Abraham’s Sacrifice

“Abraham’s Sacrifice,” Tambuli, Jan. 1980, 24

Abraham’s Sacrifice

For many long years Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had hoped to have a child. But they both grew old and felt it was too late for them to be blessed as they desired.

Then one day three strangers came to visit Abraham. He made them welcome and gave them food. As they ate, one visitor asked, “Where is Sarah?” Then he prophesied, “She will have a son.”

Sarah overheard his words and laughed because she and Abraham were so old. But later Sarah and Abraham learned that the men who had come to their home were really heavenly visitors, and the prophecy was fulfilled.

Sarah did have a son and they named him Isaac, which means rejoicing.

Here is the story of Isaac as it was told to a group of young people by Elder Melvin J. Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, before his death in 1939:

“You remember the story of how Abraham’s son came after long years of waiting and was looked upon by his father 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 obeyed. But can you imagine what was in the heart of Abraham on that occasion? What do you think he felt when he started away from Mother Sarah? What do you think was in his heart when he saw Isaac bidding good-bye to his mother to take that three-day 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 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.

The boy then said to his father: “Father, we have the fagots, we have the fire to burn the sacrifice, but where is the sacrifice?”

It must have pierced the heart of Father Abraham to hear the trusting and confiding son say: “You have forgotten the sacrifice.” Looking at the youth, his son of promise, the poor father could only say: “The Lord will provide.”

They ascended the mountain, gathered the stones together, and placed the fagots upon them. Then Isaac was bound, hand and foot, kneeling upon the altar. I presume Abraham, like a true father, must have given his son a farewell kiss, his blessing, and his love. His soul must have been drawn out in that hour of agony toward his son who was to die by the hand of his own father. All preparations were made until the cold steel blade was drawn, and the hand raised that was to strike the blow to let out the life’s blood when the angel of the Lord said: “It is enough.”

Then 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 hast not withheld thy son, thine only son.” (Gen. 22:12)

Abraham looked up and saw a ram that was caught by its horns in a thicket. He took the ram and offered it up for an offering to the Lord instead of his son.

And the angel of the Lord called Abraham again and said, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed.” (Gen. 22:18.)

Illustrated by Jerry Harston