Online Bible Commentary
God Will Provide
Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. (NIV)
The writer of the book of Hebrews has written in this chapter of those people down through the annals of history that have demonstrated great faith in God. We could call this group of people members of God’s Hall of Faith. Abraham was included in this group. Previously, faith was accounted to Abraham because he persevered in his faith throughout his lifetime, even when he did not see the promises of God materialize. In this passage, faith is again accounted to Abraham because he passed another test from God.
God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. However, Abraham was already seventy-five years old, and childless, when God made this promise. Abraham believed in this promise. Another twenty five years passed before Abraham’s first, and only child with Sarah, was born. We now fast forward seventeen years and Abraham still only has one child, Isaac. God is moving slowly with his promise to Abraham.
Now, God is throwing another curve at Abraham. The only child that Abraham has been given has been designated by God to be sacrificed. “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice” (v. 17a).
Abraham “was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned’ “ (vv. 17b-18). It made no sense. However, in faith Abraham took Isaac up to Mount Moriah to offer him as a burnt sacrifice. He took him to the very spot where God later appeared to David, on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, and where Solomon built the temple. The word “moriah” means chosen by Jehovah.
Abraham placed Isaac on the wooden altar and tied him as he would an animal sacrifice. He raised his knife to kill Isaac, but was stopped by an angel of God. Abraham then saw the ram that God had provided as a sacrifice. God had provided. But Abraham had prepared to kill his only son, and had begun to follow through with this task. He had demonstrated his faith in God.
Abraham’s faith was so strong that he “reasoned that God could raise the dead” (v. 19a), and Isaac could still be the path to Abraham fathering a great nation. Even though God had never raised anyone from the dead at this point in recorded history, Abraham had faith that he would raise Isaac. It would have been a first, but Abraham still had faith, he still believed in the trustworthiness of God’s promise. “Figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death” (v. 19b). The full account of this story can be found in Genesis 22.
God would never require from His children what he required of Himself. He sacrificed his only son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice which would pay the penalty for all the sin of the world, past, present, and future. But he did not require this same sacrifice of Abraham. God never has and never will approve of human sacrifice. He proved this when He had His angel intervene with Isaac’s sacrifice. He tested Abraham’s faith and when Abraham passed the test, God rescinded His order.
Abraham proved his faith to God over a period of one hundred years. He never waned. God made his promise to Abraham when he was seventy-five years old. He died one hundred years later, still looking for God’s promise to be fulfilled. It was, just not in Abraham’s lifetime. But Abraham kept the faith. He kept living his life for God everyday, always believing, always trusting. He was a man of great faith, a member of God’s Hall of Faith.
How strong is our faith? Can we go to our graves knowing that we too can be a member of God’s Hall of Faith? Can we persevere in our faith, even when we do not see God’s promises fulfilled? Can we pass any test that God may require of us? The answer to all these questions can be yes. We have the power, the strength, to remain faithful. It is a matter of being continually sold out to God. It is a matter of complete trust, even when we do not understand God’s ways. It is a matter of knowing no other way.
God is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He still tests His children. We can pass His tests, but we must remain vigilant. We must persevere. Abraham, being completely sold out to God, knew no other way. He had faith in God. He believed that God was trustworthy, and put all of his trust in Him. He did not know what would happen, but he did know that God would provide. And God did!