The Near Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19)

Abram was descended from Adam and Eve. He was called by God, who made a covenant with him and his descendants. God said that he would be "father of a multitude of nations". In recognition of this covenant, God re-named him Abraham. He was married to Sarah - and despite the fact that they were very old, God granted them a son, Isaac.

One day, God told Abraham to take his son to the land of Moriah and offer him as a burnt sacrifice on a mountain there. Abraham obeyed the Lord, and travelled to the place he was instructed, taking two servants with him, and also wood for the burnt offering. When the third day of travelling came Abraham left the slaves guarding the donkey, and went onwards with just his son. Abraham carried fire and the knife; Isaac carried the wood. Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the burnt offering, to which Abraham replied, "God himself will provide the lamb". When they came to the appointed place on the mountain, Abraham built an altar and bound his son. But as he was raising his knife to murder Isaac an angel called from heaven and ordered him to stop; he had proved his trust and faith in God by being prepared to obey his commands, even as far as sacrificing his only son. Having untied Isaac, Abraham found a ram caught by its horns in a thicket, and offered it as a sacrifice instead of Isaac. The mountain was re-named "The Lord Will Provide".

As a reward for his faith, God promised Abraham a great number of descendants, equal to the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore. They would be blessed by God and be successful over their enemies. Abraham then went to live in Beersheba.


  • Gift of God - Abraham and Sarah were granted a son by God even though they were both very old - and then God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac!
  • Sacrifice - Abraham was being asked to sacrifice what was most dear to him as proof of his faith in God.
  • Faith and Obedience - by his willingness to make this sacrifice, Abraham was showing supreme faith in, and obedience to, God.
  • Covenant - God established another covenant with Abraham.
  • Reward - the number and ability of Abraham's descendents was his reward for his faith.

Contemporary Issues

  • What does sacrifice mean in the modern world?
  • Faith.
  • Obedience.



What do you learn about the character of Abraham from this story?

Should Abraham be respected? Was his faith and determination to please God a good thing, or was he selfish in not thinking about Sarah? Surely, someone who was prepared to sacrifice his own child must be evil?

Why do you think that God tested Abraham in this way? Was this a harsh test, do you think?

Give a few examples of how someone might make a sacrifice in the modern world. Explain how each situation can be considered as a sacrifice.