God: Kill your son and burn his body
- 22:1 Later, God decided to put Abraham’s faith to the test. God called his name: “Abraham!” Abraham said, “I’m here.”
- 22:2 God said, “I know Isaac is your only son and you love him deeply, but I want you to take him to the area of Moriah. There, on a mountain I will show you, I want you to kill him and burn his body on an altar as a sacrifice to me.”1
- 22:3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took Isaac along with two servants. He also cut some wood and took it for the altar fire. They headed out to where God told them to go.
- 22:4 On day three of their trip Abraham saw their destination off in the distance.
- 22:5 Abraham told his young slaves, “Stay here and take care of the donkey. My boy and I will go on ahead and worship, and then we’ll come back.”
- 22:6 Abraham gave Isaac the wood to carry. Abraham carried the fire and the knife.
- 22:7 “Dad.” Isaac said. “Yes, son,” Abraham answered. “We’ve got the fire and the wood we need for the sacrifice,” Isaac said, “but what about the lamb?”
- 22:8 “Son,” Abraham answered, “God will give us a lamb to sacrifice.” The two walked on.
- 22:9 They got to the place where God had told Abraham to go. Abraham built a small stone altar and put the wood on top of it. He tied up his son, Isaac, and had him lay down on top of the wood on the altar.
- 22:10 Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son.
- 22:11 Suddenly, the LORD’s angel cried out from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham!” “I’m here,” Abraham said.
- 22:12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy,” the LORD said. “Don’t hurt him. I can see how much you trust me. You put your only son’s life in my hands.”
- 22:13 Abraham looked up from the altar and saw a male sheep with its horns stuck in a bush. Abraham killed the ram and burned it on the altar instead of sacrificing his son.
- 22:14 Abraham named the hill The LORD Provides.2 Even now, people refer to this story when they quote an old proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD, we’ll find what we need.”
- 22:15 The LORD’s angel spoke once again from heaven.
- 22:16 “I am the LORD. I’m making this promise to you: Because you have trusted me enough to put your son’s life in my hands—your only son—
- 22:17 I’m going to bless your life like it has never been blessed before. I’ll give you so many descendants it will be as impossible to count them as it is to count stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will capture even the most heavily fortified cities of your enemies.
- 22:18 Your descendants will become a blessing—a bringer of goodness—to every nation on the earth. And it’s all because you trusted me enough to obey me.”
- 22:19 Abraham went back to his young slaves. They all returned to their camp in Beersheba, where Abraham lived.
Abraham’s brother has kids, too
- 22:20 Sometime later Abraham got this report: “Milcah has given birth to children for your brother Nahor.
- 22:21 They named their first child Uz and his brother Buz. The other children were Kemuel, father of the people of Aram,3
- 22:22 along with Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, and Bethuel.”
- 22:23 Bethuel was Rebekah’s father. His wife Milcah gave Nahor all eight of those sons.
- 22:24 Nahor also had a concubine.4 Reumah, gave him four more children: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
Literally a “burnt offering.” The customary how-to includes: “skin the animal and cut it into pieces” (Leviticus 1:6 NLT).
In what is now Syria.
A woman who lives with a man in a legally binding relationship as a secondary wife, but who has less social status and fewer privileges than a wife.
For many Christians, the story of Abraham almost sacrificing Isaac paints a picture of an ugly God—since God is the one who tells Abraham to kill the boy as a burnt offering. Based on author Stephen M. Miller’s description of the burnt offering (A Visual Walk Through Genesis, page 98; Leviticus 1:11-13) and anything else you may know about it, what do you think about the sacrifice would seem most horrific to Isaac’s mother, Sarah?
In the short article “Finding Jesus in Isaac’s Story,” on page 99 in A Visual Walk Through Genesis, Miller reports several places in the story where some Bible experts say they see Jesus foreshadowed. Which one of these do you think seems especially linked to Jesus?
Why do you think God put Abraham through this test? Didn’t God know how it was going to turn out?
We can only guess, but what do you think Abraham figured was going to happen when he got to the place of sacrifice? And why do you think Abraham told his servants “Stay here and take care of the donkey….We’ll come back” (22:5). He knew that he was taking his son to kill him.
There’s an ancient tradition that says Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice on a huge slab of bedrock inside Jerusalem’s most famous landmark: the Dome of the Rock. Tradition also says it was on this rock that King David offered sacrifices, and that this is where the Jews built their Temple. How likely do you think that tradition is right? Does it matter whether it’s right or not?
LIFE APPLICATION. God doesn’t ask us to do something as radical as giving our child to him in sacrifice. But for those who have children, there comes a point when parents need to put the child in God’s hands and release control. How hard is that, to trust God with our kids?
LIFE APPLICATION. God sometimes asks us to do things that don’t seem to make much sense. Can you think of a time he did that to you or to someone you know? How did it turn out?