It is time to go back to school and, as a parent of first grader, and a pre-kindergartener, this is a glorious time. Twelve years ago, however, things were very different for me. I had begun my senior year and I could not wait to be done. Graduation signified I was done with all the lessons and tests and I would be ready to enter into adulthood.
Lessons and tests are what school is all about. The teachers teach the lessons and administer tests in order to be sure their students have learned all they need to know to pass the final. The lessons can be difficult and the students may even fail the tests but only through this process can the students know where they are weak.
The Bible shows us that God grows us by putting us through tests. God sends and uses trials so we can learn the greatest lesson man can learn. We must die to self and depend on God. God gives us the faith to believe in Him and grows that faith through moments of difficulty where we give up and give Him the trial. There is no greater example in scripture of a man going through trial and learning the lesson than Abraham.
Abraham was chosen by God to be the father of the nation of Israel. God chose him out of His own sovereign will. There was nothing in Abraham that made him special. God chose this man and spent roughly 40 years preparing him for one of the greatest tests of faith found in the Bible. The lesson Abraham needed to learn was that he should live totally dependent on God. We see some instances in which Abraham passes some trials and fails at others. Abraham trusted God and left his homeland but then he nearly lost his wife to pharaoh’s harem because he feared the power of this earthly king. Abraham trusted that God had given him a great land promise despite the fact that Sodom and Gomorrah looked nicer. He rescued Lot from captivity as a prisoner of war and gave Melchizedek, the priest of God, a tithe rather than accepting riches from an earthly king. God then gave him the everlasting covenant promising land and his own offspring but Abraham promptly took matters into his own hand and conceived a child with his wife’s servant. God then promised Abraham a child by Sarah and he believed but laughed. He then, once again, nearly lost his wife to a foreign king’s harem due to fear.
Abraham’s life was filled with trials, failures and successes which all served to show him that God was in control of his life because He had a purpose with Abraham and his descendants. And finally, after all these years of testing, it was time for the final exam. Abraham had seen God’s faithfulness throughout his life and had even seen he and his wife give birth to a child at the ages of 100 and 90 respectively and, as if the advanced age wasn’t enough of an impediment, Sarah was barren. How could Abraham not believe God could do anything? It was at this point of his life that God told Abraham to sacrifice his son on mount Moriah, the future site of Jerusalem.
Abraham did not hesitate for one second to obey God. The book of Hebrews states that Abraham believed God would bring Isaac back from the dead because he knew Isaac was the child promised by God to fulfill the covenant promise of descendants. Abraham’s years of trials were rewarded with the opportunity to obey God and the blessing of seeing God’s redemptive plan foreshadowed through him and his son. Abraham got an ‘A’ after many years of struggling the lesson. He learned that God can and must be trusted.
May we learn from the example of this faithful man and know that our God is a faithful God. We can trust him when the situation looks impossible because that is when our faith grows; when we see Him do that which we cannot.