From Eternity Past


Chapter 13—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 did not wait for God to fulfill His word in His own time and way. A delay was permitted to test his faith, but he failed to endure the trial. EP 89.1

In her old age, Sarah suggested, as a plan by which the divine purpose might be fulfilled, that one of her handmaidens be taken by Abraham as a secondary wife. Polygamy had ceased to be regarded as a sin but 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. EP 89.2

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. Mutual jealousies disturbed the peace of the once happy home. Forced to listen to the complaints of both, Abraham vainly endeavored to restore harmony. Though it was at Sarah's entreaty that he had married Hagar, she now reproached him as the one at fault. She desired to banish her rival. But Abraham refused to permit this, for Hagar was to be the mother of his child, as he fondly 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 hardly with her, she fled from her face.” EP 89.3

She made her way to the desert and as she rested beside a fountain, lonely and friendless, an angel appeared. Addressing her as “Hagar, Sarai's maid,” he bade her, “Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.” Yet with the reproof were mingled words of comfort: “The Lord hath heard thy affliction.” “I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” She was bidden to call her child Ishmael, “God shall hear.” EP 89.4

When Abraham was nearly one hundred years old, the promise of a son was repeated: “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and 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.” EP 90.1