Today we have read that significant chapter in Genesis (22) in which Abraham obeys the LORD by being prepared – without hesitation – to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. The progressive tests of faith which Abraham “passed” resulted in ever greater promises being made to him.
Did you notice how, the very first time God makes a promise to him, it is “I will make of you a great nation” [12 v.3] and “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” They started as families and developed into nations. Remember Abraham lived at a time when they lived longer lives than now; some family groups would have been extensive.
It is not until Abraham had shown his faith by leaving all behind to travel to an unknown land that God extended his promise to include his “offspring” [12 v.7] Then, after he has built an altar to the LORD and travelled to Egypt and back gaining wealth and prestige and had separated from Lot that the promise is extended to him “forever” and told he will have descendants as innumerable as the sand. [13 v.15-16]
Abraham then receives a vision from God in the night, and is now told his descendants will be as innumerable as the stars (this signifies, we suspect, spiritual descendants). There is a significant verse, “And he believed the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness” [15 v.6] But, of course, he had believed him before! However, this is the ultimate, the far reaching, challenge of belief. It is our challenge to!
At the age of 99 his name is changed from Abram to Abraham with all the significance of what that means [17 v.5-8] and “an everlasting covenant” is established. Then, the events we read of today happen – and almost 40 years have elapsed since God first revealed himself to Abram in Ur.
God sees Abraham as now being ready for the ultimate test of faith. Notice the final promises that are then made, “your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” [22 v.17-18]
How significant the words of Jesus, “Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” [John 8 v.56]. Let us share Abraham’s vision and also be glad. We must experience our own journey of faith – and it will be “counted” to us “for righteousness.”