In the ancient Near East, child sacrifice was an unfortunately common practice. People believed that the gods demanded the blood of children as signs of worship. As horrific as that seems to us, this was the world that Abraham and Sarah inhabited. It is crucial to remember this point when reading about Abraham’s most difficult test. One day, God called out to Abraham and asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. In addition to being a heartbreaking request, this must also have been confusing to Abraham. Wasn’t Isaac the child God had promised? Hadn’t Abraham waited for years to have a son? These thoughts undoubtedly raced through his mind, but Abraham again obeyed God.
As a parent of three beautiful children, I cannot even imagine Abraham’s heavy heart as he and Isaac climbed the mountain together. My heart grows heavier still when I think of how he had to then tie Isaac down to the altar, and how, with a trembling hand, he drew the knife to slay his son. This is horrible to imagine. But God had something besides death in store, for He is different from the pagan gods. At the last minute, just as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, the angel of the Lord stopped Abraham and said that now it was known that Abraham feared God above all else. Then the angel of the LORD called again to Abraham from heaven. “This is what the LORD says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.” What an incredible test. Again, Abraham obeyed God, and God’s blessing followed his obedience.
To prepare to serve God in China, our family received a series of injections, some of which could actually infect us with enough virus to make us extremely sick and even die. Although we sensed God’s leading to move our young family to the other side of the world, our trust in Him was truly tested when our four-year-old child, Sophie, began to show an adverse response to the injections. In some ways, like Abraham, we needed to obey God fully before we saw His provision. We intentionally reflected on the truth that our children were given to us from God, but that they belonged to Him. God, I pray that we continually trust You with the lives of those we love most dearly. Loving You and living obediently will never disappoint us even when the situation at hand may not be what we would naturally choose. In the end, Sophie was okay and with grateful hearts we boarded the plane, blessed to grow closer to God than ever before.