My Come, Follow Me studies this week took me to Genesis 18-23 where I found more about Abraham and Sarah. Abraham had a vision where he learned that we are on earth to be tested “to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command” (Abraham 3:25). In fact, his life was filled with both heartbreaking and heartwarming experiences.
I was told once that big people are given big tests, and Abraham was tested mightily. He was given such a big test that we often refer to difficult trials as “Abrahamic tests.” He was told that he would have a large posterity, but he and Sarah remained childless into their old age. After the long-promised Isaac was born, Abraham was commanded to sacrifice him.
Abraham trusted the Lord, and he proved faithful. We know that Abraham’s test was for his benefit because God already knew what Abraham would do. God also knows how you and I will meet our tests. Will we prove faithful and put our trust in God? Elder Melvin J. Ballard put Abraham’s greatest challenge this way.
You remember the story of how Abraham’s son came after long years of waiting and was looked upon by his worthy sire, Abraham, as more precious than all his other possessions, yet, in the midst of his rejoicing, Abraham was told to take this only son and offer him as a sacrifice to the Lord. He responded. Can you feel what was in the heart of Abraham on that occasion? You love your son just as Abraham did, perhaps not quite so much, because of the peculiar circumstances, but what do you think was in his heart when he started away from Mother Sarah, and they bade her goodbye? What do you think was in his heart when he saw Isaac bidding farewell to his mother to take that three days’ journey to the appointed place where the sacrifice was to be made? I imagine it was about all Father Abraham could do to keep from showing his great grief and sorrow at that parting, but he and his son trudged along three days toward the appointed place, Isaac carrying the fagots that were to consume the sacrifice. The two travelers rested, finally, at the mountainside, and the men who had accompanied them were told to remain while Abraham and his son started up the hill.
Abraham understood and hated human sacrifice. In his early life, his father was instrumental in Abraham’s being put on the altar and rescued by an angel. He surely must have had questions about why God would test him in this way. However, Abraham did as he was commanded, and God accepted of his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. At the last second, God provided a ram for the sacrificial offerings and saved Isaac’s life.
The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ adds depth to the story of Abraham and Isaac. In Jacob 4:5, we learn that Abraham’s willingness to offer up Isaac is “a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.” Most people can clearly see the similarities between Abraham’s test and the sacrifice made by Heavenly Father. However, they miss the precise details in this teaching experience with Abraham, some of which are as follow:
Abraham is obviously the similitude of Heavenly Father. Even his name points in that direction: Abram means “exalted father,” and Abraham means “father of a great multitude” (Genesis 17:5). Both meanings apply to Heavenly Father.
Isaac represents the Son of God, and his name means “he shall rejoice.” Both Isaac and Jesus Christ had miraculous births.
The two acts of sacrifice took place in the same hill system. Isaac was offered on Mount Moriah, and Calvary was a higher point located several hundred yards to the north.
Isaac carried the wood for the burnt offering up Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:6). Jesus Christ carried the cross on his shoulders (John 19:17).
Most of us can relate to the experience of Abraham and Isaac more than the sacrifice made by the Father and Son. However, Abraham’s test was a similitude of the sacrifice made by the Father.