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The Boy and the Ram

Key References: Genesis 22:1-14; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 13, pp. 145-155; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 1, pp. 168-176; Our Beliefs, nos. 10, 3, 22

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“So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided’ ” (Genesis 22:14).

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God shows His grace by stepping into our place to save us.

Can you remember wanting something for a long time, and then finally getting it? Maybe it was a bicycle, a computer, a pet, or a brother or sister. It is the most precious thing you have. Now, can you imagine how you would feel if you were asked to give it up?

Abraham pulled back the tent flap and slipped out into the inky blackness. As he looked up at the sky and saw the twinkling stars he was reminded of a conversation he had had with God many years before. “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them,” God had said (Genesis 15:5). The Lord promised Abraham that his descendants will be countless as the stars of the sky. What would God and Abraham talk about tonight? The desert stillness surrounded him as he walked away from the camp. The night wind was chilly even though the sand still felt warm through the soles of his sandals.

“Abraham,” God called.

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you,” God told Abraham (Genesis 22:1, 2).

Imagine Abraham’s astonishment at the thought of having to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, for whose birth he had waited until he was 100 years old. He must have wondered how God’s plan concerning his family would be realized if he sacrificed Isaac, his only rightful heir. Yet after years of walking by faith, Abraham learned to recognize God’s voice. The Lord’s command was very clear, and this man of God has learned to obey it without doubting.

Abraham slowly walked back to his tent. Before the sun was up, Abraham had his donkey saddled and loaded and two servants ready to go with him. He slipped into the tent where Isaac slept. Gently he shook Isaac awake. “Come with me, son.”

Isaac rubbed his sleepy eyes. “Where are we going, Father?”

Abraham’s voice quivered. “We’re going to sacrifice to the Lord.” For three days the little group trudged through the valleys and over the hills. The hot, dusty trip was a quiet one. On the third day they could see Mount Moriah in the distance. Abraham’s servants made camp and he instructed them, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (verse 5). Isaac put the bundle of firewood on his back as Abraham gathered some coals from the fire.

Halfway up the mountain Isaac stopped suddenly. “Father?” he asked. “Yes, my son?” answered Abraham.

“The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” inquired Isaac.

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (verse 8).

At last they were at the top of the mountain.

Finally Abraham turned to Isaac and with most tender love he explained to his son God’s plan for the sacrifice. Isaac did not protest, nor did he oppose his aged father. On the contrary, Isaac allowed his father to tie his hands and feet as he lay on the altar.

He had learned from his father to trust and honor the living God. The willingness of this young boy to sacrifice his life as a burnt offering is evidence to his unshakeable faith in his Heavenly Father. Isaac felt honored to be chosen as the sacrifice to God.

Abraham picked up the knife and raised it into the air. Then suddenly something happened.

“Abraham! Abraham!” a voice from heaven boomed. The voice froze Abraham’s hand in midair. Isaac’s body stiffened. Abraham turned around.

“Here I am,” he answered.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” God said to Abraham. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (verses 11, 12).

Tears streamed down Abraham’s face. His son didn’t have to die! Then he saw something move in the bushes. A ram struggled to get his horns loose.

Abraham knew that God had provided the ram for this moment. Together with Isaac, he bound the ram, placed it on the altar, and sacrificed it.

Abraham and his son knelt in thanksgiving. Suddenly Abraham realized what God wanted him to understand. He knew now that he could trust God to provide for salvation.

With eyes of faith Abraham could see into the future and understand that God would one day offer His Son, heaven’s greatest gift, to provide for our salvation. Jesus sacrificed His life to save us from sin. It is by faith in Jesus that we have eternal life. With this realization Abraham named the place “The Lord Will Provide.”