Bible Story - Abraham and Isaac
by: Logan Marshall
You remember that in those times
of which we are telling, when men worshipped God, they built an
altar of earth or of stone, and laid an offering upon it as a gift
to God. The offering was generally a sheep, or a goat, or a young
ox—some animal that was used for food. Such an offering was called
But the people who worshipped idols often did what seems to us
strange and very terrible. They thought that it would please their
gods if they would offer as a sacrifice the most precious living
things that were their own; and they would take their own little
children and kill them upon their altars as offerings to the gods of
wood and stone, that were no real gods, but only images.
God wished to show Abraham and all his descendants, those who should
come after him, that he was not pleased with such offerings as those
of living people, killed on the altars. And God took a way to teach
Abraham, so that he and his children after him would never forget
it. Then at the same time he wished to see how faithful and obedient
Abraham would be to his commands; how fully Abraham would trust in
God, or, as we would say, how great was Abraham's faith in God.
So God gave to Abraham a command which he did not mean to have
obeyed, though this he did not tell to Abraham. He said:
"Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love so greatly,
and go to the land of Moriah, and there on a mountain that I will
show you, offer him for a burnt-offering to me."
Though this command filled Abraham's heart with pain, yet he would
not be as surprised to receive it as a father would in our day; for
such offerings were very common among all those people in the land
where Abraham lived. Abraham never for one moment doubted or
disobeyed God's word. He knew that Isaac was the child whom God had
promised, and that God had promised, too, that Isaac should have
children, and that those coming from Isaac should be a great nation.
He did not see how God could keep his promise with regard to Isaac,
if Isaac should be killed as an offering; unless indeed God should
raise him up from the dead afterward.
But Abraham undertook at once to obey. God's command. He took two
young men with him and an ass laden with wood for the fire; and he
went toward the mountain in the north, Isaac, his son, walking by
his side. For two days they walked, sleeping under the trees at
night in the open country. And on the third day Abraham saw the
mountain far away. And as they drew near to the mountain Abraham
said to the young men:
"Stay here with the ass, while I go up yonder mountain with Isaac to
worship; and when we have worshipped, we will come back to you." For
Abraham believed that in some way God would bring back Isaac to
life. He took the wood from the ass and placed it on Isaac, and they
two walked up the mountain together. As they were walking, Isaac
"Father, here is the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?"
And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide himself a Lamb for a
And they came to the place on the top of the mountain. There Abraham
built an altar of stones and earth heaped up; and on it he placed
the wood. Then he tied the hands and the feet of Isaac, and laid him
on the altar, on the wood. And Abraham lifted up his hand, holding a
knife to kill his son. Another moment longer and Isaac would be
slain by his own father's hand.
But just at that moment the angel of the Lord out of heaven called
to Abraham, and said:
And Abraham answered, "Here I am, Lord." Then the angel of the Lord
"Do not lay your hand upon your son. Do no harm to him. Now I know
that you love God more than you love your only son, and that you are
obedient to God, since you are ready to give up your son, your only
son, to God."
What a relief and a joy these words from heaven brought to the heart
of Abraham! How glad he was to know that it was not God's will for
him to kill his son! Then Abraham looked around, and there in the
thicket was a ram caught by his horns. And Abraham took the ram and
offered him up for a burnt-offering in place of his son. So
Abraham's words came true when he said that God would provide for
himself a lamb.
The place where this altar was built Abraham named God-jireh,
words in the language that Abraham spoke meaning, "The Lord will
This offering, which seems so strange, did much good. It showed to
Abraham, and to Isaac also, that Isaac belonged to God, for to God
he had been offered; and in Isaac all those who should come from
him, his descendants, had been given to God. Then it showed to
Abraham and to all the people after him, that God did not wish
children or men killed as offerings for worship; and while all the
people around offered such sacrifices, the Israelites, who came from
Abraham and from Isaac, never offered them, but offered oxen and
sheep and goats instead.
These gifts, which cost so much toil, they felt must be pleasing to
God, because they expressed their thankfulness to him. But they were
glad to be taught that God does not desire men's lives to be taken,
but loves our living gifts of love and kindness.