NO MOCK EXAMS
Holy Spirit, You work in unexpected ways and in unusual places. Forgive me for trying to domesticate and tame You.
Read GENESIS 22:1–8
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, / look full in His wonderful face, / and the things of earth will grow strangely dim / in the light of His glory and grace.’1
End-of-year school exams do not often produce a spirit of excitement and rejoicing. The usual posture at this time can be anxiety, coupled with prayers to remember revision notes. Abra-ham’s faith was tested deeply when he was told to leave his people and country without knowing where he was to go.2 His previous encounters with God gave no indication of a greater test to come. God wanted Abraham to lean on Him, grow in character, and be ready for the big exam when it comes, a day known only to God, a day not expected by Abraham.
Despite failing earlier tests and fearing for his life,3 Abraham has matured spiritually and is ready for the biggest exam of his life: sacrificing Isaac, his only son, to God. Faith and security replace fear and insecurity. He demonstrates maturity in handling God’s directive. No defiance, no bargaining, just humble obedience. Instructed by God to sacrifice his only son, Abraham humbly obeys. Traveling with the young Isaac to the place of sacrifice, the mature Abraham worships the everlasting God. Isaac’s inquiry about where the sacrifice is gets a response from a faith-filled Abraham, confidently prophesying God’s provision.
God’s exams provide no mocks, no notice of dates; revision notes are His Word. Abraham’s example is a model we can all follow. Is God asking you to sacrifice something at this stage of your faith journey? True faith will always be tested, offering us the opportunity to prove the depth of our love and devotion to Him, above all people and things. We may not be required to sacrifice something that is bad. It may, however, be something that is important to us and may be even something that we love.
Lord, on the day of my big exam, help me to be fully ready so that I can serve You well in faithfulness.
Father God, when tests come my way, as I know they will, may I be found faithful to You.
1 Helen Howarth Lemmel, 1863–1961, ‘O soul, are you weary and troubled?’ 2 Gen 12:1
3 Gen 12:13; 20:11