This lesson teaches about how God tested Abraham when He asked him to sacrifice Isaac.
- Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-6; 17:19-20; 22:1-19
- Hebrews 11:17-19
- Whiteboard, chalkboard or flipchart
Use the following script and instructions (or modify to suit your needs):
- “Raise your hand if your parents have ever tracked how tall you are growing by putting a mark on a wall right above your head.” (Acknowledge raised hands.)
- “My mom used to do that, too.”
- “I want to see how quickly we can do it today up at this board (or flipchart).”
- “Everyone line up over here, and then come up and let me mark your height on the board.” (As each participant comes up, make a mark above their heads and put his/her name beside it. Try to keep everyone’s marks clustered in the center, because you are going to draw a large heart around them. You might even want to use the two tallest participants as the top of the heart and then taper the marks toward the bottom. Don’t draw the heart shape yet, though. )
- “Wow, we’ve got a lot of different heights in this room!”
- “So, this is how your parents’ might have tracked your height.”
- “God does something similar, but He’s not tracking your height; He tracking your heart.” (Draw a heart shape around all the measurements.)
- “God is much less interested in your height than He is in your heart, so every once in a while, He measures your heart to see how spiritually mature it is.”
- “You could say that if God measured you, and you were down here (put your hand near the bottom of the heart) that you are not very mature spiritually.”
- “But if you were way up here (put your hand near the top of the heart), you would be very spiritually mature.”
- “Does anyone know how God measures the spiritual maturity of our hearts?” (Listen for responses. What you want to hear is that He tests us.)
- “Right! God tests us to measure the spiritual maturity of our hearts!”
- “The story I’m going to tell you about today is about a person who was VERY spiritually mature.”
- “He was very old, and he had followed the Lord for a very long time.”
- “His name was Abram, but you might know him better as Abraham.”
- “Have any of you heard of him?” (Look for a show of hands.)
- “Great! Well, there is a lot to tell about the story of Abraham, but we are going to focus on one of the times in his life when God was giving him a test to measure the spiritual maturity of his heart.”
- “This part of his story started when he was 75 years old.”
- “God made him a very special but very surprising promise.” (Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 12:1-3.)
- “God promised to make Abraham (at this point, his name was just Abram) into a great nation.”
- “This had to be surprising to Abraham, because he didn’t have any children at the age of 75.”
- “His name, Abram, meant ‘exalted father,’ and it must have felt like a joke to him and may have even been a very painful reminder that he didn’t have anyone to carry on his name.”
- “But Abraham believed God, and it’s a good thing he did, because this was one of God’s tests.” (Mark a line on the heart about one-third up from the bottom, and write “Abram” or “Abraham” beside it.)
- “Abraham left his family and went to a place that God showed him.”
- “Years later, Abraham still didn’t have any children when God appeared to him in a vision.” (Have a volunteer read Genesis 15:1-6.)
- “You see, it’s okay to tell God exactly how you feel.”
- “Abraham complained to God that God had made a promise but nothing had changed.”
- “So, God made His promise a little more clear and told him that he would definitely have a child..and not just one, but many, many, many…as many as the starts in the sky.”
- “And Abraham believed him, and it was a good thing he did, because this was another one of God’s tests.” (Mark a line on the heart about halfway up from the bottom, and write “Abram” or “Abraham” beside it.)
- “Years later, Abraham was 99 years old and had a son.”
- “Abraham thought this boy, Ishmael, was God’s promise to him.”
- “Unfortunately, it wasn’t the son that God had promised but a son that came from a mistake Abraham had made when he thought God needed his help making God’s promise come true.”
- “So, God appeared to Abraham again to help him understand.” (Have a volunteer read Genesis 17:19-20.)
- “God got very specific this time and even told Abraham the name of the promised child.”
- “This was actually the time that God gave Abram his new name, Abraham, which means ‘father of many nations.’”
- “Abraham laughed at the promise at first (since he was 99, and his wife was 90 – pretty old to be having children), but then he believed God.”
- “And it’s a good thing he did, because this was one of God’s tests.” (Mark a line on the heart about one-third down from the top, and write “Abraham” beside it.)
- “One year later, Abraham and Sarah (his wife) had a baby boy, and they loved him very, very much!”
- “Years passed, and Isaac grew strong and tall.”
- “Probably about the time that he was a teenager, Abraham was tested by God again.”
- “And since Abraham was spiritually mature, this test was a really tough one!”
- “God wanted to know who was more important in Abraham’s heart – Isaac or God?” (Have volunteer read Genesis 22:1-2.)
- “This sounds like a terrible test!”
- “How could God ask Abraham to sacrifice his promised son?”
- “But Abraham trusted God and knew that even if Isaac died, God could raise him back to life.”
- “We know that was what Abraham was thinking, because the Bible tells us so.” (Have volunteer read Hebrews 11:17-19.)
- “So Abraham obeyed God, and it’s a good thing he did, because this was one of God’s tests.” (Mark a line on the heart a little higher than the last one and write “Abraham” beside it. Then have a volunteer read Genesis 22:3-5.)
- “I know this had to be tearing Abraham up in side. Three days walking with your son, knowing that you were going to offer him as a sacrifice!”
- “But Abraham kept trusting God every step of the way.” (Mark a line on the heart a little higher than the last one and write “Abraham” beside it. Then, have a volunteer read Genesis 22:6-8.)
- “Do you hear Abraham’s faith? ‘God Himself will provide the lamb…’” (Mark a line a little higher. Then have a volunteer read Genesis 22:9-12.)
- “Wow! That was close! But you have to understand that God never intended for Abraham to actually sacrifice Isaac.”
- “God says in another part of Scripture that He must NOT be worshiped by human sacrifice.” (Deuteronomy 12:31)
- “God had his angel standing on the ready the entire time, but the test wasn’t complete until Abraham showed that he was actually willing to sacrifice his son.”
- “Abraham proved that he loved God more than he loved Isaac and that he believed God could bring Isaac back from the dead.” (Make a mark at the top of the heart, and write “Abraham” next to it. Then have a volunteer read Genesis 22:13-19.)
- “When Abraham passed God’s test, God provided a another way that Abraham hadn’t even imagined.”
- “God provided a substitute for Isaac.”
- “Instead of Isaac dying, the ram would die.”
- “And because Abraham passed this test, he got to be part of a very special story – the story about Jesus.”
- “This story of Abraham and Isaac is a lot like the story of Jesus, and there are clue all the way through. Can anyone tell me something from this story that is like the story of Jesus?” (Listen for responses. Here are some possible answers that you might want to bring it if they aren’t mentioned:
o Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son just like God was willing to sacrifice His Son, Jesus.
o Isaac was going to be an offering for sin, just like Jesus.
o The journey took three days, which reminds us that Jesus was buried for three days.
o Isaac carried the wood that he was going to be sacrificed on, just like Jesus carried His cross.
o Isaac asked where they would get the lamb for the sacrifice, and Abraham told him that God would provide the lamb. God did provide Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
o Isaac apparently was willing to die, just like Jesus, because there is no mention of a struggle (a struggle Isaac surely would have won, since his father was over 100 years old, and he would have been a teenager).
o The ram was caught in the thickets, a thorny bush, which reminds us that Jesus wore a crown of thorns.
o An angel was present at both this event and the resurrection of Jesus. You could say that Isaac also had a type of resurrection, since he was meant to die on the altar.)
- “You see, this story points us to Jesus.”
- “Some people call it a type or a shadow of the story of Jesus. I prefer ‘shadow,’ because a shadow lets you know ahead of time if someone is coming around a corner. And this type of story tells us ahead of time that Jesus is coming.”
- “Jesus died for us so that we don’t have to.”
- “The Bible says that the wages (or payment) for sin is death, and Jesus paid that payment for us on the cross.”
- “He was our substitute, like the ram in the thicket.”
- “And because Jesus paid for our sins, we get to live for eternity, forever and ever with Jesus in heaven.”
- “What I want you to remember from today’s lesson are these few things:
o God will test the spiritual maturity of your heart many times during your life as a Christian.
o This test is not really for God to know your maturity; he already knows. They are for you to recognize how mature you have become.
o The more mature you get, the bigger the tests God will give you.
o When you pass a test, God blesses you and uses you to bless others.”