Abraham's Faith Tested
Lesson 13

God promised to make His covenant with Abraham at the time he was called to come out of his former country. At that time God had promised Abraham that He would make of him a great nation and that all nations would be blessed in him. See Genesis 12:1–3. Abraham was not a young man even at that time, but many years had passed and he was becoming an old man, and, as yet, the promise remained just that—a promise—for, as of yet, Abraham had no heir.

1. Who did Abraham propose to make his heir?

Genesis 15:2–4
Genesis 15:2–4

Note: Abraham did not understand the Lord’s plan. He knew the promise and believed it ,but he was old and had no child. He supposed that the seed promised to him must come through his trusted servant. This was not, however, God’s plan. Abraham was not to become the progenitor of a race of servants, but of free men.

2. To remedy the situation, what did Sarai his wife suggest?

Genesis 16:1–3
Genesis 16:1–3

Note: Abraham listened to his wife and followed her counsel. No doubt they both felt that this was in harmony with the Lord’s promise. Sarai was past the age of childbearing and if God’s promise of a seed for Abraham was to be fulfilled, it appeared that it would require some improvisation on their part. This was the great mistake of Abraham’s life, but thus it is when human reason deals with the promises of God.

3. What was the result of this relationship?

Genesis 16:15
Genesis 16:15

4. Did the Lord accept this son as the fulfillment of His promise?

Genesis 17:18–21
Genesis 17:18–21

Note: Many people forget that Abraham had two sons, one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman; one born after the flesh, the other born after the Spirit. This leads many into confusion with regard to the “literal” and “spiritual” seed of Abraham. There is a tendency to think as though the word “spiritual” were opposed to “literal.” This is not, however, the case. “Spiritual” is opposed only to “fleshly,” or carnal.

Isaac was born after the Spirit, yet he was as real and literal a child as was Ishmael. In just such a manner, the true seed of Abraham are only those who are spiritual, but that does not make them any the less real. Christ had a spiritual body after His resurrection, yet, He was a real, literal being, and could be handled the same as other bodies. So the bodies of the resurrected saints will be spiritual, yet they will be real. Spiritual things are not imaginary things. Indeed, that which is spiritual is more real than that which is fleshly, because only that which is spiritual will endure forever.

5. What was Abraham’s age at the time of Isaac’s birth?

Genesis 21:5
Genesis 21:5

Note: Though there were obvious differences, the birth of Isaac, like that of Jesus, was of a supernatural nature. Both were brought about through the agency of the Spirit.

A period of years passed. Exactly how many we don’t know, but Isaac had grown to be a young man. Abraham’s faith had grown stronger. He had learned by experience that God is well able to fulfill that which He has promised.

As a faithful teacher, God does not allow His pupils to leave a lesson until it is thoroughly learned. It is not enough for us to see and acknowledge that we have made a mistake in a lesson He has given us. Such acknowledgment ensures forgiveness, but having seen the error, we must go over the ground again, and possibly many times, until we have learned the lesson so well that we can go without stumbling.

6. What did God tell Abraham to do?

Genesis 22:1–2
Genesis 22:1–2

Note: It was not just Abraham’s fatherly affection that was tested here. As the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, Isaac embodied the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Seed. The promise had been very explicit, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” and that seed was first of all Christ. See Galatians 3:16.

7. In offering Isaac, what did Abraham believe God able to do?

Hebrews 11:17–19
Hebrews 11:17–19

Note: The whole thing, from first to last, involved the resurrection of the dead. Abraham had once, through consenting to follow his wife’s counsel, failed to trust God’s power to bring him a son from the dead (see Romans 4:19), but he had repented of that failure. It was necessary, however, that he be tested on that point again, that, as the father of the faithful, his faith might be shown to be perfect.

The Messiah, the Seed through which all the blessings were to come to men, was to be born of Isaac’s line. Isaac was to be cut off without an heir. Yet Abraham had such confidence in the life and power of the word of the Lord, that he believed it would fulfill itself. He believed the Messiah who was to come of Isaac’s line, and whose death alone could make possible the resurrection, though He had not yet come into the world, had power to raise up Isaac from the dead, in order that the promise might be fulfilled, and He might yet be born into the world. Greater faith than this cannot exist.

8. What did Abraham tell the two young men with whom they left the ass?

Genesis 22:5
Genesis 22:5

Note: In the original, and the NKJV, as well as some other versions, it is very clear: “The lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

9. What did Abraham tell Isaac in response to his question regarding the sacrifice?

Genesis 22:7–8
Genesis 22:7–8

Note: This was but an expression of his faith in Christ, the Lamb of God.

10. As Abraham stretched forth his hand to slay Isaac, what took place?

Genesis 22:10–12
Genesis 22:10–12

Note: The son’s life was spared, yet the sacrifice was as truly and as completely made as though he had been put to death.

11. By what, according to James, was Abraham justified?

James 2:20–22
James 2:20–22

12. In commending the Thessalonian brethren, what did Paul associate with their faith?

1 Thessalonians 1:2–3
1 Thessalonians 1:2–3

Note: All the Scriptures teach that faith works. God had made a promise to Abraham; he believed the promise, and his faith had been counted to him for righteousness. His faith was the kind that worked righteousness. Now that faith received a practical test, and the works showed that it was perfect.

13. What was Abraham called?

James 2:23
James 2:23

Note: Jesus said to His disciples, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15. Friendship between two, means mutual confidence. In perfect friendship each one reveals himself to the other in a way that he does not to the outside world. There can be no perfect friendship where there is distrust and restraint. Between perfect friends there is a perfect understanding. So God called Abraham His friend, because they perfectly understood each other. This sacrifice fully revealed the character of Abraham. God had said before, “I know him”; and now again He said, “Now I know that thou fearest God.” And Abraham on his part understood the Lord. The sacrifice of his only begotten son indicated that he knew the loving character of God, who for man’s sake had already given His only begotten Son. They were united in a mutual sacrifice and a mutual sympathy. No one could appreciate the feelings of God so well as could Abraham.

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