Bible study: Abraham's faithful obedience led to a revelation of God's character

Genesis 22:1–14


Genesis 21 ends with the comment, “And Abraham lived as an alien in the land of the Philistines for many days.” God does call believers to live as aliens — that is, to live in a counter-cultural fashion.

Abraham lived in the context of an unbelieving culture that practiced child sacrifice. Deuteronomy 12:31–32 prohibits child sacrifice.

The Command (1–3)

God tested Abraham and tests believers today, although not in the same manner as His test of Abraham. When God called, Abraham answered, “Here I am.”

God set forth three commands for Abraham — take, go and sacrifice. Abraham was willing to obey all three commands, yet no doubt he was willing to obey the third command with a grieving heart.

God commanded Abraham to take his only son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering. The biblical account emphasizes that Isaac was a son whom Abraham loved.

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says Moriah, the location of the sacrifice of Isaac, later served as the site of the temple built by Solomon. God’s purpose was for the command to be a test for Abraham. Notice Abraham’s quick obedience to the strange command of God. Abraham got up early the next morning and went to the place God told him to go.

The Climb (4–8)

On the third day Abraham arrived at the assigned destination. Abraham described the purpose of the journey as one of worship: “The boy and I will go over there to worship.” Further, he told the servants that he and Isaac would return to them. Abraham trusted God to provide a lamb for a burnt offering. Abraham’s words and attitudes convey his faith. Abraham told his servants, “We’ll come back to you.” Isaac speaks in our passage for the first time and asks, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham responds, “God Himself will provide.”

The Test (9–12)

Abraham endured one of the most unimaginable tests in history. Abraham built an altar and gathered wood for the purpose of sacrificing Isaac, who was likely a teenager. Amazingly, the Bible records no dissent on Isaac’s part.

Abraham was in the process of sacrificing Isaac when the Lord stopped him. Abraham was willing to obey God’s will above anything else. God provided an animal sacrifice of a ram as a substitute for Abraham’s son. In the New Testament, God provides a sacrifice of His Son as our substitute.

The Substitute (13–14)

Abraham’s faith sees the revelation of the character of God. In place of the sacrifice of his son, Abraham offers the provided ram as a substitute for Isaac. Abraham names the place “Jehovah-Jireh,” which is Hebrew for “the Lord will provide” and has become a popular chorus accurately expressing the meaning of the name.

Hebrews 11:17 notes that Abraham offered up his only son, and we know that God provided the ultimate sacrifice through His Son, Jesus. Both Isaac and Jesus were unique sons of promise.

In the Greek Old Testament, the term is the same one that is used in John 3:16. The term denotes “one and only” — the only one in the category. Jesus, our substitute is sufficient.


This lesson was written by Mark Rathel, professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Fla., and originally published by The Baptist Paper. This study is based on the Explore the Bible curriculum from Lifeway Christian Resources.