Daily Dose, July 30

    Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test. He said to him, “Abraham,” and he answered, “Here I am.” And He said, “Take your son, your favored son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.” …They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son. Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham!” And he answered, “Here am I.” And he said, “Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me.” (Genesis 22:1-2, 9-12) The story of Isaac’s binding is one of the gems of the Bible. Yet this beloved story about Abraham’s incredible faith raises many questions, especially around God’s character. Attempts have been made to understand why God would have asked Abraham to make so great a sacrifice, even if He had no intention of letting him follow through with it. Some have suggested that the test was intended to strengthen Abraham’s faith. Since Abraham was to be the “father of faith,” an extraordinary test was required of him. Others have maintained that this passage serves to help us understand the sacrifice of Jesus better. Others still believe it serves to demonstrate the wrongness of child sacrifice practiced in the ancient world. All of these readings have their merit but don’t take into account the plain sense of the passage, which states that this event was for God’s benefit: “For now I know that you fear God.” Far from providing clarity, though, this only raises more questions. Doesn’t God know the hearts of men (Jeremiah 17:10)? Why put Abraham through this unnecessary test? Here, as one of my teachers put it, we need to differentiate between knowledge as cognition and knowledge as experience. God knew ahead of time what Abraham would do. But throughout Scripture God desires us to act out our faith and worship, regardless of the fact that He knows our hearts. We all know that our friends, spouses and children know that we love them, but it is important that it be said and demonstrated. Cognitive knowledge is not enough and less than satisfying. So, how might you demonstrate your faith in God this week? -- Wes Maston, Director of Discipleship