One of the first things I wrestled with when I was brand new to the things of God was the first statement in this very passage, saying “And God did tempt Abraham…”
Now at the time I was still too jaded to darken the door of a church building, so the Lord kept crossing my paths with people I wasn’t looking for who really helped me. Star was a neighbor in the building I stayed in at the time, an artist whose son was taking care of her. I don’t remember how I met her. I remember spending most of the fall season of that year gleaning from her experiences, her mentioning Jesus speaking Aramaic, and those long discussions we had about things in the Bible and in church that didn’t make sense. This “statement” in Genesis was one of them.
It was in places like this I gained something that I’ll never forget, nor will anyone take from me, and that’s “the difference between answers and resolve.” I’ll leave that there with the prayerful intention that the readers find this out for themselves. It’s too valuable to explain in technical terms, and it’s way too powerful to ignore.
A few months later I read James for the first time. When he says, in English, “God can’t be tempted nor is He tempting…” I still found this bookmark in Genesis a bit bothersome, but there was at least some resolve in dealing with James’ no-nonsense approach to man’s own lust.
First of all, it was through both the extended fellowship with other believers and extended study of the Word that I found out “proving” and “tempting” are only two of several different and necessary aspects of that same root word. That’s what put me on the spot in God’s program, recognizing that I, not God, but I needed proof that only temptation would provide.
Secondly, I got a tip I only got from one other person. To this day he’s still telling people to…
1) mark whatever difficulty in Scripture they may have,
2) praise the Lord immediately for the revelation they’re about to receive,
3) put Jesus right in the middle of it and wait for Him to resolve it.
I didn’t know any better at first, so I tried it. I kept ending up here at Genesis 22.
Listen, Jesus cannot be proven.
He can only be revealed.
On that basis, this life must be proven as well while we’re still in it, and only by the standard revealed for the first time here in Genesis 22. It’s here in this unusual model of worship the LORD chooses to reveal His program He would implement centuries later.
No worries. We’re not under “the law.” James covers that. We’re under “the law of Liberty.” No sacrifices, no rituals required. Jesus covers that. That’s part of the point. His standard is our privilege. And in that process, any and all difficulties we may have will become the altar on which we build His worship.