Lesson 28: Genesis 22
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“Lesson 28: Genesis 22,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 28,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 28

Genesis 22


Abraham’s faith in the Lord and His promises was tested when he was commanded to sacrifice his covenant son, Isaac. When Abraham proved his faithfulness, the Lord spared Isaac and provided a substitute sacrifice. The Lord then confirmed the covenant He had previously made with Abraham.

Suggestions for Teaching

Genesis 22:1–2

Abraham is commanded to sacrifice Isaac

Invite a student to read Genesis 22:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord commanded Abraham to do. Use footnote a in verse 1 to help students understand that the word tempt as used in verse 1 means “to test” or “to prove.” (You may need to explain that although Abraham had another son, Ishmael, Isaac was the only son born to Sarah and the son the Lord had promised to make His covenant with.)

  • What did the Lord command Abraham to do? (To sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering)

Draw a picture of an altar on the board. Remind students that after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord commanded them to offer as sacrifices the firstlings of their flocks. These sacrifices included killing a male, firstborn, unblemished animal with no broken bones, placing it on wood upon an altar, and then burning it, symbolically demonstrating to God a willingness to give Him everything.

  • What words or phrases in verse 2 can help us understand how difficult this command must have been for Abraham?

  • What promises had the Lord made to Abraham that would have made sacrificing his son an even more difficult trial of faith than it already was? (The Lord had promised that through Isaac, Abraham would become a father of many nations and that He would establish His covenant with Isaac [see Genesis 17:15–21].)

Point out that in addition to the promises Abraham had previously received, the command to offer his son as a human sacrifice might have been especially difficult because Abraham himself was almost offered as a human sacrifice to false gods, but the Lord saved him (see Abraham 1:7, 15).

Genesis 22:3–14

The Lord spares Isaac and provides a substitute sacrifice

Abraham Taking Isaac to be Sacrificed

Display the picture Abraham Taking Isaac to Be Sacrificed (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 9; see also Invite a student to read Genesis 22:3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Abraham responded to the Lord’s command. You may want to explain that clave means to cut or split.

  • What stands out to you about Abraham’s response?

  • What can we learn about Abraham from his response to this heart-wrenching command?

Invite a student to read Genesis 22:4–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Isaac asked his father. Invite students to report what they find.

  • How did Abraham respond to Isaac?

Invite a student to read Genesis 22:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Abraham did when they arrived in the land of Moriah.

  • Why do you think Abraham was willing to obey the command to sacrifice his son Isaac? (One answer might be that Abraham obeyed because he knew God and trusted Him and His will.)

Invite a student to read Genesis 22:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened next.

  • How do you imagine Abraham and Isaac might have felt after receiving this message?

  • Through his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, what had Abraham shown about his feelings toward God?

Explain that Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that although “we generally interpret the word fear as ‘respect’ or ‘reverence’ or ‘love,’” we should also “so love and reverence Him that we fear doing anything wrong in His sight” (“A Sense of the Sacred,” [Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Nov. 7, 2004], 6, 7; You may want to suggest that students write this explanation in their scriptures.

  • What can we learn from Abraham and Isaac’s experience about what we can do to show the Lord that we love Him? (Students may identify something similar to the following principle: When we are willing do what the Lord commands us, we show our reverence and love for Him.)

Ask students to ponder some of the Lord’s commandments. Invite each student to come to the board and write one or two commandments above the drawing of the altar. You may want to add some commandments to their list based on the needs of your class (such as reading scriptures daily, partaking of the sacrament weekly, sharing the gospel, or keeping the law of chastity).

  • How does our willingness to obey these commandments show the Lord that we love Him?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for why it is important that we willingly obey God.

Maxwell, Neal A.

“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him!” (“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24).

Refer to the list of commandments on the board, and ask students to answer the following questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

  • Which commandments from the Lord do you willingly obey?

  • Which commandments can you begin obeying or obey more willingly to show your love for the Lord?

You may want to invite a few students to share what they wrote. Encourage students to pray for help to willingly obey the Lord.

Crucifixion, The

Display the picture The Crucifixion (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 57; see also Consider writing the following truth on the board: Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is a type of Heavenly Father’s sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Explain that a type is a symbol that foreshadows a future event. Exploring the details of a type can help us learn more about the event it is designed to foreshadow.

Invite students to review Genesis 22:1–12 with a partner. Ask them to look for details in the verses that show similarities between Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and Heavenly Father’s sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You might suggest that they mark the similarities in their scriptures, or you could ask them to write what they discover on a piece of paper. It might help them to organize what they find in a chart like the one that follows. Some examples have been provided.

Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac

Heavenly Father’s Sacrifice of Jesus Christ

Isaac was to be sacrificed in place of a lamb

Abraham willingly

Isaac carried

Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins

Heavenly Father willingly

Jesus Christ carried

After students have completed their search, ask them to explain to the class what they discovered. You may want to explain the following additional similarities: The land of Moriah (see Genesis 22:2), where Isaac was to be offered as a sacrifice, included the places that would later be called Gethsemane and Golgotha, where Jesus Christ would suffer and be crucified almost 2,000 years later; Abraham’s name means “father of a multitude,” which parallels Heavenly Father being the father of all spirit children.

  • What can Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac teach us about Heavenly Father’s sacrifice of Jesus Christ?

Explain that if Heavenly Father had not chosen to sacrifice His Only Begotten Son, then none of us would be able to return to God’s presence.

  • Who was Heavenly Father showing His love for by sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ? (Help students identify the following truth: Heavenly Father demonstrated His love for us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.)

If possible, provide students with copies of the following statement by Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite a student to read the statement aloud. Ask the class to listen for how Heavenly Father might have felt as His Son was being crucified.

Ballard family photographs (circa 1875-1960s)

“In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles. … His great heart almost breaking for the love that He had for His Son. Oh, in that moment when He might have saved His Son, I thank Him and praise Him that He did not fail us. … I rejoice that He did not interfere, and that His love for us made it possible for Him to endure to look upon the sufferings of His [Only Begotten] and give Him finally to us, our Saviour and our Redeemer. Without Him, without His sacrifice, … we would never have come glorified into His presence. … This is what it cost, in part, for our Father in heaven to give the gift of His Son unto men” (in Crusader for Righteousness [1966], 137).

  • How does the sacrifice of Jesus Christ demonstrate Heavenly Father’s love for you?

Consider sharing your testimony of Heavenly Father’s love for each of the students in your class.

Ask a student to read Genesis 22:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord provided as a sacrifice in the place of Isaac. Ask students to report what they find.

Genesis 22:15–19

The Lord reconfirms the promises of the Abrahamic covenant

Summarize Genesis 22:15–19 by explaining that because Abraham demonstrated His willingness to do what the Lord commanded, the Lord reassured him of the blessings promised in the Abrahamic covenant.

Genesis 22:20–24

Abraham learns of children born to his brother

Summarize Genesis 22:20–24 by explaining that after Abraham returned home, he learned about children born into the household of his brother Nahor, including a granddaughter named Rebekah, who would play an important role in the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham.

Conclude by sharing your testimony of the principles discussed today as prompted by the Spirit.

Book Icon
Scripture Mastery Review

To help students review the five scripture mastery passages they have studied so far during this course, you may want to give them a brief quiz. Provide the key words from the seminary bookmark, and ask students to write the reference to the associated scripture mastery passage. Prior to the quiz, you may want to give students time to study with a partner the key words from the seminary bookmark associated with the five scriptures.

Commentary and Background Information

Genesis 22:1–2. Why did the Lord ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

It can be difficult to understand why the Lord would command Abraham to do something so challenging as sacrificing his son. President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency said:

“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; 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” (in Gospel Truth, comp. Jerreld L. Newquist, 2 vols. [1974], 1:113).

The Lectures on Faith state:

“Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. … It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 69).

Brigham Young University Professor Truman G. Madsen wrote about a time when he stood with President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency in Hebron, near the tomb of Abraham:

“I [asked President Brown], ‘Why … was Abraham commanded to go to Mount Moriah and offer his only hope of posterity?’

“It was clear that this man, nearly ninety, had thought and prayed and wept over that question before. He finally said, ‘Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham’” (Five Classics by Truman G. Madsen [2001], 232).

Genesis 22:9–12. Abraham’s faith in the Lord

According to Hebrews 11:17–19, Abraham had faith that when Isaac was sacrificed, the Lord would be able to raise him from death to life. President Spencer W. Kimball explained:

“Knowing that God would make no capricious nor unnecessary demands, that the lad could be raised even from death if necessary, Abraham obeyed. A ram was provided” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1954, 52).

Genesis 22:13–14. “A ram … offered … in the stead of his son”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained another layer of symbolism found in the account of Abraham sacrificing Isaac:

“This story also 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” (“Bible Stories and Personal Protection,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 37).