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153 Abraham Attempts to Sacrifice Isaac

We take a close look at the difference between tempting and testing in this episode. We discover that while at times God may test he never tempts us to do wrong. That comes from within our selves. This is important to understand as we look closely at what Abraham believed he was asked by God to do. Join us in part one of this careful and prayerful look at this challenging story where Abraham attempts to sacrifice Isaac the son of promise.

153 Genesis 22 Part 1 Abraham attempts to Sacrifice Isaac
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Genesis 22 Abraham attempts to Sacrifice Isaac

1 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

The Hebrew word translated “tested” is nasah. The KJV is the only translation to use “tempted” for nasah. The other translations use “tested” or “proved”. The NASB Exhaustive Concordance translates nasah as follows: make a test (1), proved (1), put (1), put to the test (2), tempted (3), test (13), tested (9), testing (3), tried (1), try (1), venture (1), ventures (1).

The idea of nasah being a test rather than a temptation is clear from the above. Temptation is linked with negative or evil intent. We are not tempted to do good in the normal usage of the word. Testing is associated with demonstrating skill competence, e.g., driving, surgical, or walking skills and many more can be tested. This skill testing is not associated with temptation. Temptation is moral testing. For instance, it is not ethical to test a person’s honesty. Shall I leave a hundred-dollar bill lying around to see if my son will take it? Moral tests seem to be synonymous with temptations if negative outcomes are anticipated.

It might be relevant to consider Job at this point. Was Job tested or tempted or both? The issue between God and the Satan was over the integrity of Job. Satan insinuated Job’s worship of God was protection money that he was paying. The intent of Satan was to expose the selfishness of Job. It was to be decided by ordeal if Job’s worship of God was motivated by selfishness or admiration. Thus, Job is being tempted by the Satan because he had negative intent.

The concept of testing or tempting is common in the psalms. God tests the people and the people test God.

God tests people.Psalm 26:2 NIV (David feeling virtuous)

2 Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;

Psalm 66:10 NLT (Unknown)

You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver.

Psalm 139:23-24 NLT (David)23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.24 Point out anything in me that offends you, & lead me along the path of everlasting life.

People test God.

Psalm 78:18-19 NLT (Asaph)18 They stubbornly tested God in their hearts,

demanding the foods they craved.19 They even spoke against God himself, saying,

“God can’t give us food in the wilderness.

Psalm 78:41 NLT (Asaph)Again and again they tested (tempted NKJV) God’s patience and provoked the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 95:8-9 NLT (Unknown)The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.9 For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did.

The Lord’s prayer amplifies the KJV’s use of “temptation” in Genesis 22 by the statement, “And lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13 KJV). The unspoken conclusion for most Christians from 1611 A.D. onward was that God sometimes tempts us. This statement is correctly translated as, “And you lead us not into temptation.” It is rather an acclamation of God’s goodness. This matter is elucidated in the podcast on The Lord’s Prayer.

When Jesus asks Phillip how to procure enough food for the 5000 men the reason given in John 6:6 is that Jesus was testing or proving him. The Wycliffe Bible actually uses the word “tempting” in this verse.

According to Matthew 4:1 Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The implication is clear from this verse that the Spirit wants Jesus tempted. Luke (4:2) and Mark (2) correct the source of the temptation by saying, the Spirit led him into the wilderness and he was tempted there by the devil. But the damage was done by Matthew’s account since it is the first gospel, the one most read before they tire of the repetition of the gospels.

James is clear that God never tempts anyone and James further indicts temptation as coming from within us.

James 1:13-15 NLT And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

If James is correct then we must look for the causation of Abraham wanting to sacrifice Isaac within himself.

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