There is much to be said about Abraham’s maturing faith. But I’m convinced the story of Abraham is not so much about Abraham as it is about God. God called Abraham. He initiated the personal relationship. He stayed with Abraham through 25 love testall his numerous trials and failures along the way. God made an unconditional promise to Abraham explaining that it wasn’t about Abraham, but it was about God and God’s word to him. The ultimate experience in Abraham’s life came in Genesis 22. It begins by saying “God tested Abraham…” Tests are always designed to reveal some important truth that cannot be clearly seen otherwise. This is the “test” that was given to Abraham, “God said, take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1-2) What was this test designed to reveal?

Kent Hughes writes about what Abraham’s response might very well have been to this trial. He says, “Immediate horror fell on Abraham’s soul, and revulsion repeatedly welled up in dark waves of emotional nausea. God was calling him to put Isaac to death with his own hand, and to then incinerate the remains as a burnt offering to God. This divine command was contrary to everything in Abraham—his common sense, his natural affections, his lifelong dream. He had no natural interest and no natural sympathy for this word from God. The only thing natural was his utter revulsion!” Hughes goes on, as most commentators do, to exhort their readers to have that kind of blind faith in God. Trust Him even in times when He demands huge sacrifices in our lives. They usually end with something like “we must learn to trust God like Abraham did.”

As noble as this exhortation is, I truly believe that this story is not designed to teach us to sacrifice our own children or whatever is most precious to us in this life to demonstrate our faith and love for God. It’s a test designed, not to expose our love for God, but a test designed to expose God’s love for us. The “Horror” that Hughes writes about, was not Abraham’s but God’s! He, the only true Heavenly Father, did that very thing on Calvary. God stopped Abraham’s sacrifice and provided one Himself – a lamb caught in the thorns. The name of that place became “God will Provide.” Abraham, whose name includes the word for “father,” is a perfect picture of our Heavenly Father’s love for sinners. It was on this same mountain that God offered His only Son, crowned with a thicket of thorns, as the sacrifice for our sins. Romans 8:5 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” And of course we must not overlook the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.”