Having given Abraham a son, the words that God had spoken to Abraham were fulfilled. This does not mean that God’s plan stopped here; on the contrary, God’s magnificent plan for the management and salvation of mankind had only just begun, and His blessing of a son to Abraham was but a prelude to His overall management plan. At that moment, who knew that God’s battle with Satan had quietly begun in the moment when Abraham offered up Isaac?
God Does Not Care If Man Is Foolish—He Only Asks That Man Be True
Next, let us look at what God did to Abraham. In Genesis 22:2, God gave the following command to Abraham: “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.” God’s meaning was clear: He was telling Abraham to give his only son Isaac, whom he loved, as a burnt offering. Looking at it today, is God’s command still at odds with man’s notions? Yes! All that God did at that time is quite contrary to the notions of man; it is incomprehensible to man. In their notions, people believe the following: When a man did not believe, and thought it an impossibility, God gave him a son, and after he had gained a son, God asked him to sacrifice his son. Is this not utterly unbelievable! What did God actually intend to do? What was God’s actual intention? He unconditionally gave Abraham a son, yet He also asked that Abraham make an unconditional offering. Was this excessive? From a third party’s standpoint, this was not only excessive but also somewhat a case of “making trouble for no reason.” But Abraham himself did not believe that God was asking too much. Though he had a few, small opinions of his own about it and though he was a little suspicious of God, he was still prepared to make the offering. At this point, what do you see that proves Abraham was willing to offer his son? What is being said in these sentences? The original text gives the following accounts: “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him” (Gen 22:3). “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar on the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (Gen 22:9–10). When Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son, were his actions seen by God? They were. The entire process—from the start, when God asked that Abraham sacrifice Isaac, to when Abraham actually raised his knife to slay his son—showed God the heart of Abraham, and regardless of his former foolishness, ignorance, and misunderstanding of God, at that time Abraham’s heart for God was true, and honest, and he truly was going to return Isaac, the son given to him by God, back to God. In him, God saw obedience, the very obedience that He desired.
To man, God does much that is incomprehensible and even unbelievable. When God wishes to orchestrate someone, this orchestration is often at odds with man’s notions and incomprehensible to him, yet it is precisely this dissonance and incomprehensibility that are God’s trial and test of man. Abraham, meanwhile, was able to demonstrate obedience to God within himself, which was the most fundamental condition of his being able to satisfy God’s requirement. Only then, when Abraham was able to obey God’s requirement, when he offered up Isaac, did God truly feel reassurance and approval toward mankind—toward Abraham, whom He had chosen. Only then was God sure that this person whom He had chosen was an indispensable leader who could undertake His promise and His subsequent management plan. Though it was but a trial and a test, God felt gratified, He felt man’s love for Him, and He felt comforted by man as never before. At the moment that Abraham lifted up his knife to slay Isaac, did God stop him? God did not let Abraham sacrifice Isaac, for God simply had no intention of taking Isaac’s life. Thus, God stopped Abraham just in time. For God, Abraham’s obedience had already passed the test, what he did was sufficient, and God had already seen the outcome of what He intended to do. Was this outcome satisfactory to God? It can be said that this outcome was satisfactory to God, that it was what God wanted, and was what God had longed to see. Is this true? Although, in different contexts, God uses different ways of testing each person, in Abraham God saw what He wanted, He saw that Abraham’s heart was true, and that his obedience was unconditional. It was precisely this “unconditional” that God desired. People often say, “I’ve already offered this, I’ve already forgone that—why is God still not satisfied with me? Why does He keep subjecting me to trials? Why does He keep testing me?” This demonstrates one fact: God has not seen your heart, and has not gained your heart. This is to say, He has not seen such sincerity as when Abraham was able to raise his knife to slay his son by his own hand and offer him to God. He has not seen your unconditional obedience, and has not been comforted by you. It is natural, then, that God keeps trying you. Is this not true?
Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh