“He said, 'Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.'"

Genesis 22:12 (Emphasis added)

Ever notice or question these words of God to Abraham: “now I know”? Did an omniscient God not know something about Abraham? What about today? Can God say that about any of us: “now I know”?

Even in his day, when people experienced longer lifespans, Abraham was considered advanced in years, or just plain old, when the fruit of God’s covenant with him was born. After all, Isaac came into this world when his father was already past his prime at 100 years old. Some years later, the aged father and youthful son made their way to the mountains of Moriah to make a sacrifice unto the Lord.

Abraham had spent many years growing his faith. When God called him to leave everything he had ever known in Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham packed up, left his country, and followed God (Genesis 12). Instinctively, he knew God was guiding him and that all of his needs were under the care of his heavenly Father.

Learning to Trust God

Were all the steps of Abraham’s journey of faithful obedience perfectly in line with God’s leading? Absolutely not. Twice Abraham lied about his wife Sarah being his sister. Then when God wanted him to wait for the son of promise to arrive, Abraham decided at his age that God needed some help to fulfill His commitment. Thus, he had a son with Hagar.

In Genesis 17, Abraham’s trust was still growing when God told him that he would become the father of many nations. Then came the joyous day when Abraham peered into the eyes of God’s guarantee cradled in his arms. The future was wrapped up in the little bundle, and he and Sarah believed they would spend their remaining years in bliss, raising Isaac to fear the Lord.

As with any child, he grew too fast, acquiring strength and vigor. However, the fateful day came when God called Abraham again to do something to stretch his faith — to offer his only son as a sacrifice.

The heart of the old man stood still with horror. The loss of such a son by disease would have been most heart-rending to the fond father, it would have bowed his whitened head with sorrow; but now he is commanded to shed the precious blood of that son with his own hand. It seemed to him a fearful impossibility.1

The Ultimate Test

The level of faith Abraham had in Genesis 12 and 17 had grown substantially by the time they journeyed to the mountains of Moriah (Genesis 22). Even though his heart was very heavy with the task at hand, Abraham finally fully believed that somehow God would fulfill His covenant.

As they trudged along, his son noted that they had the fire, the wood, and the knife, but no lamb. Thus, he asked about what they were to sacrifice (Genesis 22:7), to which Abraham responded, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8).

The moment had come when the grief-stricken father and the devoted son expressed their last words of love, shed their last tears, and shared a final embrace. Abraham then raised the knife to plunge it into the heart of his precious son, from whom his descendants were supposed to be as numerous as the stars.

Then, with a sense of urgency, “the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not reach out your hand against the boy, and do not do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me’” (Genesis 22:11–12 NASB®, emphasis added).

Abraham’s action was the crowning evidence to God that His servant truly believed Him. When the burden of many years weighed on the weary patriarch, he was still willing to comply with what seemed to be a humanly insane command.

Paul wrote about this growth of faith: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:17). We can have a minuscule amount of faith and expect things to happen. “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). A mustard seed will grow; likewise, our faith will grow.

Just like Abraham, we start at one level of faith. When our faith increases, like the patriarch’s, it reaches a higher level. The Abraham of Genesis 12, when he first got the call was not the same Abraham we see in Genesis 22. After all the events that took place from leaving Ur of the Chaldees, the lying about Sarah being his sister, the Hagar/Ishmael debacle, and the issues with Lot, God could say, “Now I know I can trust your faith.”

What was Abraham’s reward? Yes, returning his son to his mother would have been enough, but there was something even better. James 2:23: “The Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.” Abraham knew that he had attained the righteousness God wanted him to have — the same righteousness God wants for us.

Full Submission Results in Miracles

While any child is a marvel from God, Isaac was a stunning birth to parents who could physically no longer bear children; furthermore, he was a reflection of God’s power. God worked many miracles for Abraham along the way, but the real miracle was his converted heart of fully surrendered obedience.

God used Abraham to show us that age is no excuse when serving God. We may be advanced in years, but God will supply our need to comply with His wishes no matter our age, even if it is to climb a mountain at 89 or any other advanced age. His commands may make little sense to us on a human level, like offering an only son as a sacrifice. Nevertheless, total obedience to God’s beckoning, regardless of what we may think, is the only action God needs or wants from us.

Call to Action

"Many are the hindrances that lie in the path of those who would walk in obedience to the commandments of God. There are strong and subtle influences that bind them to the ways of the world, but the power of the Lord can break these chains. He will remove every obstacle from before the feet of His faithful ones or give them strength and courage to conquer every difficulty, if they earnestly beseech His help. All hindrances will vanish before an earnest desire and persistent effort to do the will of God at any cost to self, even if life itself is sacrificed. … God will accept no partial obedience; He will sanction no compromise with self."2

Are you willing to relinquish everything to God and lay it all on the altar of sacrifice? To delay is to procrastinate. To delay is to give the opposing side a foothold. Ask God so you may be “delivered from the power of evil” (Habakkuk 2:9 KJV). Surrender; allow your faith to be broadened. Then God can say about you: “Now I know.”

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  1. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4 (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1881), 144.
  2. Ibid., 147–148.

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