I never liked tests. My childhood is scarred by the memories of .... “using a number 2 pencil, can you fill in the little oval-shaped bubble?” I tremble just thinking. And, at the optometrist, “which is better, 1 or 2 ... 3 or 4?” So much pressure! And, at the doctor, the blood test. I’m worried that I’ll flunk! Sorry. I don’t like tests.
God gives tests. (Say it ain’t so!)
Abraham was tested. (Hebrews 11:17) Here’s the story.
Abraham was seventy-five when he left Haran, headed for Canaan. God promised, “I’m going to give you a big family,” but Sarah was still childless. From Genesis 12, all the way to chapter 21, God continued to promise that Sarah would have a son. The family would never become a multitude until they had at least one son. Finally, when Abraham was 100-years-old, and Sarah was 90, Isaac was born. It was a miracle, a part-the-Red-Sea-sized-miracle.
But in Genesis 22, God administers the test! It was a whopper!
We don’t know how old Isaac was. Some think he was just a little tike... maybe 7 or 8. Others say he was full-grown, maybe 21. I think he was 33-years-old.
The test: “Take your son, your only son, the son you love more than life itself, and sacrifice him on an altar.” That was the test, and that’s the reason that I think Isaac was 33-years-old. When Jesus was 33, God passed the same test. God gave His only Son.
So, Abraham got up at dawn, saddled the donkey and began the three-day journey to the designated spot on Mt. Moriah. For three days, Abraham rehearsed the altar scene and the impending death of his son. For three days Abraham thought about nothing else. For three days, Isaac was as-good-as dead... and that’s why I think he was 33-years-old. Jesus, too, was made alive after three days!
When father and son arrived at Mt. Moriah, they built an altar, and Isaac dutifully took his place. Remember, Abraham was too old to chase Isaac down, and too old to forcibly put him on the altar, so I conclude that Isaac went willingly. And, that’s two more reasons that I think he was 33-years-old. Moriah was later called Calvary. And Jesus went willingly too!
This is the dramatic crescendo... the climax! The spotlight was focused on the altar. Abraham took the knife, raised it, ready to pass the test. God called out, “Abraham, Abraham!” Here, as this dark drama unfolded, the action abruptly stopped. God intervened and took a moment ... to define the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. God said, “Isaac doesn’t have to die, because a lamb will serve as the substitute. The lamb will die. Isaac will live.”
Later, at the same place, Jesus called out, “It is finished. The Lamb will die. By faith, you can live.”
Abraham passed the test. Jesus did too.
Abraham’s test really boiled down to one question. “Will you give God your best?”
Don’t panic, but here’s your test for today. God says, “Will you give me your best? ... the thing you love most? ... will you trust Me enough, to give it (whatever it is) to Me?”