The Power of the Promise Part VI

<h3> Esau and Jacob &ndash; Part II</h3><h4> Tests Of Faith</h4>
<p>God&apos;s people in their anxiety to receive His promises have always been prone to rely on their own devisings and schemes and works to achieve what can only be received and achieved by faith in the naked promise of God. God must permanently cure his people of this tendency, the tendency to either slip into, or deliberately adopt, Old Covenant devisings rather than develop and exercise strong faith in the naked promises of God.</p>
<h4>Abrahams’s Final Test in Genesis 22:1-18.</h4>
<p>&ldquo;Returning to his tent, he went to the place where Isaac lay sleeping the deep, untroubled sleep of youth and in

Esau and Jacob – Part II

Tests Of Faith

God's people in their anxiety to receive His promises have always been prone to rely on their own devisings and schemes and works to achieve what can only be received and achieved by faith in the naked promise of God. God must permanently cure his people of this tendency, the tendency to either slip into, or deliberately adopt, Old Covenant devisings rather than develop and exercise strong faith in the naked promises of God.

Abrahams’s Final Test in Genesis 22:1-18.

“Returning to his tent, he went to the place where Isaac lay sleeping the deep, untroubled sleep of youth and innocence. For a moment the father looked upon the dear face of his son, then turned tremblingly away. He went to the side of Sarah, who was also sleeping. Should he awaken her, that she might once more embrace her child? Should he tell her of God’s requirement? He longed to unburden his heart to her, and share with her this terrible responsibility; but he was restrained by the fear that she might hinder him. Isaac was her joy and pride; her life was bound up in him, and the mother’s love might refuse the sacrifice.

Abraham at last summoned his son, telling him of the command to offer sacrifice upon a distant mountain. Isaac had often gone with his father to worship at some one of the various altars that marked his wanderings, and this summons excited no surprise. The preparations for the journey were quickly completed. The wood was made ready and put upon the ass, and with two menservants they set forth.

Side by side the father and the son journeyed in silence. The patriarch, pondering his heavy secret, had no heart for words. His thoughts were of the proud, fond mother, and the day when he should return to her alone. Well he knew that the knife would pierce her heart when it took the life of her son.

That day–the longest that Abraham had ever experienced– dragged slowly to its close. While his son and the young men were sleeping, he spent the night in prayer, still hoping that some heavenly messenger might come to say that the trial was enough, that the youth might return unharmed to his mother. But no relief came to his tortured soul. Another long day, another night of humiliation and prayer, while ever the command that was to leave him childless was ringing in his ears. Satan was near to whisper doubts and unbelief, but Abraham resisted his suggestions. As they were about to begin the journey of the third day, the patriarch, looking northward, saw the promised sign, a cloud of glory hovering over Mount Moriah, and he knew that the voice which had spoken to him was from heaven.

Even now he did not murmur against God, but strengthened his soul by dwelling upon the evidences of the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. This son had been unexpectedly given; and had not He who bestowed the precious gift a right to recall His own? Then faith repeated the promise, ‘In Isaac shall they seed be called’–a seed numberless as the grains of sand upon the shore. Isaac was the child of a miracle, and could not the power that gave him life restore it? Looking beyond that which was seen, Abraham grasped the divine word, ‘accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.’ Hebrews 11:19.

Yet none but God could understand how great was the father’s sacrifice in yielding up his son
to death; Abraham desired that none but God should witness the parting scene. He bade his servants remain behind, saying, ‘I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.’ The wood was laid upon Isaac, the one to be offered, the father took the knife and the fire, and together they ascended toward the mountain summit, the young man silently wondering whence, so far from folds and flocks, the offering was to come. At last he spoke, ‘My father,’ ‘behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ Oh, what a test was this! How the endearing words, ‘my father,’ pierced Abraham’s heart! Not yet–he could not tell him now. ‘My son,’ he said, ‘God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.’

At the appointed place they built the altar and laid the wood upon it. Then, with trembling voice, Abraham unfolded to his son the divine message. It was with terror and amazement that Isaac learned his fate, but he offered no resistance. He could have escaped his doom, had he chosen to do so; the grief-stricken old man, exhausted with the struggle of those three terrible days, could not have opposed the will of the vigorous youth. But Isaac had been trained from childhood to ready, trusting obedience, and as the purpose of God was opened before him, he yielded a willing submission. He was a sharer in Abraham’s faith, and he felt that he was honored in being called to give his life as an offering to God. He tenderly seeks to lighten the father’s grief, and encourages his nerveless hands to bind the cords that confine him to the altar.

And now the last words of love are spoken, the last tears are shed, the last embrace is given. The father lifts the knife to slay his son, when suddenly his arm is stayed. An angel of God calls to the patriarch out of heaven, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ He quickly answers, ‘Here am I,’ And again the voice is heard, ‘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.’

Then Abraham saw ‘a ram caught in a thicket,’ and quickly bringing the new victim, he offered it ‘in the stead of his son.’ In his joy and gratitude Abraham gave a new name to the sacred spot–‘Jehovah-jireh,’ ‘the Lord will provide.’

On Mount Moriah, God again renewed His covenant, confirming with a solemn oath the blessing to Abraham and to his seed through all coming generations: ‘By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.’

Abraham’s great act of faith stands like a pillar of light, illuminating the pathway of God’s servants in all succeeding ages. Abraham did not seek to excuse himself from doing the will of God. During that three days’ journey he had sufficient time to reason, and to doubt God, if he was disposed to doubt. He might have reasoned that the slaying of his son would cause him to be looked upon as a murderer, a second Cain; that it would cause his teaching to be rejected and despised; and thus destroy his power to do good to his fellow men. He might have pleaded that age should excuse him from obedience. But the patriarch did not take refuge in any of these excuses. Abraham was human; his passions and attachments were like ours; but he did not stop to question how the promise could be fulfilled if Isaac should be slain. He did not stay to reason with his aching heart. He knew that God is just and righteous in all His requirements, and he obeyed the command to the very letter.

‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: an he was called the friend of God.’ James 2:23. And Paul says, ‘They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.’ Galatians 3:7. But Abraham’s faith was made manifest by his works. ‘Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.?’ James 2:21, 22. There are many who fail to understand the relation of faith and works. They say, ‘Only believe in Christ, and you are safe. You have nothing to do with keeping the law.’ But genuine faith will be manifest in obedience. Said Christ to the unbelieving Jews, ‘If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.’ John 8:39. And concerning the father of the faithful the Lord declares, ‘Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’ Genesis 26:5. Says the rsquotle James, ‘Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.’ James 2:17. And John, who dwells so fully upon love, tells us, ‘This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.’ 1 John 5:3.

Through type and promise God ‘preached before the gospel unto Abraham.’ Galatians 3:8. And the patriarch’s faith was fixed upon the Redeemer to come. Said Christ to the Jews. ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he should see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.’ John 8:56, R.V., margin. The ram offered in the place of Isaac represented the Son of God, who was to be sacrificed in our stead. When man was doomed to death by transgression of the law of God, the Father, looking upon His Son, said to the sinner, ‘Live: I have found a ransom.’

It was to impress Abraham’s mind with the reality of the gospel, as well as to test his faith, that God commanded him to slay his son. The agony which he endured during the dark days of that fearful trial was permitted that he might understand from his own experience something of the greatness of the sacrifice made by the infinite God for man’s redemption. No other test could have caused Abraham such torture of soul as did the offering of his son. God gave His Son to a death of agony and shame. The angels who witnessed the humiliation and soul anguish of the Son of God were not permitted to interpose, as in the case of Isaac. There was no voice to cry, ‘It is enough.’ To save the fallen race, the King of glory yielded up His life. What stronger proof can be given of the infinite compassion and love of God? ‘He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ Romans 8:32.

The sacrifice required of Abraham was not alone for his own good, nor solely for the benefit of succeeding generations; but it was also for the instruction of the sinless intelligences of heaven and of other worlds. The field of the controversy between Christ and Satan–the field on which the plan of redemption is wrought out–is the lesson book of the universe. Because Abraham had shown a lack of faith in God’s promises, Satan had accused him before the angels and before God of having failed to comply with the conditions of the covenant, and as unworthy of its blessings. God desired to prove the loyalty of His servant before all heaven, to demonstrate that nothing less than perfect obedience can be accepted, and to open more fully before them the plan of salvation.

Heavenly beings were witnesses of the scene as the faith of Abraham and the submission of Isaac were tested. The trial was far more severe than that which had been brought upon Adam. Compliance with the prohibition laid upon our first parents involved no suffering, but the command to Abraham demanded the most agonizing sacrifice. All heaven beheld with wonder and admiration Abraham’s unfaltering obedience. All heaven applauded his fidelity. Satan’s accusations were shown to be false. God declared to His servant, ‘Now I know that thou fearest God [notwithstanding Satan’s charges], seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.’ God’s covenant, confirmed to Abraham by an oath before the intelligences of other worlds, testified that obedience will be rewarded.

It had been difficult even for the angels to grasp the mystery of redemption–to comprehend that the Commander of heaven, the Son of God, must die for guilty man. When the command was given to Abraham to offer up his son, the interest of all heavenly beings was enlisted. With intense earnestness they watched each step in the fulfillment of this command. When to Isaac’s question, ‘Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ Abraham made answer, ‘God will provide Himself a lamb;’ and when the father’s hand was stayed as he was about to slay his son, and the ram which God had provided was offered in the place of Isaac– then light was shed upon the mystery of redemption, and even the angels understood more clearly the wonderful provision that God had made for man’s salvation. 1 Peter 1:12.” P.P. 148 – 155.

End-Time Application Of Jacob's Test Of Faith

“Jacob’s experience during that night of wrestling and anguish represents the trial through which the people of God must pass just before Christ’s second coming. The prophet Jeremiah, in holy vision looking down to this time, said, ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. . . . All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.’ Jeremiah 30:5-7.

When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in man’s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin. Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin. When Jesus leaves His position as man’s intercessor before God, the solemn announcement is made, ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ Revelation 22:11. Then the restraining Spirit of God is withdrawn from the earth. As Jacob was threatened with death by his angry brother, so the people of God will be in peril from the wicked who are seeking to destroy them. And as the patriarch wrestled all night for deliverance from the hand of Esau, so the righteous will cry to God day and night for deliverance from the enemies that surround them.

Satan had accused Jacob before the angels of God, claiming the right to destroy him because of his sin; he had moved upon Esau to march against him; and during the patriarch’s long night of wrestling, Satan endeavored to force upon him a sense of his guilt, in order to discourage him, and break his hold upon God. When in his distress Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and made supplication with tears, the heavenly Messenger, in order to try his faith, also reminded him of his sin, and endeavored to escape from him. But Jacob would not be turned away. He had learned that God is merciful, and he cast himself upon His mercy. He pointed back to his repentance for his sin, and pleaded for deliverance. As he reviewed his life, he was driven almost to despair; but he held fast the Angel, and with earnest, agonizing cries urged his petition until he prevailed.

Such will be the experience of God’s people in their final struggle with the powers of evil. God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God’s mercy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.’

Had not Jacob previously repented of his sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud, God could not have heard his prayer and mercifully preserved his life. So in the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance. But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they will have no concealed wrongs to reveal. Their sins will have been blotted out by the atoning blood of Christ, and they cannot bring them to remembrance.

Satan leads many to believe that God will overlook their unfaithfulness in the minor affairs of life; but the Lord shows in His dealing with Jacob that He can in no wise sanction or tolerate evil. All who endeavor to excuse or conceal their sins, and permit them to remain upon the books of heaven, unconfessed and unforgiven, will be overcome by Satan. The more exalted their profession, and the more honorable the position which they hold, the more grievous is their course in the sight of God, and the more certain the triumph of the great adversary.

Yet Jacob’s history is an assurance that God will not cast off those who have been betrayed into sin, but who have returned unto Him with true repentance. It was by self-surrender and confiding faith that Jacob gained what he had failed to gain by conflict in his own strength. God thus taught His servant that divine power and grace alone could give him the blessing he craved. Thus it will be with those who live in the last days. As dangers surround them, and despair seizes upon the soul, they must depend solely upon the merits of the atonement. We can do nothing of ourselves. In all our helpless unworthiness we must trust in the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. None will ever perish while they do this. The long, black catalogue of our delinquencies is before the eye of the Infinite. The register is complete; none of our offenses are forgotten. But He who listened to the cries of His servants of old, will hear the prayer of faith and pardon our transgressions. He has promised, and He will fulfill His word.

Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His experience testifies to the power of importunate prayer. It is now that we are to learn this lesson of prevailing prayer, of unyielding faith. The greatest victories to the church of Christ or to the individual Christian are not those that are gained by talent or education, by wealth or the favor of men. They are those victories that are gained in the audience chamber with God, when earnest, agonizing faith lays hold upon the mighty arm of power.

Those who are unwilling to forsake every sin and to seek earnestly for God’s blessing, will not obtain it. But all who will lay hold of God’s promises as did Jacob, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. ‘Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.’ Luke 18:7, 8. P.P. 201 – 203.

Comparison And Contrast Between The Two Stories

The Abraham–Sarah Story The Esau-Jacob Story
The Call: Abram heeded The Call: Jacob heeded, Esau rejected
The Promise: Abram believed, converted The Promise: Esau sold it, Jacob “bought” it, but not yet converted.
The Delay: Sarai's scheme The Delay: Rebekah's scheme.
The Old Covenant: Hagar obtains Ishmael The Old Covenant: Jacob the supplanter obtains blessing.
Family Troubles Begin: Hagar flies in the face of Sarai Family Troubles Begin: Esau determines murder, Jacob flees.
Renewal of the Promise: Names changed; Abram to Abraham; Sarai to Sarah. Circumcision given. Renewal of the Promise: At Bethel Jacob repents. God renews Abrahamic Covenant to him.
The Promise Given: Isaac is born. The Promise Given: Repentant Jacob has the promise.
Family Trouble Comes to a Head: Ishmael mocks Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael expelled. Family Trouble Comes to a Head: Esau marches with 400 men to attack Jacob.
The Supreme Test and the Triumph of Faith: The command to sacrifice Isaac Abraham sealed in victorious New Covenant righteousness. The Supreme Test and the Triumph of Faith: The night of wrestling; Jacob's name changed to Israel. He will not let go until he is blessed and sealed in victorious New Covenant righteousness.
End-Result: Isaac is the sole heir, in complete possession of the New Covenant. End-Result: New Covenant Israel returns home. Esau leaves. Jacob, now Israel, is sole heir in complete possession of the New Covenant.

Conclusion

“Abraham had greatly desired to see the promised Saviour. He offered up the most earnest prayer that before his death he might behold the Messiah. And he saw Christ. A supernatural light was given him, and he acknowledged Christ’s divine character. He saw His day, and was glad. He was given a view of the divine sacrifice for sin. Of this sacrifice he had an illustration in his own experience. The command came to him, ‘Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, . . . and offer him . . . for a burnt offering.’ Gen. 22:2.

Upon the altar of sacrifice he laid the son of promise, the son in whom his hopes were centered. Then as he waited beside the altar with knife upraised to obey God, he heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.’ Gen. 22:12. This terrible ordeal was imposed upon Abraham that he might see the day of Christ, and realize the great love of God for the world, so great that to raise it from its degradation, He gave His only-begotten Son to a most shameful death.

Abraham learned of God the greatest lesson ever given to mortal. His prayer that he might see Christ before he should die was answered. He saw Christ; he saw all that mortal can see, and live. By making an entire surrender, he was able to understand the vision of Christ, which had been given him. He was shown that in giving His only-begotten Son to save sinners from eternal ruin, God was making a greater and more wonderful sacrifice than ever man could make.

Abraham’s experience answered the question: ‘Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’ Micah 6:6, 7. In the words of Abraham, ‘My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering,’ (Gen. 22:8), and in God’s provision of a sacrifice instead of Isaac, it was declared that no man could make expiation for himself. The pagan system of sacrifice was wholly unacceptable to God. No father was to offer up his son or his daughter for a sin offering. The Son of God alone can bear the guilt of the world.

Through his own suffering, Abraham was enabled to behold the Saviour’s mission of sacrifice. But Israel would not understand that which was so unwelcome to their proud hearts. Christ’s words concerning Abraham conveyed to His hearers no deep significance. The Pharisees saw in them only fresh ground for caviling. They retorted with a sneer, as if they would prove Jesus to be a madman, ‘Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?’

With solemn dignity Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am.’ D.A. 468-469.

nocence. For a moment the father looked upon the dear face of his son, then turned tremblingly away. He went to the side of Sarah, who was also sleeping. Should he awaken her, that she might once more embrace her child? Should he tell her of God’s requirement? He longed to unburden his heart to her, and share with her this terrible responsibility; but he was restrained by the fear that she might hinder him. Isaac was her joy and pride; her life was bound up in him, and the mother’s love might refuse the sacrifice.</p>
<p>Abraham at last summoned his son, telling him of the command to offer sacrifice upon a distant mountain. Isaac had often gone with his father to worship at some one of the various altars that marked his wanderings, and this summons excited no surprise. The preparations for the journey were quickly completed. The wood was made ready and put upon the ass, and with two menservants they set forth.</p>
<p>Side by side the father and the son journeyed in silence. The patriarch, pondering his heavy secret, had no heart for words. His thoughts were of the proud, fond mother, and the day when he should return to her alone. Well he knew that the knife would pierce her heart when it took the life of her son.</p>
<p>That day–the longest that Abraham had ever experienced– dragged slowly to its close. While his son and the young men were sleeping, he spent the night in prayer, still hoping that some heavenly messenger might come to say that the trial was enough, that the youth might return unharmed to his mother. But no relief came to his tortured soul. Another long day, another night of humiliation and prayer, while ever the command that was to leave him childless was ringing in his ears. Satan was near to whisper doubts and unbelief, but Abraham resisted his suggestions. As they were about to begin the journey of the third day, the patriarch, looking northward, saw the promised sign, a cloud of glory hovering over Mount Moriah, and he knew that the voice which had spoken to him was from heaven.</p>
<p>Even now he did not murmur against God, but strengthened his soul by dwelling upon the evidences of the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. This son had been unexpectedly given; and had not He who bestowed the precious gift a right to recall His own? Then faith repeated the promise, &lsquo;In Isaac shall they seed be called&rsquo;–a seed numberless as the grains of sand upon the shore. Isaac was the child of a miracle, and could not the power that gave him life restore it? Looking beyond that which was seen, Abraham grasped the divine word, &lsquo;accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.&rsquo; Hebrews 11:19.</p>
<p>Yet none but God could understand how great was the father’s sacrifice in yielding up his son
to death; Abraham desired that none but God should witness the parting scene. He bade his servants remain behind, saying, &lsquo;I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.&rsquo; The wood was laid upon Isaac, the one to be offered, the father took the knife and the fire, and together they ascended toward the mountain summit, the young man silently wondering whence, so far from folds and flocks, the offering was to come. At last he spoke, &lsquo;My father,&rsquo; &lsquo;behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?&rsquo; Oh, what a test was this! How the endearing words, &lsquo;my father,&rsquo; pierced Abraham’s heart! Not yet–he could not tell him now. &lsquo;My son,&rsquo; he said, &lsquo;God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.&rsquo;</p>
<p>At the appointed place they built the altar and laid the wood upon it. Then, with trembling voice, Abraham unfolded to his son the divine message. It was with terror and amazement that Isaac learned his fate, but he offered no resistance. He could have escaped his doom, had he chosen to do so; the grief-stricken old man, exhausted with the struggle of those three terrible days, could not have opposed the will of the vigorous youth. But Isaac had been trained from childhood to ready, trusting obedience, and as the purpose of God was opened before him, he yielded a willing submission. He was a sharer in Abraham’s faith, and he felt that he was honored in being called to give his life as an offering to God. He tenderly seeks to lighten the father’s grief, and encourages his nerveless hands to bind the cords that confine him to the altar.</p>
<p>And now the last words of love are spoken, the last tears are shed, the last embrace is given. The father lifts the knife to slay his son, when suddenly his arm is stayed. An angel of God calls to the patriarch out of heaven, &lsquo;Abraham, Abraham!&rsquo; He quickly answers, &lsquo;Here am I,&rsquo; And again the voice is heard, &lsquo;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.&rsquo;</p>
<p>Then Abraham saw &lsquo;a ram caught in a thicket,&rsquo; and quickly bringing the new victim, he offered it &lsquo;in the stead of his son.&rsquo; In his joy and gratitude Abraham gave a new name to the sacred spot–&lsquo;Jehovah-jireh,&rsquo; &lsquo;the Lord will provide.&rsquo;</p>
<p>On Mount Moriah, God again renewed His covenant, confirming with a solemn oath the blessing to Abraham and to his seed through all coming generations: &lsquo;By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.&rsquo;</p>
<p>Abraham’s great act of faith stands like a pillar of light, illuminating the pathway of God’s servants in all succeeding ages. Abraham did not seek to excuse himself from doing the will of God. During that three days’ journey he had sufficient time to reason, and to doubt God, if he was disposed to doubt. He might have reasoned that the slaying of his son would cause him to be looked upon as a murderer, a second Cain; that it would cause his teaching to be rejected and despised; and thus destroy his power to do good to his fellow men. He might have pleaded that age should excuse him from obedience. But the patriarch did not take refuge in any of these excuses. Abraham was human; his passions and attachments were like ours; but he did not stop to question how the promise could be fulfilled if Isaac should be slain. He did not stay to reason with his aching heart. He knew that God is just and righteous in all His requirements, and he obeyed the command to the very letter.</p>
<p>&lsquo;Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: an he was called the friend of God.&rsquo; James 2:23. And Paul says, &lsquo;They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.&rsquo; Galatians 3:7. But Abraham’s faith was made manifest by his works. &lsquo;Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.?&rsquo; James 2:21, 22. There are many who fail to understand the relation of faith and works. They say, &lsquo;Only believe in Christ, and you are safe. You have nothing to do with keeping the law.&rsquo; But genuine faith will be manifest in obedience. Said Christ to the unbelieving Jews, &lsquo;If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.&rsquo; John 8:39. And concerning the father of the faithful the Lord declares, &lsquo;Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.&rsquo; Genesis 26:5. Says the rsquotle James, &lsquo;Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.&rsquo; James 2:17. And John, who dwells so fully upon love, tells us, &lsquo;This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.&rsquo; 1 John 5:3.</p>
<p>Through type and promise God &lsquo;preached before the gospel unto Abraham.&rsquo; Galatians 3:8. And the patriarch’s faith was fixed upon the Redeemer to come. Said Christ to the Jews. &lsquo;Your father Abraham rejoiced that he should see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.&rsquo; John 8:56, R.V., margin. The ram offered in the place of Isaac represented the Son of God, who was to be sacrificed in our stead. When man was doomed to death by transgression of the law of God, the Father, looking upon His Son, said to the sinner, &lsquo;Live: I have found a ransom.&rsquo;</p>
<p>It was to impress Abraham’s mind with the reality of the gospel, as well as to test his faith, that God commanded him to slay his son. The agony which he endured during the dark days of that fearful trial was permitted that he might understand from his own experience something of the greatness of the sacrifice made by the infinite God for man’s redemption. No other test could have caused Abraham such torture of soul as did the offering of his son. God gave His Son to a death of agony and shame. The angels who witnessed the humiliation and soul anguish of the Son of God were not permitted to interpose, as in the case of Isaac. There was no voice to cry, &lsquo;It is enough.&rsquo; To save the fallen race, the King of glory yielded up His life. What stronger proof can be given of the infinite compassion and love of God? &lsquo;He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?&rsquo; Romans 8:32.</p>
<p>The sacrifice required of Abraham was not alone for his own good, nor solely for the benefit of succeeding generations; but it was also for the instruction of the sinless intelligences of heaven and of other worlds. The field of the controversy between Christ and Satan–the field on which the plan of redemption is wrought out–is the lesson book of the universe. Because Abraham had shown a lack of faith in God’s promises, Satan had accused him before the angels and before God of having failed to comply with the conditions of the covenant, and as unworthy of its blessings. God desired to prove the loyalty of His servant before all heaven, to demonstrate that nothing less than perfect obedience can be accepted, and to open more fully before them the plan of salvation.</p>
<p>Heavenly beings were witnesses of the scene as the faith of Abraham and the submission of Isaac were tested. The trial was far more severe than that which had been brought upon Adam. Compliance with the prohibition laid upon our first parents involved no suffering, but the command to Abraham demanded the most agonizing sacrifice. All heaven beheld with wonder and admiration Abraham’s unfaltering obedience. All heaven applauded his fidelity. Satan’s accusations were shown to be false. God declared to His servant, &lsquo;Now I know that thou fearest God [notwithstanding Satan’s charges], seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.&rsquo; God’s covenant, confirmed to Abraham by an oath before the intelligences of other worlds, testified that obedience will be rewarded.</p>
<p>It had been difficult even for the angels to grasp the mystery of redemption–to comprehend that the Commander of heaven, the Son of God, must die for guilty man. When the command was given to Abraham to offer up his son, the interest of all heavenly beings was enlisted. With intense earnestness they watched each step in the fulfillment of this command. When to Isaac’s question, &lsquo;Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?&rsquo; Abraham made answer, &lsquo;God will provide Himself a lamb;&rsquo; and when the father’s hand was stayed as he was about to slay his son, and the ram which God had provided was offered in the place of Isaac– then light was shed upon the mystery of redemption, and even the angels understood more clearly the wonderful provision that God had made for man’s salvation. 1 Peter 1:12.&rdquo; P.P. 148 &ndash; 155.</p>
<p>End-Time Application Of Jacob&apos;s Test Of Faith</p>
<p>&ldquo;Jacob’s experience during that night of wrestling and anguish represents the trial through which the people of God must pass just before Christ’s second coming. The prophet Jeremiah, in holy vision looking down to this time, said, &lsquo;We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. . . . All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.&rsquo; Jeremiah 30:5-7.</p>
<p>When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in man’s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin. Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin. When Jesus leaves His position as man’s intercessor before God, the solemn announcement is made, &lsquo;He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.&rsquo; Revelation 22:11. Then the restraining Spirit of God is withdrawn from the earth. As Jacob was threatened with death by his angry brother, so the people of God will be in peril from the wicked who are seeking to destroy them. And as the patriarch wrestled all night for deliverance from the hand of Esau, so the righteous will cry to God day and night for deliverance from the enemies that surround them.</p>
<p>Satan had accused Jacob before the angels of God, claiming the right to destroy him because of his sin; he had moved upon Esau to march against him; and during the patriarch’s long night of wrestling, Satan endeavored to force upon him a sense of his guilt, in order to discourage him, and break his hold upon God. When in his distress Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and made supplication with tears, the heavenly Messenger, in order to try his faith, also reminded him of his sin, and endeavored to escape from him. But Jacob would not be turned away. He had learned that God is merciful, and he cast himself upon His mercy. He pointed back to his repentance for his sin, and pleaded for deliverance. As he reviewed his life, he was driven almost to despair; but he held fast the Angel, and with earnest, agonizing cries urged his petition until he prevailed.</p>
<p>Such will be the experience of God’s people in their final struggle with the powers of evil. God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God’s mercy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, &lsquo;I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.&rsquo;</p>
<p>Had not Jacob previously repented of his sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud, God could not have heard his prayer and mercifully preserved his life. So in the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance. But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they will have no concealed wrongs to reveal. Their sins will have been blotted out by the atoning blood of Christ, and they cannot bring them to remembrance.</p>
<p>Satan leads many to believe that God will overlook their unfaithfulness in the minor affairs of life; but the Lord shows in His dealing with Jacob that He can in no wise sanction or tolerate evil. All who endeavor to excuse or conceal their sins, and permit them to remain upon the books of heaven, unconfessed and unforgiven, will be overcome by Satan. The more exalted their profession, and the more honorable the position which they hold, the more grievous is their course in the sight of God, and the more certain the triumph of the great adversary.</p>
<p>Yet Jacob’s history is an assurance that God will not cast off those who have been betrayed into sin, but who have returned unto Him with true repentance. It was by self-surrender and confiding faith that Jacob gained what he had failed to gain by conflict in his own strength. God thus taught His servant that divine power and grace alone could give him the blessing he craved. Thus it will be with those who live in the last days. As dangers surround them, and despair seizes upon the soul, they must depend solely upon the merits of the atonement. We can do nothing of ourselves. In all our helpless unworthiness we must trust in the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. None will ever perish while they do this. The long, black catalogue of our delinquencies is before the eye of the Infinite. The register is complete; none of our offenses are forgotten. But He who listened to the cries of His servants of old, will hear the prayer of faith and pardon our transgressions. He has promised, and He will fulfill His word.</p>
<p>Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His experience testifies to the power of importunate prayer. It is now that we are to learn this lesson of prevailing prayer, of unyielding faith. The greatest victories to the church of Christ or to the individual Christian are not those that are gained by talent or education, by wealth or the favor of men. They are those victories that are gained in the audience chamber with God, when earnest, agonizing faith lays hold upon the mighty arm of power.</p>
<p>Those who are unwilling to forsake every sin and to seek earnestly for God’s blessing, will not obtain it. But all who will lay hold of God’s promises as did Jacob, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. &lsquo;Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.&rsquo; Luke 18:7, 8. P.P. 201 &ndash; 203.</p>
<h4>Comparison And Contrast Between The Two Stories</h4>
<p></p>
<table width=”100%” border=”1″ cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”10″><tr><td><strong>The Abraham&ndash;Sarah Story</strong></td><td><strong>The Esau-Jacob Story</strong></td></tr><tr><td>The Call: Abram heeded</td><td>The Call: Jacob heeded, Esau rejected</td></tr><tr><td>The Promise: Abram believed, converted</td><td>The Promise: Esau sold it, Jacob &ldquo;bought&rdquo; it, but not yet converted.</td></tr><tr><td>The Delay: Sarai&apos;s scheme</td><td>The Delay: Rebekah&apos;s scheme.</td></tr><tr><td>The Old Covenant: Hagar obtains Ishmael</td><td>The Old Covenant: Jacob the supplanter obtains blessing.</td></tr><tr><td>Family Troubles Begin: Hagar flies in the face of Sarai</td><td>Family Troubles Begin: Esau determines murder, Jacob flees.</td></tr><tr><td>Renewal of the Promise: Names changed; Abram to Abraham; Sarai to Sarah. Circumcision given.</td><td>Renewal of the Promise: At Bethel Jacob repents. God renews Abrahamic Covenant to him.</td></tr><tr><td>The Promise Given: Isaac is born.</td><td>The Promise Given: Repentant Jacob has the promise.</td></tr><tr><td>Family Trouble Comes to a Head: Ishmael mocks Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael expelled.</td><td>Family Trouble Comes to a Head: Esau marches with 400 men to attack Jacob.</td></tr><tr><td>The Supreme Test and the Triumph of Faith: The command to sacrifice Isaac Abraham sealed in victorious New Covenant righteousness.</td><td>The Supreme Test and the Triumph of Faith: The night of wrestling; Jacob&apos;s name changed to Israel. He will not let go until he is blessed and sealed in victorious New Covenant righteousness.</td></tr><tr><td>End-Result: Isaac is the sole heir, in complete possession of the New Covenant.</td><td>End-Result: New Covenant Israel returns home. Esau leaves. Jacob, now Israel, is sole heir in complete possession of the New Covenant.</td></tr></table><h4>Conclusion</h4>
<p>&ldquo;Abraham had greatly desired to see the promised Saviour. He offered up the most earnest prayer that before his death he might behold the Messiah. And he saw Christ. A supernatural light was given him, and he acknowledged Christ’s divine character. He saw His day, and was glad. He was given a view of the divine sacrifice for sin. Of this sacrifice he had an illustration in his own experience. The command came to him, &lsquo;Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, . . . and offer him . . . for a burnt offering.&rsquo; Gen. 22:2.</p>
<p>Upon the altar of sacrifice he laid the son of promise, the son in whom his hopes were centered. Then as he waited beside the altar with knife upraised to obey God, he heard a voice from heaven saying, &lsquo;Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.&rsquo; Gen. 22:12. This terrible ordeal was imposed upon Abraham that he might see the day of Christ, and realize the great love of God for the world, so great that to raise it from its degradation, He gave His only-begotten Son to a most shameful death.</p>
<p>Abraham learned of God the greatest lesson ever given to mortal. His prayer that he might see Christ before he should die was answered. He saw Christ; he saw all that mortal can see, and live. By making an entire surrender, he was able to understand the vision of Christ, which had been given him. He was shown that in giving His only-begotten Son to save sinners from eternal ruin, God was making a greater and more wonderful sacrifice than ever man could make.</p>
<p>Abraham’s experience answered the question: &lsquo;Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?&rsquo; Micah 6:6, 7. In the words of Abraham, &lsquo;My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering,&rsquo; (Gen. 22:8), and in God’s provision of a sacrifice instead of Isaac, it was declared that no man could make expiation for himself. The pagan system of sacrifice was wholly unacceptable to God. No father was to offer up his son or his daughter for a sin offering. The Son of God alone can bear the guilt of the world.</p>
<p>Through his own suffering, Abraham was enabled to behold the Saviour’s mission of sacrifice. But Israel would not understand that which was so unwelcome to their proud hearts. Christ’s words concerning Abraham conveyed to His hearers no deep significance. The Pharisees saw in them only fresh ground for caviling. They retorted with a sneer, as if they would prove Jesus to be a madman, &lsquo;Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?&rsquo;</p>
<p>With solemn dignity Jesus answered, &lsquo;Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am.&rsquo; D.A. 468-469.</p>