Abraham – Passing the Ultimate Test

This is lesson 5 of 5 in the Abraham sermonlink series. Find this and other pursueGOD.org sermons on YouTube here.

Think about the hardest final you had in school. Before you took this final you probably felt nervous. If you didn’t sufficiently study for it, then chances are the final didn’t go well for you. In Genesis 22, Abraham faces his final exam. This isn’t the end of his life, but it’s the climax of his journey with God. And this story demonstrates just how much you may have to give up to follow God. At the same time, this chapter demonstrates God’s incredible love.

Genesis 22:1-2 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called…“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.”

God Will Test How Much You Trust Him

This unusual command from God is actually a test for Abraham. Abraham didn’t know this would be a test, but this helps explain what God is doing in this story. God is testing the quality of Abraham’s faith. God will do the same in your life. He will test your trust by putting you in difficult situations where it is challenging to obey him. But God intends for you to succeed in these tests. He puts these tests in your life for your good. When you pass the test you find out how much you trust him, and your obedience is an act of worship.

Genesis 22:3 The next morning Abraham got up early…and set out for the place God had told him about.

Abraham had an interesting response to God’s command. He started obeying right away!

[Related: Was God Angry in the Old Testament?]

God Demands We Give Up What We Love Most

God’s command to Abraham was a command to give up what he loved most in the world: Isaac. Isaac was not only his beloved son, but he was the key to all of God’s promises. By killing Isaac, Abraham would be killing God’s covenant.

What do you love more than anything else in the world? Most people’s great love comes in the form of possessions, career, personal ambitions, or relationships. If any of these takes the place of God in your life, then they become an idol. This means that if you love good things, but in the wrong way, they will actually harm you. God lovingly calls you to release these things. When God is first, then all of these other things find their proper place and bring joy into your life.

[Related: Deny Yourself for Greater Joy]

God Gives Us More Than We Could Ever Give Him

Abraham obediently followed God’s command. He and Isaac, who is probably a teenager at this point, make their way to the top of the mountain. Abraham binds Isaac, who doesn’t struggle, and places him on the altar. Just before Abraham brings the knife down, God stops him.

Genesis 22:12 “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.”

Abraham passed the test. As a result, God intensified the blessings that Abraham and his descendants would receive.

This story, however, points forward to another Father who would sacrifice his Son. But this Son wouldn’t be spared. He would die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. This Son is Jesus. And just as Abraham was prepared to give up Isaac, the Father gave up Jesus for us.

Romans 8:32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

God demands that we be willing to give up everything for him. Yet, you can never out-give God. This is why you can trust him to the fullest. By trusting God, Abraham was used by God in an incredible way. God is still writing his story today. When you trust in him, you too get to play a part in this story.

[Related: The Cost of Salvation]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What’s the hardest test you have ever taken? What made it so hard?
  3. Read Genesis 22:1. How would this story be different if Abraham knew it was a test from the beginning?
  4. Why does God test us? How are these tests for our good?
  5. Share about a time when your trust in God was put to the test.
  6. How can you identify what you love most in your life? How can good things in our lives become idols?
  7. Read Genesis 22:7-14. Make a list of the qualities we learn about God from this passage. What does the name “The LORD will provide” teach us about God?
  8. Read Romans 8:32. Describe the parallels between the sacrifice of Isaac and Jesus. What can we learn by comparing the two?
  9. How does understanding God’s heart toward you help you trust him more?
  10. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.