Mention the word, “Test,” and you will strike terror into the heart of the average person. Blood pressure will rise and brows will become sweaty. Needless to say, most of us don’t like tests.
Some tests are Pass—Fail. There’s no middle ground for “almost.” Some tests are used to weed out candidates down to a manageable number. Tests are used to identify areas of giftedness in children.
God uses tests to prove our faith and demonstrate the growth in our lives. God also uses tests to reveal something about himself that we might not already know. In a very intense, personal test, God reveals himself to Abraham as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham discovers that Jehovah Jireh provides all we need and more besides.
Oftentimes, we get confused by temptation and tests. James 2:1-15 helps explain the difference.
Comes from evil desires within
Comes from God above
|Reveals our weaknesses||
Reveals our strengths
Brings out the worst in us
|Brings out the best in us|
Common to all
|Unique to each person|
|Results in our failure||
Results in our growth
God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on one of the mountains of Moriah. God does not ask us to give what we do not treasure or what we no longer care for or need. God asks us to give him the very best we have. When he asks us to make this type of sacrifice, it is often because he wants to give us something even better.
Chances are good that all of us have an Isaac that we are reluctant to give up. It may be a career, a car, a retirement account, a vacation, a relationship, security, or … The question we have to wrestle with is, “Do I love God MORE than I love __________?”
After a three-day journey, Abraham arrives at Mt. Moriah. Heading up the mountains, Isaac notes the fire, the wood, and the knife. When he asks his father where the lamb is for the sacrifice, Abraham responds in faith, “God will provide for himself the lamb.”
Regardless of whether it appears logical or illogical, reasonable or unreasonable, we need to be obedient to God’s commands. We must give him our all, holding nothing back. We cannot procrastinate since delayed obedience is really disobedience. We cannot make the journey to the altar of sacrifice but stop short of completion because partial obedience is complete disobedience.
Abraham obeyed because he kept his focus on God’s character. He was confident that “the Lord will provide.” Abraham also kept his focus on God’s promises. He stated, “I and the boy will worship AND return.”
God designs tests to prove the quality of our faith. To pass the test, we must pay attention to the sequence. In Abraham’s case, the sequence was OBEY … GOD PROVIDES. We want to change the order. If God provides, we think, then I will obey. But God calls us to obey and trust him. Then he reveals himself to us.
Abraham remembers the lesson by naming the place, Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Will Provide. How will you remember the things you learn about God?
Not only does God provide the ram for the sacrifice, he also expands the scope of his blessings to Abraham. Abraham discovered that Jehovah Jireh provides all we need and more besides.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 17, 2016. It is part of a series on The Names of God. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.