Genesis 22:1-5 NIV

[1] 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 .”


How do you feel about tests?  Probably not that excited I would imagine.  It seems that life is full of tests beginning when you are born with tests to ensure you are a healthy, happy baby. Then as you get older and go to school there are spelling tests and later exams.  Also we have driving tests and the dreaded MOT for our cars.  We have health checks and hospital tests, tests or try-outs for sports teams, employer tests to examine our suitability for a job post.  Life is full of tests, and often how we perform in a test will determine if we advance to the next level or get promoted.

As we approach the end of our series looking at the life of Abraham, we have seen that along the way he has faced many different tests.  

First of all there was the 'family test' when God told him to leave his family and set out on a journey to the Promised Land.  He scored pretty well on that one, except he should probably have left his nephew Lot behind.

Then there was the 'famine test' to find out how Abraham would respond when life got tough. Sadly he failed that one, moving down to Egypt without seeking God on the latter.

Next there was the 'fear test' when the king took a fancy to Abraham's wife Sarah.  Once again, he missed the grade.  Rather than face personal danger, Abraham took the easy option and told the king that Sarah was his sister, basically offering her to him to do as he pleased.

Following this was the 'financial test', when his men and Lot’s men began to argue over land.  Would he trust God to provide?  He passed that test with flying colours.

Then there was the 'fatherhood test'.  He desperately wanted a son and was becoming impatient, so under his wife’s instructions, he slept with Hagar the servant girl, the result being the birth of Ishmael.  He failed that one big time.

So in the last 25 years, having faced many tests, Abraham has had as many failures as successes. It's so good to know that God doesn't give up on us when we completely mess things up.   

However, his next, and final, test would be the biggest test of all.  It was the 'faith test'.  Would he trust God when asked to do something which seems completely irrational and illogical?  Would he be willing to sacrifice, to lay down, that thing which was most precious to him?  We will see how He handles that test tomorrow.  But, for now, the question is: why does God test us?  

I actually had to put my car through the MOT just last week.  With it being over 10 years old and having 130,000 miles on the clock, I have mixed feelings about the MOT.  On one hand I hate it.  It stresses me out, I worry about the car failing, I imagine having to spend a fortune to make it roadworthy.  On the other hand, if it passes (which it did by the way - hallelujah!) it gives me a renewed confidence in driving it.  I know it has gone through rigorous checks and so is safe to provide transport for both myself and my family.  

I think that often God tests us to see how 'roadworthy' we are for the next stage of the journey He has planned out for us.  We may well face pressures, rough conditions and obstacles ahead, so God doesn't want to send us in unprepared.  

Testing also determines if we are ready to go to the next level or stage God has for us.  It was only after I passed my GCSE exams that I was able to begin studying for A-levels.  While we often see 'promotion' as a secular/business term, God does promote people in His Kingdom to greater levels of authority and responsibility.  Testing nearly always precedes promotion.

When we view testing in this light, it changes our attitude towards it.  Rather than resisting the test or being afraid of failing, often a test can be a sign that God has something new for us, that He wants to move us forward, increase our influence, extend our platform.  With that in mind we should face tests with faith, excitement, prayer and gratitude.  On the other side of the test could be the beginning of a whole new adventure.