On Abraham and Child Sacrifice

This morning, I was debating the rightness of God’s command to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

It’s definitely an emotionally disturbing thing. If you disagree, consider this hypothetical conversation.

Son: Dad, if God asked you to sacrifice me to Him, would you do it?

Dad: Of course, son. We must always do what God says. Wouldn’t you sacrifice me if God asked you to?

Son: *eyes water* ummm, no.


Here is the conversation I had with myself:
Q – God was wrong to ask Abraham to sacrifice his son.

A – Why is that?

Q – Because child sacrifice is wrong. God said so himself in Deut 12:31,32; Lev 18:21, and even in the prophetic books.

A – But God never actually intended for Abraham to carry it out. It was test (Gen 21:1; 9-12).

Q – Yes, But if God asked you to sacrifice your son, would you do it?

A – No, for two reasons. Firstly, it contradicts the commands God has already given me concerning the killing of innocent people and secondly because it violates the moral law as I know it in my heart. I would conclude that I had heard God wrongly.

God had promised to give Abraham many descendants through Isaac, something which could not happen if Isaac was dead ergo his belief that Isaac would be alive in the end, somehow. (Genesis 22: 5, 7, 8) (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Q – Then didn’t Abraham think of God’s orders as wrong? If you would judge God’s commands, why didn’t Abraham?

A – God said, ‘Go sacrifice your son’, not ‘Go murder your son’. God does have absolute right over our lives and if Abraham thought child sacrifice was not synonymous with murder, that would have assuaged his doubts about the morality of the action. I do not know so I must end with that question.

Did Abraham believe that child sacrifice was murder and therefore, wrong? If yes, how could he go on with it?

Reading Note on Genesis 22


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I’m Tracy

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