9When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 12He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
What are tests of faith about? Was the point of this test of Abraham’s faith, (we are told that this is what this whole episode is [verse 1]), to show God that Abraham really was a giant of faith? Was it to demonstrate to Abraham such things as the faithfulness of God, his own heart, how to battle temptation, how to trust when the going really gets tough?
There are a myriad of possibilities. When God intervenes so that Abraham does not actually kill Isaac, God says “… now I know that you fear God…”. Why does God say this? Was it for Abraham’s benefit? Was Abraham not yet ready for the starkingly shocking truth that God causes all things that happen?
It seems that the best answer is that God is using language that Abraham can relate to. He is not saying “now I have found out something that I did not know before”, but rather “I see the validity of your faith”.
God enjoys seeing His children defeat the tendencies to desertion that we all have. He puts us in tests knowing full well what the outcome will be because He finds pleasure in the test and our struggles and eventual victory. He enjoys it because it points to the greatness of His grace in those who can not say no to no sin on their own. He enjoys it because it is good for us.
A test of faith is a declaration to the evil one of the power of God’s grace, the success of His plan, the utter failure of Satan’s. How this feeds our souls, and that is what God is doing with Abraham here. And how it causes the hosts of heaven to declare His praise in even greater wonder. And how it makes the evil one flee.
Today, resist the temptations that come at you and win over them by at least focussing on the fact that saying no to sin wins the smile of God, makes the devil flee, and gives testimony to others that there really is something big inside us.
Remember Ephesians 3:9-10
8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.