Did God really tell Abraham to Kill his own son?

Have you ever deeply wonder about why God would instruct Abraham to kill his own son? Well, you probably should.

Isaac was a good young man; the son whom God promised to Abraham.

If it is true that God really did instruct Abraham to kill Isaac, then that instruction alone would apparently contradict with so many other parts of the Bible, as well as our understanding of God, as a loving caring Father.

If God instructed you to do the same to your child, would you? Would God force us to make such a difficult and heart-breaking decision, especially when the child has done nothing to deserve this?

Let us take a very close look at what the Bible says, concerning this controversial command from God. What you learn here… may truly surprise you!

Sections in this Biblical Teaching:

1) The Common Understanding of this record
2) Why is this “Test” Questionable?
3) Did God Tempt Abraham?
4) Burnt Offering vs. Sacrifice
5) Satan’s Deception
6) Not the first time Abraham Miscomprehended
7) How old was Isaac?
8) Other Important things to Note

1) The Common Understanding of this record

Abraham Sacrificing Isaac

The record of God instructing Abraham to sacrifice his son, occurs between Genesis 22:1-18 in the Bible.
You can read the verses below; however, I will give a quick overview of the commonly understood version of this record.

One day, God decided to Test Abraham’s loyalty to Him.

God tells Abraham to go upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah, and offer his son Isaac as a burnt sacrifice.
Abraham did as God instructed.

When he came to the place God had told him, he built an altar and placed wood on it, for the sacrifice.
Abraham then tied Isaac up and placed him on the wood, on the altar.

As soon as Abraham took up the knife to kill his son for the sacrifice, an angel of God called out to him and told him to stop; the angel told him not to harm Isaac.

The angel said that Abraham had proved his loyalty to God, because he did as God instructed; he attempted to kill his beloved and innocent son, Isaac, even though this would be an almost impossible decision for any loving father to make.

The angel afterward told Abraham of God’s promise to him. For his unmatched loyalty, God promised to bless Abraham, and make him the father of many nations; his children and future generations shall also be blessed.

Genesis 22:1–18

(Genesis 22:1) And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

(Genesis 22:2) And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

(Genesis 22:3) And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

(Genesis 22:4) Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

(Genesis 22:5) And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

(Genesis 22:6) And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

(Genesis 22:7) And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

(Genesis 22:8) And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

(Genesis 22:9) And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

(Genesis 22:10) And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

(Genesis 22:11) And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

(Genesis 22:12) And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

(Genesis 22:13) And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

(Genesis 22:14) And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

(Genesis 22:15) And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

(Genesis 22:16) And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

(Genesis 22:17) That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

(Genesis 22:18) And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

2) Why is this “Test” Questionable?

Abraham Questionable Test

No doubt, in some Christian’s minds, it seems perfectly normal for God to “Test” Abraham’s loyalty in this way.

However, to me and many other Christians around the world, this record in the Bible is a bit unsettling.

I’d firstly like to cover what makes this apparent “Test from God” quite questionable, and why it contradicts with other parts of the Bible.

1) God is Good and has NO Darkness at all in Him.

(1 John 1:5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

Someone who is Purely good, or anyone with strong Morals, would never instruct someone to kill an innocent person, even if it was only a Test.

2) God Loves us.

(John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Ordering Abraham to kill Isaac would be such a terrifying moment for both father and son. If you love someone, you would never force them to go through such a tormenting decision.
Abraham loved both God and his son dearly. Making him choose between God and Isaac, to see which of the two was most important, is not something God, or any loving person would do.

3) God does not Tempt.

(James 1:13) Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

So that sentence in “Genesis 22:1” should raise some red-flags, where it says: “God did tempt Abraham”.
We know our God well enough, to be sure that He would not do such a thing.

4) God gave Abraham the gift of a child.

(Genesis 17:19) And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

If God gave Abraham and Sarah this blessing, a miraculous gift of a child at such an old age, it does not make sense that God would later command Abraham to destroy that same gift, when Isaac never did anything to deserve death.

5) God promised that Abraham would be the father of many nations, as well as Christ’s forefather.

(Genesis 17:4) As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.

(Galatians 3:16) Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

How could God “pretend” to break his promise to Abraham?
Abraham was chosen to play an important role in fathering God’s people. He would not drive Abraham to attempt to destroy this promise and God’s plan for man’s redemption.

These are just a few examples of why the apparent account of God instructing Abraham to kill his son is questionable, and how it contradicts with some of the most basic facts about God.

3) Did God Tempt Abraham?

God Tempt Abraham

The account of Abraham and his son begins with Genesis 22:1.

(Genesis 22:1) And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

When we take a closer look at the word which “tempt” is translated from, we find different and more sensible meaning.

נסה
nâsâh
naw-saw’
A primitive root; to test; by implication to attempt: – adventure, assay, prove, tempt, try.

The word “tempt” in that chapter comes from the Hebrew word “nasah”, which should be correctly translated as “prove”, in this context.

(Genesis 22:1) And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham…

God gave Abraham the chance to prove himself, to God and to the world.
He was given the opportunity to prove that not only was he most loyal to God, but also that he was worthy of becoming the father of many nations.

Let’s look at a quick example:

Coach Tom wants to promote Jimmy to be the Captain of the football team.
The Coach sees the ability in Jimmy and believes in him; but many others in the team do not feel that Jimmy has what it takes to lead as a Team Captain.

So, Coach Tom must give Jimmy the opportunity to show his leadership skills, his confidence and ability as a Captain; to the Coach, to his team, and to himself.
The Coach must make Jimmy prove to everyone that he is right for the part.

In the same way, God is preparing to give Abraham such an important role in His plans for man’s redemption. It’s only fit that God allows Abraham to first prove that he is worthy of such a role.

4) Burnt Offering vs. Sacrifice

Burnt Offering Altar

In eastern customs, a burnt offering does not necessarily indicate the presence of fire.
Even though burnt offerings in the Bible are often associated with the sacrifice of an animal, this was not always the case.

A burnt offering is also: A total, unreserved commitment of self to God.

Let us look at the record of Jephthah and his Daughter, to understand what “Burnt Offering” means, when applied to humans.

Judges 11:30-40 tells of Jephthah’s request from God, and the promise that he upheld.

Jephthah made a promise to God; that if He (God) would help the children of Israel (Jephthah’s nation) defeat the Children Ammon (their enemy), Jephthah would offer up the first person that walks out of the doors of his house to greet him (on returning from the battle) as a “Burnt Offering” to God.

(Judges 11:30) And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

(Judges 11:31) Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

So it came to pass that Jephthah/Israel did in fact defeat the Children Ammon, with God’s assistance.

(Judges 11:32) So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.

(Judges 11:33) And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

When Jephthah returned home, the first person that came out to greet him was his daughter; his one and only child.
This made Jephthah grieve very much, because his promise to God, of offering someone up as a burnt offering, fell upon his daughter. It was a very hard decision for him to make, but he committed to stand by his promise to God.

(Judges 11:34) And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

(Judges 11:35) And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.

Jephthah’s daughter understood that her father made a promise to God, and that God did great works for the children of Israel, in granting them victory over their enemies.
She agreed that they should both stand by Jephthah’s promise to God. She was prepared to take on whatever burden or grievance would befall her.

(Judges 11:36) And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

Jephthah would have explained to his daughter about the promise he made to God, concerning her.
His daughter then agreed to fulfil her part of this promise.

She asked her father to give her two months, in which she would visit her friends and family, and grieve with them over her circumstances.
Jephthah granted his daughter these 2 final months to be amongst her companions.

(Judges 11:37) And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

(Judges 11:38) And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.

The verses use the phrase “bewailed her virginity”; what exactly does this mean?

To “bewail ones virginity” means to sorrow over the fact that the person is going to remain unmarried and secluded for the remainder of their life.
They would not have a spouse or any children. They would remain a virgin and will never have a family of their own. They would not live a normal life.

So Jephthah’s daughter went up and down the mountains visiting her loved ones, because after that two month period, she would live a life of seclusion, and would not be able to be amongst them again.

After the two months, Jephthah did with his daughter as he promised to God.
She was given up to God as a “burnt offering”, which in this case, means: She gave her complete commitment and service to God.
She became as a priest and served for the rest of her life in the Temple.

(Judges 11:39) And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

As the verse says: “she knew no man”.
This phrase is used many times in the Bible. It means that she remained a virgin. She never had any relations with a man, for her entire life.

These verses never said anything about her being Killed or Sacrificed.

Also, neither Jephthah’s daughter nor any of her loved ones sorrowed over “her coming death”.
Why? Because she was not put to death; she was only put to serve as a priest for the rest of her life.

(Judges 11:40) That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

Every year, many women would visit Jephthah’s daughter at her place of service, to talk with her and grieve with her.

The real sorrow that faced Jephthah and his family was not because of his daughter’s lifelong dedication of service in the temple;
Instead, the most painful part was the extinction of Jephthah’s bloodline.

Jephthah’s daughter was his ONLY child, and he was probably aware that he would not have any other children.
Thus, this marked the end of Jephthah’s Lineage and Legacy.

Human Sacrifice was always Forbidden.

It was always understood amongst God’s people that human sacrifice is not allowed. They were warned against this vile act numerous times.

God tells Moses that the Israelites are NOT to sacrifice their children in fire:

(Leviticus 18:21) And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Moses warns Israel about sacrificing their children to gods:

(Leviticus 20:2) Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.

More warnings against Human/Child sacrifice:

(Deuteronomy 12:31) Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

(Deuteronomy 18:10) There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,

God wants us to dedicate our lives in service to him; how can we do this when we are dead?

(Romans 12:1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

As Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, we are to be a “living sacrifice” for God.
This means, we should live in service and dedication to our heavenly father.

5) Satan’s Deception

Satan Deceiving Abraham

Remember that Satan is an Antagonist to God. God wants life and happiness for us. Satan wants death and sadness.

(John 10:10) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Satan is always out there, looking for the opportunity to trick and deceive us into doing something very wrong, that will harm to us, or harm someone else.

 

Let me give you a quick little story as an example:

Mark had a friend named Steve who he trusts; a good friend, an honest and moral person.
Steve is also the captain of the hockey team.

So the day before the big Hockey match, Steve says to Mark:
“See that guy named John, he’s really going to create trouble for us to win this match…
I want you to take care of the competition; can you do that for me? I’m counting on you to deal with John.”

In this particular hockey league, there is a lot of corruption going on.
“Foul play” is the norm. Someone would often physically harm one of the key players on the opposing team, just before a match, in order to gain an unfair advantage.

So the next day, Mark gets a baseball bat and heads over the John’s dorm room.
As he is about to knock on the door, Steve happened to be walking by at the same time, and sees him.

Steve: “Hey Mark! What are you doing over here, at John’s place… with a baseball bat in your hand?”

Mark: (Whispers) “I’m “taking care of the competition”… like you asked man.”

Steve: “No no no! I didn’t mean that bro…
I just wanted you to keep John occupied on the field. Don’t give him too much freedom to make his moves.

But Mark… you still really showed me that I can count on you for anything bro… You’re my most loyal player, willing to listen to my every command.
For that, I want you to be my right-hand man. I’m promoting you to Vice Captain!”

The problem that Mark made here, is that he didn’t focus on WHO gave the instruction. He should know that Steve isn’t a corrupt person. Steve would never encourage such foul play.

Mark allowed the corruption that goes on within that sport league, to cloud his thinking; thus, he comprehended Steve’s instructions incorrectly.

Now, with this example story in mind, let us take a second look at the record of Abraham and Isaac in the Bible.

(Genesis 22:2) And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Abraham lived in the city of Ur, which is in the Mesopotamia region.
The Canaanites were his nearby neighbours.
Amongst these people, it was a custom to sacrifice human children to their “gods”.

So human sacrifice was the norm in the area which Abraham lived.
Satan caused these negative influences to infiltrate his mind.

God told Abraham to offer up Isaac to Him, as a burnt offering.
Abraham, being negatively influenced by the cultures and rituals that took place around him, interpreted this instruction from God, very wrongly.

Abraham should have remembered that God is the one who gave the instruction. He should have remembered the nature of God, and understood that God would not request something like that of him or anyone else.

God never told Abraham to walk with wood or a knife; never told him to light a fire for the offering. All of that was Abraham’s own worldly reasoning, based on what Satan infiltrated into his mind.

As we saw in the account of Jephthah and his daughter, a “burnt offering”, when referring to a human being, is a complete commitment and devotion of oneself to God.

All God asked of Abraham, was to put his son to serve and commit himself to God, for the rest of his life.
This is what “burnt offering” means in this context.

God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, contradicts with God and His Word in so many ways. So this is the most logical explanation.

Remember also, that Satan wanted to stop the coming of the Messiah. Throughout the Bible, Satan tried time and time again, to stop God’s plan of redemption for man.

The account of Abraham and Isaac was just another one of many great attempts that Satan made, to stop the bloodline of the Messiah (Christ).
Satan likely put all of his efforts into confusing and misleading Abraham, into almost killing his son.

6) Not the first time Abraham Miscomprehended

Abraham and Hagar

This was not the first time that Abraham misunderstood God’s instructions.

In the chapters of Genesis 15-17, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations; that he would have a son, and many generations of offspring after that.

Sarah was Abraham’s wife.
Instead of attempting to have a child with Sarah, he did so with his maid, Hagar. This was because both Abraham and Sarah doubted in Sarah’s ability to bear a child at such an old age.

Abraham did wrong in God’s eyes (he committed adultery).
God had to instruct him more clearly later on, that Sarah would be the mother of his son, Isaac, in whom God would establish his covenant in.

God made man and woman to be husband and wife together. A husband and wife were to bring forth children together, that is God’s plan for any married couple.
Had Abraham trusted in God’s abilities and followed God’s rules for a marriage relationship, he would have correctly had his son with Sarah, the first time around.

This simply goes to show that even though Abraham was a great man of God, he did comprehend God’s instructions incorrectly sometimes.
This happened because Abraham allowed himself to be distracted by worldly ways of thinking, instead of seeing things the way God would have wanted it to be seen.

7) How old was Isaac?

Abraham Isaac Young Man Wood

In this record of Abraham almost killing his son, Isaac is often depicted as being a young child.
In actuality, Isaac was most likely around 30 years old at that time.

At the time of Isaac’s birth, Abraham was 99 years old, Sarah was 90, and Ishmael was 13 (Genesis 17:1, 17, 25).
Ishmael was put out of Abraham’s house at the time when Isaac was weaned. The age of weaning was typically between 2 to 5 years old.

The word “lad” (na‛ar in Hebrew) was used to refer to Isaac in Genesis 22:5 & 12.
A Lad was a male, anywhere between infancy to a young adult.

Joseph was also called a lad, when he was 17 years old (Genesis 37:2) and again when he was 30 (Genesis 41:12, 46).

Sarah died when she was 127 years old (Genesis 23:1). Isaac was 37 years old at this time.
Sarah’s death came only a few years after the near sacrifice of Isaac.

The age of 30 has a lot of significance in the Bible.

Jesus began his ministry at the age of 30 (Luke 3:23).

John the Baptist was age 30 as well, when he paved the way for the Messiah (Jesus). It is known that John was about 6 months older than Jesus. (Luke 1:26, 36)

Joseph was 30 years old when Pharaoh appointed him as 2nd in command (Genesis 41:46).

Saul was 30 years old when he became king of Israel (1 Samuel 13:1).

David was 30 years old when he became king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:4).

Priests entered into service officially at age 30 (Numbers 4:3).

Ezekiel was called to be a prophet, by God, at age 30 (Ezekiel 1:1).

30 is considered to be the age of Maturity. It is the turning point from being a Youth into a Man.

Another important point to look at, was Abraham and Isaac’s journey up the mountains, to the place of the sacrifice.

(Genesis 22:4) Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

(Genesis 22:6) And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

This was not a short walk; it was a 3-day journey through a tough terrain.

Eventually, Abraham lets Isaac carry the wood for the sacrifice, when they depart from the servants.
This would have been a lot of wood, to be sufficient enough to fully consume a human being in fire.

These circumstances would have been too hard for a young child to accomplish.
Isaac was likely a strong young man at the time of this journey.

It is very likely that Isaac was 30 years old, in this account.

This also helps to establish the point that God only wanted Isaac to enter into service to Him, and never tested Abraham with a cruel task.

God would have seen that Isaac was of the right age to begin devoting his life to God, thus, at that time, God told Abraham to offer Isaac up in service to Him (Genesis 22:2).

8) Other Important things to Note

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Why was Isaac allowed to get married but Jephthah’s daughter was not?

If you paid very close attention to this teaching, you may notice something that appears to be contradictory.

Both Isaac and Jephthah’s daughter were dedicated as burnt offerings to God.
However, Jephthah’s daughter was NOT allowed to marry or have children;
while Isaac went on to marry Rebekah, had Jacob and Esau as sons, followed by many generations of offspring onwards.

The reason for this is that priesthood began with the Levites (Exodus 28:1-4, Exodus 32:26-29).
Levitical priesthood came after the time of Abraham, but before Jephthah’s time.

Therefore, Isaac was not subjected to spend the rest of his life as a priest, while Jephthah’s daughter was.

Why did the Angel speak as God?

In the verses Genesis 22:11-12 and Genesis 22:15-18, the messenger angel sent by God, appears to be speaking as God Himself:

(Genesis 22:11) And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

(Genesis 22:12) And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

(Genesis 22:15) And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

(Genesis 22:16) And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

(Genesis 22:17) That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

(Genesis 22:18) And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

God cannot communicate with mankind directly, since the Fall of Adam and Eve.
God has used various manifestations to communicate with his people, throughout the ages.

– He appeared to Moses in the form of a Burning Bush.

– He led the children of Israel as a pillar of a Cloud by day and Fire by night.

-He spoke to Job as a Whirlwind,
etc…

God also sends angels to deliver Messages and Prophecies to humans throughout the Bible.

The angel in Genesis 22 is basically just Quoting God’s words directly.

God gave the angel the authority to speak on His behalf, using His exact words as a message to Abraham.
The angel acted as an Ambassador of God.

Why does God refer to Isaac as Abraham’s ONLY son, when Ishmael was also his son?

(Genesis 22:2) And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Ishmael was born before Isaac, and was still alive at the time of this incident.

God uses the words “only son Isaac”, because in God’s eyes, Isaac was the “True” son of Abraham, by Covenant and by Promise.

On the other hand, Ishmael was more of a “mistake” on Abraham’s part, when he committed adultery with Hagar.

God agreed with Sarah’s decision of expelling Ishmael and Hagar from their home:

(Genesis 21:10) Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

(Genesis 21:12) And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

In God’s eyes, from that point onwards, Isaac was Abraham’s one and only true son.

Why does God reward Abraham, when he strayed so far from God’s instructions?

(Genesis 22:16) And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

(Genesis 22:17) That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

From this teaching, we understand that Abraham did almost the complete opposite to what God had instructed him to do.

God told Abraham to dedicate Isaac’s life in service to Him.
Abraham misunderstood this instruction, and attempted to kill Isaac instead.

The important thing to understand here, is that God is knows our Heart and our true intents.

(Jeremiah 17:10) I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

(1 Samuel 16:7) But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

(1 Kings 8:39) Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)

God knew that Abraham did not want to sacrifice his dear son, Isaac. It would have been a very hard task for him.
God knew that Abraham only wanted to follow His instructions.

Abraham trusted the words of God, and did whatever God commanded of him (even though he comprehended it wrongly).

 

(Romans 8:28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Since God knew how much Abraham loved Him, even more so than his cherished son, Isaac; God rewarded him accordingly, because of the Goodness and Loyalty in Abraham’s heart.

Could it be that Satan gave the instructions to Abraham, instead of God?

It is known that Satan can also deliver messages to people, sometimes in dreams, manifestations or other methods.
Satan often does this to impersonate God, and thus, lead God’s people astray.

It is very unlikely that Satan was the one who spoke to Abraham in Genesis 22:1-2, because:

1) The Bible says in Genesis 22:1: “God did tempt (prove) Abraham, and said unto him…”

As we know, the Bible, the word of God, is Truth.
Even though some words may be incorrectly translated or understood wrongly, the word “God” (Hebrew: Eloheem) was used in that verse.
So there is no confusion as to who was speaking to Abraham.

If it was a “Voice” that spoke, or a “Vision” that came to Abraham, then it would be possible to assume that someone else, other than God, gave Abraham that instruction.

2) God praised Abraham for his loyalty to Him.
Loyalty cannot be rightly praised and rewarded, if the instructions came from someone else.

3) Abraham was very close to God; he would have likely been able to differentiate the words of God, from that of Satan or some other spirit.

Usage of the word “Burn”

It may seem a bit odd that the phrase “burnt offering” could have nothing to do with fire, when referring to humans.

The word “Burn” is not always synonymous with Combustion/Heat.

Throughout the ages, Fire or Burning is often used to show Intensity and Commitment.
Burning Passion, Burning Desire, Burning Spirit…

When a Basketballer is winning the game, scoring point after point, it’s common to hear someone say “That guy is on fire!” or “He’s burning up the Competition!”.

This isn’t suggesting that he’s actually running around with a torch and igniting people with fire. It’s just emphasising how strong his performance is. The competition has no chance against him.

In the same way, a “burnt offering” can suggest an offering of oneself that is completely engulfed and committed; giving of oneself at the maximum capacity.

Conclusion

As a young child growing up, I’ve always found it very hard to grasp the concept of Abraham being instructed by God to kill his dear son.

I’ve always been very loyal to God, I will do pretty much anything He commands me to…

However, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to kill my own innocent child (if I had one).
It was always the ONLY (apparent) request from God, that I could not bring myself to obey.

Thankfully, I believe I have found the truth regarding this very controversial passage in the Bible.

My heart is now much more at peace, knowing that there is a much more logical explanation for God’s command to Abraham.

It’s relieving to know that our Father, God, would never demand or request such an atrocious task from any of us.

I truly hope that this teaching has blessed your heart as well, and that it has removed any uncertainty in your mind, of God’s Pure Goodness and Love towards us all.

Thanks for reading! 😀
God Bless You!
-Andrew Emmanuel Davis

36 Comments

  1. James Early
    May 21, 2014

    Andrew, Thanks for your study on this topic. I agree that it was not God who told Abraham to kill Isaac. You are very thorough in your explanations.

  2. Monika
    May 22, 2014

    I’m very gratefoul for this teachings. Your teachings helping me understand better Bible all the time. I’m shure that this site is very necessary for all Christians. Thank U again and I’m waiting more teachings :*

  3. Andrew Davis
    Jun 1, 2014

    Thank you for reading my teachings, dear James and Monika!

    @James:
    Yes, I strongly believe that God did not instruct Abraham to kill Isaac;
    however, it was God who spoke to Abraham, in this account.

    Abraham simply understood God’s instructions incorrectly, similarly to how he wrongly understood God’s promise of a son, between him and Sara.

    ———-

    @Monika:
    I’m so happy that my teaching has blessed you, dear Monika! 😀

    Your kind words gives me encouragement to continue teaching God’s word to those who seek the truth.

    Thank you also for sharing my teaching with your friends!!
    That is a blessing to me, and to everyone who reads and learns from it.
    This pleases God as well! 🙂

    God bless you! 😀
    -Andrew Davis

    • Terry
      Apr 25, 2015

      Hi Andrew,
      I really enjoyed your study on Abraham and Isaac. I came to the same conclusion because the God I know, who is the “lover of my soul” doesn’t tell his people to kill their children. “God is light and there is no darkness in Him.”

      Blessings
      Terry

    • Ishmael Brooks
      May 1, 2020

      Wow, I never saw it that way when I read it the first couple of times. It makes a lot more sense the way you explained it because it aligns with God”s character.

  4. Danny Co
    Oct 10, 2014

    Bro. Andrew, I thank the Lord for sharing your explanations/insights on providing biblical answers as to why God would somehow contradict His own nature by commanding Abraham to kill and burn Isaac for Him. Now, I and my son Chris truly appreciated the meaning of “burnt offering” concerning humans. May the Lord God continue to inspire you to share with other believers on issues concerning on other “Bible difficulties”. God bless.

  5. nathan
    Nov 8, 2014

    The Talmud so relates that God only asked Abraham to put him on the Altar and never said anything about killing him. I disagree that Abraham misunderstood this. I think he clearly understood it. Abraham was never planning on killing his son. God never even stopped him from killing his son. Look clearly and you will see that God stopped him from moving his hand (with a knife) any closer. Abraham was only planning on moving his hand closer. At the very last second, he was going to drop the knife. The whole thing was a dramatization and an emotional sacrifice. God stopped him when the drama went a little too far.

  6. Matt
    May 4, 2015

    You can’t pick and choose what stories in “the word of god” are flawed based on some implicit fundamental veracity of other passages in the same book. If the story of god testing Abraham isn’t true per John, James and elsewhere in Genesis, how can you be so sure that John, James and elsewhere in Genesis are true enough to prove that god testing Abraham is false? This is circular logic.

  7. John
    Sep 1, 2015

    be·wail
    biˈwāl/
    verb
    verb:
    express great regret, disappointment, or bitterness over (something).
    “he bewailed the fact that heart trouble had slowed him down”
    synonyms: lament, bemoan, mourn, grieve over, sorrow over, cry over; More
    deplore, complain about, wail about;
    archaicplain over
    “they bewailed the loss of their cherished freedoms”
    antonyms: rejoice at, applaud
    cry or wail loudly about (something).

  8. Richard Wise
    Feb 2, 2016

    Andrew – I must confess I did not read every word of your discussion here. However, I did read enough to see that there may be something I can share to help you understand this experience of Abraham and Isaac. Forgive me for thinking maybe you did not know what I will share here. First, let’s remember the culture from which Abraham has been extracted. All around him, there were warlord type people who entered into covenants – these were called Suzerain Treaties: (I found this information on line, but it does line up with the truth) “In the Ancient Near East, treaties between kings was common. These were treaties drawn up among equals and mostly outlined agreements to honor each other’s boundaries, to maintain trade relations, and return run-away slaves. These treaties are preserved in the Mari Tablets and in the Amarna texts. Also preserved in these collections are treaties drafted between a superior and his inferior.”
    SO – What I am getting at here is that Abraham was familiar with such agreements. He is just finding out about the God who has called him out of the pagan world around him. Some of those around him were evil people who required sacrifices of human beings, (i.e. sons, daughters) – Abraham knew little about God – he only knew he was to follow. Remember, there were no 10 Commandments – no instruction about sacrifice, for all Abraham knew, his God was expecting this from him – WE know God never would ask a person to kill a son, a daughter, or any living person. The powerful and very special part I deeply love about this account is a specific verse found in the whole account: It is in verse 8: “Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.”
    I hope you will again look at this meaningful passage to see what I am saying. God KNEW what He would do – the ram was there all along – waiting to give Abraham – He always knew what HIS own plan was, but was showing Abraham what HE would provide not only for Abraham, but for all mankind in Jesus Christ, the LAMB to be sacrificed for us.
    God bless you in your study of God’s Infallible Word.

  9. Maddie
    Feb 8, 2016

    Thanks for such a helpful post! This is something I have wondered about too. I appreciate your insights.

  10. hotzpacho
    Mar 11, 2016

    Genesis 2:1, 2:3, 3:9 are not elohim. They are translated as “ha elohim” which is indicating the plural, ergo the correct translation for those instances are “the gods”. You will see in the original Hebrew that “the gods” tempted Abraham into sacrificing Isaac, and the singular form of “elohim” is used when the lord’s angel stops Abraham from killing Isaac.

    So rather than the traditional “God testing Abraham to see if he was worthy” the correct interpretation from the original Hebrew language was “the gods convinced Abraham through a tempting to kill his son Isaac as a sacrifice and the one true god stopped Abraham.

    Don’t forget “the fake gods” ie: satan had something to gain by Isaac being killed seeing how Jesus was to follow through that bloodline.

  11. gail
    Mar 25, 2016

    THANK YOU so much for this!!! Truthfully, I have been upset about this for 2 years!!! I had returned to the church, but the week of this reading upset me so much, I couldn’t go to mass anymore. I couldn’t comprehend the fact that God would tell a parent to sacrifice their child to prove their faith to him.
    I’m glad I googled for an explanation!!

  12. Bernadette Jenkins
    May 8, 2016

    Very satisfied with this teaching. What is so funny is that I was preparing a teaching on the same subject. I believe my motivation was I know the nature of God and this accounts surface revelation did not fit his character. It always made me take pause or I would skip over it in the word. So I started researching it and I found a lot of the contradictions in the word as you had. The part that stood out to me more then anything is when God told Abraham that Issac would carry his blood line. God is not a man that he should lie or a son of a man that he should change his mind. Again his nature. God can’t lie. Thank you for the teaching it has confirmed and given the added info that I needed to complete my teaching as well.

  13. Michael
    Aug 30, 2016

    This is the biggest load of bullshit when it comes to Abraham I have ever come across and completely unfounded everywhere else.

    You should take this down. It is completely filled with false assumptions and bullshit to justify in your own mind why god would ask a man to murder his own son, which he clearly did.

    This really is beyond a disgusting attempt to justify such a cruel creator that could give a crap about anything else but its own glory.

  14. Brandon
    Nov 9, 2016

    Thank you so much for you in-depth research on this! Like you, this subject has always troubled me, but it feels like a great weight has been lifted to be able to logically justify this passage. It makes perfect sense!

  15. Blessing
    Feb 13, 2017

    Dear Bro.Andrew,
    I thank almighty God, for using you very powerfully to clear the dark clouds marring His most Holy Name.
    The Holy Spirit is your teacher is evidenced by the relevant and rare scriptures used to dispel doubts and worship Him whole heartedly.
    May God continue to bless you with
    Wisdom that comes from above.
    Your Brother in Christ,
    A.Blessing

  16. David DeMille
    May 24, 2017

    Thank you, for so long I’ve miss applyed or understood incorrectly, thanks for opening a door to the truth of Gods Heart tward mankind.wow.thank you.

  17. ajc
    Jun 19, 2017

    I would not be able to sacrifice a child or even an animal. Where would that leave me? An enemy of God? I have read somewhere recently that the old testament and even the new has some jewish tradition added. There are places in the bible where God says he does not want sacrifices. I never used to question that story until lately. I also am horrified that the daughter would have to be barren and unmarried for the rest of her life because of something her dad said. How unfair that seems. How cruel. Why did she have to pay for her dad’s stupidity? Some of these stories must be just jewish traditions because they differ so much from other stories (like the one about Joseph). Joseph’s story seems normal, not strange like the two you mention. Joseph’s story makes you more normal from reading it and makes you want God, gives you hope and faith. The other two – confuse. ajc

  18. ajc
    Jun 19, 2017

    P.S. I wouldn’t have sent Hagar and her child out into the wilderness, Just cruel and didn’t make sense. Why didn’t they just help her to relocate. Take a day off and take her to a town. My family was not cruel like that. Blessing to me would be to be with my family and safe. Women were certainly second class back then. Where are the old testament Joseph’s of the world. I would like to have met one.

  19. ajc
    Jun 20, 2017

    I think it was really bad that the daughter had to become a temple priestess and never have marriage or children.

  20. Zhenya Knoche
    Sep 27, 2017

    I am not convinced by your argument that Abraham misinterpreted God’s command. However, either way:
    1. God knew that Isaac would not die.
    2. Abraham showed great faith and obedience, thinking that in some way he could sacrifice Isaac and God could still keep his promises.
    3. The substitution of the ram is a picture of Jesus’ substitution for us, allowing us to not die for our sin.

  21. ajc
    Oct 2, 2017

    I think Abraham’s big sin was not adultery but not trusting that God was able to do what he said he would do. The sacrificing of his son did not confuse me until recently. I don’t know what to think of it when people talk about it. If someone asked me to sacrifice a person, I would wonder if I was mentally ill. If someone told me that they had to sacrifice their child, I would consider them crazy. I think maybe it does mean to pledge the child wholly to God even though it still does not explain how this version with all it’s implications got in the bible. Was it added to? And why did Abraham sent the maid and her child out into the wilderness with very little water and food to possibly die a terrible death? What kind of dad and man was he. Something is not adding up. Were these stories enhanced or added to? ajc

  22. ajc
    Oct 2, 2017

    p.s. Also why was being a virgin a requirement of God (the daughter). He is the one who made us man and woman. This virgin thing is strange because it only applies to women. It never speaks of men being virgins. What is this strange preoccupation with virgins (women).

  23. ajc
    Oct 6, 2017

    My only thought is why this story was included in the old testament if Abraham confused God’s order. I never had problems with this story until recently. How could Abraham confuse what God told him? He was so close to God. I don’t know. But It is difficult for me to believe God ordered the killing of his son. So……..? ajc

  24. Harold McMullen
    Jan 21, 2018

    Just read your explanation of Abraham taking Isaac to be sacrificed at GOD’s command and that GOD was not actually asking for Abraham to sacrifice him, but to offer him up for priesthood. I knew this, having learned it recently, but wanted to let you know I thought you did a wonderful job (and very thorough) in explaining. Yes, this is a story that people need to understand to help them fully grasp the truth about GOD’s love for us. GOD is LOVE. Thanks for the great explanation and keep fighting the good fight. (posted this on your facebook site as “savesmart” which is my facebook site

  25. Alabryce
    Feb 7, 2018

    I enjoyed your thoughts here and it would seem that we have a conflict with our understanding of good and God. We know that God is all knowing and all powerful and good and loving; yet, pain, sorrow, and the most horrible events still happen in the lives of innocence. They cannot be reconciled with the absolute teaching that God is too good to give a commandment or test that is so horrible as killing your only child.
    “Someone who is Purely good, or anyone with strong Morals, would never instruct someone to kill an innocent person, even if it was only a Test.” Like Sodom and Gamorrah which obviously had innocent children in it, those who broke the Sabbath like the elderly man in the camp of Israel who gathered sticks for fire on the Sabbath, was brought before Moses and then some to death, or the cities destroyed by Israel with commandment to not leave any man, woman, child, or animal alive in the entire country, like Christ himself, an innocent offering required by God who Christ asked if there be another way, and there wasn’t. Which was the point of the next verse quoted after the quote I gave above. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…”
    God’s commandments are not based upon our contrived morals or short sightedness. For instance, “For we know that the law is spiritual:…” Romans 7:14. They are not based upon the limitations of the flesh, including death. Death is not and never has been the end of life. In Christ, all things are made alive and thus the teaching “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Luke 9:24.
    God, in his omnipotence, placed a tree of death in the garden with Adam and Eve and allowed Satan to tempt them. We may have differing beliefs in what that tree of knowledge really was but that doesn’t change that God knew what it would mean for mankind. Was this a mistake? According to Genesis God saw all that he did and saw that it was good. The only thing that wasn’t good was Adam being alone.
    Trying to discredit a commandment because it contradicts previous or later commandments does not hold to scripture either. Moses was commanded to not kill yet their first Sabbath they stoned an old man, Joshua took them on a killing spree, and even Moses used those very tablets the commandment was written on to split the Earth and swallow hundreds of thousands of Israelites. Christ broke the Sabbath and that was the accusation that brought him to trial. One may teach grace and another works but they were both taught by God.
    It stands to reason then that trying to discredit God’s commandments to some one because they are just too harsh or mean or contradict previous or later teachings doesn’t stand against God’s dealings with men in the past or today.
    Just some thoughts, not intended for argument but seeking to understand. Thanks for your post.

  26. Duane Giles
    Aug 25, 2018

    Thanks. Do you have a teaching about the day of atonement?

  27. Endar Malkovich
    Jan 25, 2019

    This is one if the biggest faults of christendom and judaism. Read the Hebrew text, not the English translation.

    The hebrew text says “the gods” told abraham to sacrifice issac. Yahweh only shows up in the Hebrew when he stops abraham.

    The hebrew uses the prefix for “the” everytime it talks about god telling abraham to sacrifice issac, right up until god stops it. Only here is yahweh present.

    If you don’t believe me then go grab an interlinear and see for yourself. You’ll be amazed.

  28. David R Schools
    Sep 28, 2019

    God absolutely commanded Abraham to offer his son – it is the awesome precursor to the Gospel! The sacrifice of Christ… is a child sacrifice… the sacrifice of the Son of God. This is the Good News… death on a cross is Good News? Can you not appreciate that this irony starts in the OT? We are absolutely relieved that God does not allow Isaac to go through with this apparent murder of his son. But this is the Gospel that transcends ethics and morals. Isaac represents the offering of the first born as well. This is clearly commanded in the OT complete with redemptive instructions. Eventually it is revealed that the Levitical priesthood will be the redemptive substitute for the first born son. They are also the precursor to the NT “priesthood of believers” , Christians… we are the “living sacrifice” given to God.

    The actual sacrifice will only be carried out by the Son of God on the cross. All other child sacrifices are redeemed. This is the Gospel.

    The pagan sacrifice of children is only Satanic in that it does not include “redemption”… the redeeming of the offering. It does not point to the Gospel or Christ, but to the horrific loss and murder of a child.

    Bottom line: we quickly write off the required offering – yes child sacrifice- commanded by God in the OT because of our knee jerk reaction to this seemingly offensive practice… that God would never command. But He did!!! It is the absolutely necessary that we see and appreciate this. It is the Gospel and precursor to the Gospel… the REDEMPTIVE child sacrifice… exactly played out by Abraham’s command to sacrifice Isaac.

  29. Bob Brchan
    Jan 31, 2020

    How does your reasoning concur with Hebrews 11:17-19?

  30. Jose
    Sep 14, 2020

    Regarding Abraham, your supposition is that you think you knows God’s mind. Allow me to post this from a bible scholar’s point of view: Although Judaism sees the purpose merely as a point of testing of Abraham’s faith, Christianity understands the full typological significance of what took place—as a sign post pointing to the most significant event in all history: when another Father would offer His “only Son” upon the same mountain. The offering of Isaac is a carefully constructed divine pattern which pointed to the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross many years later. That this is true can be seen from the numerous typological correlations between this event and the crucifixion. https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/related-topics/abraham-offers-isaac.html

  31. Trina Feliciano
    Oct 16, 2020

    I was looking for an article to support that “burnt offering” didn’t mean “kill” in the context of the story of Abraham and Isaac found in Gen. 22. I was very pleased to find and read your article. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I like your insights and the support texts you used very much.

  32. Stephen Sponsler
    Apr 26, 2021

    God’s command to sacrifice Isaac was to foreshadow God’s sacrifice of His own Son. The story of Abraham prefigures the New Testament teaching of the atonement, the sacrificial offering of the Lord Jesus on the cross for the sin of mankind. Here are some of the parallels between the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Christ:

    • “Take your son, your only son, whom you love” (Genesis 22:2); “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).

    • “Go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there” (Genesis 22:2); it is believed that this same area is where the city of Jerusalem was built many years later. Jesus was crucified in the same area that Isaac had been laid on the altar.

    • “Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2); “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

    • “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac” (Genesis 22:6); Jesus, “carrying his own cross,” walked to Calvary (John 19:17).

    • “But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7); John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

    • “God himself will provide the lamb” (Genesis 22:8); Jesus is likened to a spotless lamb in 1 Peter 1:18–19 and a slain lamb in Revelation 5:6.

    • Isaac, who was likely a young man at the time of his sacrifice, acted in obedience to his father (Genesis 22:9); before His sacrifice, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

    • Isaac was resurrected figuratively, and Jesus in reality: “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death” (Hebrews 11:19); Jesus “was buried, and . . . was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4).

    Many centuries after God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). This is a reference to Abraham’s joy in seeing the ram caught in the thicket in Genesis 22. That ram was the substitute that would save Isaac’s life. Seeing that ram was, in essence, seeing the day of Christ, the Substitute for all of us.

  33. Robert Arnold
    Jul 18, 2021

    Excellent perspectives, adding your rational interpretation is the correct way to read any bible verse. We will be judged on our interpretations and application of them, this being truth of and from Christ. Abraham misunderstood but God assured the covenent remained, noting He supplied a ram, caught by horns in the thicket, a true animal substiture that could actually die in accord with God’s plan of redemption……think this out. Could Jesus, God’s Son, actually die knowing He/Jesus could lay His life down, and pick it back up!

  34. AllenEveda
    Oct 23, 2021

    Hello. And Bye.

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