All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

A Terrible Test of Faith

Because Abraham had doubted the promise of a son through Sarah, God finds it necessary to develop his faith more fully and asks him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering on a mountain in the land of Moriah (later the site of Solomon’s temple).

Abraham is clearly stunned by this. The ancients commonly sacrifice their firstborn, but this doesn’t seem to fit with what he’s learned about the true God. Satan undoubtedly uses this chance to tempt him by questioning, What kind of God would ask such a thing?

Genesis 22:1 makes it clear that God is testing his faith, rather than actually expecting him to carry out this heinous act; however, in Abraham’s mind, this is all about sacrificing his promised heir!


Imagine Abraham’s agony as he prepares to carry out the Lord’s request. How can I tell Sarah? he wonders. Will I actually have the courage to do this? Will Isaac allow me, old and weak as I am, to kill him? Oh God, why do You ask me to do this?

Slowly and methodically, the story unfolds, leaving us caught in the suspense. Rising early in the morning, Abraham saddles his donkey. Then he takes Isaac and two young men, splits the wood for the burnt offering, and begins the three-day journey of about 50 miles to the place God has indicated. As the mountain comes into view, he tells the young men to stay there with the donkey while he and Isaac complete the journey.

The Painful Climb

Slowly and painfully they climb the mountain—a 120-year-old man with coals of fire and a knife, followed by a lad of about 20 with a bundle of wood on his back.

“Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Isaac wonders out loud.

“God will provide,” his father answers slowly, as he struggles on with a breaking heart.

Finally they reach their destination, build an altar, and place the wood in order. Then with a trembling voice, the old man finally reveals to his son what God has asked him to do.

Imagine the terror Isaac feels—but he is also a believer in his father’s God, so he willingly submits himself to be bound. As Abraham stretches out his hand with the knife to slay his son, the story reaches its climax. The Bible says “the Angel of the Lord” calls to him from Heaven, saying, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.”

Suddenly, a ram caught in a thicket by its horns catches Abraham’s attention, and he leaps with joy. God has provided a substitute! “The Angel of the Lord” then reiterates God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants, swearing by His own name to affirm it.

Abraham has passed the test of faith and perceives God’s abhorrence of his forefathers’ pagan beliefs (Joshua 24:14), which include the human sacrifices so prevalent in Canaan. Indelibly etched is the idea that man, through works, can provide nothing for salvation. Only God can provide the sacrifice for sin.

Through this experience he now graphically understands the pain the Father will feel as He gives His only Son! He has finally reached a full understanding of the covenant—God’s amazing Plan of Salvation.

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Was I spinning? It must have worked.

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