ABRAHAM TESTED BY GOD
In the original text of the Bible, there are no chapters, verses, or paragraphs. Chapter twenty-two is the immediate continuation of chapter twenty-one. After the mention of Abraham’s planting a tamarisk tree and calling on the name of the Lord, God came in to test him (v. 1, Heb.). God, unlike Satan, never tempts anyone. But He does test us like He tested Abraham. I say again that after Abraham redeemed the well in Beer-sheba, he undoubtedly did many things, but, except for the planting of the tamarisk and calling on the name of the Lord, the Bible does not mention them. Rather, it immediately speaks of God’s testing Abraham.
TO OFFER TO GOD WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN HIM IN GRACE • Often after we have had the best enjoyment of the Lord, He will not ask us to do something for Him; rather, He will tell us to offer back to Him what He has given us. At such a time the Lord may say, “You have received a gift from and of Me. Now I ask you to return it.” We always expect that after having a good time with the Lord He will command us to do something for Him. We never imagine that He may ask us to give back to Him that which He has given us. As Abraham was enjoying intimate fellowship with God, he was not commanded to work for Him. He received the highest demand from God—to give back to God what God had given him. From the very beginning, God never accepted anything that Abraham had. He did not care for Lot, rejected Eliezer, and told him to cast out Ishmael. Now, after Eliezer, Lot, and Ishmael had all been rejected, Abraham had acquired Isaac, the seed promised by God, and was at peace. Everything concerning Isaac was of God and by God. Never again would God say no to what Abraham had. But suddenly God came in and seemed to say, “I would never refuse Isaac. He was born of and from Me. But, Abraham, now you must give him back to Me.”
Abraham was marvelous. If I had been he, I would have said, “Lord, what are You doing? You did not care for Lot, and You have refused Eliezer and Ishmael. Now You want Isaac, the one who was of You, to be given back to You. Will You rob me to such an extent?” If I had been Abraham, I would not have offered Isaac. I would have shook my head and said, “No, this certainly is not of the Lord. It would have been logical for Him to want Eliezer, and reasonable to demand Ishmael. But how could God want me to give Isaac back to Him? God is not purposeless. He promised to give me a seed, and His promise has been confirmed and fulfilled. Why would He now waste all that He has been doing with me?” Yes, God is a God of purpose, and He certainly had a purpose in asking Abraham to give Isaac back to Him.
Many Christians, including some Christian workers, have never learned the lesson of offering back to God what He has given them. Have you received a gift? Do not hold on to it. Sooner or later God will come in and say, “Offer back to Me the gift which I have given you.” Has God given you a successful work? At a certain time, God may say, “This work is the Isaac which I have given to you. Now I want you to offer it back to Me.” However, many Christian workers will not take their hands off the work which God has given them. Nevertheless, all that God has given us, even what He has wrought in and through us, must be offered back to Him.
TO OFFER TO GOD HIS ONLY SON WHOM HE LOVES • In verse 2 God said to Abraham, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” God told Abraham to offer Isaac, his only son whom he loved. How hard it must have been for Abraham to do this! If we had been he, we would have said, “Lord, I am more than a hundred twenty years of age, and Sarah is about to die. How can You ask me to offer back to You what You have given me?” If you have not had this experience, you will have it some day. We can testify that quite a number of times in the past God asked us to give back to Him what He had given us. The gifts, power, work, and success which He gives us must be offered back to Him. This is a real test. It would have been easy for Abraham to give up Lot or Eliezer. Even casting out Ishmael was not that difficult. But for him to offer his only son whom he loved was a very difficult thing. One day, after our having a good enjoyment of the Lord, He will ask us to give back to Him the gift, work, or success He has given us. He may say, “Now is the time for Me to ask you for something. I don’t ask you to work for Me or to go to the mission field. I ask you to offer back what I have given you.” This is the way we all must take today.
(Abraham—Called by God, Chapter 21, by Witness Lee)