The first father of faith – Abraham, finds himself tested by God in Genesis 22:1. No small test. A huge one, in fact. Abraham’s son of promise, “kid-impossible” – Isaac, the seed who came forth miraculously in fulfillment of the promise of God, is asked for as a sacrifice, by God.
Gen 22:1-2 (NKJ)
1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
2 And He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
(Mt. Moriah, by the way, later is renamed Golgotha, and then Calvary. Another Son of promise does get sacrificed on that location).
The Hebrew word for testing (na-sa) is accurately defined as testing, assaying, proving, put to the proof or test – there’s even an element of tempting in the definition, as if to imply that one who is being tested might determine “hey, I’m outta here”. Point is, God tested Abraham indeed. Abe succeeded.
Abraham’s test was not an anomaly. To the contrary, it was an introductory revelation into the plans and processes of God for all His people.
Inarguably, God continues testing His people. Testing their/our mettle, wanting to see faith in action, providing His people with opportunity to say yes to the impossible.
Things haven’t changed in the transition from Old to New Testament. Gentile believers in Christ have been grafted into the family where Father God (Who does not change) tests His beloved ones:
1 Pet 1:6-7 (NKJ)
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
It is key to our eternal success, lived out day by day, to understand God and to appreciate His never-changing attributes and personality.
The psalmist brings out some further revelation re testing:
Ps 66:8-14 (NKJ)
8 Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
9 Who keeps our soul among the living, and does not allow our feet to be moved.
10 For You, O God, have tested us; you have refined us as silver is refined.
11 You brought us into the net; you laid affliction on our backs.
12 You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
13 I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows,
14 Which my lips have uttered and my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.
I love those verses. They’re not easy to embrace as part of our purification and sanctification, yet they remain part and parcel of the true and ongoing gospel message. God tests us, takes us through things we are not be inclined to choose to go through (except out of obedience to Him), and in that place our great God may sovereignly squeeze a resolve out of us – vows, oaths, proclamations of our future faith-behavior, declarations that we will proceed onward and honor that which is now due God, because of His great deliverance.
I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows,
Which my lips have uttered and my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.
Ps 116 is a great proclamation of an appreciative servant of God coming before His King-Deliverer, in utmost gratitude.
In this season of world-wide shaking, our great God is relentless in His plans and purposes to be raising up an army of lover/warriors – ones who have been trained by Him, in His foresight and perfect understanding of who we are, and what He has predetermined for us to walk in – corporately but also individually. Each of us has been wonderfully and fearfully made (Ps 139) – and the Creator, the Eternal Inventor, knows just what is required to bring us out to rich fulfillment. Fulfillment of our destiny has to be accomplished through growth process. And testing is part of that. It is a good thing.
Once again – the most insanely faith-filled and reckless prayer we can ever utter:
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Your will be done in me. I want the gospel in my life. The whole gospel. My whole life.
James 1:2-4 (NKJ)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.