THE THIRD TEST—THE OFFERING OF ISAAC
Abraham had been tested twice concerning his son. The first test was in the begetting of Ishmael. The second test was in praying for the women of Abimelech’s house. Now he was tested for the third time concerning his son. This third test was the offering up of his son Isaac on Mount Moriah.
Abraham Offering Isaac
Abraham had reached the proper ground. One can say that he had reached the peak, the pinnacle. After chapter twenty-two, the record turns to the story of his old age. Hence, chapter twenty-two marks the peak of Abraham’s life. One can say that this was the high noon of his life.
Genesis 22:1-2 says, "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. And he said, 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." This demand had to do with the fulfillment of God’s promise. Isaac was Abraham’s only son, and he was his beloved. It was a great price for Abraham to offer up Isaac. But this is still not the main point. Hebrews 11 shows us something that Genesis 22 does not record. Hebrews 11:18 says, "In Isaac shall your seed be called." Hence, it was not just a matter of sacrificing Abraham’s beloved son, but a matter of God’s own promise, goal, and work. God did not give Abraham’s son to him alone. His intention was to achieve His goal through Isaac. If Isaac died, what would happen? This was Abraham’s test.
This test involved himself as an individual and himself as a vessel. Hebrews 11:18 shows us the aspect of the vessel. God promised to give Abraham a son. Yet He wanted this son to be offered up as a burnt offering! This is something that the flesh cannot stand. A burnt offering must be burned by fire. All of God’s promises hinged on Isaac. If Isaac was burned up, would not God’s promises be burned up? God’s goal and His work were with Isaac. If he was burned up, would not God’s promise, goal, and work be burned up as well? It was reasonable and right to cast out Ishmael because he was born of the flesh. But Isaac was born according to God’s promise. Why should he be offered up as a burnt offering? Abraham had sought for satisfaction with Ishmael. But God Himself said, "No." It was God who repeatedly said that Sarah would have a son. Abraham did not insist on having this son; it was God who gave this son to him. Now God wanted him back, and not in an ordinary way, but as a burnt offering. This was beyond his comprehension. If Isaac should not have been born, God should have told him sooner. If it was right for Isaac to be born, Abraham should have been able to keep him. If God did not want Abraham to keep Isaac, He should not have given Isaac to him in the first place. If He did want Abraham to have Isaac, He should not have demanded that he be offered up as a burnt offering. What was the purpose of begetting a son and then offering him up? It was solely to bring Abraham into a deeper realization of God as the Father!
(The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Chapter 6, by Watchman Nee)