And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.…
We notice —
I. The AUTHOR of the trial (ver. 1). What has God to do with my trials? is the first question which wisdom always asks. When that is settled, we know where we are and what to do.
II. The NATURE of the trial (ver. 2). It was no ordinary requirement. Any father's heart would sink within him at such a command. The history of the future of which hope had dreamed was a fable. The book of life was to be closed when nothing but the title-page had been written.
III. The PROGRESS of the trial (vers. 3-10). It was not one downright blow of trouble, but protracted trial. Days came and went, and found it unconcluded. Good men never graduate from trouble. Christian life itself, in one view, is trial — an escaping from old conditions, a breaking of fetters, a climbing to higher levels — all accomplished with pain and cost. Life is a race for life. Life is a battle for life. And so likewise its incidental troubles have a self-perpetuating power. Long after the gale has gone down the ocean keeps its restlessness, and under the serenest sky the after-surge of the storm moans upon the beach. It is so in human life. The shock of sorrow comes and passes, but the soul is not at rest. The old grief comes back in thought and dreams, and life can never again be what it was.
IV. The ENDING of the trial (vers. 11-14). The long agony was over, and the issue was all the sweeter for the bitterness which had preceded it. Accepting this story of Abraham's trial as a type of human life, we find certain practical truths emphasized.
1. Men make mistakes in their judgment of experience. What they think the best, may be the worst possible for them; what they think the worst, may be the best. Humanly judging, the command to sacrifice Isaac was the end of Abraham's hopes; in fact, it was the beginning of his prosperity. It is so always. God plans behind and works through a cloud, but always for the best.
2. Clearly, also, in the practical conduct of life, faith is superior to reason. We can trust, and are wise in trusting for some things which can never be argued.
3. In our dealings with God, obedience is safety. Men are not to stop to calculate chances, nor wait until they think they see their way clear. Whatever God appoints is to be undertaken at once and without question. Men ruin themselves sometimes with what they call their prudence. There is no prudence in anything that limits exact obedience to the Divine requirements.
(E. S. Atwood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.