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Sacrifice of Isaac - Bible Story Summary

The Sacrifice of Isaac Was Abraham's Ultimate Test



Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac to God.

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Scripture Reference:

Genesis 22:1-19

The Sacrifice of Isaac - Story Summary:

The sacrifice of Isaac put Abraham to his most agonizing test, a trial which he passed completely because of his total faith in God.

God told Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." (Genesis 22:2, NIV)

Abraham took Isaac, two servants and a donkey and set off on the 50 mile journey. When they arrived, Abraham ordered the servants to wait with the donkey while he and Isaac went up the mountain. He told the men, "We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Genesis 22:5b, NIV)

Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the sacrifice, and Abraham answered that the Lord would provide the lamb. Saddened and confused, Abraham bound Isaac with ropes and placed him on the stone altar.

Just as Abraham raised the knife to slay his son, the angel of the Lord called out to Abraham to stop and not harm the boy. The angel said he knew that Abraham feared the Lord because he had not withheld his only son.

When Abraham looked up, he saw a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. He sacrificed the animal, provided by God, instead of his son.

Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." (Genesis 22:16-18, NIV)

Points of Interest from the Sacrifice of Isaac:

  • God had earlier promised Abraham that he would make a great nation of him through Isaac, which forced Abraham to either trust God with what mattered most to him or to distrust God. Abraham chose to trust and obey.

  • Abraham told his servants "we" will come back to you, meaning both he and Isaac. Abraham must have believed God would either provide a substitute sacrifice or would raise Isaac from the dead.

  • This incident foreshadows God's sacrifice of his only son, Jesus Christ, on the cross at Calvary, for the sin of the world. God's great love required of himself what he did not require of Abraham.

  • Mount Moriah, where this event took place, means "God will provide." King Solomon later built the first Temple there. Today, the Muslim shrine The Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem, stands on the site of the sacrifice of Isaac.

  • The author of the book of Hebrews cites Abraham in his "Faith Hall of Fame," and James says Abraham's obedience was credited to him as righteousness.

Question for Reflection:

What do I need to sacrifice in my own life to follow God more closely?

Bible Story Summary Index

Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.

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