Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

June 6, 1901

Unquestioning Obedience

In a vision of the night, in his home at Beersheba, when he was one hundred and twenty years old, Abraham received the startling command: “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.”

There was no more sleep for Abraham that night. The voice of God had spoken, and had been heard. Isaac, his only son, the son of promise, must be sacrificed.

God had promised Abraham that in his old age he should have a son, and this promise had been fulfilled. But now God says: “Take now thy son, ... and offer him there for a burnt-offering.” God left Ishmael out of the question saying, “Thine only son Isaac.”

Had Abraham been a selfish, cold-hearted man, absorbed in ambitious projects, with no affection for his son, he would not have felt so deeply this terrible summons; but he loved his son tenderly. It seemed like sacrificing his own life to give up Isaac.

As Abraham stepped out into the night, he seemed to hear the divine voice that called him out of Chaldea fifty years before, saying, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them.... So shall thy seed be.” Can it be the same voice that commands him to slay his son? He remembers the promise: “I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” Is it not the voice of a stranger that commands him to offer his son as a sacrifice? Can God contradict himself? Would he cut off the only hope of the fulfillment of the promise?

But Abraham does not reason; he obeys. His only hope is that the God who can do all things will raise his son from the dead.

The knife was raised; but it did not fall. God spoke, saying, “It is enough.” The faith of the father and the submission of the son had been fully tested. The Lord said, “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

Abraham's test was the most severe that could come to a human being. Had he failed under it, he would never have been registered as the father of the faithful. Had he deviated from God's command, the world would have lost an inspiring example of unquestioning faith and obedience.

The lesson was given to shine down through the ages, that we may learn that there is nothing too precious to be given to God. It is when we look upon every gift as the Lord's, to be used in his service, that we secure the heavenly benediction. Give back to God your intrusted possession, and more will be intrusted to you. Keep your possessions to yourself, and you will receive no reward in this life, and will lose the reward of the life to come.

God tries his people today to test their faith and obedience. There are many who have never made an unreserved surrender of themselves to God. They have not a right idea of the infinite sacrifice made by God to save a ruined world. If God should speak to them as he did to Abraham, they would not be sufficiently acquainted with his voice to know that he was calling upon them to make a sacrifice, in order to test the depth of their love and the sincerity of their faith.

The plague spot of selfishness is as contagious as leprosy. Those who enter the heavenly courts must be purified from every vestige of this plague. Look at the world's Redeemer, and remember that as he sacrificed, so must we. He did a work so large and broad that it included the world. His was the ministry of love, yet he said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

The Lord has a great work for us to do, and he invites us to look to him, to trust in him, to walk with him, to talk with him. He invites us to make an unreserved surrender of all that we have and are to him, that when he shall call upon us to sacrifice for him, we may be ready and willing to obey. We shall enjoy the fullness of divine grace only as we give all to Christ. We shall know the meaning of true happiness only as we keep the fire burning on the altar of sacrifice. God will bequeath the most in the future to those who have done the most in the present. He chooses his helpers in accordance with their unselfish endeavor. Each day, under different circumstances, he tries us; and in each true-hearted endeavor he chooses his workers, not because they are perfect, but because they are willing to work unselfishly for him, and he sees that through connection with him they may gain perfection.

Mrs. E. G. White

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