A Terrible Horrible Awful Test (Advent 9, 2020)

Pop-tests were always the worst, in my experience.  Catching us off-guard.  Seeing how truly prepared and attentive we are at any given moment.  Testing our nerves, our resolve, and our knowledge.  Showing us who we are when we’re not expecting anything to happen.

Abraham had a pop-test to beat all pop-tests.  He wasn’t expecting it.  He hadn’t heard from God in ages.  Abraham was happily living his life with his cherished son named “Laughter”—you know, Isaac.

BOOM!  Divine Intervention. 
A pop-test coming from God looks like a good thing to God, but to us … well, it’s a test.
To Abraham, a Terrible Horrible Awful Test.

Genesis 22:1 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.”


Yeah, Abraham heard Him right.  God wanted to ensure that Abraham knew whether he loved the gift of Isaac more than the Giver, God Almighty.

Genesis 22: 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.”   

So far so good.  “We will come back to you.”  Abraham was earning more than a participation trophy in the Faith Olympics. 

Genesis 22: 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,

Hold on, Abraham is having his son carry the firewood, no small feat.  No small boy.  He’s probably a teen or a young adult by now.  Some time later?  Yeah, that’s some time.  Time enough to develop unhealthy attachments and turn a son into an object of worship.  Time enough to have taught his son what to believe about God.  Time enough to grow complacent or a little too comfortable.  Time enough to forget God’s promise about Abraham’s being the father of many nations, the blessing and all that.

Genesis 22: 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

Father, my son, my son.  The test in a nutshell.  Given the nature of the questions and the probable age of Isaac not being a little baby or a toddler, one can only speculate about how Isaac was reacting to all this.  Dad, are you outta your gourd here?  No way!  Fist fight.  Or obedience?  We’ll never know on this side of heaven.  I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it and I’m glad that pop-test wasn’t mine.

Genesis 22: 9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.   10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.  12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Divine Intervention. 
Abraham was proved faithful, not just to God…Abraham learned it by having been tested.

Genesis 22:13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Questions for thought:

  • How might you have been proven in this?  How might your children have reacted? 
  • Can you think of a way God tested you at some point in your life?  Has it been planned into your calendar or arrived unannounced? 
  • In the beautiful pattern of storytelling, how does God give us a picture of a loving father and his only son? 
  • Jesus became the Word made flesh, God’s Only Son, and He sacrificed Himself willingly for our sins.  And it wasn’t just a test.  It was for keeps. What is your reaction to this act of love?

Father God Almighty, I thank You for Divine Interruptions in our lives. Thank You for the faith of Abraham, for Isaac, and Jacob–the great patriarchs of our faith and what they mean in the background of Jesus Christ as His truly Jewish heritage.

We praise You Lord that You so loved us that You gave Your only Son to die for our sins so that we might have an eternity in heaven with You. We praise You for His faithfulness and thank You for the faith of all the Saints and the generations before us–how they are to us as a cloud of witnesses to encourage our faith.

We praise You Lord for the sinless life of Jesus, for His birth and the miracle that His birth was in the natural life of Mary and Joseph. A miracle, too, in the lives of the shepherds and to every other human being that has walked the planet whether we acknowledge Your goodness or not.  Our world would be irredeemable had it not been for Jesus. We would have been lost forever and truly lost. I pray Lord that Your divine patience and mercy will flow until such time as You return so that many can come to that saving faith and You would give us boldness to proclaim Jesus is the Way, our reason for this season.  We praise You and exalt You, Lord Jesus.  Amen.


Advent 2020 began Sunday, November 29th and continues to Thursday, December 24th as we celebrate the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and look forward to His Second Coming.  “Divine Intervention” is this year’s devotional study. By signing up on the sidebar of my Home Page you can receive these daily devotionals. Or they will be reposted on SeminaryGal’s Facebook page as well.

Together we will see how God has been actively involved all along as Divine Intervention for a hurting world and nations in tumult– Intervention for you and for me when our status as sinners required nothing short of a miracle.


Acknowledging inquiries about an entire season’s devotionals for your study group’s planning purposes, Seminary Gal’s prior seasons’ Advent devotionals can be accessed via the archives to the right and are as follows: 

  • Last year’s Advent Devotional Series God’s Christmas list explored what might be on God’s Christmas list, learning what He wants from us. It began December 1, 2019.
  • Storyteller began December 2, 2018 and entered into the Christmas story through its telling.
  • The 2017 series Still Christmas, began December 3, 2017 and was the Advent complement to the Lenten series, Be Still and Know that I AM God.
  • The 2016 season devotionals were called Timeless: The Message of Christmas for All Ages” and explored how the message of Christmas is timeless truth, for all ages of people, and for all ages at all times.  Timeless hope, encouragement, grace, peace, and love as we looked into the Word, saw the face of our Lord Jesus, and experienced restoration in His presence.  His goodness and His Gospel are truly Timeless. The 2016 devotionals began November 27, 2016.
  • The 2015 season devotionals were titled Incarnation and involved digging deep–and yes, I mean deep– in this important mystery of Christian theology.  They began November 29, 2015.
  • Carol Me, Christmas! remains one of my most popular offerings and tells the Christmas story through our most beloved Christmas hymns and carols.  You can access all of the numbered devotionals from 2014 via the archives.  They began November 30, 2014.
  • The 2013 series was Emmanuel: When LOVE Showed Up in Person and examined the Prologue to the Gospel of John.  It began December 1, 2013.
  • The 2012 series focused on Expecting the Unexpected…the unexpected, unlikely, and uniquely divine qualities of God’s perfect plan outlined in Luke’s account of the Christmas story.  It began December 1, 2012.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on December 7, 2020

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