Faith, is the mystery of desire – what does God want for my life? Through it you acquire a good testimony. By faith we better understand the nature of God’s creative power; how material, visible things come from the invisible dimension.
Faith has a way of bringing you to the edge, of yourself. Though your life may be much different now, the world hasn’t changed. Imagine being Abraham years after Isaac was born. Then suddenly God speaks and gives you the toughest trial you’ll ever have to face. But first notice this:
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
Speaking of the elders: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham (with Sarah), Isaac, and Jacob – “These all died in faith” with no doubts, overcoming this old world. People of faith always look beyond to “a country,” a homeland, a fatherland. DEEP DOWN GOD’S PEOPLE JUST WANT TO GET BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM. What pleases God is for Him to be able to dwell with them.
OUR LIVES ARE TO BE FOCUSED ON THE PROMISES OF GOD, OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS. This makes us long for so much more. Though they had not “received the promises” they all pleased God and lived fulfilling lives. Not feeling like they belonged here, they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
They went from their “country” for “a city”, desiring “a better country”. This really makes us think. People of faith get so focused on living in the unseen realm, they no longer live like they once did. When God’s will gets ahold of you, your old life becomes nothing more than a faded memory. Walking with God becomes far greater than anything you’ll leave behind. Take it from those who “died in faith.”
Then suddenly we go back in Abraham and Isaac, which in some way, must’ve defied death:
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
The Apostle Paul for some reason reverts back to one of those monumental events in Old Testament Scripture involving Abraham and Isaac, after having already mentioned their deaths. We are now entering into yet another level of the unseen realm of faith. This dimension deals with the gravest of considerations – sacrifice and death. Abraham “was tried” by Yahweh to offer his long awaited son Isaac on the altar. Words cannot express the seriousness involved in this occurrence.
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3 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 clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
God tempts no man where it has to do with sin, nor is He tempted to sin (James 1:13). Look beyond the archaic language and recognize this was Yahweh testing Abraham. Understand, God had Abraham go through this in large part for our instruction, just like He did with Job and so many others in the Bible who overcame impossible circumstances.
Though we know now, Abraham did not know how long it would take them to get where God wanted them to go. Can you imagine the heaviness that Abraham felt for those three days. Possibly the only comparison would be the weight our Wonderful Saviour carried, died, and then was raised after three days and nights in the grave.
We have no mention of how God communicated it to him, Abraham just “lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off”- how his heart must’ve dropped. Then Abraham says the most extraordinary thing “unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” Though they had no idea of the significance, these young men heard one of the greatest utterances ever spoken at this point, from one who was dwelling in the unseen realm of faith. But what did it mean? Soon we shall see.
At this point of course, Isaac has no idea what’s going on, unlike Christ Who knew exactly why He was carrying the cross up the hill. Abraham had in his hands the fire and the blade. What has God placed in your hands? Does it seem an impossible situation that you can’t figure out, or a problem that won’t go away? At the very least, God’s ways are mysterious.
In those days of traveling, Abraham knew eventually this moment was coming, but he’d trusted God thus far. Then Isaac asks him the question: “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Once again, when confronted with the gravity of the situation, Abraham gives another grand statement from the unseen realm of faith: “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering”. How could Abraham know this?! His eye of faith was in focus – he believed the promises of God.
9 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 upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
Abraham not only carried the fire and the blade, but built the altar himself. Notice how his words and his actions seem to contradict one another. He tells the young men, “We will return,” he then tells Isaac, “God will provide a lamb,” yet he is carrying the fire and the blade, why?! BECAUSE HE IS WALKING IN THE UNSEEN REALM OF FAITH AND ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD. He must’ve known that without faith it is impossible to please Him.
We tend to get so caught up in Abraham’s faith, but what about Isaac’s? “Oh, he was just a small boy” – really? Then how’s he carrying the wood? If Isaac was a little boy, Abraham would be carrying him. Isaac must’ve quickly understood that he would somehow make it through – that’s great faith! Abraham “laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac… and laid him on the altar upon the wood.” We don’t see Isaac putting up any resistence at all, just as our Saviour died freely for us. Isaac was thriving in the unseen realm by freely laying down on the altar to die.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC WERE GOING ALL THE WAY WITH THEIR FAITH. It says, “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.” The moment had come and Abraham shows no signs of backing down. Though he’d waited ’til he was 100 years old for this son from God, he was not only willing to give him up, but to sacrifice him, himself. From the worldy, carnal, (considered) ‘normal’ perspective, this screams of madness. Yet in the unseen realm it is one of the most inspiring examples of transcendent faith:
11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
Immediately enters “the angel of Yahweh” for deliverance. ABRAHAM AND ISAAC DEFIED DEATH BY THEIR FAITH. How did they do it? By believing in the promises of God. Exactly how do we have faith like Abraham and Isaac?
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him as a figure.
THEY BELIEVED IN THE INTERVENING POWER OF GOD. They knew somehow God would keep His promises, no matter what. In the unseen realm of faith, what should have been the lowest point in their lives and in their relationship, Abraham and Isaac looked beyond death and saw resurrection power in their God. If you believe God can raise the dead, then you know there’s nothing our God can’t do. Above all, God is faithful and He will always keep His Word, no matter the pressure because He controls the circumstances!
WE NEVER GO WRONG BY TRUSTING GOD. When we see such an example of faith, how can we go on ignoring the power of the indwelling Spirit of God? We must recognize that God has created us and called us to this life of faith, and that we will not be victorious until we surrender to Him. Faith requires more than just a head knowledge, nothing less than our all, just like Abraham and Isaac.
How was this father able to get in such a mindset, that he was actually willing to do this to his son? In conclusion, let’s work through the unusual wording of this last verse and look deeper into the heart and mindset of Abraham. Paul provides us with profound insight concerning how Abraham spiritually dealt with God giving him this most difficult task. The Apostle says of Abraham concerning Isaac, “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him as a figure.” Paul says, “Accounting” or knowing “that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he” Abraham, “received him” Isaac “as a figure.”
In the unseen realm, Abraham’s faith in God was so real to him that in his heart and mind he went through with sacrificing Isaac to God. When it all was done and he saw Isaac alive, coming off of that altar, he believed God had raised Isaac from the dead: “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him as a figure.” ABRAHAM’S FAITH WAS SO REAL TO HIM HE “RECEIVED” ISAAC “AS A FIGURE” AS IF GOD HAD ACTUALLY RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD. Faithful Abraham viewed the living Isaac as having been raised from the dead by God. He projected it in the unseen realm of faith, and it was just as real to him as though it had physically occurred. In this we see how faith in God can transcend what we call ‘reality.’
We’ve missed it, we’ve not been taught when it comes to faith. Faith is not only involved in a belief that something in the past happened but in the promises of the Living God today. They were trusting that God had the power of resurrection. Their belief was in the God with Whom all things are possible.
Dwelling in the unseen realm of faith teaches you that you are an eternal spirit, temporarily in a fleshly body. Your greatest desire is to return back to where you came from, the Father of Lights. Abraham and Isaac understood that nothing could stop God’s Word from coming to pass and that’s what they based their faith on. Our Father has all power, including resurrection power. What is there to fear if you are walking with Him?