GREAT TEST

GENESIS 22:1-18


Genesis 22:1-18 New King James Version (NKJV)



Abraham’s Faith Confirmed


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.”

3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.

5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.

7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.

9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.”

12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,

16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—

17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.

18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”



Dr. Gough:


All of life has its tests - not just in school.

--Remember, in classes, unexpected pop quizzes, or big ones, to see if we passed? So God tests us, also.

--One day, our Master Teacher will give us final exams.

--So we all face tests; but few as great as Abraham's.

--And certainly none like our Lord Jesus faced for us.


Abraham's life reveals four great tests he faced.

--When God asked him to leave Ur - his relatives, region, and religion - for a better land and life.

--Next, when his nephew Lot departed, for Sodom.

--Then, when Ishmael and his mother Hagar went away.

--The greatest, was when God asked that Abraham give up "his only son Isaac, whom you love," to God.

--In each he was asked to give up something very dear.

--That's why it is a test .. a test of holy faith.


I recall of the many, some great tests in my own life.

--When Dad's appendix ruptured, with peritonitis, -in a hospital many weeks, wondered daily if he'd live.

--We five children were home. We all learned to pray.

--It brought us to face life's importance, and faith.

--Or again, when all going well - leading worship, and communion for over 6000 at our denomination convention in Detroit, receiving my Seminary Service Award; and on the final fifth day, called out by my brother.

--My Mother had died in an auto accident in Tesas, and "would I please come, as Dad, my sister and baby are in the hospital." And a number of other great tests.


How about you? What great tests have you faced?

--The Bible is full of tests, but the greatest is Jesus!

--Tested 40 days by the devil in the desert .. or Gethsemane .. or the cross .. not for His sins, but ours.


In Genesis 22, in the seventh appearance of God to him, Abraham faced his supreme crisis - "sacrifice Isaac."

--What can we learn, to help us face our great tests?


I. GOD'S TESTING IS TOLD, TO BE EXPECTED (Gen. 22:1,2).

--"God tested Abraham." In Hebrew, nasah,"try, prove."

--Scripture, history, experignce, show testing comes.

--Comes, unexpected. So let's expect it, and prepare.


God never tempts. Satan tempts, to get us to fall.

--God tests. To teach, strengthen, prove and improve.

--Like the auto makers with proving grounds, where many of our parishioners worked, put cars through tests.

--Why? To prove, and improve their products.


God said, "Take .. your only son Isaac, offer him.. on the land of Moriah" (v 2). The son "whom you love."

--The only place in the Bible God commands human sacrifice, and only for a test - for it is wrong!

--Child sacrifice is wrong. Pagans do it.

--It is sinful to take a life! Abraham knew it.

--Yet this is what God had told Abraham to do.

--How could, God "bless the world through Isaac," if he is not here? What a dilemma. Yet Abraham obeyed.


God had never deceived, or failed, Abraham before.

--It was his greatest test. And for Isaac also.

--It drew them close to God. Close to one another.


II. THE TEST IS TAKEN, FOR EXAMINATION (Gen. 22:3-10).

--Aren't you amazed at Abraham's faith? Look at verse 3, "Abraham rose early .. took two young men.. Isaac his son .. and went to the place God had told him."

--Do you, or I, have that kind of trust? Obedience?

--This father and son did! Isaac could have fled!

--They were willing to take the test from God.


"On the third day .. they saw the place afar off" (v 4).

--What do you think they felt, or talked of this time?

--Maybe, "Dad, can we be sure this is of God?"

--Maybe Abraham said, "Son, I've walked with God a long time, and God has never failed me yet."

--Isaac may have said, "I don't understand, do you?"

--Dad may reply, "I don't understand it, either; yet I know God loves us, guided us, never asked me to do a thing that did not prove to be best for me, and you."

--"So let's just follow the Lord and His Word closely".


So they kept climbing toward Mount Moriah. Obeying.

--Not one word in Genesis do we read of their feelings.

--What they were thinking. of good times, or tears.

--I don't know, but it was sort of like a funeral.

--At such times, one hardly knows what's best to say.

--Every step was testing their faith.


In the light of Jesus and His cross, this is similar.

--Indeed, it is a type of what God used to save us all.

--How? Isaac and Jesus were brought to same site area.

--It was Mount Moriah. Willingly, both were offered.

--The wood that Isaac carried, reminds us of the cross that Jesus bore up to Calvary.

--Of both it was said by God, "thine only son, Isaac," to Abraham; and Jesus is "the only begotten Son," of the Eternal Father, God.

--Both willingly accepted, from God, to be a sacrifice.

--Both submitted, without deserving to die.


This is something to keep in mind, for God's plan.

--Abraham's test requires of them what ours does of us.

--Faith in the Word of God. Our willingness to obey.

--To defeat daily temptations - tests of the Spirit.


Abraham had followed God many decades. Many tests.

--He knew, if he disobeyed, the Lord would discipline.

--He felt, I don't understand it; but I'm trusting God.

--It reminds us of Jesus' tests - Satan, Gethsemane.

--Even "the two young men" Abraham brought remind us of the two malefactors crucified with Jesus.


Satan tempts; God tests. Satan tempted Adam and Eve.

--He presented attractive alternatives to God's will.

--The devil makes disobedience look so inviting.

--Adam and Eve yielded - but not Abraham!

--He had a faith that did not fail; his love prevailed.


We visited Fredericksburg, VA, where you can see still the stone where slaves stood to be auctioned off.

--I heard of a man who walked up to a young slave, and asked, "If I buy you, will you be honest? Truthful?"

--The youth replied, "I will be honest and good, whether you buy me or not!" Thank God for youth like that.

--His conduct did not depend on circumstances!


On the mount, preparing, Isaac said, "I see the fire .. I see the wood. But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

--Young Isaac knew a sacrifice to God needed a lamb.

--This sacrificial principle was established by God in the Garden of Eden. It was to be Isaac, his dad knew.

--Listen! If Abraham was to fail, it would be then!


III. THE TEST IN TRIUMPH, TO ENCOURAGE US (v 11-18).

--Some tests are small - to steal, cheat, or lie.

--This was an Olympic juggernaut - give up a dear son!

--He told Isaac, "God will provide Himself a lamb."

--He proceeded to build an altar, lay Isaac, on it.

--Abraham was obeying the Lord, no matter how painful.

--Listen! "The angel of the Lord called to him out of heaven, "Do not lay your hand on the lad., for I know that you fear God" (v 12) The test, passed.

--Abraham looked, "behind him was a ram caught..by its horns .. and offered it for an offering," not Isaac!

--God did provide .. "a lamb." As He did Jesus for us!


God spared Abraham's son. He did spare His own.

--Said, "I will bless you .. in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you obeyed My voice" (v 18). You see it pays, to obey.

--That's how saints are made. God is glorified.<


Later, in Hebrews 11:17-19, Abraham's faith is honored "concluding that God was able to raise him (Isaac), up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense." The test was triumphant!

--Would to God, all were, from all of us!

--That kind of faith brings angels near! And victory!


As a young minister Peter Marshall influenced me much.

--Pastor in Washington, Chaplain of the Senate, a real man of God, with a Spirit-filled wife, Catherine.

--Of his life she wrote a book, "A MAN CALLED PETER."

--They made it into a fine, Christian movie.

--Later, Catherine developed tuberculosis; ill months.

--They prayed much; doctors, meds, rest - no avail.

--Finally in tears and prayers Catherine said to God, "Lord, if You want me this way the rest of my life, then, Dear Lord, I am willing - for Your sake."

--Somehow, from then, she began to get well!

--In her great test of faith, she too triumphed.


Dear friend, let's hold on to God, in all of our tests.

--Obedience, faithfulness, win! If not here, hereafter.


Be "Born again," in Jesus; let trials make us God-like.

--It is the best life going. With a great future!

--Be "risen with Christ!"



Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 848

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