God Wanted Abraham
“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.’” (Genesis 22:1, 2)
The criticism that this story is often subjected to in the world is unwarranted. If you’re familiar with this story at all, you know that God stopped Abraham from killing his son Isaac on the altar. God never asked another human being to do anything like this, and a strong case can be made that God never wanted Isaac. If God wanted Isaac, why did He bless Abraham even though Abraham technically didn’t complete the sacrifice? What did God want?
God wanted Abraham. He wanted Abraham’s complete trust. God wanted Abraham to obey Him even if He didn’t understand why God was asking him to do something. God wanted to be bigger in Abraham’s mind than He already was…not because God needed Abraham’s praise to be great. Abraham needed God to be bigger in his mind. This was best for Abraham and the reward of Abraham’s faith is a lesson for us. In fact, the reward of Abraham’s faith has reached the whole world through the coming of Christ: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18).
When we are facing something that we feel like no one else is having to face, have we ever asked: “What do you want, God? Why is this happening to me?” Abraham could have asked the same thing and we already know the answer in his case. God wanted Abraham, and God wants me. God wants my complete trust. God wants to be bigger in my mind. He wants me to see His unlimited power to give me what He has promised. He wants me to remember that I haven’t done anything without Him and that I would be nothing without Him.
The testing of Abraham shows us that we never get too strong for these kind of lessons. The book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham had already decided God would raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19). God didn’t promise to raise Isaac from the dead, but God did specify that the promises of a land, a nation, and a descendant who would bless all the families of the earth would come through Isaac. Abraham knew God would not break His promises so he decided that God was going to raise Isaac from the dead. It is hard to imagine God being bigger in Abraham’s mind.
However, Abraham was wrong about one thing. God didn’t raise Isaac from the dead. Abraham was wrong about this because He had no way of knowing all that God was doing or would do. In this way, God showed Abraham that He was still bigger and greater than even a man with great faith like Abraham could imagine. As Paul has said, God “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
In difficult times, it’s not wrong to ask questions, but the story of Abraham’s test provides some necessary perspective. God wants me. God wants me to trust Him more and He wants to be bigger in my mind. Sometimes it is easy to know what needs to change in our lives. Many times, though, we have no choice but to wait for the Lord to show us what He can do. We have to endure difficulties with nothing else but the hope of God’s faithfulness. God's faithfulness is tremendous, but it is often hard for us to see clearly. It may just be that the whole point of what we are going through is to remind us that we haven’t done anything without God and we would be nothing without Him.
Even when we don’t know why something is happening, we can usually know how God wants us to respond to the event and the people who are involved. If we would learn from the example of Abraham, we should realize that faith doesn’t make excuses. Faith obeys, even when we don’t understand everything that God is doing. So, let us rejoice with Paul in our distresses, for Christ’s sake. When we are aware of our weaknesses, we can be turned to God who gives us the strength to make it to the end. (2 Corinthians 12:10).