A Great Sacrifice and a Great Reward

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son. … He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
–Hebrews 11:17, 19

In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham obeys because he “considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received [Isaac] back as a type.” You know what makes that amazing? Abraham knew nothing about the resurrection. This was almost 2,000 years before Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Think about it: Abraham had never attended an Easter service. He had never read 1 Corinthians 15. He didn’t know anything about the resurrection, but he so believed God that he decided, “God, even if I kill Isaac, I believe You can bring him back from the dead.”

As Abraham and Isaac walked toward the mountain, Isaac asked, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7). It was a logical question. Isaac had watched his dad perform many sacrifices. He knew you had to have a fire, you had to have some wood, and above all, you had to have a sacrifice. Notice how Abraham’s faith remains steadfast. He said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (v. 8).

Then came the moment in which Abraham revealed the full truth to his son. “Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood” (v. 9). Someone once said, “Scripture draws a curtain over this most tender moment as Abraham reveals to his son the command of the Lord, and as Isaac–a strong, young teenager–also willingly submits to the will of God and as they embrace one last time.” It is at this point we become aware of the great foreshadowing of another event that would occur on this same mountain region 2,000 years later, when another Son–Jesus Christ, the Son of God–would carry the wood on His back–a cross–to the mountain of sacrifice. And even though He could have rebelled and said no, He willingly submitted to his heavenly Father to make that one-time sacrifice for sin. Paul writes in Philippians 2:7-8, Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

God, watching his servant, cried out in a loud voice, “Abraham, Abraham! … Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:11-12).


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When God Asks the Unthinkable” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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