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Trust God Even When it Seems Ridiculous

James 2:20-22
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. (NIVUK)

Would you obey God, even if that would ruin everything that you have lived for? Abraham did (Genesis 22:1-19). To hold a miracle baby at age 100, and then to agree to sacrifice his life when he became a teenager, makes no sense at all to our minds. But God commanded it to test Abraham's faith. What did the patriarch want more: to please God or to please himself with a son to provide for him in his old age? Did Abraham want God or just God's blessing? Of course, God did not want Abraham to kill his own son. But Isaac represented God's covenant-blessing to Abraham after a century of pain and grief. All Abraham's hopes and God's future blessings to the world were embedded in that boy. Previously, Abraham had a mixed history of faith in God (Genesis 12:10-20; 16:1-16), and he got some things almost catastrophically wrong, so the command to make an offering of his son to God was a real test of his faith.

In the event, just at the last minute, God stopped Abraham, and a ram became the substitute sacrifice - just as 2000 years later, Jesus the Lamb of God (John 1:29) became the substitute sacrifice for our sins (Isaiah 53:1-6). But Abraham was not to know that, as father and son walked up the hill to the place of sacrifice (interestingly, in the same place where Jesus was later to die instead of us). Abraham's faith was seen because he accepted what God said (Hebrews 11:17-19), and set out to obey (just as Jesus obeyed Father God). But if he had not climbed the hill with the boy, and prepared the altar, his faith would have been a delusion and not real at all.

James describes Abraham's faith working together with his actions. True faith is a partnership of what we believe and what we do. The action we take is a deliberate choice validating what we believe. It also strengthens our faith for the next time of believing and acting. In turn it strengthens our character as every faith-action is taken against the background of potential suffering or loss (James 1:2-4), and often in a time of trouble. Our choice to side with Jesus in a practical way will prepare us for the next challenge and bring glory to Him (Hebrews 12:2-3).

The Lord allows our faith in Him to be challenged, so that it might be tested and found genuine (1 Peter 1:7). Our response to injustice in the workplace and to persecution, will either validate or deny our faith (1 Peter 2:18-25). So too is the Lord's habit of loosening our grip on some things that have become part of our identity: our home, our relationships, our money or our job. The response of faith is to say, "Yes" to God, even though we cannot make any sense of it. Faith always trusts that God is right in what He allows, and faith allows other people and things to be secondary to whatever God may choose.

Prayer 
Father God. Thank You for always knowing, and commanding what is right. Please forgive me for the times when I fail the tests You set to strengthen my faith. Please help me, even though I may not understand or even see any logic to what You allow, so that I will accept it and obey because You are God. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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