Lenten Discipline Week 3: The Offering

Hi Friends and Readers!

Welcome to Week 3 of our shared Lenten Discipline, to meditate, reflect, and pray on one of the Old Testament Wednesday Bible texts. I will share a text, brief reflection, discussion questions, and prayer. I invite you to use this brief study with family, friends, or even on your own.

This practice is my attempt to grow spiritually during this Lenten season, rather than giving up something. My hope is that it will draw me closer to God and bring me the clarity of purpose I need in this busy season. Thank you for joining me!

ICYMI, here's Week 2 and Week 1

Lent Week 3
The Old Testament Text: Genesis 22:1-14

Gen. 22:1   After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”  2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.”  3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.  4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away.  5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.”  6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.  7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”  8 Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. 

Gen. 22:9   When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.  11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”  12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”  13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.  14 So Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” 

Reflection: This Old Testament story of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son, Isaac, is one of the most hotly debated texts of the Bible. If you really want to explore it on a deep level, I highly recommend Fear and Trembling by Danish 19th Century theologian Soren Kierkegaard. 

But for our purposes today, we'll attempt to move beyond the troubling questions of why God might suggest subjecting a child to abuse and fear would be an appropriate test of faith.

Much discussion of this story has focused on God's testing of Abraham, and the proof of Abraham's great faith. I wonder, though, if the passage is actually more about God's grace than we might first imagine. Life, the human condition, does indeed require a great deal of sacrifice. I know this deeply as a mom, but we all know it every time we make the difficult and weighty choice to love someone. The love we receive in return comes only after we make ourselves vulnerable to being hurt. 

I do not believe God would ever ask us to prove we're willing to sacrifice our children. That fundamentally goes against everything we know about God. See this passage then, instead, as a story about God rather than a story about us. Abraham did not know what would happen at the top of the mountain. Still, we read in verse 6 that father and son walked on together. That is, indeed, all we can do in this life, is walk on together with the incomplete knowledge we have.

When we get the place we're going, the promise of this passage is that God will indeed provide. Often our deepest fears are proven wrong, are proven to be only apparitions. But to realize that they aren't real, we must walk on together and then dwell in the presence of God, waiting for our ram.


1) What do you notice about the way verse 2 refers to Isaac? Why did the writer of Genesis focus on repeating these things about Isaac?

2) What was Abraham thinking as they set out?

3) What was Isaac thinking as they set out?

4) Why is the story so dramatic? Why would God wait until Abraham raised his knife to save Isaac?

5) Do you think God tests our faith?


  • O Lord, throughout these 40 days, I want to hear your voice. I want to feel the presence of your Spirit, even when I am confronted with a task that seems impossible, and I feel afraid. God, help me trust that you do not test my faith, but that in my time of need, You will provide. In Jesus' name, AMEN


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