Before we move beyond Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, we need to see this as our own test, perhaps our deepest lesson to be learned. For Abraham, Isaac was not only a gift from God, but he represented the fulfillment of all God had promised him, but was Abraham’s hope grounded in God or in Isaac—God’s gift? What is our hope grounded in? Is our hope grounded in God’s promise of salvation in Christ, or is our hope grounded in Christ? Abraham’s life shows us that before Isaac, he looked to God alone, and after Isaac, Abraham looked to God alone. What a testimony to faith or more to the point that God is worthy of our trust!
When Abraham answered the call of God in the land of Ur and left to go to where God would show him, he not only left all that the world could offer him, he entered into the heart of God. From that point on, Abraham was a vessel through whom God could do his work. Adam rebelled in Eden and took the whole human race into such violent and depraved traditions that God had to judge him, and so a new beginning was initiated under Noah. Yet, neither Noah nor any one of his sons was the chosen vessel through whom God would recover mankind from its self-initiated rebellion against him. That recovery was begun in Abraham.
We cannot escape the fact of the similar imagery between Abraham and us. As the vessel of the Lord, it was through Abraham God would redeem the world. Likewise, as the corporate vessel of God, Christ works in us to redeem the world through the Gospel. Abraham was the first man, who forsook all to answer God’s call to come out from among the world and receive his promise of the land of Canaan. Similarly, we, who are the first who trust in Christ (Ephesians 1:12), are called to come out from among the world and receive the promise of the Kingdom. Abraham was called a Hebrew or one who “crossed over” (from the Euphrates), and we are called Christian, after the One who “crossed over” from death to life (cp. Ephesians 2:1-6).
It is only fitting, therefore, that as Abraham was tested, so should we. Both Abraham and we are called out of our world with its traditions, even from among our kindred, if necessary, to go to a land or a Kingdom which neither Abraham nor we have seen. Moreover, just as Abraham, we will spend our lives as pilgrims in this world without ever receiving the promises (cp. Hebrews 11:13). Just as Abraham was tested in Egypt and was driven out by Pharaoh, so we can never be assimilated into this world, but will be seen as strangers not to be trusted (cp. Genesis 12:20). We live among people who do not fear the Lord (Genesis 20:11), but because of our presence the world comes to know about the God who dwells with us (cp. Genesis 21:22).
In all things it is God who through us is introduced to the world, not as a God who requires the life of innocent blood in order to be appeased (cp. Genesis 22:11-12), but as a God who cares for us and wishes to bless the whole world through us (cp. Genesis 18:18 and Galatians 3:8, 14). Yet, just as Abraham came to understand that it is not the gift itself that assures one of security, so we must come to realize that our salvation in Christ is not to be embraced as our future security. Rather it is Christ—God with us—who is to be embraced as our all in all (1Corinthians 15:28; Ephesians 1:23). Only he can be our Life (Colossians 3:4) and our Wisdom, our Righteousness, our Sanctification and our Redemption. We do not preach salvation to the world, but Christ, in whom are found all the blessings of God (Ephesians 1:3). This is the role of each and every test in the life of the believer, for it is in Christ that we live (Colossians 3:4) and through him we know God, are right with God, are set apart to God and redeemed to God (1Corinthians 1:30) from the rebellion of Adam found in all mankind. All the tests in our lives are meant to reveal this God to us, and through us to the world.