OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 9
Abraham 1; Genesis 15-17; 21-22
- Abraham is nearly sacrificed by the false priests of Pharaoh.
- Abraham has children through Hagar and Sarah.
- God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
As we study Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac, we should come
to a better understanding of Heavenly Father's sacrifice in offering his
son. Also, blessings are the result of the sacrifices we make and the trials
Abraham Is Nearly Sacrificed By The False Priests of Pharaoh
As discussed in Lesson 7, Abraham spent his
early years in Ur of Chaldea.
- According to Abraham 1:5-8, his "fathers":
WHAT DID PHARAOH'S FALSE PRIESTS TRY TO DO TO ABRAHAM?
- Had turned from righteousness and did not keep the commandments.
- They worshiped the false gods of the heathen.
- "...their hearts were set to do evil."
- They even offered up their men, women, and children to these "dumb"
HOW WAS ABRAHAM SAVED FROM THESE FALSE PRIESTS?
- They tried to offer Abraham as a sacrifice to their false gods (Abraham
- Abraham called upon the Lord and an angel loosed the bands with which
he was tied (Abraham 1:15-16).
- The Lord broke down the altar of Elkenah and smote the priest (Abraham
HOW MIGHT ABRAHAM'S EXPERIENCE ON THE ALTAR OF THE FALSE PRIESTS HAVE
HELPED HIM PREPARE FOR FUTURE TRIALS?
- It strengthened his faith in the Lord. He was blessed for not giving
into the evil ways of those around him. Even though his life was on the
line, he kept the faith. Future trials would require a powerful faith in
the Lord if he was to be obedient to the commandments given him.
- In a sense, he knew what fear Isaac might face and he could prepare
Isaac for what he was about to face.
HOW CAN OUR TRIALS HELP PREPARE US FOR FUTURE DIFFICULTIES?
- Consider the story of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Exodus 1:12 says,
"But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and
grew." The Hebrew nation that would eventually leave Egypt for
the desert, was prepared for the exodus by their trials. Though most were
denied entering the promised land, they raised up the generation that was
righteous enough to take up the inheritance.
- Consider the story of Joseph, son of Jacob. Each challenge became a
stepping stone for a new opportunity. One of my favorite quotes reads,
"Our of every adversity grows an equal or greater opportunity."
- Harriet Beecher Stowe provided a quotation that fits in with these
same ideas, "When you get into a tight place and everything goes
against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer,
never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will
turn." This was certainly true in the lives of Abraham and Joseph.
Abraham Has Children Through Hagar And Sarah
- In Genesis 15, Abraham had a discussion with the Lord.
Genesis 16:3: "And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the
Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave
her to her husband Abram to be his wife."
- Abraham was concerned about being childless.
- In verse 5 the Lord responded, "Look now toward heaven, and
tell the stars, if thou be able to number them".
- Imagine Abraham looking into the heavens and seeing the multitude of
stars. I live between Seattle and Tacoma and one can almost number the
visible stars on the best of nights. But I have been high in the mountains
on a clear night without a moon and the sky is magnificient. The belt of
the Milky Way galaxy glows. Stars reach from horizon to horizon. This is
what Abraham saw.
- The Lord then said, "So shall thy seed be."
- This must have been amazing to Abraham. He was an older man and did
not have children, but verse 6 says, "...he believed in the Lord".
In Genesis 17, the Lord appeared to Abraham and renewed the covenant.
- WHY DID SARAH GIVE HAGAR TO ABRAHAM AS HIS WIFE?
- Sarah had not born Abraham any children, so she sent Abraham to Hagar
so that "it may be that I may obtain children by her."
- "...recent scholarship has confirmed the widespread legal obligation
of the childless wife in the ancient Near East to provide her husband with
a second wife." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.3, SARAH)
- D&C 132:34-35: "God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar
to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and
from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other
things, the promises. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily
I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it."
- At the age of 86, Hagar bore Abraham a son, Ishmael. (Gen. 16:15-16)
- Prior to the birth of Ishmael, Sarah and Hagar had a falling out. Hagar
fled, but was stopped by the angel of the Lord. She was told that she would
bear a child and that her seed would be multiplied "exceedingly".
WHO ARE THE DESCENDANTS OF ISHMAEL?
- "The sons of Ishmael peopled the north and west of the Arabian
peninsula and supposedly formed the chief element of the Arab nation, the
wandering Bedouin tribes. They are now mostly Mohammedans" (Peloubet's
Bible Dictionary, p. 278.)
- At this time, Abraham was 99 years old.
- READ GENESIS 17:15-17. Abraham told that Sarah would be blessed with
- Verse 17 reads: "...Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed,
and said in his heart, Shall [a child] be born unto him that is an hundred
years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?"
- The Joseph Smith Translation reads: "Then Abraham fell upon
his face and rejoiced, and said in his heart, There shall a child
be born unto him that is an hundred years old, and Sarah that is ninety
years old shall bear."
- Consider how the correct translation causes us to view Abraham. The
JST shows a man of tremendous faith.
- When Abraham asked about Ishmael's place he was told, "I will
make him a great nation" (17:20). The Lord continued, "But
my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee"
- The great covenant which the Lord had made with Abraham would be perpetuated
through his new son, Isaac.
- WHAT CAN THE REVELATION THAT ABRAHAM AND SARAH WOULD HAVE A SON TEACH
US ABOUT HOW GOD FULFILLS HIS PROMISES?
- The Lord will fulfill his promises.
- His blessings may not come when we think they will come, but they will
come. Sometimes we must have our faith tested over a period of time.
God Commands Abraham To Sacrifice Isaac
- READ GENESIS 22:1-2. Abraham commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac.
DID ABRAHAM QUESTION THE LORD?
- JST: "And it came to pass after these things, that God did
READ GENESIS 22:3-10. Abraham prepares for the sacrifice.
- There is no record that Abraham questioned the Lord. He was a man of
great faith and absolutely obedient to the Lord. But he must have had a
few questions and arguments go through his mind:
- This is my only son with Sarah.
- Remember you promised me that through Isaac the covenant would be established.
- You know, Sarah and I are getting a little old for the child rearing
- It is not right to kill another human being.
READ GENESIS 22:11-13. Abraham's hand restrained.
Hugh B. Brown said that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because
"Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham".
- HOW DO YOU SUPPOSE ABRAHAM FELT AT THIS MOMENT?
- Questioning? Angry? Certainly a heavy heart.
- WHAT MIGHT ABRAHAM HAVE LEARNED FROM THIS?
- His faith in the Lord is justified.
- A greater understanding of Heavenly Father's sacrifice of His Son.
- That he was worthy of the covenant.
Trials & Sacrifice Are A Blessing
- WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR TRIALS?
- The Lord has revealed that we must be tried as Abraham: "Therefore,
they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded
to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening,
but deny me, cannot be sanctified." (D&C 101:4-5)
- WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS SO?
- As the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith regarding his trials, "...know
thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall
be for thy good." (see D&C 122:5-9)
- Joseph Smith: "I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from
a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets
rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated
force...all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I
will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty"
- NONE OF US HAVE BEEN CALLED TO MAKE A SACRIFICE THIS SIGNIFICANT. HOW
DO WE REACT WHEN CALLED UPON TO SACRIFICE? WHAT SACRIFICES DO WE MAKE?
- HOW HAVE THE SACRIFICES YOU HAVE MADE BEEN A BLESSING TO YOU?
- WHAT CAN WE DO NOW TO PREPARE OURSELVES FOR FUTURE SACRIFICES THE LORD
MAY ASK US TO MAKE?
Abraham's Sacrifice - A Similitude of Heavenly Father's Sacrifice
of His Son
- Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac was a similitude of Heavenly
Father's willingness to sacrifice his son.
WHAT ARE SOME SIMILARITIES BETWEEN ABRAHAM'S EXPERIENCE AND HEAVENLY
FATHER'S? (see Old Testament Student Manual, pp77-78)
- "...it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient
unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude
of God and his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:5).
Dallin H. Oaks: "This story...shows the goodness of God in
protecting Isaac and in providing a substitute so he would not have to
die. Because of our sins and our mortality, we, like Isaac, are condemned
to death. When all other hope is gone, our Father in Heaven provides the
Lamb of God, and we are saved by his sacrifice." (Ensign, Nov.
- Abraham himself was a similitude of the Father. The name Abram
means "exalted father" and Abraham means "father
of a great multitude".
- Isaac was a type of the Son of God. One of the meanings of his name
is "he shall rejoice". Isaac's birth, like the Savior, was a
miraculous birth. Both were announced by angels.
- Both sacrifices were done in fairly close proximity, on the same hill,
- JST Genesis 22:7: "...Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering,
and laid it upon his back". Christ carried the cross upon his
back to his crucifixion.
- It would appear that Isaac willing submitted to the appointed sacrifice,
trusting in his father. Since Abraham was an old man at this time, certainly
Isaac could have put up a fight if he was not agreeable. Christ willingly
gave his life.
- Though it seemed a tragedy at the moment, all ended well for Isaac
and our Savior.
A Personal Thought
In the past I have talked about the keeping of a scripture journal.
I have found it to be a wonderful tool for studying the scriptures. It
causes one to think more deeply about the verses one reads and how we might
"liken" the scriptures to ourselves. What follows is my scripture
journal entry from December 3, 1993:
"Abraham proceeds to carry out the sacrifice of his son Isaac.
I can relate, maybe just a speck, to what Abraham must have gone through.
I am a father of one son. I love that son. Not more than my daughters,
but as an only son he holds a unique place in my heart. He is the lone
male to carry on the Beardall name that was brought over from England by
my great-grandfather, John Beardall. John brought one son from England,
my grandpa. Grandpa had four sons, three of which died prior to reaching
maturity. My dad was the sole surviving son. Dad had three sons, two of
which will never father children. As the lone son to have children I am
blessed with a single son. So in a small way I understand what Abraham
must have felt. To have his beloved son sacrificed must have torn his heart
"This story is made more real when Abraham and Isaac are gathering
wood and Isaac asks his father where the lamb for the sacrifice was. But
Abraham continues forward in obedience and is about to sacrifice his son
when the angel stops him and says that he has only been tried. What faith
Abraham had in the Lord! I cannot comprehend such faith. I don't believe
I could survive such a test. The lesson I gain from this story is that
we need to learn to sacrifice at whatever level of spirituality we are
at. To sacrifice one's son is near the ultimate sacrifice. Yet daily there
are opportunities to sacrifice and like Abraham we need to be willing to
do what we know we should. It may be as simple as a kind word to a family
member. I think this is what living by the Spirit means. We will be prompted
when opportunities arise and we need to be willing to respond as did Abraham."
This journal entry was written before the birth of my second son a few
months ago, but the truth of the message remains. It would be difficult
to sacrifice any child. Consider our Heavenly Father sending his Beloved
Son to this wicked world and allowing him to bear upon his shoulders the
sins of all mankind. What a sacrifice. A sacrifice that we can only comprehend
in the smallest sense.
We can be full shareholders in the magnificent, eternal covenant IF
we do the WORKS OF ABRAHAM. It certainly behooves us to learn about this
great patriarch and follow in his footsteps.
President Kimball: "If we would seek the blessings Abraham sought,
we could also receive such revelation, covenants, promises, and eternal
rewards as Abraham received.... Abraham sought for his appointment to the
priesthood. He did not wait for God to come to him; he sought diligently
through prayer and obedient living to learn the will of God."
(Ensign, June 1975, p.7)
Through the story of Abraham and Isaac we catch a hint of the great
love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ had for us when they made the
infinite and eternal sacrifice.
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