God is able

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. – Hebrews 11:17-19

We examined the claims of Scripture that Christ is preparing a place for us – that heaven is real and that the glory of heaven will be being there face to face with the One who gave Himself for us. We mentioned briefly Abraham and his faith in offering Isaac up on the altar to God. What faith! He took the son he had been promised, the son of his old age, born in impossible circumstances, the son named “laughter” because both Abraham and Sarah laughed when God promised them the birth of a son in their old age, and he took him to offer him to God as a sacrifice. Abraham had such a faith in God that he obeyed without question when God commanded that he take Isaac and sacrifice him. Unquestioned obedience, even if it meant losing the fulfillment of a promise already given.

How could Abraham take God at His Word to the point that he was willing to kill his own son – the fulfillment of God’s promise after a lifetime of waiting? Is this faith, or madness? It is true, as I was told often by my mentor, “There is a fine line between faith and foolishness.” How did Abraham discern the difference between the two? How did he know what to do and think all the while that he was in his right mind and not being led astray by some cruel hallucination or self-deception?

First because Abraham knew the voice of God. Remember, His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:4-5). But we find that there is more to it than that. According to these verses his faith was not just in what God said, but it was rooted in who God is. It was His holy character, His inability to lie, His sure promises – it was that this was God telling him to do this thing. Abraham believed because he knew and trusted God.

We also know that there was more behind this faith. That is why we can say with assurance that true faith in God and His Word is never blind faith, it is never a leap in the dark. It is an informed faith based upon and given through the Word of God, which is true.

Isaac was given with this promise, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” This means that the great nation that was promised to come from Abraham, the nation through which the whole world would be blessed, this nation would come through the line of Isaac. So every promise tied to the covenant God made with Abraham hinged on the birth, life, and descendants of Isaac, the promised son.

How then could Abraham take this boy, this promised son, the heir of the covenant and head of a nation, and sacrifice him on the altar in worship and service to God? He had but one choice – obey or disobey God. His faith was such that while he was walking to the mountain, building the altar, and even preparing to thrust the knife into Isaac’s body as he lay bound helpless before him, Abraham trusted that God was able!

Able to do what? Able to keep His Word. Abraham trusted that God would honor His promise and keep His covenant. He had this faith to see that even if he killed Isaac, God was able to raise him from the dead. He was so sure that God would keep His Word that He truly believed that if he obeyed the command that God could and would resurrect Isaac from the dead.

Staring down into the face of a promise about to be lost, Abraham trusted in God’s character, holiness, and ability to keep His Word even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead after he had been sacrificed.

Of course, Abraham was stopped and a ram was provided, Jehovah-Jireh he declared as God had provided a sacrifice in Isaac’s stead. But what faith! To obey beyond logic and reason. To obey because of Who God is. To so know and devoutly trust God to lay his son’s life on that altar with assurance that he would live again even if he died.

Do we trust God like that? Do we trust God with our lives and the lives of our family? Do we walk by faith not based on what we think or how we feel, but based upon God’s character? Do we know Him well enough to trust Him like this?

Face it, it is difficult to trust God with our own life, much less the life of our family. Not because He cannot be trusted, but because we have so little faith and doubt so easily. We must trust God, because to fail to do so is to claim that God is a liar, that He cannot be trusted, that He will fail, that He is not able to keep His Word. God is not mocked. He is not weak. He cannot lie. His promise is sure. Trust Him.

In this brief look at these verses we see another striking lesson. Do you see the foreshadowing here? The picture of God the Father offering His only Son on the altar (cross) for our sin? There is a great and grand picture in this lesson from the life of Abraham. God offered His Son, and He went through with it, determining before the foundation of the world to give His Son’s life for our redemption.

In seeing this picture, notice the gospel truth. God is able. He did raise Jesus from the dead! Jesus, the Son of Man, the promised Messiah, the only hope for the lost, this Jesus who was taken and crucified, God has raised up (Acts 2:23-24).

The lesson here is to trust God. He is able. Whatever the promise is, whatever the trial is, whatever the potential loss is – God is able. Do you believe it? It’s true. He is true.

(tomorrow: Isaac’s Faith)