Chapter 9 – Abraham and Isaac

(Genesis 22:1 – 22:19)

Could you kill your own child? Would God ever ask you to?

Let’s be clear about something before we talk about Genesis 22. The Law that God would give to Moses several hundred years later absolutely prohibited human sacrifice.[i] So I am confident God had no intention of allowing Isaac to die when he commanded Abraham to “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah,[ii] and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”[iii] But of course Abraham didn’t know that.

The language God used is enlightening. He reminds Abraham that Isaac is not only his son, but his “only son, whom you love.” God seems to deliberately make it hard for Abraham to obey. Furthermore, Isaac was the son through whom all of God’s promises to Abraham were to be fulfilled.[iv]

God demands to be first in our lives—more important than spouse or children or any possessions. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10:37—if you love parents or children more than him, you are not worthy of him. The foremost commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.[v] Family is important, but God has to be more important.

So the Lord set up a real-life test of Abraham’s faith and devotion by forcing him to choose between God and his only son.

People have speculated that Abraham had faith that God would resurrect Isaac’s lifeless body if Abraham killed him. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but one thing is clear—Abraham trusted God enough to do as he was told regardless of the consequences. Unlike so many others in the Old Testament, Abraham passed his test of faith with flying colors.

Of course, God’s angel stopped Abraham before he slew Isaac, and provided a ram to sacrifice in his place.

Questions to ponder or discuss: Difficult times can test our faith. How has your faith in God been tested? And how did you do? How can you do better in the future?

[i]. See Leviticus 18:21, Leviticus 20:2-5, and Deuteronomy 18:9-10.

[ii]. Mount Moriah would become the site of Solomon’s temple. See 2 Chronicles 3:1.

[iii]. Genesis 22:2

[iv]. Genesis 17:19-21

[v]. Matthew 22:36-38