The account of Abraham’s obedience to the Lord’s command to sacrifice his covenant son, Isaac, is a type and shadow of Heavenly Father’s sacrifice of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Consider using the following activity to introduce the lesson:
Place a light in the room in such a way that you can hold up an object in front of the light and see its shadow on the wall. Ask students to watch the shadow as you hold various objects in front of the light. Invite students to guess what the objects are as you hold them up.
Explain that there are many accounts in the scriptures that are intended to be “shadows” or “types” of something else. A type is a symbol that foreshadows a future event. We can learn more about an event by studying the details of types or shadows that foreshadow that event.
Display the picture Abraham Taking Isaac to Be Sacrificed (Gospel Art Book , no. 9; see also LDS.org). Explain that the account of Abraham and Isaac is a type or shadow of another specific event. Invite students to recall what they learned about the account of Abraham taking Isaac to the mountain to be sacrificed. You may want to ask a student to briefly summarize the story from his or her home study of Genesis 22.
What significant event do you think the account of Abraham and Isaac could be a type or shadow of?
Next, display the picture The Crucifixion (Gospel Art Book, no. 57; see also LDS.org). Write the following truth on the board: Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is a type of Heavenly Father’s sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Explain that by exploring the details of this type, we can learn more about the love Heavenly Father has for us. Invite students to review Genesis 22:1–12 with a partner. Ask them to look for details in the verses that show similarities between Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and Heavenly Father’s sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Consider inviting them to mark the similarities in their scriptures, or you could ask them to write what they discover on a piece of paper. It might help them to organize what they find in a chart like the one that follows. Some examples have been provided.
Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac
Heavenly Father’s Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
Isaac was to be sacrificed in place of a lamb.
Abraham willingly …
Isaac carried …
Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins.
Heavenly Father willingly …
Jesus Christ carried …
After students have completed their search, ask them to explain to the class what they discovered. You may want to explain the following additional similarity: Abraham’s name means “father of a multitude,” which parallels Heavenly Father being the father of all spirit children.
What can Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac teach us about Heavenly Father’s sacrifice of Jesus Christ?
Explain that if Heavenly Father had not chosen to sacrifice His Only Begotten Son, then none of us would be able to return to God’s presence.
Who was Heavenly Father showing His love for by sacrificing His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ? (Help students identify the following: Heavenly Father demonstrated His great love for us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. You may want to write this truth on the board.)
If possible, provide students with copies of the following statement by Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite a student to read the statement aloud. Ask the class to listen for how Heavenly Father might have felt as His only Son was being crucified.
How does the sacrifice of Jesus Christ demonstrate Heavenly Father’s love for you?
How do you think we could show our gratitude to Heavenly Father and to Jesus Christ for Their sacrifices for us?
Point out that in Genesis 22:8, Abraham said “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” for the sacrifice. Burnt offerings were how sacrifices were performed in Abraham’s day, following the example set by Adam and Eve when they obeyed the Lord’s command to offer the firstborn of their flocks as sacrifices after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. The phrase also had reference to the Lamb of God.
When would Heavenly Father provide a “lamb” for an offering? (You may need to explain that one of the titles of Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God” [John 1:36]. The Lamb of God would be offered as the “great and last sacrifice” [see Alma 34:13–14] for the sins of all people many years after Abraham and Isaac’s experience.)
Invite a student to read Genesis 22:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord provided as a sacrifice in the place of Isaac. Ask students to report what they find.
Invite students to look again at verse 14, and point out what Abraham called the place where he offered the ram (Jehovah-jireh). Use the footnotes to explain that this name means two things: “The Lord will see, or provide,” and “In a mount the Lord shall be manifest (seen).” Explain that the land of Moriah (see Genesis 22:2) included the places that would later be called Gethsemane and Golgotha, where Jesus Christ would suffer and be crucified almost 2,000 years later.
Consider sharing your testimony of Heavenly Father’s love for each of the students in your class. You might also give students an opportunity to share their testimonies.
To prepare students for their study during the coming week, you may want to invite them to ponder the following: How did Jacob and Rachel meet and fall in love? What deceit did Laban perform on Jacob the night of Jacob’s wedding? How did Jacob respond? Have you ever wondered how someone could stay righteous when his or her life is filled with trials and temptations? In the chapters of Genesis that you will study next, you will learn what Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph did to remain righteous through difficult times.