Lesson 9: “God Will Provide Himself a Lamb”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 36–39


Purpose

To help class members better understand Heavenly Father’s sacrifice in offering his Son as they learn of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures. Note: Genesis 17 tells of the Lord changing Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah (see verses 5, 15). The names Abraham and Sarah are used throughout this lesson.

    1. a.

      Abraham 1:1, 5–20. As a young man, Abraham is persecuted by the false priests of Pharaoh. They attempt to sacrifice him, but he is saved by Jehovah.

    2. b.

      Genesis 15–17; 21. Later in his life, Abraham desires and is promised seed (15:1–6). Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham as his wife; Hagar bears Ishmael (16:1–16). God again speaks of his covenant with Abraham, promising that he will be the father of many nations (17:1–14; see lesson 7). The birth of Isaac, through whom the covenant would continue, is announced (Genesis 17:16–22). Sarah bears Isaac (21:1–12).

    3. c.

      Genesis 22. God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (22:1–2). Abraham prepares to sacrifice Isaac, but God provides a ram to be sacrificed instead (22:3–19).

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: Hebrews 11:8–19; James 2:21–23; Jacob 4:5; Doctrine and Covenants 132:34–36.

  3. 3.

    If you use the second attention activity, at least a week before this lesson ask a few class members to prepare to tell about a time when they were blessed because they were willing to sacrifice.

  4. 4.

    If the following audiovisual materials are available, you may want to use some of them as part of the lesson:

    1. a.

      A brief excerpt from “Abraham—The Promise” or “Abraham Is Commanded to Sacrifice Isaac,” parts 4 and 6 of the Beginnings/Abraham videocassette (53150).

    2. b.

      The pictures An Angel Saves Abraham (62607; Gospel Art Picture Kit 104) and Abraham Taking Isaac to Be Sacrificed (62054; Gospel Art Picture Kit 105).

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use one of the following activities (or one of your own) to begin the lesson. Select the activity that would be most appropriate for the class.

  1. 1.

    Ask class members to think of a person they love very much or a possession they value highly.

    • How would you feel if God asked you to give up, or sacrifice, this person or possession? What would you do?

  2. 2.

    Invite a few class members to tell about a time when they were blessed because they were willing to sacrifice.

After either of these activities, explain that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, whom Abraham loved very much. Although Abraham was not ultimately required to make this sacrifice, his willingness to do so was “accounted unto him for righteousness” (D&C 132:36). Because of Abraham’s righteousness, he and his descendants were greatly blessed.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Abraham is nearly sacrificed by the false priests of Pharaoh.

Teach and discuss Abraham 1:1, 5–20. Part of this lesson focuses on God’s command that Abraham sacrifice Isaac. To help class members understand the significance of this command and the depth of Abraham’s faith, the lesson begins with a brief discussion of Abraham’s experience when he, as a young man, was almost sacrificed by a false priest of Pharaoh.

  • What were the conditions in Chaldea when Abraham lived there? (See Abraham 1:1, 5–8.) What did Pharaoh’s false priests try to do to Abraham? (See Abraham 1:7, 12.) How was Abraham saved from these false priests? (See Abraham 1:15–16, 20.)

  • How might Abraham’s experience on the altar of the false priests have helped prepare him for future trials? How can our trials help us prepare for future difficulties?

2. Abraham has children through Hagar and Sarah.

Teach and discuss Genesis 15–17; 21.

  • What promise did the Lord give Abraham regarding children? (See Genesis 15:1–6.) Why did Sarah give Hagar to Abraham as his wife? (See Genesis 16:1–3; D&C 132:34–35.) What promise did the Lord give Hagar? (See Genesis 16:10–11.)

  • What did God reveal to Abraham in Genesis 17:15–16, 19, 21? How did Abraham respond? (See Genesis 17:17. Note that while the King James Version of the Bible says that Abraham “laughed” when he heard that Sarah would bear a son, an alternate translation of the Hebrew word is “rejoiced.” The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible says that Abraham “rejoiced” at the news.)

  • What can the revelation that Abraham and Sarah would have a son teach us about how God fulfills his promises? (God will fulfill his promises, though not necessarily in the way or at the time we might expect. Point out that Abraham and many others in the scriptures had to wait faithfully for many years before promised blessings were given.)

  • How were the promises that God made regarding Isaac different from those regarding Ishmael? (See Genesis 17:19–21.)

3. God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

Teach and discuss Genesis 22.

  • Why did God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? (See Genesis 22:1. Note footnote 1a, which says the word tempt in this verse means to test or prove.) Why would this have been a difficult test for Abraham? (Not only was Isaac his son, but God had promised that the Abrahamic covenant would continue through Isaac and his descendants [Genesis 17:19]. Another reason this would have been difficult is that as a young man, Abraham himself had nearly been sacrificed by the false priests of Pharaoh [Abraham 1:1, 5–20].)

  • How did Abraham respond to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac? (See Genesis 22:2–3.) What can we learn from Abraham about faith and obedience? (See Hebrews 11:17–19; James 2:21–23.)

  • How did Isaac respond to this situation? (See Genesis 22:3–10. There is no indication that Isaac opposed the intention of Abraham to sacrifice him.)

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained: “When they came to the prescribed place, Abraham built an altar and laid wood upon it. Then, the Bible says, ‘Abraham … bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood’ (Genesis 22:9). What did Isaac think when Abraham did such a strange thing? The Bible mentions no struggle or objection. Isaac’s silence can be explained only in terms of his trust in and obedience to his father” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 37).

  • Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac was a similitude of Heavenly Father’s willingness to sacrifice his Only Begotten Son (Jacob 4:5; Genesis 22:8, 13). What are some similarities between Abraham’s experience and Heavenly Father’s? What is the greatest difference?

  • In what way can we be compared to Isaac? If Isaac represents us, whom does the ram in the thicket represent? How do these comparisons help you better understand Heavenly Father’s love for you in sacrificing his Son?

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “This story … shows the goodness of God in protecting Isaac and in providing a substitute so he would not have to die. Because of our sins and our mortality, we, like Isaac, are condemned to death. When all other hope is gone, our Father in Heaven provides the Lamb of God, and we are saved by his sacrifice” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 37).

  • What did Abraham prove through this test? (See Genesis 22:11–12.) Invite class members to tell about other situations, scriptural or personal, where individuals have been tested as an opportunity to prove their faithfulness. Ask class members also to tell of the joy and blessings that have come through proving faithful.

  • Why is Isaac referred to in Genesis 22:16 as Abraham’s only son? (Isaac was the son through whom the covenant would continue. This reference also emphasizes the parallel between Isaac and our Savior, the Only Begotten Son of the Father.) What blessings were assured to Abraham because of his faithfulness? (See Genesis 22:15–18.) What blessings are we promised through the Abrahamic covenant? (See lesson 7.) What are our responsibilities as heirs of the Abrahamic covenant?

Conclusion

Express your appreciation for the example of faith and obedience provided by Abraham. Testify that Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac was a similitude of Heavenly Father’s willingness to sacrifice his Only Begotten Son. Invite class members to share their feelings about the Atonement and the great love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Learning from trials

  • President Hugh B. Brown said that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because “Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham” (in Truman G. Madsen, The Highest in Us [1978], 49). What might Abraham have learned about himself from this experience? What have you learned from your trials?

  • The Lord revealed that we must be tried “even as Abraham” (D&C 101:4). Why do you think this is necessary? (See D&C 101:5, 35–38; 122:5–7.) What can we do now to prepare ourselves for sacrifices the Lord may ask us to make?

2. Building a strong relationship with God

Abraham 1 and Abraham 2 describe the relationships that Abraham and his father had with God. Abraham’s father turned to God in times of trouble, but turned to idol worship when things were going well in his life (Abraham 1:5, 30; 2:5). Abraham, on the other hand, sought God continually (Abraham 1:2, 4; 2:12).

  • How can we seek God, making our relationship with him active rather than passive? How can we make our commitment to God more consistent, so that we seek him in times of peace and comfort as well as in times of trial?