In my last GodPonder,
I reflected on those “light bulb” events in our life that make us utter the words “Now I know…”
As I was reading through Genesis the other day, I came across the phrase yet again. This time it is in the story of Abraham and Isaac from Genesis 22. At the ripe old age of 100 Abraham finally has a son through his wife Sarah. So delighted are Abraham and Sarah at the birth of their little boy, that they name him “Laughter.” (Isaac)
6 Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me."
Genesis 21:6 (NIV)
On the heels of that great joy and just a few short years later, chapter 22 opens with these words…
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. 2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV)
Sometimes we find a verse or phrase in Scripture that jumps out at us for it’s simplicity or its oddity. When we come to Chapter 22 verse 1 in the context of the story we see a verse that stands out for its oddity. In what any father might call a huge understatement we find the little phrase “God tested Abraham.”
I have taken hard tests in my day. I had finals in college that made me physically ill, I was so nervous. But this is no pop quiz. It’s not even a doctoral exam or “The Bar”. This is an enormous test for Abraham to take this child of the promise, the laughter of their lives, their one and only son and offer him up as a sacrifice. While we could ponder the amazement of the request or the unbelievable compliance of Abraham, I want us to skip through all that and pause near the end of the story. (Read the whole story in Genesis 22:1-19)
10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. 12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
Genesis 22:10-12 (NIV)
Have you ever looked at some type of optical illusion perhaps it was a drawing the like one here with Jesus in it. When you first look at it you don’t often see “the object” or get the “point” of the illusion, but once you see it, it becomes so obvious you wonder why you missed it before. Can you see Jesus in the drawing here?”
The words of Genesis 22:10-12 are just like that drawing of Jesus, something you might not see at first, or at least I didn’t see it at first. Did you catch the phrase? I marked it for you in the text, “Now I know…” These words of God spoken to Abraham leapt off the page. God knew? Yes He knew. The simple truth is God always knew. He knew even before he asked Abraham. We are talking about the all knowing, all powerful, Sovereign of the universe. I heard years ago a phrase I have repeated, perhaps too often, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?” If this phrase is new, ponder it for a moment. God never has any light bulb moments where something comes into clarity that he was otherwise confused about. To quote the good Dr. Martin Luther, “God is God.”
This thought leads me to a deeper ponder. The simple fact is that God does test us. His Word tells us that. But why? What is the point of the testing if God already knows what we know or how we will respond or react.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James 1:2-3 (NIV)
The testing is for our benefit. He wants us to know what we are, with his presence, capable of! James says it produces in us perseverance. But perseverance for what? This testing produces in us the courage and knowledge that by God’s grace and presence we CAN stand up to all that this world, Satan, and even our very own flesh can throw against us.
Think of all the challenges that lay ahead for Abraham and Isaac. Can you imagine the confidence and trust that this one event built into their lives. What confidence and trust has God built through your times of testing?
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:37 (NIV)
Next time you feel your faith being tested, consider it a joy and look for what you can learn from the experience.
<>< Craig McCourt
Don’t get stuck in the all to easy self seeking ponders of this world. Take some time to ponder Christ and have yourself a GodPonder!