By Colleen Donahue

If our first three studies in the life of Abraham have shown us anything, we've seen that it is God Himself who takes a man or woman and makes them fit for His own use. Abraham's life was perhaps much like our own--a series of ups and downs. Yet God in His goodness loves us, works with us, and molds us into His capable servants.

We enter now into the final stages of Abraham's life which were to contain his most difficult tests...

ABRAHAM - Part 4 -- Final Tests of Obedience

As we begin our fourth and last study of Abraham's life we begin on a most solemn and happy occasion....

Day 1- WHAT does God do for Sarah and Abraham and WHEN does He do it?
Genesis 21:1-7

Day 2- 25 years had passed since God had first promised Abraham a son and that He would be the father of many nations. Both he and Sarah had laughed. Yet, what will always be true about any promises that God makes?
2 Corinthians 1:20

Day 3- Why does God allow us at times to suffer, or wait long years, or bear great pressures while He takes His time keeping His word to us?
2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Last month we saw how God exposed the secret agreement that Abraham had made with Sarah because it was a hindrance to his faith. Now God deals with another matter - Abraham's connection with Hagar and Ishmael.

Day 4- Just to refresh our memories - who were Hagar and Ishmael?
Genesis 16:1-4 / 15-16

Day 5- In Abraham's mind, Ishmael was a tangible heir that God could fulfill His promises through. What did God need to again make clear to Abraham?
Genesis 17:18-21

Day 6- The birth of Ishmael had caused bitterness and strife in Abraham's household from the beginning.
Genesis 16:4b-6.

Now, with the birth of Isaac, all the jealousy and strife boils with new intensity. What does Sarah demand?
Genesis 21: 8-10

Day 7- This harsh demand distressed Abraham very much, as he was responsible for Ishmael. Yet, how does God guide in the matter?
Genesis 21:11-13

Read Genesis 21:14-21 to learn what happened to Hagar and Ishmael.

Day 8- Hagar and Ishmael vs. Sarah and Isaac represent the important principle of being born of the flesh vs. being born of the Spirit.
Galatians 4:21-26

Day 9- In the Apostle Paul's day, the Jews prided themselves in being the lineal descendants of Abraham. They refused to believe that anyone but themselves could be children of God and heirs to His promises. They mocked any non-Jew (Gentile) that thought they could be children of God--much like Ishmael did to Isaac. They were a people born of the flesh.
John 8:33,39,41b

Day 10- The Jews, (like Hagar) were slaves to their laws and codes of ethics. Rather than living a free life in love with God and man, they were a people in bondage to "do's and don'ts".
Galatians 3:10-11

Day 11- So, although the Jews thought they had a pretty secure position, what was true in reality?
Romans 9:7-8

Day 12- What was the only way for Gentiles or Jews to become partakers of the blessing given to Abraham?
Romans 2:28-29 / Galatians 3:13-14

Perhaps we are not unlike the Jews in thinking we are Christians because we have been born into a Christian family, go to a Christian church, and live in a country that embraces some Christian values!

Day 13- If this is our heritage, we must be better than all those people around us that swear, drink, and smoke! Or are we?
Romans 3:9-12, 23 / Galatians 3:21-22

Day 14- What is THE ONLY WAY for each one of us to become children of God and part of the true seed of Abraham?
Galatians 3:26-29 / John 14:6

Day 15- It is only as we take our position in Jesus that we exchange our false sonship (Ishmael, our Jewish or Christian heritage, a churchgoer, etc.) for the position of a true son (Isaac, a child of God.) How then do we know when we are truly children of God?
Romans 8:16 / I John 3:24

It has been said that the only true test of love is how much we are prepared to do for the one to whom we profess it. Abraham had passed many tests in his love for God but all were only preparation for his greatest trial of all.

Day 16- What did God now ask Abraham to do?
Genesis 22:1-2

Day 17- Abraham had waited 25 years for Isaac. It was through Isaac that God's promise was to be fulfilled. He had already sent Ishmael away. There was no "back up". With all this going through his head and heart how did Abraham respond?
Genesis 22:3 / Hebrews 11:17-18

Day 18- Why is our obedience to God's requests so important?
Exodus 19:5 / I Kings 3:14 / Matthew 7:21

Day 19- Read Genesis 22:4-10 which details Abraham's preparations for the final sacrifice. We can only imagine what anguish might have been going through his mind and heart. Yet, Abraham had already in his life time witnessed God perform the impossible. What did he now reason in this moment of great trial?
Hebrews 11:19

Day 20- Abraham was sure in his heart that God could raise Isaac from the dead if He wanted to. What did this confidence enable him to do?
Genesis 22:9-10

What had he told his servants before heading up the mountain?
Genesis 22:5

Day 21- Why does God allow Satan to tempt us and why does He Himself at times seem to initiate trials?
James 1:2-3,12

Day 22- Despite the pain and suffering these temptations and trials might bring us, what can we be assured of?
I Corinthians 10:13 / 2 Peter 2:9

Day 23- How did God fulfill this in Abraham's situation?
Genesis 22:11-12

Day 24- Abraham had "passed the test." He had shown without a doubt that he feared and loved God more than even his own son. How did God show His pleasure?
Genesis 22:15-18

Day 25- God's request for Abraham to sacrifice his only son helps us to better understand God's own sacrifice. He had not asked Abraham to do something that He Himself was not prepared to do.
John 3:16

Day 26- The remaining 50 years or so of Abraham's life had 3 main events which the Bible speaks of.....
1) - Genesis 23:1-2
2) - Genesis 24:1-4
3) - Genesis 25:1-7

Day 27- The picture of Abraham - 175 years old- at his death, is probably a picture of how God would want most of His children to be when their time on earth is done.
Genesis 25:8

As we come to a close in our study of Abraham we need to reflect back and see the two outstanding characteristics of his life.

Day 28- Abraham was able to leave his home country, wander in a strange land, and wait 25 years for a son because HE BELIEVED in an Almighty God who was able to provide.
Galatians 3:6 / Hebrews 11:1,6

Day 29- Then, as a result of Abraham's faith in God, HE OBEYED.
I Samuel 15:22 / Matthew 7:21 / James 2:17

Day 30- There will never be another Abraham. Yet he stands as an example for all of us who desire to live wholly for God. We too can be counted among the "friends of God."
John 5:24 / John 14:23 / John 15:14

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