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Old Testament - Lesson 9

“God Will Provide Himself a Lamb”
February 28, 2010

Introduction:
Imagine, if you will, being asked by God to murder your own flesh and blood, one of your children or someone you are close to (mother, father, etc). Stop for a minute and ponder that thought.

Think about it…could you really do it? Would your faith in God be shaken? Would you question yourself or The God you worship?

These all seem like reasonable things would go through the mind of someone asked to murder his own son. But we will see that Abraham has more faith than we likely have.

Scriptures Covered:

Genesis 15, Genesis 16, Genesis 17, Genesis 21, Genesis 22

Review:
You’ll recall from Lesson 7 that we covered a brief overview of Abraham’s life. We learned that early in his life, he was actually on an altar and was about to be sacrificed himself, but just in the nick of time, The Lord saved him and destroyed the altar and many of the priests.

Later, Abraham has two sons (Ishmael with Hagar, and Isaac with Sarah). Isaac was the promised line, the one that would carry the Abrahamic covenant, yet Abraham was commanded to murder this son, the one who would be the blood line to continue the Abrahamic promises. With all this, Abraham still just obeyed without question! What an incredible show of faith.

Faith of Abraham:
I think that Cleon Skousen summed it up perfectly in the following passage from his book The Third Thousand Years:

‘And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.’(Genesis 22: 10) This was the final gesture of absolute obedience the Lord had been waiting for. Beyond the veil the angel of the Lord had watched the tense proceedings. At the very moment when Abraham raised the knife to slay his son, the angel cried out, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ The aged patriarch replied, ‘Here am I.’ And the angel said, ‘Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou has not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me’ (Genesis 22:12)

Abraham had met the crisis of his life. He had triumphed in it. From the murky swamp of total human despair he had been elevated suddenly to the exhilarating crest of ultimate achievement where the glory of God’s approbation shown brightly upon him. From generation to generation, the events of this day would be proclaimed as possibly the most outstanding example of righteous faith ever exhibited by a member of the Priesthood. It would help others in later dispensations to trust in the Lord, particularly when His commandments seemed strange and incomprehensible. (Skousen, pp. 15-16)

Faith of Isaac:
At the top of the page, you were asked to ponder your response if you were put in such a position, but what about the response of the “victim” – Isaac in this case? How would your loved one respond? How would you respond if you were being bound to the altar for a sacrifice to God?

We see in Genesis 23: 3–10 that there is no indication of resistance, and Isaac was certainly old enough and agile enough to escape the grasps of his father Abraham if he so chose.

Dallin H OaksElder Dallin H. Oaks explained: “When they came to the prescribed place, Abraham built an altar and laid wood upon it. Then, the Bible says, ‘Abraham . . . bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood’ (Genesis 22: 9).

What did Isaac think when Abraham did such a strange thing? The Bible mentions no struggle or objection. Isaac’s silence can be explained only in terms of his trust in and obedience to his father” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 37).

Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac was a similitude of Heavenly Father’s willingness to sacrifice his Only Begotten Son (Jacob 4:5; Genesis 22: 8, 13).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “This story . . . shows the goodness of God in protecting Isaac and in providing a substitute so he would not have to die. Because of our sins and our mortality, we, like Isaac, are condemned to death. When all other hope is gone, our Father in Heaven provides the Lamb of God, and we are saved by his sacrifice” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 37).

Conclusion:
In D&C 101:4, we are told that we must be tried even as Abraham. The question is why? The answer can be found in our favorite statement that we must endure to the end and prove ourselves in all things. By reading D&C 101: 5, 35–38 and D&C 122: 5–7, we can learn more about this principle and, hopefully, learn to have the faith of Abraham so that we can be worthy heirs of the Abrahamic covenant.