Abraham’s Faith in the Resurrection

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Why would God tell Abraham, His friend, to kill his only son, Isaac, through whom God promised to produce a multitude of descendants for Abraham?

We’ve seen movies where Abraham angrily responds, shouting, “No!” He then reluctantly takes his son to the supposed slaughter.

Sometimes we must look at the Bible’s “panoramic view” of an event to understand it fully. Once we see what other Scriptures say about this account, we’ll appreciate its true meaning.

God Tests Abraham

“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied.” (Genesis 22:1)

God tested Abraham by telling him to do something unthinkably challenging.

“Then God said, ‘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)

God tested Abraham to see how deeply – and at what cost – he would put his faith and trust in Him. He told Abraham to take Isaac and sacrifice him on the mountain of Moriah.

The illustration above shows Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, where the temple would be built and Jesus would be crucified. God brought Abraham and Isaac to this same mountain.

“Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.” (Genesis 22:3)

We don’t read about Abraham wrestling with God for days or weeks after receiving this strange command. Early the next morning, Abraham obeyed. What was he thinking?

The Lamb

On the third day of their journey, Abraham told his servants to wait and went on alone with Isaac. While they walked, Isaac asked Abraham a good question.

“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’” (Genesis 22:7)

“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.” (Genesis 22:8)

The Lamb of God

Isn’t it amazing that God sent Abraham and Isaac to the mountain where His plan of redemption would be fulfilled? One day, Jesus, the Lamb of God, would be given there as an offering for the sins of the world.

God was showing Abraham his plan of redemption for mankind in a genuine way. Abraham would see first-hand the great love of our Heavenly Father to give up His only Son.

“When they reached the place God had told him about [Moriah], Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.” (Genesis 22:9)

We don’t read about Abraham wrestling with Isaac and having to slug him out so he could tie his son and put him on the wood. We will see in Hebrews what was going through Abraham’s mind. We’ll see why Isaac would put his trust in his father and willingly be bound and laid on the altar.

The Rescue

“But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied.” (Genesis 22:11)

God sent an angel to the rescue.

“‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’” (Genesis 22:12)

A Terrifying Trial?

Abraham passed the test. But why would God put Abraham through such a terrifying trial? If we look at Hebrews, we’ll see that it wasn’t so frightening.

“It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” (Hebrews 11:17-19 NLT, See also KJV, ESV, AMP)

Abraham knew that God promised him a son, through whom he would have many descendants, and that Sarah would be a “mother of nations.” Abraham believed God’s promise … that God would not go back on His Word.

So, if Abraham was told to offer up his son as a sacrifice, he must have reasoned that to fulfill His promise, God would have to raise Isaac from the dead. How tremendous was Abraham’s faith! No wonder he is mentioned more than once in Hebrews 11, the Bible’s “Faith Hall of Fame!”

A Loving Father and an Obedient Son

Can you imagine Abraham explaining all this to Isaac as they walked toward Mount Moriah? Abraham deeply loved Isaac – the miraculous son of God’s promise. Would Abraham be loving to tie up his son forcefully and lay him on the altar – against Isaac’s will? Certainly not.

Our loving Heavenly Father gave us freedom of will and would never take it away. Abraham loved and trusted God and, in like manner, would not override the free will of his beloved son. Isaac would have to agree to willingly be the sacrifice for God, trusting his father – that God was able to raise him from the dead.

Not a Cruel Joke

When we see the scope of God’s Word regarding this encounter with Abraham and Isaac, we can lay aside all the speculation, confusion, and fear that this record usually causes people.

God wasn’t a cruel monster, telling Abraham to kill his only son and then changing his mind as if to say, “Hey, I was only playing with you.” Not at all.

True Love

I believe God wanted to show Abraham His plan of redemption powerfully. Abraham would learn first-hand how difficult it would be for God to lovingly give His only begotten Son so that whosoever believed in him would have everlasting life.

Abraham would also see how the promised Lamb of God would lovingly trust God’s promise of his resurrection and say, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Isaac, too, would learn to say these powerful words of submission and trust to his father, Abraham.

Abraham passed many tests in this great trial of faith: the test of love, trust in the promised Messiah, and confidence in the resurrection. This record is not one of confusion and anguish but one of the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.

7 thoughts on “Abraham’s Faith in the Resurrection”

  1. I have known this record since I was very young, but never saw the significance of what God was teaching Abraham and God’s people today. Thanks for sharing. God’s Word is wonderful!

  2. Thank you Judy for bringing to light the symbolism between Isaac and our Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve never seen it quite like this before!

  3. Judy, Absolutely amazing how God showed his “friend” how He was going to redeem mankind. -Literally. What a great relationship Abraham and God had together.

  4. I just saw the movie His Only Son- it’s about Abraham’s and his trip to sacrifice Isaac. How he struggled with but still trusted God and how Isaac trusted God and his father. They also tied it into Christ’s crucifixion

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Abraham’s Faith in the Resurrection

Why would God tell Abraham, His friend, to kill his only son, Isaac, through whom God promised to produce a multitude of descendants for Abraham?