God tested Abraham by calling to him, "Abraham."
Abraham answered, "Look! Here I am."

Then God said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will show you."

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, took two of his young servants and Isaac his son, cut wood for the burnt offering, and rose up and went to the place where God had told him to go. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go over there to worship. Then we will come back to you."
Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on Isaac his son's back. He took coals in his hand, and a knife, and they went off together.
Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, "My father."
Abraham said, "Here I am, my son."
Isaac said, "I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
Abraham answered, "My son, God himself will provide a lamb for a burnt offering."
So they continued on together.

When they arrived at the place which God had spoken of, Abraham built an altar. He stacked the wood in order, tied up his son Isaac, and placed him on the altar over the wood. Then Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham!"
Abraham answered, "I'm here!"
The angel said, "Don't put your hand on the boy, and don't do anything to him, because I now know that you fear God, seeing that you did not hold back your son, your only son from me."

Abraham looked up and saw behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named that place "Jehovah Jireh", as it is still said, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be seen."

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time, and said,

"I have sworn this by my own self, says the Lord. Because you have done this and have not held back your son, your only son, 'I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and like the sand upon the seashore. Your offspring will own the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.'"

Then Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba, where Abraham lived.

From the ancient Hebrew text (B'Reshith) known to us as the Book of Genesis (Chapter 22), as paraphrased by BrRon.

COMMENTS on Abraham's Test of Faith

What was Abraham thinking when he did this? Two thousand years later this explanation was written by a follower of Jesus in the Letter to the Hebrew Christians (Chapter 11:17-19):

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death." (NIV)

This is verified in the story: note that Abraham told his servants "Wait here and WE will return to you." He either was glossing over the fact that he would kill his son and return alone (lying) or he did believe that God would resurrect his son. He was right in thinking that God could raise the dead, but did not know that God would instead stop the sacrifice at the last minute instead.

The brother of Jesus, James, used this story about Abraham's great faith when he answered people who thought they could say they believed in God but did not need to act on their beliefs (James, Chapter 2:20-24):

"You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." (NIV)

In other words, what good is it to believe something is right if we don't bother to do it?

There was never another case in the Bible where God asked a man to sacrifice his son, although God sacrificed His own son, Jesus, providing a way for us to obtain eternal life:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

We are not asked to sacrifice our children as Abraham was, but followers of Jesus are encouraged to live our lives for God. The Apostle Paul wrote:

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will."(NIV)

What parts of our lives are we willing to place before the Lord, to let Him change?

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Updated by Ron Miller in October 2016