Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham.
I believe that every person has a defining moment in his or her life–an instance that reveals who that person is. For Abraham Lincoln it was the Civil War. For Richard Nixon it was Watergate. For King David it was that night with Bathsheba. The defining moment in Abraham’s life occurred in Genesis 22. God had finally done what He had promised to do and given Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac, through whom Abraham would have countless descendants. But when Isaac was a young man, Genesis 22:1-2 says, “God tested Abraham. . . . He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.’”
Now, God’s command seemed contradictory. It did not make sense for Abraham to kill this child of promise, the one through whom the Jewish people would come. Why would God issue such a command? He was testing Abraham. As Christians, we get uncomfortable with that idea. We do not mind talking about circumstances that seem to conspire against us or people who mistreat us, but it is disconcerting to think that God tests us. Why would God do such a thing?
Sometimes God tests us to reveal the quality of our faith. I once read about the pressurization tests that engineers conducted on the Boeing 777 aircraft. They would put pressure on the fuselage far above the recommended limit in order to see how strong it was. When the rivets started popping out, they said, “That won’t do. Back to the drawing board.” Sometimes God wants to test the quality of our faith, not for His benefit–He already knows–but for our benefit to see if our faith needs to be strengthened.
That is another reason God tests us: to increase the strength of our faith. Interestingly, sometimes a difficult situation can be both a test from God and a temptation from Satan. James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (1:2-3). Then he added, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (v. 13). The same Greek word is used for “trials” and “tempted” in these verses–“peirasmos,” meaning “difficult situation.” If you allow a difficult situation to strengthen your faith, then it is a test from God. If you allow that difficult situation to destroy your faith and drive you away from God, then it has become a temptation. Remember this: Satan’s temptations are to destroy our faith; God’s tests are to strengthen our faith.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Legacy Of Faith” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org