Abraham and Isaac Introduction

Fountain of Life by Wanda B. Goines, September 1996

If you were asked, what is the 'Love' chapter of the Bible, how would you answer? (1 Corinthians 13)

If you were asked, "What is the 'By Faith' chapter of the Bible, what would you say? (Hebrews 11)

Do you know that one of the greatest 'Love' and 'By Faith' chapters in the entire Bible is found in the Old Testament?

It's Genesis 22.

The first mention of love in the Bible is found here and love is expressed in this passage -- and in the type, it represents -- in at least ten different ways!

Also, in the life of a man who lived by faith and walked by faith, is recorded the climax of that faith. Not only is it the climax of his life, but the climax of the Book of Genesis --and the great event which this chapter foreshadowed two thousand years before it took place is the climax of the Word of God.


Much of the Old Testament, particularly Genesis, is composed of layers:

First: Facts and History. These events actually took place -­with real people, in recorded time. If GOD thought these were important, we need to consider them important, too: He wants to teach us something through them.

SECOND: Type. A type is a person, object, or event in the Old Testament which pictures something that will be revealed in the New Testament. Only the Lord God could ordain a prophetic type. We will not recognize the fulfillment of a type unless we know the facts and history first.

THIRD: Personal. What can we learn and apply to our own lives from this passage? If we learn nothing and do nothing, then the seed of the Word of God has fallen by the wayside, and what should have brought life has brought death to us.

In this chapter on love and faith, our own love and faith should be built up.

I. Facts and History

Genesis 22:1 "And it came to pass after these things…”

We are about to witness the climax of Abraham's life. The word "climax" comes from the Greek word for ladder. It implies a climb to the top, in an ascending series of steps. What were some of the rungs in the ladder of Abraham's life which he needed to climb (and have victory over) over before he could reach this pinnacle of faith?


God knows what each one of us needs to grow up. Abraham's steps of growth (or rungs of his ladder) involved a series of separations. He was a man who loved deeply and devotedly, and these separations were severe tests for him. Still, he obeyed without one word of complaint:

Genesis 12:1. The Lord asked him to leave his country, his kindred, and his father's house. He took one of his kindred, his nephew Lot, with him from Haran. He never saw any of the others again.

Genesis 13:11. Lot left him for the greener pastures of Sodom and Gomorrah. Even though Abraham rescued him from slavery (Genesis 14) and prayed fervently for his rescue from destruction (Genesis 18) Lot never came back to his uncle's house.

Genesis 21: 9-12. God ordered him to cast out his oldest son, Ishmael, and Ishmael's mother, so the promised son Isaac could grow without persecution. Ishmael was in his middle to late teens at this time, and Abraham loved him. Ishmael grew up far from the land of Canaan, in the desert.

And next, what did God ask him to do?


Genesis 22: 1:  "...God did tempt Abraham..."

The Hebrew word means "test, prove, try". God never tempts us in the sense of maliciously seducing us into sin. He never wants us to fail or fall --- that is the devil's work.

God wanted Abraham to succeed. Until a student has passed a test, not even he is sure how much he's learned. A high grade brings honor to the student and proves he is ready to advance.

God knew Abraham and wanted him (and all generations after) to see what heights true faith can reach. Because Abraham passed the test, God put greater honor on him than the patriarch ever could have imagined, greater than on any other human being.

How many years had it been since Abraham had heard God's voice? Not since he'd been told to part with Ishmael, at Isaac's weaning. There is good reason to believe this was thirty years later ---and Abraham said without hesitation (and probably in great excitement), " Hinayni -- here I am! "

But never, in his worst nightmare, could Abraham have imagined what God was going to ask him to do next.


In three passages of Scripture (2 Chronicles 20: 7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23) Abraham is called the friend of God. Here we see the Almighty asking a favor of Abraham, as a Friend begging a favor from a friend. It was as if He said, "Please, I beg you ... ". We know the Lord did not COMMAND Abraham to offer Isaac, because He required a burnt-offering. A burnt-offering was to be brought at the "own voluntary will" of the offerer (Leviticus 1:3), and by stressing "thy SON... thine ONLY son ... ISAAC ... whom thou LOVEST", God made sure Abraham realized the full gravity of what he was being asked. He also was giving him a way to refuse -- if he had so chosen.

What was God asking? Not for Ishmael, the wild, persecuting, cast-off son of an Egyptian bond-maid. No, He was asking for Isaac, whose very name meant "Laughter". The promised son for whom Abraham had waited 25 years. The apple of Sarah's eye. The beloved.

Remember, we said this was the first passage in the Bible where the word "love" is mentioned. In this verse, we see the love Abraham had for Isaac.

Did Abraham sleep that night? I doubt it. Just as he probably had turned God's command to cast out Ishmael over and over in his mind until God's thoughts became his thoughts, so he did now.


Here is some of the ground the patriarch must have covered:

  1. God had promised him, countless descendants, as many as the dust of the earth, as many as the stars in the sky. And when Abraham believed in the Lord, it was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
  2. God had established His covenant with Isaac, not Ishmael, and with Isaac's descendants after him (Genesis 17: 19) -- but as yet Isaac had no son. If Isaac died now, what would become of these promises, and of the line through whom the Saviour would come so all the families of the earth would be blessed? (Genesis 12:3)
  3. When God promised Abraham (almost 100 years old) and Sarah (almost 90) a son, Abraham had been "fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able also to perform" (Romans 4:21).

If the Almighty could renew reproductively "dead" bodies, why not physically dead ones? If Abraham could believe God for Isaac's supernatural birth, why not for his supernatural resurrection?

  1. Abraham had heard God Himself say, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18: 14)
  2. Abraham had confessed that the Judge of all the earth would do right. (Genesis 18:25)
  3. Abraham knew that God forbids murder (Genesis 9:5-6) and He would not go against His own decree.
  4. If God permitted Abraham to destroy Isaac, the Canaanites would consider the true God no different from their idols who demanded human sacrifice -- and Abraham had been called out of Ur to witness to the difference between the true God and idols.


Even believing all these promises, Abraham still could have asked "WHY?” Two thousand years later, the answer was clear, but to Abraham, God's request, humanly-speaking, made absolutely no sense.

Oswald Chambers (''My Utmost for His Highest") said that there is only one way out of spiritual confusion: since it's impossible to think our way out of it; we must obey our way out of it. And that is just what Abraham did.

He must have concluded, as the day broke, that his LORD was able to raise Isaac from the dead -- and that He would! Therefore, he determined in his heart to carry out the sacrifice. He had come to the place in his walk with God that he stopped asking for reasons, and obeyed.

In the "By Faith" Chapter, Hebrews 11, we read that Abraham reckoned “... that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."


Notice the QUALITY of Abraham's obedience:

He “... rose up early in the morning ... saddled his ass, and took ...Isaac his son ... clave the wood ... rose up and went to the place which God had told him."

Mount Moriah was 42 miles from Beersheba. It took almost three days to get there on foot. During that time, Isaac was "dead", (potentially sacrificed) in the mind of Abraham.

Notice Abraham's FAITH and CONFIDENCE in God:

Verse 5: When he caught sight " of Mt. Moriah, he told the servants to stay with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship AND COME AGAIN TO YOU.”

Verse 8: When Isaac asked where was the lamb, Abraham's answer was more profound than he could possibly know then: "My son, he said, "GOD WILL PROVIDE HIMSELF A LAMB ... ".

Notice the following facts, which we need to remember when we come to the second layer of this passage:

Verse 6: Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on Isaac his son

Abraham took the fire and a knife

And they went both of them together (also verse 8)



Somewhere on the path between Isaac's question and the altar, Isaac understood that HE was to be the sacrifice. Here all the training his father had given him was put into practice. Here God's confidence in Abraham as a teacher was justified. In Genesis 18:19 the LORD had said,

" For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD.”

Did Isaac HAVE to submit to his father? Could he have escaped, once he realized what Abraham intended? Remember, Abraham was 100 years older than his son, and even a young boy, if frightened enough, could have run away from an old man.

But Isaac was NOT a young boy. We are misled by the word "lad'' in the King James version, but the same Hebrew word is used for both "young men" (the servants) and lad" in verse 5.

This passage tells us plainly that Abraham took the wood for the sacrifice (which probably had been carried by the servants) and laid it on his son. The wood was heavy: a burnt-offering required the sacrifice to be entirely consumed. With a large animal, this may have taken all night and used much wood. There were several hours of steep climbing ahead. These facts alone prove Isaac was neither too young nor too feeble to resist being bound. Jewish tradition has Isaac in his 20's or 3O's.

Maybe Abraham went over, with his son, the promises that convinced him that God would raise Isaac from the dead. Maybe Isaac implicitly trusted and loved his father, and, without question, laid himself on the altar and let his father bind him.

It is obvious that Isaac loved and trusted God.



Now we see that the Lord did not intend Isaac's death at all. One of the purposes of the Almighty was to see whether Abraham loved God more than he loved his son.

When Abraham stretched forth his hand with the knife, to all intents and purposes he HAD yielded up his beloved son, and the son HAD yielded up his life. Abraham's faith was proved by his works or actions. James 2:21-22 says,

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?"

It's not easy to stop an action in mid-thought -- or mid-air, but at the Angel of the LORD's command, Abraham exchanged his son for the ram caught in the thicket, and reverently and thankfully offered up the substitute ". . . for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son."


While one of the purposes of Abraham's test was to show his supreme faith and obedience to God, his unquestioning obedience and exact performance of God's request (and remember, it was NOT a command) had a far deeper significance than he could possibly know. Without knowing it, Abraham was acting out a parable.

Because he followed God's instructions to the letter, Abraham became a picture of God the Father, and Isaac a picture of God the Son. The ram showed Jesus as our Substitute, and Mt. Moriah was the place of His ultimate sacrifice.

The LORD God wanted all mankind to know what He was planning to accomplish 2000 years from then on that same mount: He wanted them to remember this amazing account, and recognize its fulfillment. He wanted everyone to see His heart and the heart of His Son.

It is the only place in the Bible which gives insight into the intense suffering of God the Father when He gave HIS only begotten Son to die for the sin of the world.

And this chapter is one of the greatest LOVE chapters in the entire Word of God.


  1. Both Abraham and God had one promised Son.
  2. Both deeply loved their Sons.
  3. Both went with their Sons to and through the sacrifice. Abraham did not SEND Isaac to Mt. Moriah: he brought him there, and he brought him back. Twice it is repeated, " ... and they went both of them together".

Jesus said, And He that sent Me is with Me: The Father hath not left Me alone... I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (John 8: 29,16:32)

We misunderstand when the Lord cried from the Cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?'' Jesus and His Father are One: God cannot forsake Himself. This cry is the first line of Psalm 22, the Crucifixion Psalm. All the Jews at the foot of the Cross knew it by heart from childhood. By quoting this verse, Jesus was bringing all the details of that Psalm to their remembrance -­their jeers, the dividing of His garments, the excruciating pain of crucifixion -- so their blind eyes would be opened, and they would see Him as Messiah and repent.

And while it may appear to men that the Lord Jesus was being forsaken of God, He was not. His Father was right there at the Cross, suffering with Him. We know this because of Abraham.

  1. Both Fathers laid the "wood" on their Sons. The wood consumed the sacrifice. Abraham transferred the wood from the servants' backs to that of Isaac, who carried it to the altar.

The cross did not consume our Lord (and He was too weak to carry it all the way to Calvary anyway) but the night before, in Gethsemane, God transferred all the sins of the world from the backs of mankind to His Son. It was the acid of sin that consumed the Sacrifice.

"Surely, He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows ... and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all... He bare the sin of many. ... Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." (Isaiah 53:4, 6, 12; 1 Peter 2:24)

  1. Both Fathers carried the "fire" and the "knife". Fire represents God's holiness, which is filled with wrath at sin. "Our God is a consuming fire", says Hebrews 12:29. The knife or sword is a picture of the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). Jesus died, just as God's Word decreed He would. God Himself was the Author and Executor of it:

"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures ... Jesus of Nazareth being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God ... a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world." (1 Corinthians 15:3; Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1: 19-20)


  1. Both Sons were the only beloved of their Fathers.
  2. Both Sons were mature young men. Jesus was 33, and Isaac probably the same age, considering the exactness of this type. (In the next chapter we find Isaac was 37 upon the death of his mother Sarah.)
  3. Neither Son protested His sacrifice. Isaac was silent; Isaiah 53: 7 says that Jesus ” ... opened not His mouth ...”
  4. Both carried the means of their sacrifice (wood, sin).
  5. Both gave themselves willingly and voluntarily, out of love for their Fathers.
  6. Both drank the cup their Father gave them and were obedient unto death. Isaac obviously placed himself on the altar. Jesus said no man would take His life from Him; He would lay it down of Himself. (John 10: 18)


Isaiah 53:5, 7: "But He was wounded for OUR transgressions, He was bruised for OUR iniquities: the chastisement of OUR peace was upon HIM, and with HIS stripes WE are healed... He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not His mouth."

John 1:29: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."



2 Chronicles 3: 1: "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. "

The Jews believe that the altar of burnt offerings of the Temple stood on the very spot of the altar where Abraham bound Isaac, and where David built an altar and God stopped the plague.

Moriah is said to mean "Seen of Yah", a contraction of God's unpronounceable Name and the word "to see". Abraham called this place "Jehovah, Jireh" (in Hebrew, "Yahveh Yireh"), meaning "God will see (to it)", or provide.

What would the LORD see to? He would see to providing Himself a Lamb. He would see to taking away our sins on that very mount. For 1000 years lambs were offered on the Temple altar to show that one day God would offer His own Lamb in that spot.

A modern Jewish translation says that "Yahveh Yireh" means "In the mount the LORD will appear". And He DID: to be our Sacrifice!


Hebrews 11:17-19 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.

"Of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

            "Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

The Greek word for "figure", parabole, becomes our word "parable". (It is formed of "para = beside, and "ballo" = to throw, or "to throw beside" in order to compare.) Only here and in Hebrews 9:9, which calls the Tabernacle a "figure", a parable or spiritual representation of Jesus, is this word found outside of the Gospels. A parable is "an utterance or narrative drawn from nature or human circumstances, the object of which is to set forth a spiritual lesson" (Vine).

When the Angel of the LORD (Who was the pre-incarnate Son of God) called urgently to Abraham, and Abraham responded "Hinayni"--Here I am!" -- the patriarch's relief at not having to see his son die must have been overwhelming. Yet, in Abraham's eyes, his son HAD been dead for the last three days: now he was resurrected. Abraham received him back "in a parable": he must have understood then they had been acting out a spiritual lesson.

The lesson was the Resurrection of our Lord. And the Resurrection was a stone's throw from the place of Crucifixion, on Mount Moriah.

John 8:56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”


The first Biblical mention of "love" is found in Genesis 22, and it is the love of a father for his son. This love is a picture of the love that existed between God the Father and God the Son long before the world was created.

It is the root and foundation of all other types of love. It is a love that involves total obedience, unquestioning submission, and intense suffering.

This love is a selfless love. It is the determination, if necessary, to give up that which means the most to you in all the world for the sake of another. Jesus told His disciples,

''Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you." (John 15: 12-14)

Abraham had this love. This is why he is called the Friend of God -- because he was totally obedient to Him. Isaac had this love. God the Father had this love, and God the Son had this love. See the ten different ways love is expressed in Genesis 22:

  1.    The love of Abraham for Isaac
  2.    The love of Isaac for Abraham
  3.    The love of Abraham for God
  4.    The love of Isaac for God
  5.    The love of God for Abraham
  6.    The love of God for Isaac
  7.    The love of God the Father for God the Son
  8.    The love of God the Son for God the Father
  9.    The love of God the Father for the world
  10.    The love of God the Son for the world.

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."

1 John 4: 10: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”


How many lessons can we learn from this chapter? Each person can find a different message for himself.

One vitally important thing we learn is this: God tests His children to put honor on both them and on Himself, and these tests always are IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S WORD.

Is there any reason why, since we have the same Word of God as Abraham (and much more besides), since we have the very same God, and since we have the Holy Spirit living IN us (which Abraham did NOT have)

--that we should not have the same degree of FAITH as Abraham, the same OBEDIENCE as Abraham, and the same LOVE towards God as he?

“For all the promises of God in Him are yea,

and in Him are Amen, unto the glory of God by us."

2 Corinthians 1:20