Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
After the promise had been clarified; after Sarah laughed; after Isaac was born; after Ishmael and Hagar had been sent away God tested Abraham. It was not until after these things that God tested Abraham. There has to be a reason that God waited. There is, of course, the obvious reason that God could not tell Abraham to offer up a son he did not yet have. But there may be other reasons that God did not test Abraham sooner. Perhaps Isaac was too young or Abraham’s faith was too young — The Bible is somewhat mum on the subject of why the test came when it did. The only thing I know for certain is that the test came.
Looking up the verb translated tested in the concordance, I find that it means test and can also mean prove. There is an old saying that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The proof of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise is not so much in the having of that promise, but in showing that he believes God will do what God has said He will do. It is one thing for Abraham to have believed God could give him a child despite his old age. Biology tells me that a man can father a child well on into his later years. There have even been a few instances of women becoming pregnant well past the age at which child-bearing is the norm. The odds of Isaac’s conception and birth were dwindling off into the realm of impossibility, but biology could still accommodate God’s plan. However, God’s test to Abraham goes beyond that. God tells Abraham to offer his son up. while biology can accommodate golden years conceptions and births, death is final. Abraham’s proving came not so much in believing that God would give him a son as in believing that God would give him Isaac, despite Issac being offered on an altar. And offerings were not a clean business. Abraham knew that he was going to have to kill, dress, and burn the offering. And the offering God told him to prepare was his own son.
I know, because I have read the story, that God does not require Isaac’s life. I also know, from reasoning it through, that Abraham had to believe that he was going to be required to kill and burn the body of his only son in order for the test to prove anything. If I know that God is going to provide a substitute, then I am not really having to face the facts that God is going to have to make good His promise after I have killed and burned the one about whom He made the promise. But Abraham had to make the long trek to Moriah dealing with the fact that God told him to sacrifice his only son — the very son through whom God had made clear the promised blessing would come. God is not going to replace this child with another one. Isaac is the fulfillment of a promise and the one through whom still more promise will be fulfilled. Abraham had to be wrestling with these things all the way to Moriah.
Somehow, some way the things that went before prepared Abraham for this moment. It is after these things that the test comes. It is after these things that God tells Abraham to offer up his promise received. It is after these things that Abraham’s faith is proved.
What things are going on in my own life right now that seem difficult? These things might be those after which the testing comes. These things may be training for something that brings God glory in ways I cannot fathom. Let me rest in the knowledge that these things will one day become my after these things.
Father, thank You for making and keeping promises. Thank You that the things through which I am going may one day be seen to be the preparation for something greater.