Heb 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, Heb 11:18 of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." Heb 11:19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
The account of Abraham rising up early in the morning in obedience to the Lord to offer his son as a sacrifice has to be the quintessential example of faith in the Bible and surely why it is used here in Hebrews 11. At the heart of his faith and obedience to such a difficult task is simply that he believed God and so he believed what God said about the reality of things and acted accordingly. This sounds simplistic but I think it is something that we all struggle with more than we might think.
In verse 19 the word for “considered” is an accounting term. Strong says it literally means to take inventory but there are several ways to use it. Perhaps we can sum it up by pointing out that Abraham took all that God had said and all that he had done and came to the only biblical, godly conclusion he could have. This is biblical accounting or math. It is to believe what God says about our lives and act accordingly.
As he leaves for Moriah he expects his son to come back with him because God has told him that in Isaac’s offspring all the nations shall be blessed. So whatever happens, even if he kills his son, he knows that God will have to raise him up from the dead because God doesn’t lie and he hadn’t lied to Abraham for a 100 plus years and so he wasn’t going to start now.
His faith wasn’t some vague idea of what he thought God should be like but his faith was based on what God had revealed about himself. He took God’s word seriously and acted accordingly. The commands and promises of God are what we build our life upon and are what guides us when making decisions and all of the cries of this world to do what they say and not what the Bible says has nothing to do with how a Christian is to think. The reality of the true God always trumps the logic of the world and the flesh.
But too often when God leads us to make such a painful sacrifice we assume that God must be erratic, but this had not been Abraham’s experience with God. His experience had been that everything God had said came true and that God was able to do whatever he had promised and so the wise thing to do was to obey him. So sure was Abraham of God that he was willing to plunge a knife into Isaac and live with that picture in his mind for the rest of his life because he knew that God would bring him back to life. So Abraham acts in a way that is consistent with his knowledge of God. He doesn’t question but waits to see how God would work things out. No doubt this is what enables him to get up early to obey God. Too often we would assume God is not being fair; we would make it clear that we will not be full of joy and contentment and will not give all glory to the Lord. We will sit at home and mope or lash out at our loved ones or be generally unhappy but the question should be will we rise up early to fight the good fight?
Are we willing to do biblical accounting by adding the truth of the Word up with the promises of God in Christ Jesus and live in light of the results? Even though Abraham fully expected the Lord to raise his son back up, he would never forget seeing the blade cut into his son’s body and his life ebb away. Yet he accepts this and rises early. Remember verse 3 says that Abraham split the wood that would burn his son’s body; he didn’t have the servants do it. How could he have done this without going mad? He had to know that God would have a resolution to this. This is the only thing that will keep our minds when God would take away our loved ones or send some other severe trial. Our God will make all things right.
Part of the idea with this word “consider” is thinking logically about something. He worked all this out in his mind and his understanding of God. After all, God is not a liar and his salvation lay in Isaac’s descendant. Therefore, his son must live again! He wasn’t working with numbers but it is the same principle.
Just like 2 plus 2 will always equal 4 so the Lord says that when we obey it will always work out for good. It means that his ways are the right ways and our ways will always end in failure, Pro 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. This isn’t fuzzy logic, God’s reality doesn’t change, whatsoever a man sows, that will he reap.
Have we learned to think according to God’s principles or do we think this world and our flesh know best? To be willing to think before we act and react takes discipline. It is much harder than just living in the flesh and doing what everyone else does but one way glorifies the Lord and the other glorifies our sin and ends in a miserable life and eventual death. Is this how we think as we journey through this life? Do we take what we have learned about God and make decisions and react accordingly? If we react rashly, emotionally erratic, if we are overcome with depression or anger, if we act in any other way than total submission to God, if we do anything other than rise up early in obedience, there is room for growth in our faith and love for God.
If you are saying to yourself, “There is no way I would or even should do what Abraham did, then you don’t have the faith of Abraham and you don’t know the God of Abraham. When you come to know God as your loving Heavenly Father, who cares for you more than any earthly father ever could, you can give Him everything in your life and know that He will not abuse you, in spite of how circumstances may appear.
When we see God’s great love for us as seen in His not sparing His own Son, but giving Him up for us all, our response should be, as Isaac Watts put it, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” Give yourself and all that is precious to you to the Lord. He will bless you and give you great joy.