Expository Sermon from Genesis | Passing the Test | Genesis 22:1-14

Passing the Test (Genesis 22:1-14)

When I was teaching at Heritage Christian University, I had as many—if not more—students online as I had in the classroom. Thus, tests for both sets of students were administered through an online platform.

When I prepared my first midterm exam, the distance learning secretary told me that she’d be more than happy to help me. But how hard could it be for Dr. Imel to write a midterm exam?!

I prepared the exam for my in-person students, but I failed to put a time limit on the exam. When I starting grading the exam, I noticed several students used 5 or more days to take the test. During that time, several students had opened the test, read the questions, and passed around answer keys behind my back. I learned a valuable lesson about how to prepare a midterm for an online platform.

I imagine many of us in here have cheated on a test at some time or other in our lives. Maybe you never cheated, but you might have become very nervous during a test. Or, you might have been one of those students who breezed through an exam without needing to study. Or, you might have failed a major test and that caused you to fail a class.

But imagine, if you will, that God himself were to give you a test. There’s no pencil and paper; God expects you to perform some difficult task. You are tested in this life:

  • “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (Js 1:2).
  • “Now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Pet 1:6).

Abraham, the father of the faithful, was not immune to testing; in fact, God tested Abraham in a big way when he told the patriarch to offer Isaac. Abraham didn’t cheat on the test, and he passed the test with flying colors. Do you know how Abraham passed his test? Do you know how you can pass whatever test comes your way? “You pass the test when you trust and obey.

Scripture (Genesis 22:1-14)

verse 1:

It’s unfortunate that the King James Version and a few others translate the Hebrew here as “God tempted Abraham.” God tempts no man to sin (Js 1:13).

Instead, God tested Abraham’s faith. Abraham’s faith needed to grow, and God used this test to allow Abraham’s faith to grow.

verse 2:

God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love.” Notice the way God referenced Isaac—those references were to emphasize just how big a sacrifice the Lord was asking the patriarch to make.

Abraham was to make Isaac a burnt offering to the Lord.

verse 3:

Abraham rose early the next morning to leave on his journey. Abraham’s heart had to be shredded into a trillion pieces, but he was eager—not to sacrifice his son—but to obey the word of the Lord.

verses 5-8:

Abraham’s statement to his young men that he and Isaac would go worship and then return indicates just how much faith Abraham had that Isaac would return. Isaac was the son of promise, and Abraham knew that God would keep his promise. Abraham believed that if he were to slaughter Isaac God would raise him from the dead (Heb 11:19). At that point in history, no one had ever come back from the dead, but Abraham knew God could do it and would do it if necessary. That deep faith is again seen when Abraham told Isaac that God would “provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen 22:8).

verses 9-12:

Abraham, in obedience to God, took his son, laid him on the altar he had constructed, and lifted the knife to slay his son. The angel of the LORD called from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” The repetition of the patriarch’s name indicated urgency—the Lord needed to get Abraham’s attention in a hurry to keep him from killing Isaac.

God said that he knew that Abraham feared God since he had not withheld Isaac from him. Understand that God knew precisely how Abraham would act, but God spoke to Abraham in a way humans understand.

verses 13-14:

Abraham then offered a ram God himself had provided in the place of Isaac.


The narrative of Abraham’s sacrificing Isaac is one of the greatest examples of trust and obedience in all of human history. When God demanded so much of Abraham, the patriarch rose to the challenge by trusting God and obeying God.

Last Lord’s Day, we discussed how God’s love should keep you from worry. However, sometimes you still must walk through fire in life. No matter how much you don’t worry not every medical test is going to be hunky-dory. No matter how much you don’t worry your spouse can cut wounds on your heart. No matter how much you don’t worry you may get laid off. No matter how much you don’t worry your loved ones will die.

What do you do when you stand at the fire and face a big test? You can pass your test with the same flying colors as Abraham. Do you want to pass the test? “You pass the test when you trust and obey.

To pass the test, you must Trust.

Abraham trusted God: He told his men that he and Isaac would return after worshiping, and he told Isaac that God himself would provide the sacrifice. The author of Hebrews detailed Abraham’s trust: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb 11:17-19). Abraham passed the test by putting his trust—his confidence—in God.

You, too, must trust—put your confidence in—God. Paul learned the need to trust God in Asia: 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. Paul told you exactly how to you can trust in God: 1) Know only God can help; 2) Know God raises the dead; 3) Know God will deliver you (maybe not in this life, but he has great plans for your soul in eternity).

Will you trust God?

To pass the test, you must Obey.

Abraham obeyed God: He got up early in the morning, took the required supplies, built an altar, and then bound Isaac and started to sacrifice him. Again, the author of Hebrews noted Abraham’s obedience: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac” (Heb 11:17). God had commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac; Abraham offered up Isaac.

You, too, must obey God even when you are tested and life makes no sense whatsoever. Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24). You see, according to the Lord, obedience to his word is your life’s bedrock. When life gets turned upside down, what better time to go to the bedrock of your life and find stability?

Can you imagine what Abraham faced when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac? How could he kill his beloved son? What was he going to tell Sarah? How would God make of him a great nation? What would come of God’s promises? When nothing made sense, Abraham went to the bedrock of his life—obedience—and passed the test. If you want to pass the test, go to the bedrock of your life—obedience to God.

Is obedience the bedrock of your life, or do you need to begin obeying God right now as we stand and sing?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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