I was one of those weird students who was happy to take a test.
Yep. Consider this a confession of a test-taking nerd. All was great until my first college history test. Yes, I had studied. I was familiar enough with the general events we had covered that I would glide through. (History has never been that interesting to me.)
Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for this professor’s version of a test. The test had only 2 questions. We were to form connections and draw conclusions between various historical events.
And I failed the test. Spectacularly. And there was only a paper and one other test as grades for the entire course. Was I better prepared for the next test? Did I work my fingers to the bone on that paper? Absolutely. Because my office conversation with the professor made it clear that he DID NOT OFFER EXTRA CREDIT.
And next time, I passed. Even without the extra credit.
God doesn’t offer extra credit either
Gen. 22 begins with this simple statement: “Sometime later God tested Abraham…” Yes, God, on occasion, will have a test for His people. And it is best that we pass it the first time because He doesn’t offer extra credit.
Abe had waited years for his son. He was 100 when Isaac was born (Gen. 21:5). The test was one of faith. God’s promise was to make a great nation from this boy. And then in 22:2, God says, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Abe’s response was dramatic. I’m certain I would start by reminding God of His promise and follow up with about 1,000,000 questions. But not Abe. The story continues, “Early the next morning, Abraham got up and loaded his donkey… When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.” Yep. Abe doesn’t need extra credit.
What was Abe thinking?
I look forward to a long conversation with Abe when I get to Heaven. Was he expecting God to stop him at the last minute? Did he believe God would restore Isaac after the burnt offering? All we know comes from 2 brief statements he makes:
- [to the accompanying servants] “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. WE will worship and then WE will come back to you.” (22:4)
- [to Isaac when he asked about the lamb for the burnt offering] “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” (22:8)
Another stack of miracles
Sometimes God does one single miracle in the moment, but often – when you look more closely – He uses a series of miracles stacked one on top of another. Just like the Creation story here, and the Great Flood here, our miracle today is actually another stack:
- Isaac didn’t fight his father as Abe bound the boy and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood. (v. 9)
- The Angel of the LORD shows up just before Abe plunges the knife into his beloved son. (22:11)
- God grew a thicket just where Abe could see it at that moment. (v. 13a)
- God sent a ram up the side of that exact mountain at just the exact time to get stuck in that thicket at just the right moment.
- Most importantly, God used this stack of miracles to give us a picture of His own love for us.
God gave His only Son – the Perfect Lamb 0f God – as a sacrifice for us.
What it means to me:
- When I clearly hear God ask me to complete a test, I need to go all in because there is no extra credit.
- During any test God gives us, I need to be obedient and observant to the things God offers along the way to help me ace the test itself.
- I need to have even a mustard-seed-sized faith that God will equip me to do what He asks me to do. All I have to do is TRUST HIM.