Lesson: Abraham offers Isaac
October 16, 2010
Saturday 16 October 2010 — 12 children were present — (note: the felt was difficult to cut with ordinary kids scissors)
Volunteers: Colleen, Paul, Kaitlyn, Alyssa
Main Topics: birth of Isaac; God tested Abraham; God did not withhold His Son
Primary scriptures: Genesis 21-22; Hebrews 11:17
Additional Supplies: coloring pages (below), worksheet printouts (see below), sheets of felt (paul), glue/scissors, GCP poster of Isaac on the altar
Memory verse: Psalm 105:13b
New stanza: Psalm 105 (revised version) stanza 3 [note: the kids have the non-revised version of stanza 4; that is my mistake]
Note: The background image for this 4×6 print was released into the public domain by the author.
Lesson worksheet: 16oct2010worksheet.PDF
- Setup: arrange tables, chairs, flip chart, map, CD player;
- put up the poster of Isaac on the altar while Abraham stands by, which we happen to have in our materials from GCP;
- (10:00am) name tags for (possibly 3 or 4) new students
- ask a child to hand out mini-albums (extras for the new students in the bin); another: coloring pages; another: name tags
- collect emergency contact info for new students
- together: Matthew 6 “Lord’s prayer”
- Sing – psalm 105 stanzas 1, 3 (*new this week*) and 4
- Sing — “Abram” from Jamie Soles, all stanzas
- together — recite the memory verse (Psalm 105:13b)
- get a child to hand out lesson worksheet (see above), another the coloring pages
- Lesson (see below) —
- Craft/activity, part 1 — cut felt and glue layers on top to make Abraham, Isaac, and/or a ram; i.e., Abraham body shape is bottom layer, robe glued on, staff glued on, etc.
- (11:00 am) SNACK/BREAK
- Make sure nobody is thirsty so the second half isn’t interrupted;
- (11:20 am) – Mark each child’s worksheet, then go thru them together as a group;
- Craft/activity, part 2 — SCAVENGER HUNT [i got this from “180 games for children’s ministry”]: “Begin by asking each child to ‘sacrifice’ something, such as a sock or a barrette. Make a list of the items. Then, hide the items around the room. Divide into teams and give each team a list of the items. When you say ‘Go!’ players should search the room for the items on the scavenger hunt list. The first team to find all of its items wins. Return all items to the owners.”
- have one of the children hand out stickers — max 3 stickers per child;
- Singing: Apostle’s Creed, Psalm 116, and/or Psalm 8;
- Praying: [Colleen];
- (11:50 am) Kids collect: felts, pencil crayons, glue, scissors, name cards, mini-albums.
1. Review Genesis 18-19, and Introduction to this Lesson (Birth of Isaac) – Paul
- Abraham and Sarah visited by God and 2 angels
- Abraham and Sarah served bread, meat, curds, milk
- God told Abraham that Sarah will give birth to a son in one year
- Overhearing this, Sarah laughed from inside the tent
- The two angels visited Sodom
- Abraham pleaded with God, and God promised that He would not destroy Sodom if there were 10 righteous people living there
- In Sodom, Lot begged the two angels to stay with him at his house for the night
- Lot served a meal
- The wicked men of Sodom surrounded the house, because they wanted to harm the two strangers that were Lot’s guests
- Lot begged the evil men to leave them alone
- The men charged at Lot, intending to smash the door down
- The two angels pulled Lot inside the house and struck the men blind
- The angels told Lot that they were going to destroy Sodom, and told him to gather his family and leave quickly
- Two young men engaged to marry Lot’s daughters thought that Lot was joking, so they did not join the escape from Sodom
- The angels took Lot, his wife, and their two daughters by the hand, and led them outside the city
- One of the angels warned the family to keep running, and to not look back at the city of Sodom
- By the time the sun had risen, the LORD God rained sulfur and fire on Sodom
- Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom, and so turned into a pillar of salt
- God had been kind to Lot and his family because He remembered His covenant with Abraham
- The next morning, Abraham looked down at Sodom in the valley, and saw only terrible smoke as from a giant furnace
Birth of Isaac
[Tell the kids to watch their worksheet now — they will hear answers for filling in the blanks. We will check/mark each of children’s worksheets after the lesson.]
Even as God had promised that Sarah would give birth to a son, so she did give birth to a son, about a year after the angels visited. Abraham named his boy “Isaac,” which means “he laughs.” [Recall that both Abraham and Sarah had laughed about the promise of this child being born to them in their old age.]
Abraham was one-hundred years old when Isaac was born, and Sarah was also very old.
Many years later, an apostle of Jesus Christ wrote a letter to some Hebrew people, and it is in our Bible. He wrote this: “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was [unable to bear children]—was enabled to become a father because he considered [God] faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”
With baby Isaac now in the family tent, God reminded Abraham again that the promised blessing would be fulfilled through this child, the son of Abraham’s wife Sarah — not through Ishmael, Abraham’s firstborn son with Hagar, although Ishmael would become a great nation.
Hagar raised her son Ishmael in the desert, and God was with him as he grew up. Ishmael became an archer and married an Egyptian woman.
Now let us hear the beginning of Isaac’s life.
2. Abraham is Tested by God — Colleen
When Isaac was still a boy, God called out to Isaac’s father Abraham.
“Abraham!” God said.
“Here I am,” answered Abraham.
“Take your son Isaac to the land of Moriah,” God commanded. “There, I will lead you to a mountain where you will sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering.” [Might need to get them to look at their worksheets, and tell them this part again!]
Moriah was the place we know as Jerusalem today. [Look up on maps.]
Discuss “offering,” “sacrifice,” and “altar”:
- Offering: … a gift [living, as an animal, or non-living, as first-fruits or sweet-smelling spices], presented or dedicated to God in worship [often burned]; prayer is a type of offering (Psalm 141:2; Hebrews 5:7).
- Definition: [A guilty person] surrenders a valuable offering to God [in some attempt to reconcile with Him; this only ultimately possible in Christ]. God established the practice of sacrifice as a way to worship and honor Him.
- OT sacrifices versus Christ’s sacrifice: Before the time of Jesus, animal sacrifices were only a copy and shadow of the better sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, who offered Himself (Hebrews 5-10) “once for all” (Hebrews 9:27), as the sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10). This is why Christians do not make animal sacrifices to God. These were not able to “clear the conscience of the worshiper” (Hebrews 9:9), as the unblemished blood of Christ is. In this story of Abraham with Isaac, Abraham served to shadow this great Gift which had not yet come.
- Christian sacrifices: Praise, confession, doing good, and sharing are all sacrifices pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:15-16). Christians must sacrifice everything they have and everything they are, not to somehow buy what Christ has already purchased, but because it is reasonable (Romans 12:1).
- We have also learned about altars (Abram built an altar near a great oak tree at Shechem; he built another altar near Bethel):
- Definition: A structure that somebody builds [likely by piling rocks in the days of Abraham] on which to offer a sacrifice.
- Ungodly: People who do not believe in God have also erected altars to honor objects (e.g. Acts 17:23); pagans have made sacrifices to dead gods and to demons (Psalms 106), and those exercised in idol worship have even inappropriately attempted to offer sacrifices to apostles of Jesus (Acts 14:18).
- The cross: The Roman cross, though constructed by wicked hands, was a type of altar upon which our Lord was sacrificed.
Abraham obeyed and prepared the sacrifice:
God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, whom he loved, as a burnt offering. So:
Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. (Genesis 22:3a; NIV)
While Isaac watched, Abraham cut some wood — enough for the burnt offering.
With one donkey, the group of four left on the journey to Moriah, the place where God had told Abraham to go.
On the third day of traveling, Abraham looked up and saw the mountain that God wanted him to go to with Isaac.
[Figuratively, Isaac had been as good as dead until this third day, wherein we see a shadow of Christ’s resurrection per the youth walking away from that mount of death.]
“Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told his servants, “While the boy and I go farther ahead, where we will worship God. Then we will come back to you.”
Remember that to sacrifice is a way to worship God. Abraham was set to obey God and sacrifice Isaac on an altar.
If Isaac were to die, God’s promise to Abraham could not come true through Isaac, as God had said it would! Isaac was the child of promise. God had made an oath, and it is not possible for God to lie. God is holy and good forever.
Abraham might have wondered why God was asking him to sacrifice Isaac, but we know one thing for sure: Abraham believed, without question, that God would keep His promise. Abraham was so confident in God, that Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead if this were necessary to keep His promise. (Hebrews 11:19)
Abraham was certain of what he did not see; this is faith. Those who have not received the gift of faith from God do not understand faith. Sometimes we hear them say that faith is a leap into darkness — but faith is the opposite of a blind leap. Faith is a certain hope, not just a wish or a dream.
We learn about evidence when we study science. With science, we measure and record what we see through microscopes, litmus tests, and radiometers. This evidence strengthens what we believe about how the particulars of God’s creation works.
Faith is evidence given by God to those who are being saved in Jesus Christ. This remarkable evidence gives us firm and confident belief in Christ’s work to save us.
If you did not look into the microscope, you might not believe another who says that she saw a living cell on the glass slide. If you did not receive faith from God, you might not believe another who says that he sees the truth of the gospel.
Remember those two men in Sodom who did not believe that the city would be destroyed? They thought that Lot was joking — would that be a good reason for Lot to stop believing what the angels had told him? If those men had said, “there is no such thing as an angel,” would that make angels not exist?
None of us decide what is true. Truth is what it is, and it will not change. The wind blows everything around, but it will not blow away a large rock. Jesus Christ is the Rock, and what He said never changes. If we build our life on that Rock, we will not blow away when the storms come. He will save us from death itself.
Fairy tales sound great, but even if they were true, every hero and every princess would end up dead in their graves after a few years anyway. Only Christ saves us from the grave, and this is far greater than all the ridiculous stories about magic that godless people keep telling each other.
Even as Abraham was certain that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead, we are certain that God has raised our Lord Jesus from the dead. If God raised Jesus from the grave, then Jesus is the firstborn of the dead, and we know that God is able to raise us from the dead.
3. The Altar and the Ram — Paul
In the land of Moriah, on the third day of traveling, Abraham’s two servants stayed with the donkey, while Abraham and his son Isaac went ahead without them.
Abraham took the wood he had cut, and placed it on his son Isaac, while he himself carried the torch of fire and the knife.
“Father?” Isaac asked, as the two walked.
“Yes, my son?” replied Abraham.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Isaac knew what a normal animal sacrifice looked like, and he knew that the animal was missing this time.
[at this point, a reading through the NAS translation of Genesis 22:8-19 is an appropriate and understandable completion of this story of Abraham and Isaac.]
Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar [of stones] there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
[The angel] said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
God provided a ram:
Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket [bushes] by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.
Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”
Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall [defeat] the gate of their enemies.
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
So Abraham returned to his [two servants], and they [all left] together […]
Listen also to these two verses from the New Testament part of our Bible: “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. [Abraham,] who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”
Three weeks ago we learned that God counted Abraham’s faith as righteous. Today we have learned that Abraham’s obedience in offering Isaac on the altar made his faith visible. We can all see from what Abraham did that Abraham really did believe God’s promises — he did not just talk about it.
James, a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, later wrote: “Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.” (James 2:21-23)
[“True faith always produces fruit. Faith and works may be distinguished, but never separated or divorced.” – R. C. Sproul]
[If we say that we believe, but we do not really believe, then we are windbags like those teachers of the law in Israel who Jesus mentioned. Those men repeated words, but Jesus lived His words; it is no wonder that He amazed people.]
4. The Father’s Sacrifice of His Holy Son — Colleen
And so it was, that an angel told Abraham to stop, and Abraham found a ram in a thicket to sacrifice instead of his son Isaac.
Does every story of sacrifice end before the knife falls?
Not so for the life of God’s own Son, Jesus who was born in Bethlehem.
As He hung on the cross, facing the great sacrifice of all time, no angel came to Jesus and said, “Do not offer yourself — do not make this sacrifice.”
Jesus was sacrificed. Jesus did pay the cost of our sins. Is that a sad thing? Yes, it was the darkest day in history; however, we also know that it was the greatest day — for imagine if Christ had not paid the penalty for our sins? We could not ever stand before God. We could only look forward to that sulfur and fire that rained from the sky on Sodom.
Jesus completed this sacrifice, and so all the families in the world received Good News of their forgiveness — the very Good News that God had first promised to Abram.
Remember when we read what God promised to Abram: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3b). We read it again today from Genesis 22:18: “In your seed [or through your offspring] all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
Do you know that Jesus is the offspring of Abraham? Jesus descended from Abraham, through his son Isaac. Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 4 both record family trees that show this.
The resurrection of Jesus completes the Good News — Jesus rose from the grave on the third day after He died on the Roman cross. So, even as Isaac lived after three days with the death sentence, so does Jesus live today, and so shall we live. Believing in Jesus, we will not die for our sins. God provided a ram instead of Isaac, and God has provided Jesus to take our place on the altar.
Jesus knew His Father’s plan that He would be the sacrifice for many. While He walked and preached throughout Canaan before He died, He said to the people, “I came not to be served but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus was set to obey God’s plan — to “do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” This He did, and so we wait for Him — we wait for when He appears the second time to bring salvation to those who believe in Him [— to those who have the right to be called the children of God, and are, through Jesus, the children of Abraham and are receiving the promise given to Abraham].
Listen to what the prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus. While you listen, remember that Isaiah had not read about Jesus in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; no, Isaiah wrote this by the power of God’s Spirit more than seven hundred years before Jesus came to this earth:
“[…] he was pierced for our [crimes],
he was crushed for our [sins];
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the [sin] of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.”
(Isaiah 53:5-7; NIV)