Abraham and Sarah were blessed with a son, Isaac. When God tested Abraham by commanding him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, it was a foreshadowing of Christ and the Atonement. This heartrending trial strengthened Abraham and Isaac in their devotion to God: they were willing to sacrifice everything.
“‘Behold the Lamb of God,’” David Rolph Seely and Jo Ann H. Seely, “Behold the Lamb of God”: An Easter Celebration, BYU Religious Studies Center
The ultimate example of sacrifice in the Old Testament is the story of Abraham and Isaac. There is no explanation given of why God commands the sacrifice. When Abraham tells Isaac that God will provide a lamb, perhaps he is prophetically foretelling of Christ as well as reassuring Isaac that God would help them.
“The Abrahamic Test,” Larry E. Dahl, Sperry Symposium Classics: The Old Testament, BYU Religious Studies Center
In spite of the mind-boggling contradiction that Abraham is promised seed through his son Isaac and that God commands him to sacrifice that son, Abraham had faith to proceed. He had full confidence that somehow God could and would fulfill his promises.
“The Sacrifice of Isaac with Rabbi Mark S. Diamond,” Come, Follow Me Interfaith Conversations, John A. Widtsoe Foundation, Video and podcast, 2022
Our friends at the John A. Widtsoe Foundation have posted their new video and podcast regarding Genesis 22. A Jewish scholar, Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, and a Latter-day Saint scholar, Dr. Jacob Rennaker, discuss what the narrative of Abraham binding Isaac means to Jews and Latter-day Saints. Why would a compassionate God test Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son? Why did Abraham not protest? The narrative demonstrates the deep, inscrutable faith of Abraham and also that God sent an angel to intervene. Both Jews and Latter-day Saints understand that devotion to God can require chastening, trial, and offering up all we have. Watch the video here or listen to the podcast version here.
“The Lost Commandments: The Sacred Rites of Hospitality,” Peter J. Sorensen, BYU Studies 44, no. 1
Hospitality in the ancient world included bonds of trust between host and guest; a host would vouch for a guest’s character. “We seldom pay attention to the ironic juxtaposition of the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19 and Abraham’s hospitable treatment of the three holy men in chapter 18. Part of that irony is Sodom’s failure to be hospitable to the stranger in the gates. With that irony also comes a certain logic: if hospitality is a lost commandment of God, it makes perfect sense that the most wicked city would also be the most inhospitable.”
“Reexamining Lot,” RoseAnn Benson, Religious Educator 14
Peter calls Lot “righteous, godly, and just.” The book of Abraham tells us that Abraham and Lot prayed together, and that Jehovah told Abraham to take Lot with him. Lot chose grazing lands near Sodom. The article suggests that Lot preached the gospel in Sodom and Gomorrah and may have felt compassion for those people that caused his apparent reluctance to leave. The Joseph Smith Translation helps us understand that Lot was not participating in sin.
“The Ebla Tablets and the Abraham Tradition,” David Noel Freedman, Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels, BYU Religious Studies Center
The Ebla tablets, discovered in 1975, mention Abram, David, Esau, Ishmael, Israel, Micaiah, Michael, and Saul. While we can’t be sure that these are the same people so named in the Bible, it is very likely. Even more astonishing it that the tablets mention together the “five cities of the plain,” listed in the same order in Genesis 14: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela. These were flourishing cities at the time of Abraham and Lot. These tablets add historical data to the Genesis account.