The story of God testing Abraham's faith recored in Genesis 22:1 -19 is so powerful! It is a clear picture of the provision of our God, the power of God, and then love of our God. It also reveals our humanness compared to God's divine nature.
Remember from one of my earlier posts what John MacArthur pointed out about our tests/trials: We don't experience them b/c God is trying to "figure out" our faith. They come so we can see the condition of our faith (how weak...how strong) and so we can see what we really are clinging to the most!
I think it's interesting that Isaac is repeatedly referred to as Abraham's "one and only son." (Gen. 22:2, 12,16, Heb. 11:17). It's interesting he is described this way b/c Abraham had another son, Ishmael. Now Ishmael was not the Son who God had chosen to establish his covenant with, but still he was Abraham's son. Hmmm... I am no theologian.... so don't quote me on this one... but could it be that Isaac is referred to as his "one and only son" to describe not his literal familial standing but perhaps his standing in the heart of his father. Issac was not Abraham's only son but he was the son he treasured the most, the fulfillment of God's promise, a sign of God's provision & power to do the impossible. In that sense, he was the one and only son who captured his father's deepest affections. "It's through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." He was a treasured possession.
That's interesting you might be thinking. I know that's what I'm thinking! But wait... from what we know about Abraham he believed God. He believed God's promises. When God said to sacrifice Isaac he believed that God would even raise him from the grave just to keep his promise to Isaac. He recognized that God could do the impossible for his son was the proof of God's power! So why would God test Abraham? We already see that he believes the Lord will provide:
Genesis 22:5 "He said to his 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."
Genesis 22:8 "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering,my son."
Let's see what Genesis 22:12 says, "Do not lay a hand on the boy, "he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." God was testing Abraham to see his genuine fear of him. His reverence for God. His respect for God. I believe the reason it was so important that we noticed that Isaac is called Abraham's "one & only son" is because it shows us the place he held in Abraham's heart. Maybe at times Isaac even held 1st place in Abraham's heart. And God needed Abraham to see that He, Jehovah-Jireh, needed to be the one who received his deepest affections and attentions.
Wow. There's so much more to say about this passage... but I'll leave that for tomorrow. For now let's all take time to pray about the "one & only" in our life. Is our "one & only", where our affections and attentions are set, God or someone or something else? Let's pray that God will give us the strength to sacrifice whatever it is that we may treasure more than God so that He may be glorified more in our lives and so our lives may be more blessed by finding our joy & security & fulfillment in the One who Provides all things for those who love Him!