Isaac Offered Up
Open Your Bible
Genesis 22:1-24, Genesis 23:1-20, Isaiah 54:1, Hebrews 11:8-12
BY Claire Gibson
I really didn’t want to be assigned this passage. I’ve been a Christian most of my life, and still, when I read this passage about Isaac and Abraham walking up the mountain, I simply want to throw my Bible across the room. Why in the world would God ask Abraham to do this?
There are a host of things that God asks His people to do—things that, without faith and understanding of context surrounding these passages, seem really wild. Earlier in Genesis, God asked Abraham to circumcise every man in his household, even his servants. Today, Christians are asked to live in obedience to a lot of biblical commands which make no sense to the world and its culture today. We’re asked not to have sex outside of marriage. We’re asked to think of others as better than ourselves. We’re asked to go out of our way to give to and love others—even our enemies. These commands might seem obvious if you’ve been in church for a long time. But outside of the lens of faith, they really make no sense at all. Only God can give us the strength and faith needed to obey Him.
And so, I’m left to believe that God must have given Abraham the strength and faith to obey even this—this seemingly insane command. Why would God have Abraham sacrifice this child, who he and Sarah had waited and longed for throughout the course of their lives? Why this child of the promise? If you remember Genesis chapter 21, you’ll recall that Abraham had just sent his other child, Ishmael, away. So now, if he were to go through with the sacrifice of Isaac, he would have no children at all.
But Abraham trusted God. He trusted that God was good. Abraham had learned that obedience to God brings greater blessing than pain. So, if God was asking him to surrender to something painful—something as horrific as losing his only son—then there must be an even more abundant blessing on the other side.
I’m not sure I would have had the faith to walk up that mountain. But because Abraham obeyed, we now get to witness, through Scripture, the first example of substitutionary sacrifice, as God provides a ram in the thicket. Do you know who else walked up a mountain that led directly to an inconceivable sacrifice? Jesus.
Only when Jesus walked to Calvary, when the Roman guard slammed hammer into steel, through flesh, there was no ram in the thicket (Genesis 22:13). Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, became God’s autobiography on earth. And God’s nature is not punitive—it is sacrificial. Jesus willingly obeyed the Father to the point of death—even to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). And because of His supernatural, unexplainable, indescribable obedience, we now have peace with God. Thanks be to God for obedience and the peace that comes with it—things that we may not be able to understand, but can only pray to the strength and faith to emulate.
50 thoughts on "Isaac Offered Up"
It’s fascinating to read these passages and not see any mention of doubt, resistance, or fear from Abraham when asking to sacrifice his son. He trusts in the Lord so much that his actions reflect this. I pray that I can know the Lord so well that when I am asked to obey, I don’t let fear dictate my decision but rather trust in the one true King.
The reading and the devotional have touched me to my very core. Here is what I learned compressed into one statement: If I trust God and surrender to his will, knowing that he is good, he will give me the strength and faith needed to obey him, and with obedience comes peace.
God was testing Abraham to see his obedience and to see if Abraham would put God in his rightful place above everything/everyone he cared for. He never intended for Isaac to die. Am I trusting God’s plan, even when it seems too hard to do? Is my faith in his goodness carrying me through tough choices?
So many thoughts as I read this familiar passage of scripture, we like to herald Abraham’s obedience and trust in this chapter as he willingly almost instinctively offers Isaac yet we so quickly forget he is the same flawed human who lied about his wife’s identity on numerous occasions! How like us, mere human, flawed yet full of faith, we waver between timidity and trust, obedience and denial, faith and fear…
In the many times reading this passage, this is the first time the thought occurred to me that “what if” Abraham hadn’t taken the wood and fire and placed them on the altar, bound Isaac and raised the knife, would the ram have been caught in the thicket? No, because although God is God and could have saved the world without Jesus death on the cross, that wasn’t the plan (not that God can’t always have a plan B, He is God after all) but the point being, God did provide a substitute sacrifice for Isaac just as He did for us!
Abraham’s confidence in God should be the same confidence we approach the throne of grace with, knowing as he did that God will provide!
This also made me ponder, what am I holding back from God, what am I deeming off limits? Whatever it is has then become an idol I am willing to worship more than God!
The Bible Project’s videos on “Holiness” and “Sacrifice & Attornment” were really helpful for me in starting to wrap my head around some of these concepts. I’d recommend checking them out
I have so much joy in reading along with this study. I’ve read Genesis many times before but feel connected on a much deeper level than I have before. Praise God for his grace and mercy. Praise Him for the peace that is found in obedience and trust in Him. ❤️
Hebrews 11:17 clears up the mystery of how Abraham could offer Isaac. It is true what Maura shared that Abraham knew God and it established his faith.
“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 own 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.”
Abraham believed and trusted in the covenant that God had made with him and It was counted to him as righteousness.I
11:1 “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”
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