When God called Abram in Genesis 12, He promised to make Abram into a great nation. In Genesis 15, God promised to give Abraham—an old man whose wife was barren—not just a son but offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Isaac was the son God promised Abraham. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. Up to this point, Abraham had been described as obedient and faithful. He trusted God to keep His promises. But obedience is easy when one stands to benefit from it. But would Abraham be faithful and obedient when he wasn’t going to gain? What if obedience meant losing everything?
God tested Abraham. “Take your son,” He said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Gen. 22:2).
What? I know how I would react if I had been in Abraham’s sandals. “Um, God? Excuse me, but can we talk about this? Because you know, the whole ‘I will make you into a great nation thing,’ that’s supposed to happen through Isaac. He’s the plan. He’s my future. You must be making a mistake.”
“Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two of his young men and his son Isaac” (Gen. 22:3).
Abraham obeyed. He took Isaac and prepared to sacrifice him as God had commanded. Abraham trusted God. Hebrews 11 reveals that Abraham believed God could even raise people from the dead. Perhaps God would bring Isaac back to life after the sacrifice. However it played out, Abraham feared God and trusted Him to keep His promises.
Then Abraham took his knife and prepared to kill his son. Suddenly, the Angel of the Lord called to him. “Do not lay a hand on the boy.”
Pastor and author Timothy Keller points out that we can look at this scene in Genesis 22 and be reminded of Jesus.
God saw Abraham’s sacrifice and said, “Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me.” But how much more can we look at his sacrifice on the cross and say to God, “Now we know that you love us. For you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from us.”
Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, p. 18.
God provided a ram, and Abraham sacrificed the ram as a burnt offering in the place of his son.
Kids may not understand every implication of the story of Abraham and Isaac, but help them see that Abraham trusted God in faith and obeyed Him no matter what. Emphasize that God’s provision of the ram in place of Isaac points us to a greater substitute sacrifice.
“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Rom. 5:8)
We deserve to die for our sin. But God provided a perfect substitute sacrifice in His Son, Jesus. Now we know that He loves us, for He did not withhold His Son, His only Son, whom He loves, from us.