Chapter 15: What If Abraham Had Killed Isaac?

What if Abraham had killed Isaac? O my! He wouldn’t have been able to come home that night. How was he going to face Sarah? Sarah had that baby when she was 90! That was a Guinness World Record entry for her day. She had actually given up on having a baby. Which led to the Ishmael debacle. (Genesis 16) The consequences of that are still with us today. But we seem to be getting ahead of ourselves. Here’s the story.

The kind of relationship Abraham had with God was unprecedented. For reasons not stated God singled him out from his entire nation and decided to bless him. All he needed to do was agree to emigrate, completely leave the past behind. Now, Abe was a wealthy guy when he met God but God decided to make him a political entity, make him a nation, give him fame and deal with his enemies. God essentially became his Godfather, the original.

The only snag in his life was he didn’t have an heir. His head servant was going to inherit his wealth. For PR purposes God likes to put signature flourishes on his executive acts. He’ll sometimes delay acting on a situation to make a point. Jesus waited till Lazarus had died for four days before raising him up. (John 11:17) Such delays established God’s credentials as the specialist in the impossible. Abraham’s case study was no different. Even though God had promised him and his wife they’d have a child, he had to wait for twenty-five years. By the time the baby came, Abraham was 100! Listen to Sarah: “Whoever would have suggested to Abraham that Sarah would one day nurse a baby! Yet here I am! I’ve given the old man a son!” (Genesis 22:7 MSG) Understandable she said that. She was 90 at this time.

Now, loyalty means a lot to God, especially from those he regards as friends. This was one of the painful things about Judas. Concerning him, David prophesied, “Even my close friend whom I trusted, he who shared meals with me, has turned against me.” (Psalm 41:9 cf. John 13:18) Friendship with God is not a light thing: “Even if the mountains are removed and the hills displaced, my devotion will not be removed from you, nor will my covenant of friendship be displaced.” (Isaiah 54:10) God tests his friends, he tests commitment and loyalty. And so he decided to test Abraham. By this time God had decided to sacrifice his own Son for Abraham’s descendants. The question was whether Abraham would sacrifice his own son for God’s Son. Talking about the incarnation and death of Jesus, Hebrews 2:16 tells us, “For surely his concern is not for angels, but he is concerned for Abraham’s descendants.” And so God asked Abraham to sacrifice his “only son, whom you love,” just like him. He asked him to offer Isaac as burnt offering on a hill. The designated place was Mount Moriah. His own son Jesus would be sacrificed on a hill too. It’s called Golgotha. Golgotha is the Greek transcription of the Aramaic term, Gagulta or “place of the skull.” In Latin it’s “Calvariae Locus.” That’s how we got “Calvary.” Today, Mount Moriah is the most contested piece of real estate in the world. It’s called the Temple Mount – 37 acres. Solomon’s temple was built on Mount Moriah. (2 Chronicles 3:1) But so also is the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine built 1,300 years ago, as well as Al-Aqsa Mosque.

As the story goes, Abraham took a donkey, fire, knife and two servants along. He also chopped wood. It’s instructive a donkey came along. There are many parallels between our Lord Jesus Christ and Isaac. Isaac is a typology of Jesus. Just as Isaac rode a donkey before his sacrifice, so did our Lord Jesus Christ ride a donkey into Jerusalem before his sacrifice. As Jesus was accompanied by two people on the cross and the Father bore witness, so was Isaac accompanied by two servants and his father bore witness. There are yet more similarities.

After a three-day journey, Abraham spotted the designated place for sacrifice. He told the servants to stay with the donkey while he and Isaac would take it from there: “The boy and I will travel a little further. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.” (Genesis 22:5) That’s a powerful statement. And so he placed the wood on Isaac, just as Jesus bore the wooden crossbeam. Together they began the ascent. But then Isaac asked, “where is the sheep for burnt offering?” To which Abraham replied, “God would provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son.” Another translation reads, “God will see to it that there’s a sheep for the burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:8 NET)

At the designated spot, Abraham built an altar, arranged the wood on it, tied the boy and laid him on the altar to sacrifice. One can imagine the suspense in heaven and earth. Would he do it, would he not? Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son and at that very moment the other Son, “an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven” and ordered him to stop. “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:11-12) It was at that point Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. And that became the sacrifice. Abraham renamed the place Yahweh Yireh (God-sees-to-it). It’s translated Jehovah Jireh.

Now to our question: What if Abraham had killed Isaac? It’s interesting Abraham told his servants he was coming back with Isaac. “The boy and I will travel a little further. We will worship there, and then WE WILL COME RIGHT BACK.” (Genesis 22:5) He believed God would resurrect Isaac. Why was he so confident? Because God had told him, “Your descendants will come through Isaac.” (Genesis 21:11) This was what Hebrews 11:17-19 was talking about: “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” If Abraham had killed Isaac God would have resurrected Isaac, just as he resurrected his own Son Jesus the Christ. The sacrificial offering of Isaac was already pointing to the resurrection of Jesus two thousand years before the event.

But there’s a bigger picture about the sacrifice of Jesus. It had legal consequences. This is how Paul put it: “He who did not spare even his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect, his chosen ones? It is God who justifies us, declaring us blameless and putting us in right relationship with himself. Who is he who condemns us?” (Romans 8:32-33) You have been cleared of all criminal indictment because of the sacrifice of Jesus. No one can hold your past against you, however colourful or terrible. And you are not only discharged from all criminal charges, you have been acquitted. Christ has been tried and sentenced. You cannot be tried for the same offence again. It’s called double jeopardy in law.

But what if you sin after becoming born again? What then? Well, listen to Apostle John: “If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, he is faithful and just – true to his own nature and promises, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us CONTINUALLY from all unrighteousness – our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose.” (1 John 1:9) So stop living in fear. NOTHING can separate you from the love of Christ. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fear for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) You have to believe God, just like Abraham did.

If you’ll like to give your life to Jesus, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me and that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.

© #Illuminare Leke Alder |

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Loyalty means a lot to God, especially from those he regards as friends. Click To Tweet You have been cleared of all criminal indictment because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Click To Tweet