Beginning of the End


The Offering of Isaac: Test of Faith

This chapter is based on Genesis 16; 17:18-20; 21:1-14; 22:1-19.

Abraham had accepted the promise of a son, but he did not wait for God to fulfill His word in His own time and way. God permitted a delay to test his faith, but he failed to endure the trial. BOE 63.1

In her old age, Sarah suggested a plan by which the divine purpose might be fulfilled—that Abraham take one of her servants as a secondary wife. Polygamy was no longer regarded as a sin, but it was a violation of the law of God and was fatal to the sacredness and peace of the family. Abraham’s marriage with Hagar resulted in evil—not only to his own household, but to future generations. BOE 63.2

Flattered with her new position as Abraham’s wife and hoping to be the mother of the great nation to descend from him, Hagar became proud. Jealousies between Sarah and Hagar disturbed the peace of the once happy home. Forced to listen to the complaints of both, Abraham tried to restore harmony, but without success. Though Sarah had urged him to marry Hagar, she now blamed him as the one at fault. She wanted to exile her rival, but Abraham refused to permit this because Hagar was to be the mother of his child—as he dearly hoped, the son of promise. She was Sarah’s servant, however, and he still left her to the control of her mistress. “When Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.” BOE 63.3

Hagar made her way to the desert. As she rested, lonely and friendless beside a spring, an angel appeared. Addressing her as “Hagar, Sarai’s maid,” he told her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” Yet words of comfort were mingled with the reproof: “The Lord has heard your affliction. ... I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” She was instructed to name her child Ishmael, “God shall hear.” BOE 63.4

When Abraham was nearly one hundred years old, the promise of a son was repeated: “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him. ... As for Ishmael,” He said, “behold, I have blessed him ... and I will make him a great nation.” BOE 63.5