Introduction: We continue this week with ‘Resurrection’ notes on the life of Abraham.
Monday: read Genesis 22:15-18 and Psalm 1:1-3. God nourished Abraham’s faith through all the ups and downs of Genesis chapters 12-17 until that faith came to fruitful maturity in Genesis 22, strengthened then to withstand the trial of offering up his only son. This is what God’s Word promises the godly man or woman, that he will be like ‘a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither’ (Psalm 1:3).
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for His faithful, progressive work of producing spiritual fruit in our lives. Though it is a quiet, gradual work, accompanied with many failures and setbacks, we nevertheless with Abraham will see in the end that the Holy Spirit has indeed sanctified us. How could the Holy Spirit of God fail to do in our lives what Jesus asked Him to do when he prayed for us in John 17:17? ‘Sanctify them by the truth; your Word is truth.’
Tues/Weds: read Genesis 22:1,12 and Galatians 5:19-25. Are you confident that God’s quiet work of making you a fruitful Christian is taking place? Such fruit is the goal of the trials which God sends into our lives. By them God wants to demonstrate to the world the fruits of faith which He has secretly worked within us. The time came for all the world to see the strength of Abraham’s faith in the trial of sacrificing Isaac. That is why the word to “test” or “try” is emphasized in Genesis 22:1. Listen to what Calvin says about God “trying” us in this way in the Institutes of the Christian Religion (III:VIII:4).
God is pleased thus to attest and display striking proofs of the graces which he has conferred upon his saints, lest they should remain… unseen and unemployed. Accordingly, by bringing forward openly the strength and constancy of endurance which he has provided his servants, he is said to try their patience. Hence God ‘tempted’ Abraham in Genesis 22:1 and 12 in order to make sure and manifest the gifts which Abraham had received. God Himself, in order to prevent the virtues which he has conferred upon believers from lurking in obscurity and lying useless and perishing, does aright in supplying opportunities for calling them forth.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for His determination to display His fruit in our lives through the trials He sends. Be assured that God’s purpose is to gain glory for Himself through all the disappointments and even fearful trials which He sends us. Rejoice in that glorious fruit gained through trials – even as Romans 5:3-5 instruct us to do.
Thurs/Fri: read Hebrews 11:17-19. We look today at a famous verse (Hebrews 11:19) which explains how Abraham’s mind of faith worked when called to offer up Isaac in Genesis 22: He reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. Faith is logical, not mystical or blind. It says: “Abraham reasoned” that God would raise Isaac from the dead.
What then does this ‘reasoning by faith’ mean? The word can be defined as ‘to count up or weigh the reasons for something,’ or (applied to God) ‘to deliberately decide to count on God, because you have judged that He will reliably do what is needed,’ in Abraham’s case, raising Isaac from the dead.
We may well be dumbfounded by such a far-reaching faith in the Resurrection on Abraham’s part, and find ourselves saying: ‘How could Abraham really count on God’s resurrection power when Jesus had not yet been born – let alone triumphed over death in the Resurrection?’ Facing
death, our faith in God’s power to give us life can struggle – how much more Abraham’s faith in the dark before the dawn of Easter! How could he grasp the empty tomb when so little of it had been revealed in Bible history?
Well, clearly Abraham believed in God’s promises to establish His covenant as ‘an everlasting covenant’ with Isaac (Genesis 17:19) and to make Isaac the source of blessing for ‘all peoples on earth’ (Genesis 12:3) – and he knew that Isaac must live if such promises were to come true! He therefore believed God would raise Isaac from the dead in order to keep His Word. He rested in the promises of God. The promised Eternal life would come through Isaac, so Isaac had to triumph over death!
Meditate and Pray: How we should rest contentedly in this world of doubt and uncertainty, knowing that God has bound Himself on the altar of His own Word. He must be true to the promises He has made. He has promised us eternal life – and so He must provide the sacrifice to take our place that we might live! He has done so in Jesus. Because Jesus died for us on the cross and rose again ‘for our justification’ (Romans 4:25), all God’s promises – including to raise us from the dead and give us with Isaac eternal life – are now ‘Yes and Amen’ in Jesus!