Jesse Tree 5. “Abraham’s Obedience”

CHILDREN’S VERSIONIf you  would like to do this with smaller children, a version suitable for them can be had here.

Scripture: Gen 22:1–14

An Apparently Mortal Blow to the Promise

Isaac was a long time in coming, and no substitutes had been allowed to jump start the line of promised offspring. God had vetoed Abraham’s suggestion of adopting his servant Eleazar as his heir: “No, your servant will not be your heir; for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir” (Gen 15:2–4). And Sarah’s scheme to allow Abraham a son through her servant Hagar fared no better (Gen 16). No, God said, Abraham’s son would come from Sarah (Gen 17:16). God promised her that son (Gen 18), and after every single human hope was utterly exhausted, Isaac the promise-child entered their geriatric home (Gen 21).

Imagine what a blow it was be when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac! If Isaac were only one of twelve sons in Israel, the command to sacrifice a son would have been appalling. If he were an only child, but with no special covenantal promises attached, the command would have been excruciating. But this appeared to be killing off not only the family line but even eliminating the very covenant. Even if God replaced Isaac with a second miracle son, he wouldn’t be the covenantal son. Isaac was it—or there was no covenant! Only utter faith could trust that there would still be a way forward in the covenant if Isaac were slain.

Abraham’s Unflinching Faith and Obedience

Sacrifice of Isaac
Carravagio (1590–1610), “The Sacrifice of Isaac”

Abraham kept his trust in God. He thought, God will keep his word, so Isaac has to have a future somehow. Maybe God will raise him from the dead (Heb 11:19). Maybe God will provide a substitute so the covenant child can live on. In fact, he assured Isaac, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Gen 22:8 ESV).

So Abraham obeyed and began preparing his ultimate sacrifice. But then God stopped the procedures. In the place of Abraham’s covenant son, God provided a ram for the required sacrifice.

Just like God, who offered his only beloved Son for us, Abraham had been willing to offer his only son—even if it looked like that would write “quit” to all the promises God had ever made to Abraham. He trusted God to keep his promises anyway. No wonder we call Abraham the father of the faithful (Rom 4:16).

Sacrifice of Isaac
Giambattista Pittoni, “The Sacrifice of Isaac” (1715–1720)

One day Jesus became Abraham’s most faithful descendant. Just like it was with Isaac, all the promises God had ever made were wrapped up in Jesus (2 Cor 1:20). Yet God still willing to offer him as a sacrifice for our sins. Just as Abraham had hoped to with Isaac, God received Jesus alive back from the dead.

Obviously, God will not be asking us to sacrifice one of our children. God considers that practice to be an abomination.1 What’s more, he himself offered up the one perfect—and therefore final—sacrifice for sin (Heb 8:1). So we should rejoice at the offering God provided, rejoice in Jesus’s resurrection, and rejoice that we ourselves will share in that one day (1 Cor 15).

Israel's Family Tree
Israel’s Family Tree

Questions, Reflections, and Commitments

  • Meditate on your past walk with God: Has God ever led you to do anything that seemed to threaten your continued enjoyment of some good thing God had already given you? How did you respond? Did you cling to the existing blessing, or did you hold it lightly as you stepped forward in the obedience of faith?
  • Meditate on your future walk with God: How would you respond to a situation like the one just described if it happened in the near future?

Ornament for the day

  • Click here to download cross-stitch patterns for all the daily ornaments.
  • Click here to download a simple coloring book for all the daily ornaments.


  1. Lev 18:21; Deut 12:31; Ps 106:37–38; Jer 7:31; 19:5; 32:35; Ezek 16:20.

Author: Dale A. Brueggemann

1 thought on “Jesse Tree 5. “Abraham’s Obedience”

  1. I wonder at Abraham’s faith and at God’s risk.God’s risk was that Abraham would fail to fail to follow his command and not offer up Issac. But God took the risk because of what was at stake: his own offering of his own Son who would come of the lineage of Abraham. At risk was the future redemption of the world, and God had to know that Abraham was the one through whom that redemption would be worked out. That meant a challenge so extreme that only one man who had faith beyond the widest understanding could meet the challenge. Abraham was that man and God rewarded his faith with the lineage of Jesus.

Leave a Reply