When God originally told Abraham to sacrifice his son on the mountain did he mean it or was he just testing Abraham?
Genesis 22 indicates that God tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. Of course, God never intended to allow Abraham to actually follow through with the sacrifice. But it's important to remember that Abraham had no way of knowing (in advance) that God would stop him from actually sacrificing his son. Abraham apparently thought (and surely hoped) that this indeed might be the case (v. 8—Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.).
On the other hand, he may have thought that God would have him follow through with it, and then subsequently raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19—By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, "IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED." He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.). Thus, from Abraham's perspective this was a very real (and terrible) test, even though God never intended to allow Abraham to actually carry out the deed.
Hope this helps.
Shalom in Christ,
© 2009 Probe Ministries
About the Author
Michael Gleghorn is a research associate with Probe Ministries. He earned a B.A. in psychology from Baylor University and a Th.M. in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Before coming on staff with Probe, Michael taught history and theology at Christway Academy in Duncanville, Texas. Michael and his wife Hannah have two children. His personal website is michaelgleghorn.com.
What is Probe?
Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.
Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:
2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 2000
Plano TX 75075