Why Would God Tell Abraham to Kill His Son?

Tim Arndt

Genesis 22 is one of the oddest and most important passages in the Bible.

It begins with God abruptly speaking with Abraham and commanding him to kill his own son.

This puzzled me as a child and it is still striking to me as an adult and a father.

Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

That question wouldn’t be fully answered until over 1,000 years after Abraham died.

You see, the story of Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac gives us a glimpse of a greater story to come. It sets the stage for Jesus to bring salvation to the world.

In verse 6 we see an incredible likeness to Jesus, which reads,

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together.

How cruel it must have seemed to Abraham to have his son carry the very wood on which he was to be sacrificed. Likewise, God had his son carry the tree on which he would be crucified.

As many of us know, God stopped Abraham before he killed his son. Abraham’s faith had been successfully tested and the Lord provided a ram to sacrifice instead.

Because of Abraham’s faith, God blessed him and his offspring saying,

And [God] said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you… and in your offspring, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” -Genesis 22:16-18

God promised he would bless all peoples through the offspring of Abraham because Abraham obeyed and did not withhold his son.

And who was this offspring who would bless all the nations? Galatians 3:16 tells us this “offspring” is Jesus Christ:

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

Because Abraham did not withhold his Son, God did not withhold his.

When God led his own Son to die, he would not be stopped.

This time, there would be no ram.

Jesus was the ram.

And because He was the spotless Son of God, his sacrifice held eternal value. It was so valuable in fact, all nations could receive God’s blessing through his Son, the promised offspring, Jesus Christ.

When God commanded Abraham to kill his son Isaac, God never intended for Isaac to die. It was all a part of his plan to redeem the world and bring salvation to all peoples.