Gospel Doctrine Lesson #9
God Will Provide Himself a Lamb
(Lenet H. Read)
This lesson helps class members feel the great conflicts of emotion Abraham (and God the Father) must have felt in sacrificing sons. Shows why these sacrifices were necessary.
Preparation: Find or enlarge a picture of facsimile No. 1. Take pictures of the sacrifice of Isaac and of the Crucifixion.
I. Abraham’s experiences in
A. Visual Aid: Show Facsimile # 1.
B. Discussion: Imagine living in a land where you saw human beings deliberately killed as sacrifice to a god. How would you feel?
C. Scripture: Read Abraham 1:1, 5-8, 11
D. Discussion: How did Abraham feel about human sacrifice? (abhorrence)
E. Discussion: How would you feel if you yourself were offered as sacrifice?
F. Scripture: Abraham 1:12
G. Discussion: Would this experience likely have increased Abraham’s personal fear or terror of human sacrifice?
H. Discussion: Would these past experiences have made it even more difficult for Abraham to obey God’s command to sacrifice his own son? (Very likely)
I. Discussion: What happened that might have given hope to Abraham?
J. Scripture: Abraham 1:15. (He was delivered by God at the last minute.)
K. Scripture: Read Moses 5:5-8. Abraham knew that animal sacrifices were in similitude of a future sacrifice by Christ. Could this have comforted him?
1. Scriptures: Hebrews 11:17-19 and Helaman 8:17.
L. Discussion: Nevertheless, would this still have been a great test of his faith?
M. Does the Lord often test us to know whether we are willing to make significant sacrifices for His sake?
1. D&C 101:4. Actually this is the main purposes for coming to the earth.
2. Have class give examples.
3. Discreetly remind class who are temple goers of covenants made there.
N. Does the Lord often test us through things that are the most difficult for us?
O. Does knowing how God has sustained others in the past through sacrifice give us courage to face our own sacrifices?
II. The manner in which Abraham received a son would have greatly impacted his feelings.
A. How long did Abraham have to wait for a son?
B. Would God’s promises of significant seed make having no son even more grievous?
C. Scripture: Genesis 13:16
D. What can we learn from Abraham when our hopes and promises are delayed?
E. How would the long delay have impacted his feelings toward his son? (It would have greatly endeared him to his son, making it especially grievous to lose him.)
F. Yet, he would not have had a son except as a gift from the Lord. How might that have affected him? (It would be hard to deny the Lord, since He gave the gift.)
G. Is it possible that Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac was the very key to opening up the other great blessings of posterity to him? (See Genesis 22:16-18.)
Quote: “What a wondrous thing it is to behold mortal men --- [like] Abraham,--- receiving the divine word that in them and in their seed all generations shall be blessed and that their posterity, through the continuation of the eternal family unit, shall be as the dust of the earth in number, as the sands upon the seashore in multitude….” Bruce R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah, p. 264.
H. Is it also true with us that what we are willing to sacrifice for God’s sake will open to us His greatest blessing in the long run?
I. Scripture: Matthew 16:25, “For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
III. Abraham’s offering of Isaac bore witness of Heavenly Father’s offering of His Son.
A. There are deliberate parallels between the sacrifice offered by Abraham of his son and that made by God our Eternal Father of His Son.
1. What was significant about the place of the sacrifice?
*The place of the offering was the same.
Visual Aid: Put up pictures of Abraham’ sacrifice and the crucifixion.
B. What can we learn about God, the Eternal Father, from Abraham?
1. While Abraham did not have to make his offering, God the Eternal Father did. But can we feel through what Abraham suffered, how God the Father must also have suffered, to even a greater degree? Though terribly wrenching, He would make the greatest sacrifice for our sakes.
2. Quote: “Our Father in heaven went through [terrible suffering], for in his case the hand was not stayed. He loved his Son, Jesus Christ, better than Abraham ever loved Isaac… and yet he allowed this well-beloved Son to descend from the place of glory and honor… down to the earth, a condescension that is not within the power of man to conceive. He came to receive the insult, the abuse, and the crown of thorns. God heard the cry of his Son in that moment of great grief and agony, in the garden when …the pores of his body opened and drops of blood stood upon him, and he cried out: ‘Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup…’
“In the case of our Father, the knife was not stayed, but it fell, and the life’s blood of his Beloved Son went out. His Father looked on with great grief and agony over his Beloved Son, until there seems to have come a moment when even our Savior cried out in despair: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’
“In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles until even he could not endure it any longer; and, like the mother who bids farewell to her dying child, has to be taken out of the room, so as not to look upon the last struggles, so he bowed his head, and hid in some part of his universe, his great heart almost breaking for the love that he had for his Son. Oh, in that moment when he might have saved his Son, I thank him and praise him that he did not fail us, for he had not only the love of his Son in mind, but he also had love for us. I rejoice that he did not interfere, and that his love for us made it possible for him to endure to look upon the sufferings of his Son and give him finally to us, our Savior and our Redeemer.” (Melvin J. Ballard, “The Sacramental Covenant.”)
C. What can we learn from Isaac about Jesus, the true offering?
1. Both bore the wood, the means of sacrifice, upon their backs
2. Isaac and Jesus were the same age. Both were old enough to resist, yet both lovingly yielded to their fathers and offered their sacrifices willingly.
3. Was Isaac’s suffering as great as the Savior’s? (While he must have known great fear and anguish, still he was willing. But not only was the knife stayed, but Isaac did not have to endure all the persecution, the scourging, all the great agony of the atonement and the crucifixion that Christ endured.)
D. What was God trying to demonstrate by the ram caught in the thicket?
1. The ram also taught of Christ. Rams were one of the sacrifices made in similitude of Him. This offering with its horns, (which are signs of power) demonstrated that Jesus was actually a being of great power, (a God), yet would offer Himself meekly, like a lamb. Note it was after offering the ram Abraham names Moriah “Jehovah-jireh.”
IV. There are significances in the differences between the two heirs of Abraham.
A. Read Gen. 16 and Gen 17:19-21. How were promises God made regarding Isaac different from those regarding Ishmael?
B. Read Galatians 4:22-31. What did Paul say we should learn from these two sons? (One bore witness of a people in bondage --- to sin and death --- the other of a people now freed, which would have come through the atonement of Jesus Christ.)
C. Teacher Summary: The Lord is not trying to show here His preference for one people over another people as many assume. In fact He repeatedly manifests His love for both of Abraham’s sons and their descendants. (See Gen. 16:11 and 17:20).
Rather the Lord is mostly demonstrating the coming of Jesus Christ through a particular lineage, and that it is through this eventual heir and only this heir, Jesus Christ, that will come the immense freedoms and also the great blessings of Eternal Seed.
We must remember the spiritual nature of God’s promises. And that those great blessings will eventually be made available to individuals of all nations if they will receive them!
Visual Aid: Reread Genesis 22:7-8. Then write the Title of the lesson on the board so it says, “God will provide Himself --- a Lamb.”