As I was reading Genesis 22 this morning, God highlighted several things to me about what true faith looks like. This chapter is the one where Abraham is to offer Isaac as a sacrifice so I’m sure you can surmise some of where I’m going, but there’s several nuggets in here aside from the obvious one.
As a side note before I get started, I’m sharing from the Voice translation, which is the version I’m currently reading through and I’m LOVING it! This translation really brings life to the dialogues (intentionally) and new perspective with its wording. It’s similar to the Amplified in that it adds words to bring clarity and context, but, unlike AMP, it does it in a way that doesn’t break the flow of the text. AMP is good for study, the Voice is good for readability. I’m someone who believes in using multiple translations in study since it likely none of them get it completely right, but through comparison and great tools like Blue Letter Bible, you can get an awesome sense of understanding.
Ok, back on topic! The first nugget we find in verse 1.
Genesis 22:1 (VOICE) After a period of time, God decided to put Abraham to the test. Eternal One: “Abraham!” Abraham: “I am right here.”
Other translations say “Here I am”, but the key point is his immediate response. He was open, available, and ready to hear from God. This is the active readiness that God included in His download in the silk letter the Voice of the Lord. An internal quietness, a staying tuned into God’s frequency, ready to hear Him.
One of the things I love about the Voice’s wording is it implies a positioning as well. The statement “I am right here” gives the feel Abraham is close to God, hovering in the presence of God – waiting on Him. Which is exactly where we should be.
So our first key to true faith given here is being present and tuned into God at all times.
Obedience & Holding Nothing Back
God gives the instructions in verse 2. The instructions themselves give you pause. People like to say that God will never ask you to do anything against His word, and yet in Genesis 22:2 He clearly does. And before anyone argues the word wasn’t written yet, I’ll point out it was likely known orally at this point, but even if it wasn’t surely killing was known to be against God’s character! But regardless, our next nugget comes in the beginning of verse 3.
Genesis 22:3 (VOICE) Abraham did as he was told. Early in the morning he got up, saddled his donkey, and taking two of his trusted servants with him and his son Isaac, he cut the wood for the burnt offering and traveled to the place God had told him about.
He did what he was told. Not only that, but he did it right away (“early in the morning…”). This is staggering to consider given what God has asked Him to do. So we learn two new keys to true faith here:
- Obey without question and do it immediately. Our need to understand can become an idol. God does not promise us that He will explain Himself or His intentions to us. If we consider why we want to understand, often it’s because we want to judge for ourselves whether His instructions make sense or are a good idea. We may mask that in statements like wanting to be sure we’ve heard correctly, but more often than not we are hesitant to truly give everything into His hands. Do we REALLY trust Him? Do we REALLY believe His plans for us are good?
- Hold nothing back. It’s easy to say you’ve given everything to the Lord, it’s another thing to actually walk that out. What if He wants to break an important relationship you have by having you share a hard truth with someone close to you? Will you be willing? What if He asks you to sacrifice your home? Livelihood? It is a difficult thing to truly release control and put everything in His hands. That’s the moment you learn how much you really trust Him and His intentions towards you!
Declare Your Faith
The final nugget I want to highlight from this chapter comes in the beginning of verse 8.
Genesis 22:8 (VOICE) Abraham: God will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son…
Even though God has given instructions and Abraham is walking them out, when asked he declares what he believes based on what he knows based on the character of God.
Our final key is to declare our faith based on the character of God. So whatever your situation, speak truth over it. Declare His promises. This brings to mind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
Daniel 3:17-18 (VOICE) If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us from a furnace of blazing fire and release us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if He does not, O king, you can be sure that we still will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected.
He IS able! But we will serve Him even if He doesn’t. That is a beautiful picture of faith.
Leaving a Legacy of Faith
Because Abraham was consistent in walking out his faith (aside from Ishmael, but we all have our moments!), he leaves a legacy of faith with his son Isaac. This becomes clearer if you e read the book of Jasher, which I like to think of as recommended reading from the Bible since it’s referenced three times in a way that implies it would have been known/read.
In Jasher we discover that Isaac would’ve been grown when Abraham was told to sacrifice him (Jasher lists him as having been 37). And with Abraham well over 100 (Abraham would’ve been about 137 since he was 100 when Isaac was born), there’s no way Isaac couldn’t have overpowered him and gotten away if he’d wanted to, which means he went willingly. In Jasher 23:51-52 we see Isaac’s response when Abraham tells him he is the sacrifice.
And Abraham answered his son Isaac, saying, the Lord has made choice of thee my son, to be a perfect burnt offering instead of the lamb.
And Isaac said unto his father, I will do all that the Lord spoke to thee with joy and cheerfulness of heart.
When Abraham checks to be sure he’s really ok with this, Isaac responds:
O my father, as the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth, there is nothing in my heart to cause me to deviate either to the right or to the left from the word that he has spoken to thee. Neither limb nor muscle has moved or stirred at this, nor is there in my heart any thought or evil counsel concerning this. But I am of joyful and cheerful heart in this matter, and I say blessed is the Lord who has this day chosen me to be a burnt offering before Him.
He was ready to lay down his life because God told His father he should. Not only willing, but JOYFULLY willing. Most would struggle with these instructions, especially if they hadn’t heard them directly, but Isaac having walked with his father and with the Lord trusts both their hearts towards him and submits without holding anything back. Knowing this makes it even more clear why this foreshadows Jesus and His willingness to lay down His life at His Father’s request. Powerful.
Father, help us to walk in true faith. Help us to stay ready and available to You, willing to obey immediately and hold nothing back from You. May we declare truth according to Your character and our faith. And may our lives leave a legacy of faith!