Have you ever experienced a difficult situation that made you wonder if your faith in God was misplaced? That maybe all the things you had heard about Christianity were actually myth? That you should ignore all this religious stuff and just face your life doing the best you could?
Have you ever been involved in something you were sure God wanted you to do – and it wasn’t going well, or maybe even looking like it was failing and should be abandoned? You began to question if you had really understood what God had called you to do? Why would God lead you to something that wasn’t successful?
This next example in Hebrews 11 makes me stop and shudder.
Hebrews 11: 17 – 22 NLT
“It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, 18 even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.
20 It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.
21 It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.
22 It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.”
Remember how Abraham was led by God to leave his country at 75 years of age to go to a promised land? Remember how God had promised him a son, and at age 99, that son had yet to appear? We didn’t even mention the many stories in Genesis where Abraham met a ton of very difficult situations over those 25 years. And now, God was asking Abraham to sacrifice his son?
Honestly, I don’t think I could have done what Abraham did. If I had based my life over several years certain that God had called me to a certain job, or a particular ministry, or a loving relationship that was the center of my life … and then felt God was asking me to give it up? I’m not sure I could do that. I would think that I must be mistaken. God wouldn’t do something like that. Surely, God wouldn’t bring something into my life that would have the potential of destroying it.
No wonder, Abraham was included in this list of people who were examples of faith. He was willing to follow God’s leading no matter what. He was willing to give up his adored promised son, sure that God had a plan.
I don’t know what you are going through right now. These past couple of years have been so hard. You may be wondering if your faith has been misplaced. You may be questioning how much God really cares for you. You may be facing some difficult decisions and hoping that somehow God will make things work out for the best. So many questions in your mind. Can you trust God?
Remember the opening verses to Hebrews 11?
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”
That is what God is asking us to do each day. Have faith that he is in control of all these difficult situations in life. I’ve included the account of the sacrifice of Isaac so you can read the full story. As you read it, ask God to help you grow your faith, to completely trust him.
Genesis 22: 1 – 19 NLT
“Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, 7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants[a] beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. 18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
19 Then they returned to the servants and traveled back to Beersheba, where Abraham continued to live.”
Our song for today is In God We Trust by Hillsong Worship.