As the two men prepared the altar, the younger asked a question. “Father, we have the stones, we have the sticks and we even have the fire,” He pointed to a ram’s horn propped up against a rock. “But, we have no sacrifice!”
Abraham paused, facing the altar. Isaac was gathering sticks behind him. A painful expression spread across the old man’s face. He wiped the sweat from his forehead.
Isaac walked past Abraham and placed the sticks on the altar. Then he turned to face his father, resting his hands on his hips, taking large breaths from the hard work. “Don’t we need a lamb or a goat? Or something, at least?”
Abraham reached out and placed a hand on his son’s cheek. He struggled to smile. “God will provide a lamb,” he said, in little more than a whisper.
Then raising his other hand, Abraham cradled his son’s face. Looking deeply into Isaac’s eyes, he raised his voice and said with longing, “God will provide!”
Isaac’s shoulders slumped. He understood.
Isaac reached up, placing his hands over his fathers, and slowly pulled them off his face. He turned and looked at the large altar with dread. His gaze moved from the altar to his father and back again.
Isaac climbed onto the altar, lay on his back and folded his arms across his chest. Abraham untied a rope from around his waist and carefully tied his son to the altar—crisscrossing across Isaac’s body, from head to foot.
Isaac seemed to have accepted his role in this sacrifice. In a quiet voice, he said, “Tie me tightly, Father. I’m nervous and afraid. If I break away, the sacrifice will be improper. I must not move.”
His father nodded without speaking, tears streamed down his dusty face. As he tightened the rope that crossed Isaac’s shoulder—leaning over his son to do so—a tear fell from his eye and landed on Isaac’s cheek. The two cried together as they continued preparing the sacrifice God required.
Once the ropes were tight, Abraham drew a large knife from his belt. He walked to the uphill side of the altar and looked down at his son—the son God had given him as a special gift—and placed his hand on Isaac’s forehead.
“Isaac, my boy,” Abraham said, in little more than a whisper, “God promised me a son. You brought us such joy when you were born—we named you laughter! You have been such a blessing. I do not understand this day. I do not understand God’s request that I offer you as a sacrifice. But, God’s command was clear—clearer than ever. He said, ‘take your son, your only son, and offer him as a sacrifice to me on the mountain I will show you.’ And this is where He brought us. What am I to do, my boy?”
Isaac turned his head under his father’s hand to look into the eyes of the man who loved him more than life itself. Before this moment, he had never seen his father cry. Isaac had heard all the stories about his father’s God: The God who had told Abram to leave his homeland, to wander the earth—to a place God would show him. And God had lead him to this beautiful land. Isaac knew, without a doubt, that God spoke to his father. And, in recent times, he had decided to make his father’s God his own God. He loved the God who led his father.
“Father,” Isaac whispered. “Father, you have always obeyed God. He has been good to you—giving you your hearts desire, time and again. Today he asks for my life. I give it willingly, father. Follow the leading of your God—and my God—and all will be well.”
Abraham nodded ever so slightly. He moved the hand that rested on his son’s forehead, sliding it down to cover Isaac’s eyes. He may have to kill his son, but the boy didn’t need to see it happen. He tightened both hands—the knife in one, his son’s vision in the other.
Abraham lifted the knife to his shoulder. Next he carved a slow arc in the air toward the chest of his son, stopping just before the tip of the blade touched his son’s skin. He repositioned the knife to where he knew his son’s beating heart lay just beneath the surface. He pulled the knife back to his shoulder and steeled himself for the real thing—the next arc of the knife would end his son’s life and please his God—their God.
Every muscle in Abraham’s body went as taught as a trap ready to spring. Almost without intending to, Abraham thrust the knife toward his son’s chest. It was a hard, fast thrust—hard enough to accomplish the required task. Time seemed to stand still. Abraham saw the knife plunging toward his son, saw his other hand resting over his son’s eyes and felt the throbbing thud of his own heart beating in his chest.
A voice ripped through the cosmos, stopping the knife mid-swing. “Abraham!” It was a loud, earth shattering voice. “Abraham!” the voice repeated.
Every muscle in Abraham’s body released and relaxed. The hand holding the knife slipped to his side. The other hand slid off Isaac’s face. Abraham’s shoulders fell forward in exhaustion. All the tension flooded out of his body. Isaac looked up from the altar, his eyes wide. He, too, had heard the voice.
In a gentle quiet voice Abraham replied, as he always did, “Here I am.”
“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the voice said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly honour God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
Put yourself in Isaac’s place. What would it have been like to be Isaac? What would have been going through your mind?
What would it have been like to be Abraham? How would you feel about God during this time?
Which would be more difficult for you, to be Abraham or Isaac? Why?
God sent His Son to die for each of us. Jesus came willingly, and when the tough times came, he prayed, “thy will be done.” Have you had a tough time in your life when you had to trust and believe that God was with you and leading you even though it didn’t seem He was? Tell that story. How long ago was it? Does it make sense yet? How are you feeling about God now?
Jesus has more power than we can fathom and He uses this power for our benefit, because He loves us! Consider these verses.
What do these verses tell you about the character of Jesus?
How do these verses encourage you?
John 1:14 ~ So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Colossians 1:15-19 ~ Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ.
John 5:22 ~ In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge.
Hebrews 2:18 ~ Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Jesus is passionately interested in our well-being. He loves us! What do these verses challenge you to do in response to Christ’s great love?
Romans 6:23 ~ For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 14:1-3 ~ “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 ~ God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
Without Jesus Christ, life can be a lonely purposeless existence. His death and resurrection set us free from hopeless living. Read these three passages and then explain what they teach us about how Jesus set us free from death, how He gave us a purpose for life and what He is doing for us now.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 ~ This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.
Hebrews 2:14 ~ Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
Hebrews 8: 1, 2 ~ Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.
The following statement is the 4th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?
God the Son
God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly man, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to minister in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things.
The story at the beginning of this lesson can be found in Genesis 22.
John 1:1-3; John 10:30; John 14:9; Luke 1:35; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4