Why The Bible's Abraham Was Willing To Sacrifice His Own Son

In the context of giving up something that might present a minor inconvenience or even a major challenge, most people will refer to that as making a sacrifice. And in life, we are often presented with situations where we have to make some sacrifices. These decisions are usually taken for the sake of a greater good, or an effort to receive a bigger reward awaiting. While that definition seems tame, a sacrifice in a religious sense — especially eons ago — meant having to kill (in other words, sacrifice) an animal or being for God.

Sacrificing was a common practice, and people often gave up animals (usually a lamb, hence the term sacrificial lamb). In some cases however, people were also given to sacrifice. The Bible has a poignant story about potential human sacrifice, and it comes in the tale of Abraham and his son Isaac, per Church of Jesus Christ

Isaac was the son of Abraham and his wife Sarah. The very senior-aged couple became parents to Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old and his wife, 90. His birth was a miracle for the family, as Sarah had struggled to get pregnant. While he was a happy new addition to the family, his existence would become sacrificial. God promised them that the legacy of their family would go on for generations, but an ultimate test was waiting.

An ultimate sacrifice

The story starts in Genesis 22. In the first two verses, God has a challenge for Abraham (via Bible Gateway). He tells him to take Isaac to Moriah and offer him up as a burnt sacrifice. They head to the location, wood in hand, and when they get there, Abraham begins building a wood pit. Unbeknownst to Isaac, he did not know why no lamb was present during this sacrificial preparation and questioned his father. His response to Isaac was that God himself would provide the lamb.

After asking his son to lie down on the sacrificial wood pit, something finally appeared just before Abraham was about to sacrifice his own son. It was an angel sent to stop him. Abraham had completed the test, and in obeying God's orders, demonstrated his faith. At the same time, a ram suddenly appeared, and it was stuck. Abraham took the opportunity to go to it and offer the ram as a sacrifice and not Isaac. The mission was successful. Abraham was later blessed with the promise that his descendants will bear a lot of good fortune as a result of his obedience.