Sacrifice of Isaac - Genesis 22

As we think this week about sacrificial giving, one story that probably comes to mind is when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac. The thought of sacrificing a child is something that is difficult to wrap our minds around. And with Abraham’s story there is an added dimension which brings another type of difficulty to the situation.

God made a covenant with Abraham in which God promises to bless Abraham, to give him more descendants than he could count, and to give him land (Genesis 15). In the culture of Abraham’s time, children/descendants were even more important than they are in America today. We do not know how old Abraham was when God made this covenant with him.

When they had lived in the land of Canaan for ten years, Sarah gave up on having any children (Gen. 16:3). This was ten years of deeply desiring a child and never having one. Abraham, at Sarah’s recommendation, had a son (Ishmael) with a maid. (This was culturally accepted at the time.) When Abram was 99 years old, God again talked to Abraham. God told Abraham that Ishmael was not the descendent that would fulfill God’s promise. Abraham begged for God to use Ishmael because Sarah was 90 years old and not able to have children. God told him no. Sarah would give birth to a son. And she did (Genesis 17, 18, 21).

It is against this background that Abraham is told to sacrifice Isaac. This is the son that had been promised from long before Isaac was born. Isaac was the one through whom God would fulfill His promise to Abraham. Why would God ask this? We do not know the full answer; we only know part of the answer. It was a test of faith. Abraham must have been heartbroken and devastated at the command from God. But his faith in God was so great that he carried it out, until the angel stopped him.

Abraham had enough faith in God to know that even though Isaac was the fulfillment of the promise, God’s command had to be followed. He obeyed when every bit of his being was likely crying out in anguish. He obeyed when it meant losing his son and the fulfillment of God’s promised covenant. He obeyed because he had faith. He knew that God had provided the promised son and God keeps His promises. Abraham knew that God could bring Isaac back to life (Heb. 11:17-19). Abraham had faith. He had enough faith that he was willing to sacrifice his only son because God told him to.

Thoughts to Ponder
We need to have faith that God will keep His promises even when we think it’s impossible. What are the promises God has given to us? Do we have faith that He will fulfill His promises? (Now, we have to be careful to not hold onto promises that God never made. Sometimes we think our wishes are promises from God. If you aren’t sure if something is truly a promise from God it’s a good idea to ask someone for help in discernment; someone such as one of our pastors.)

We need to have faith like Abraham. What are some things that you hold dear? Are you willing to sacrifice them (get rid of/give up) if God asks you to?