“Scriptural Giants: Friend of God,” Friend, July 1987, 48
Friend of God
(See Abr. 1–3; Gen. 12; Gen. 16–18; Gen. 21–25.)
False and wicked priests tied Abraham to a pagan altar to be sacrificed to the false gods that he would not worship. As the priest of Elkenah strutted forward and raised the dagger over Abraham’s heart, Abraham struggled to free himself. But the bands held tight. Helpless, Abraham called upon the Lord to save him.
Abraham’s plea was heard, and an angel appeared, speaking comforting words as he unloosed Abraham’s bands. “Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee.” He told Abraham many more things and destroyed the altar and the pagan statues. Then the Lord smote the wicked priest of Elkenah. Because of his great faith, Abraham had been saved; and because of the wickedness of the people, the Lord cursed the land with a famine.
“Get thee out of thy country,” the Lord commanded Abraham, “and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.”
Abraham did as he was commanded. He took his wife, Sarah (Sarai), and his nephew Lot and Lot’s wife, and they settled in a land called Haran. Later, the Lord again instructed Abraham: “Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice.”
Once more Abraham and Sarah departed from their home, taking with them Lot’s family and others who had been converted to the gospel. They traveled south, but the famine persisted in this part of the land, so they continued on into Egypt. During these years the Lord taught Abraham many things. He gave Abraham the Urim and Thummim and showed him visions concerning the creation of the earth and other doctrines of the gospel.
After the famine ended, the Lord led Abraham back to the promised land. Many years had passed, and the Lord had blessed him and Sarah in many ways, except with children. Finally Sarah gave Abraham her maid, Hagar, to be his wife and to give Abraham a much-wanted child. Hagar bore Abraham a son, who was named Ishmael.
Then one day an angel came and told Abraham that Sarah would have a son. Sarah was then ninety years old. She laughed when she heard the angel’s news, because she thought that she was too old. But nothing is impossible with the Lord. As the angel had promised, she gave birth to a son, Isaac. Abraham and Sarah were now very happy.
As Isaac grew, however, there were many problems between Hagar and Sarah. Finally Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away. Isaac was the promised son, and the priesthood inheritance was to be his.
Abraham loved the Lord and tried hard to live all the commandments; he also loved his children very much, especially Isaac. It must have been very difficult for Abraham when the Lord commanded, “Take now thy 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.”
Abraham hated human sacrifice. He knew the fear of being tied to an altar—and the terror. But the next morning he arose early and, taking Isaac and two servants with him, departed for Moriah. After three days, they saw Moriah in the distance. Leaving the servants behind, Abraham and Isaac approached the mountains. Isaac, by then a strong young man, carried the wood for the burnt offering. As they approached the mountain, he asked, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”
They reached the appointed place, built an altar, and laid the wood for the fire. Then Abraham bound Isaac and laid him on top of the wood to be the sacrifice. How his heart must have ached! This was the promised son whom he had waited so many years for, whom he loved very much. But the Lord had commanded, and Abraham would obey. As he took the knife to slay his son, an angel appeared and said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son … from me.”
Abraham then saw a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. In thankfulness, he offered the ram as the sacrifice instead of Isaac.
When Sarah was 127 years old, she died. Later Abraham married Keturah, who gave him six more sons. But Isaac was still the promised son who was to receive the inheritance.
Abraham lived to be 175 years old; then he died and was buried in the cave of Machpelah with Sarah.