Some years later God decided to test Abraham, so he spoke to him.
Abraham answered, “Here I am, Lord.” Genesis 22:1 (CEV)
“From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.” Jeremiah 28:8-9 (NIV)
Last week I shared a devotion Would God do That? and it was one that told of our loving Father who is also a disciplinarian. Here are some more Scriptures along that same theme. These are two of the lectionary texts for next week.
God decided to test Abraham. Now when I look back, Abram is first introduced at the end of Genesis 11. At the beginning of Genesis 12, God tells Abram to move to “a land that I will show you” and He will bless Abrahm. Throughout the next 10 chapters, I can see that while Abrahm (who becomes Abraham) isn’t perfect, he is highly favored by God. Why does God want to test one of His children who has already been found obedient? Why does God want to test me? Have you ever been tested by God?
The alternative Old Testament passage is the one from Jeremiah. Now prophets certainly were tested! They had to stand up in front of the king or/and the local population and often tell them to repent of their sins, and if they did not, God was going to rain down terrible disasters on them! That is not an enviable position! Most of us want prophets who will tell us about prosperity. Jeremiah warns that such a prophecy is only good if it occurs and is proven correct.
Neither of these passages will probably be the basis for a sermon this week. They tell us that there will be tests and natural disasters – and God knows about them and even sends them to His children. Can we believe that? Can we accept it?
When I think back to the “tests” I have had, what have I learned from these tests?
God is always there. God was not a distant and disinterested party when I was tested. He was there. His Spirit continued to give His wisdom and comfort to me. He carried me when I couldn’t walk. God also sent people into my life who held me up in prayer and encouraged me.
I grew in faith. I came out on the other side of the “test” with a few bruises. I got those bruises from wrestling just as Jacob did (Genesis 32). I do frequently have pain in my hip. Do you think I have a “Jacob injury”? If I do, it is a reminder that God did bless me just as He blessed Jacob. I realized that God won’t leave me – ever. I learned in the darkest moments, God sees it all like the sun is shining. He isn’t caught by surprise but is there before I even know there is a problem. Faith grew and even more importantly, I learned how important it is to stay close to God. I had new insight into what Jesus said about being the vine and I am a branch (John 15).
Paul was right when he said that all Scripture is useful for teaching and correcting (2 Timothy 3:16). Sometimes the teachings are not easy to hear. But God always – always loves me and wants me to grow up and grow closer to Him. Because at the end of any given day, He is the one I can always count on and always turn to.
Let’s take some time today and read Genesis 22. It’s a familiar passage of Abraham and his test of sacrificing the son he loves, his only son. It might be good to learn what God wants to teach me before He takes me up a mountain to test me.
Above All written by Lenny LeBlanc and Paul Baloche & sung by Michael W Smith