The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." Genesis 22:15-18 (NIV)
God called Abraham and gave him the promise many years before this event (Genesis 12). How is it at this point in Abraham’s life that God applies a condition: “I will surely bless you…because you have obeyed me”? Was there a loophole?
God chose Abraham to start a people of God’s own. From the very beginning, God had an idea of what His people would be like. God wanted people who would resemble Him. But, between the Tower of Babel and the Call of Abraham, there really wasn’t anyone around that looked like one of God’s people. Should God start over? Should God go back to the garden?
God chose Abraham knowing two things very clearly: Abraham didn’t resemble God, and God was going to start a people through Abraham. Wasn’t there someone more devoted? Wasn’t there someone who wouldn’t choose adultery or lying as an option? Maybe there was. Maybe there wasn’t.
This is where our lives connect with Abraham’s life: God chose Abraham and us based upon His desire to have a relationship with us. And, God has a plan to bless us and to fulfill His will through us. None of us are prepared. None of us are good enough. But, nothing is impossible with God.
God delivers on His promises to us, but not all at once. For Abraham, the promise took a process. Abraham’s tests were not to prove his worth, but to cause him to more closely reflect God’s character. God didn’t put conditions on His promise when He gave it. If you do X, then I will give you Y. If passing a test was the criteria for God’s blessing, then Abraham failed miserably. And, he certainly wasn’t wealthy enough to buy all of the Mulligans needed to cover his faults.
Abraham never reached perfection in this life (and neither will we). But, with each test, Abraham grew a little closer to resembling his Father. That gives us all hope. As we keep moving forward, as we continue to lean into God, as we give up our selfish ways and surrender to Him, we will develop more of His character. He’s going to bless us anyway. We don’t have to earn that.
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