The Bare Soul - December 16, 2012
After These Things ...

Genesis 22:1 - Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am.

Testing can be either a pleasant or unpleasant activity, depending on one's preparedness. As a student, I did not like the discomfort generated by not studying. So, I would usually give it my best shot to try to understand the exam material. Usually, I was satisfied with the outcome. However, there were those particular times when no amount of preparation seemed to help. After a setback such as a less than desirable grade, it was time to cut my losses and get ready for the next test, whatever that might be. It was usually not that important how I did with one grade, but rather the summation of the entire examination throughout the course material. The obvious bears worth mentioning, how one must continue to do the next right thing to accomplish the desired goal. Often, the next right thing is a series of tests that result in creating something much more important than any knowledge. That thing is often defined as character.

While the Patriarch Abraham is known for his great faith, one might not fully understand how he first obtained his godly trust. As with every effect, there is a cause (or a catalyst, if you will). Few take time to truly understand the causation or the context of Abraham's greatest test of faith. We look at Abraham's obedience to sacrifice Isaac and we shake our heads in wonder. However, a test of this colossal size only occurs "after these things." It is a decided moment in the heart of God and at a point in a man or woman's life when either heaven or hell is about to bend, respectively. However, this moment was also a series of faithful and not so faithful exercises throughout the life of the patriarch. Often, Abraham did as God desired and believed Him. At other times, we see him lying to save his own skin. Nonetheless, all of that was now moot in the light of the one great question; Could Abraham totally give away what he loved the most? The test in which Abraham became known for ultimately was the result of many previous tests of which no one will know of on this side of eternity other than he and God.

In the same way, how much was the Son of God tested upon this earth before His greatest test on Calvary's tree? We know of His temptation before His ministry in the Gospels, and His trial in the Garden of Gethsemane. But what about His other thirty-some odd years where we hear nothing in regard? Without question, He lived a continual life of testing, temptation, and trial that  culminated in the greatest triumph ever accomplished. He was examined in all areas throughout His life and, finally, on that fateful day was found perfect and complete. Jesus knew His life was predestined for that moment when---after all these things---He would lay down His life for all those before Him who had failed the test. Then, as our surrogate, He passed every exam the law could ever require from us. In a very real way, Jesus Christ "tested out" of every obligation the Father ever required of us and gained our entrance into God's eternal presence forever.

Both Abraham and Jesus knew all about "after these things." The former learned faith through obedience, while the Latter lived the perfect mortal life and showed us how to live, die, and then be raised into new life. While Jesus is our perfect reflection of the Father, Abraham is our imperfect model to show us how the journey is always preparing us for that moment when we can say, "Here I am!" We will not do everything perfectly, but we must continue on in faith. In time, we will come to that place in our journey which is "after these things." Then, may we like Abraham, be ready for anything the Lord would require of us.

Holy God, thank You for all the trials and tests you bring our way. Often, it is difficult to embrace what You are doing in the midst of the testing. But help us to see as You see regarding what You are doing. For we know it is a perfect result, and we desire to trust You for the outcome. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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