How do we know if we truly fear God?

Do you fear God? How do you know? Has your fear of God ever been truly tested? Abraham was tested. In fact, he faced one of the most difficult tests any person could face. His test and his response help us understand what God looks for when He considers whether or not we truly fear Him. Let’s look at this test as recorded for us in Genesis 22.

A recurring theme in the early part of Genesis is that Abraham and Sarah were childless.

Gen. 11:30 Sarai was barren; she had no child.

Gen. 16:1 ¶ Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children,

Gen. 18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing.

Eventually Abraham and Sarah had a son. How old was Abraham when this son was born?

Gen. 21:2 So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.

Gen. 21:3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.

Gen. 21:4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.

Gen. 21:5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born. After all the years of childlessness, I am sure Abraham and Sarah treasured Isaac, but then the test came.

Gen. 22:1 ¶ Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Gen. 22:2 He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

What would you do in that situation? Would you obey God? As you read what Abraham did, notice the phrase “fear God”.

Gen. 22:3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Gen. 22:4 On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.

Gen. 22:5 Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.”

Gen. 22:6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.

Gen. 22:7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Gen. 22:8 Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

Gen. 22:9 ¶ Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

Gen. 22:10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

Gen. 22:11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Gen. 22:12 He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Gen. 22:13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.

Gen. 22:14 Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”

Abraham’s fear of disobeying God was greater than his love for his son Isaac. In the next few verses, notice the words “withheld” and “obeyed”.

Gen. 22:15 ¶ Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven,

Gen. 22:16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son,

Gen. 22:17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.

Gen. 22:18 “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

Gen. 22:19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba.

Abraham obeyed and did not withhold his son. Abraham’s obedience is a good illustration of Matthew 10.

Matt. 10:37 ¶ “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

Matt. 10:38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

Matt. 10:39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

What about us? Would we pass such a test? Do we truly fear God?
Is our determination to obey God greater than …

our love for family,
our love for friends,
our love for money,
our love for sports,
our love for achievement?

Or does God get our leftover time and devotion after we have filled our lives with our worldly pursuits?


Further Reading

How much do you love God?

What happens if we ignore God?

Is Yahweh worthy of our allegiance?


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”