Imagine living through an experience that leads you to conclude that God:
- is not faithful and forgiving (1 John 1:9),
- does delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11),
- does not keep His covenant of love to a thousand generations (Deut 7:9), and
- is pleased by acts of child sacrifice
(Jer 7:30,31; Jer 32:35; Lev 18:21; Lev 20:2-5).
Of all life's crucibles, such an experience defines extreme heat. Is it possible that God would place His chosen, covenant people in such circumstances so as to bring us face to face with our misconceptions of His character?
Now, consider the anguish of soul that Abraham experiences when he perceives that God is quite happy destroying the evil people of Sodom and Gomorrah, without regard to the righteous people living there -- the so-called "collateral damage" of warfare. Abraham politely and respectfully reminds God that He is the upholder of truth and justice, and surely He has a responsibility to do right (Gen 18:25). In this experience, Abraham is led by God through an experience where he confronts his misconception of God; that God might not be good and just. But a chapter later, Abraham has seen the depravity of Sodom directed at Lot's household, has seen the deliverance of his nephew's household, and is overlooking the smoking remains of Sodom and Gomorrah, settled in his understanding of God's goodness.
Again, consider the anguish of soul that Abraham experiences when both he and his son perceive that God is pleased by acts of child sacrifice. Now, Hebrews 11 tells us that Abraham reasoned that his son would pass through this experience of death to life again, but that is not fundamentally different to the pagan belief that the child would "pass through the fire to Molech". Either God likes this sort of thing or he doesn't, and this crucible experience brings Abraham face to face with his incorrect conception of God as a being who likes this sort of sacrifice. By the end of the chapter an Angel has verbally stayed his hand and a voice from heaven has re-established God's covenant with Abraham.
Moses describes this experience as a test of Abraham's character, rather than a test of his understanding of God's character. However, an observation leads us to consider other explanations for this experience. That is, God knows the end from the beginning, so we know that God didn't put Abraham through this experience so that He, God, could learn something about Abraham. Perhaps it was so that Abraham could learn something about God?