“God Will Provide Himself a Lamb”
Abraham is nearly sacrificed by the false priests of Pharaoh.
Abraham has children through Hagar and Sarah.
God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
A study of this lesson will help us better understand Heavenly Father’s
sacrifice in offering his Son as we learn of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice
Scripture references for study: Abraham
1; Genesis 15–17;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
notes: Click on links for expanded information.
Lesson 9 Handout (PDF
Abraham is Nearly Sacrificed by the False Priests of
As discussed in Lesson
7, Abraham spent his early years in Ur of Chaldea.
HOW MIGHT ABRAHAM'S EXPERIENCE ON THE ALTAR OF THE FALSE PRIESTS HAVE HELPED
HIM PREPARE FOR FUTURE TRIALS?
According to Abraham 1:5-8, his "fathers":
Had turned from righteousness and did not keep the commandments.
They worshiped the false gods of the heathen.
"...their hearts were set to do evil."
They even offered up their men, women, and children to these "dumb"
WHAT DID PHARAOH'S FALSE PRIESTS TRY TO DO TO ABRAHAM?
They tried to offer Abraham as a sacrifice to their false gods (Abraham
HOW WAS ABRAHAM SAVED FROM THESE FALSE PRIESTS?
Abraham called upon the Lord and an angel loosed the bands with which he
was tied (Abraham 1:15-16).
The Lord broke down the altar of Elkenah and smote the priest (Abraham
HOW CAN OUR TRIALS HELP PREPARE US FOR FUTURE DIFFICULTIES?
It strengthened his faith in the Lord. He was blessed for not giving into the
evil ways of those around him. Even though his life was on the line, he kept the
faith. Future trials would require a powerful faith in the Lord if he was to be
obedient to the commandments given him.
He knew what fear Isaac might face and he could prepare Isaac for what
he was about to face.
Consider the story of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. The record states,
"But the more they afflicted them, the more they
multiplied and grew" (Exodus 1:12). The Hebrew nation that would eventually leave Egypt for the desert was
prepared for the exodus by their trials. Though most were denied
entering the promised land, they raised up a generation that was righteous
enough to take up the inheritance.
Consider the story of Joseph, son of Jacob. Each challenge became a
stepping stone for a new opportunity. Napoleon Hill wrote,
"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed
of an equal or greater benefit."
Harriet Beecher Stowe gave us this powerful advice,
you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems
as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for
that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." This was certainly true in the lives of Abraham and Joseph.
Abraham Has Children Through Hagar And Sarah
Abraham conversed with the Lord (see
Abraham was concerned about being childless.
The Lord responded, "Look now toward heaven, and
tell the stars, if thou be able to number them" (v5).
Imagine Abraham looking into the heavens and seeing the multitude of stars. Living
near a city, even on the best of nights, one is only able to see a few of the
stars, yet it still would be difficult to count them. There have been many
times when I have camped high in the mountains
on a clear night, without a moon. The sky was magnificent. The
belt of the Milky Way galaxy glowed. Stars reached from horizon to horizon.
That is what Abraham saw.
The Lord then said, "So shall thy seed be"
This must have been amazing to Abraham. He was an older man and did not
have children, but "he believed in the Lord"
"And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the
Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave
her to her husband Abram to be his wife." (Genesis
The Lord appeared to Abraham and renewed the covenant (Genesis
WHY DID SARAH GIVE HAGAR TO ABRAHAM AS HIS WIFE?
Sarah had not born Abraham any children, so she sent Abraham to Hagar so
that she could "obtain children by her"
"In her old age, Sarah gave Hagar, her maid, to
Abraham. Modern revelation indicates that Sarah thereby 'administered unto
Abraham according to the law' (D&C 132:65), and more recent scholarship
has confirmed the widespread legal obligation of the childless wife in
the ancient Near East to provide her husband with a second wife."
(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p1260)
"God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to
Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from
Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other
things, the promises. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily
I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it." (D&C
When Abraham was 86 years old, Hagar bore him a son, Ishmael (Genesis 16:15-16).
Prior to the birth of Ishmael, Sarah and Hagar had a falling out. Hagar fled, but was stopped by the angel of the Lord. She was told
that she would bear a child and that her seed would be multiplied "exceedingly."
WHO ARE THE DESCENDANTS OF ISHMAEL?
"The sons of Ishmael peopled the north and west
of the Arabian peninsula and supposedly formed the chief element of the
Arab nation, the wandering Bedouin tribes. They are now mostly Mohammedans."
(Mormon Doctrine, p389)
- Resource Note 1.
At this time, Abraham was 99 years old.
GENESIS 17:15-17. Abraham
was told that Sarah
would be blessed with a son.
"...Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed,
and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred
years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?"
The Joseph Smith Translation reads: "Then
Abraham fell upon his face and rejoiced, and said in his heart,
There shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old, and
Sarah that is ninety years old shall bear."
Consider the difference between the two translations. The JST shows a man of tremendous faith,
not one who "laughed" at the Lord's promises.
When Abraham asked about Ishmael's place he was told, "I
will make him a great nation" (v20). The Lord continued,
my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee"
The great covenant which the Lord had made with Abraham would be perpetuated
through his new son, Isaac.
WHAT CAN THIS REVELATION TO ABRAHAM AND SARAH TEACH US
ABOUT HOW GOD FULFILLS HIS PROMISES?
The Lord always fulfills his promises. His blessings may not come when
we think they will come, but they will come. Sometimes we must have
our faith tested over a period of time.
God Commands Abraham To Sacrifice Isaac
"And it came to pass after these things, that
God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said,
Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac,
whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there
for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."
DID ABRAHAM QUESTION THE LORD?
JST: "And it came to pass after these things,
that God did try Abraham..."
GENESIS 22:3-10. Abraham prepares for the sacrifice.
There is no record that Abraham questioned the Lord. Abraham was
a man of great faith and absolutely obedient to the Lord. Still,
he must have had a few questions and arguments go through his mind:
This is my only son with Sarah.
Remember you promised me that through Isaac the covenant would be established.
You know, Sarah and I are getting a little old to continue having children.
It is not right to kill another human being.
GENESIS 22:11-13. Abraham's hand restrained.
Brother Truman G. Madsen wrote: "Modern
revelation indicates at least three times that each of us who seeks eternal
life must one day be tried, even as Abraham. I put the question once to
President Hugh B. Brown, when we were in Israel: Why was Abraham commanded
to go up on that mountain (traditionally Mount Moriah in Jerusalem) and
offer as a sacrifice his only hope for the promised posterity? President
Brown wisely replied, 'Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham.'
By being tested, all of us will one day know how much our hearts are really
set on the kingdom of God." (Joseph Smith the Prophet, p92)
HOW DO YOU SUPPOSE ABRAHAM FELT AT THIS MOMENT?
Questioning? Angry? Certainly a heavy heart, but his faith compelled him
Trials and Sacrifice are Blessings.
WHAT MIGHT ABRAHAM HAVE LEARNED FROM THIS?
His faith in the Lord is justified.
A greater understanding of Heavenly Father's sacrifice of His Son.
That he was worthy of the covenant.
Abraham's Sacrifice - A Similitude of Heavenly Father's Sacrifice of His
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR TRIALS?
The Lord has revealed that we must be tried as Abraham: "Therefore,
they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded
to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening,
but deny me, cannot be sanctified." (D&C 101:4-5)
WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS SO?
Joseph Smith: "The sacrifice required of
Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if a man would attain to
the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must sacrifice all things."
Joseph Smith: "A religion that does not
require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce
the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence
of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never
could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through
this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy
eternal life." (Lectures on Faith, 6:7)
As the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith regarding his trials, "...know
thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall
be for thy good" (see D&C 122:5-9).
Joseph Smith: "I am like a huge, rough stone
rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when
some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking
with accelerated force...all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner
there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of
the Almighty." (TPJS, p304)
President George Q. Cannon: "Here comes
the command of God to this man [Abraham] who has been taught so scrupulously
about the sinfulness of murder and human sacrifice, to do these very things.
Now, why did the Lord ask such things of Abraham? Because, knowing what
his future would be and that he would be the father of an innumerable posterity,
he was determined to test him. God did not do this for His own sake; for
He knew by His foreknowledge what Abraham would do [Abr. 1:22-23] ; but
the purpose was to impress upon Abraham a lesson, and to enable him to
attain unto knowledge that he could not obtain in any other way. That is
why God tries all of us. It is not for His own knowledge for He knows all
things beforehand. He knows all your lives and everything you will do.
But He tries us for our own good, that we may know ourselves, for it is
most important that a man should know himself. He required Abraham to submit
to this trial because he intended to give him glory, exaltation and honor;
He intended to make him a king and a priest, to share with Himself the
glory, power and dominion which He exercised." (CR, Apr 1899)
NONE OF US HAVE BEEN CALLED TO MAKE A SACRIFICE THIS SIGNIFICANT. HOW DO WE REACT WHEN CALLED UPON TO SACRIFICE? WHAT SACRIFICES DO
Consider this story told by Brother Madsen: "I
have indicated that [Joseph Smith] occasionally, deliberately, knowingly,
put men to a test, almost as if he could discern the spiritual growth and
blessing that would ultimately result. Bishop Edwin D. Woolley was a forbear
of President Spencer W. Kimball. He was a stubborn man (he himself said
it)-contrary was the word they used in those days. It was said of him,
'If he dies by drowning, look for the body upstream.' Edwin D. Woolley
had a store in Nauvoo, and one day the Prophet said to him, 'Brother Woolley,
we want all your goods for the building up of the kingdom of God,' or words
to that effect. Brother Woolley did as he was asked, packing his whole
stock ready to be moved. Then he went to ask Joseph what he wished him
to do about the goods he had received for sale on commission. Was he ready
to hand all the other goods over to the Church? the Prophet asked. Brother
Woolley said he was. His eyes moist, the Prophet put his hand on the other
man's shoulder and said, 'The Lord bless you. Put them back on the shelves'."
(Joseph Smith the Prophet, p92)
HOW HAVE YOUR SACRIFICES BEEN A BLESSING?
WHAT CAN WE DO NOW TO PREPARE OURSELVES FOR FUTURE SACRIFICES THE LORD
MAY ASK US TO MAKE?
A Personal Thought.
Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac was a similitude of Heavenly Father's
willingness to sacrifice his son.
"...it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness
to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which
is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:5).
WHAT ARE SOME SIMILARITIES BETWEEN ABRAHAM'S EXPERIENCE AND THAT OF HEAVENLY
FATHER? (see Old Testament Student Manual, pp77-78)
Abraham himself was a similitude of the Father. The name Abram
means "exalted father" and Abraham means "father of a great multitude."
Isaac was a type of the Son of God. One of the meanings of his name
is "he shall rejoice." Isaac's birth, like the Savior, was a miraculous
birth. Both were announced by angels.
Both sacrifices were done in fairly close proximity, on the same hill,
"...Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and
laid it upon his back" (JST Genesis 22:7). Christ
carried the cross upon his back to his crucifixion.
It would appear that Isaac willingly submitted to the appointed sacrifice,
trusting in his father. Since Abraham was an old man at this time,
certainly Isaac could have put up a fight if he was not agreeable. Christ willingly gave his life.
Though it seemed a tragedy at the moment, all ended well for Isaac
as it did
for our Savior.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "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."
(Ensign, Nov 1992, p37)
This journal entry was written before the birth of my second son in 1997, but
the truth of the message remains. It would be difficult to sacrifice any child.
Consider our Heavenly Father sending his Beloved Son to this wicked world and
allowing him to bear upon his shoulders the sins of all mankind. What a
From time to time I have kept a scripture journal. I have found it to be a wonderful tool for studying the scriptures.
It causes one to think more deeply about the verses one reads and how we
might "liken" the scriptures to ourselves. What follows is my scripture
journal entry from December 3, 1993:
"Abraham proceeds to carry out the sacrifice of his son Isaac. I can relate, maybe just an iota, to what Abraham must have gone through. I am a father of one son. I love that son. Not more than my
daughters, but as an only son he holds a unique place in my heart. He is the lone male to carry on the Beardall name that was brought over
from England by my great-grandfather, John Beardall. John brought one son
from England, my grandpa. Grandpa had four sons, three of which died
prior to reaching maturity. My dad was the sole surviving son. Dad had three sons, two of which have not fathered children. As the
lone son to have children I am blessed with a single son. So in a
small way I understand what Abraham must have felt. To have his beloved
son sacrificed must have torn his heart apart.
"This story is made more real when Abraham and
Isaac are gathering wood and Isaac asks his father where the lamb for the
sacrifice was. But Abraham continues forward in obedience and is
about to sacrifice his son when the angel stops him and says that he has
only been tried. What faith Abraham had in the Lord! I cannot
comprehend such faith. I question whether I could survive such a
test. The lesson I gain from this story is that we need to learn
to sacrifice at whatever level of spirituality we are at. To sacrifice
one's son is near the ultimate sacrifice. Yet daily there are opportunities
to sacrifice and, like Abraham, we need to be willing to do what we know
we should. It may be as simple as a kind word to a family member. I think this is what living by the Spirit means. We will be prompted
when opportunities arise and we need to be willing to respond as did Abraham."
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
We can be full shareholders in the magnificent, eternal covenant if we
do the "works of Abraham." It certainly behooves us to learn about
this great patriarch and follow in his footsteps.
Record your thoughts on Abraham's willingness to sacrifice anything for
the Lord, even his son Isaac and how it relates to the atoning sacrifice of
Jesus Christ. What are you willing to sacrifice?
President Kimball: "If we would seek the
blessings Abraham sought, we could also receive such revelation, covenants,
promises, and eternal rewards as Abraham received.... Abraham sought for
his appointment to the priesthood. He did not wait for God to come to him;
he sought diligently through prayer and obedient living to learn the will
of God." (Ensign, Jun 1975, p7)
- Through the story of Abraham and Isaac we catch a hint of the great love
our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ had for us when they made the infinite
and eternal sacrifice.
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Encyclopedia of Mormonism edited by Daniel H. Ludlow.
History of the Church by Joseph Smith (HC).
Joseph Smith the Prophet by Truman G. Madsen.
Lectures on Faith by Joseph Smith.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Old Testament Student Manual.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
27 January 2014