Summary: THE GREATEST TEST OF ALL (Akedah - The Binding of Isaac) - PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


(1). Abraham's Trial (vs 1-2)

(2). Abrahams Obedience (vs 3-10)

(3). Abraham’s Deliverer (vs 11-14)

(4). Abraham’s Sign.



• A young man was studying ornithology (the study of birds];

• And had a tough professor.

• When he came for a test,

• The professor gave him 25 pictures of birds' feet;

• And told him he had to identify which birds they came from.

• The exasperated student said; "I'm not going to do this. Nobody could pass this test!"

• The professor replied; "Then I'll fail you,"

• So the student said. "So fail me,"

• The angry professor replied angrily. "Okay, what's your name?"

• The student took off his shoes and socks and said, "You tell me."

• TRANSITION: None of us like hard tests;

• And true faith is always tested and sometimes those tests seem hard!

• Christians may refer to this incident as Abraham’s greatest test;

• But the Jews call it by another name and have another emphasis!

• Jews call this event the ‘Akedah’ meaning ‘The Binding of Isaac’

• They get that name from verse 9:

“When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.”

• The English translation ‘He bound his son’;

• Is the Hebrew word ‘Akedah’ meaning ‘the binding’

• Most Jews will refer to this incident as the binding of Isaac;

• Whereas Christians often talk about the sacrifice of Isaac.

• Jewish tradition focusses in on the co-operation of Isaac in this event;

• While Christians focus on the role of Abraham in this incident.

• Well this evening we are going to stick with Christian tradition:

• Our focus will be on Abraham;

• And the sacrifice he was willing to make.


“Circumstances don't make a man, they reveal him.

Like teabags, our real strength comes out when we get into hot water.”

• It is often through testing that we discover what kind of faith we have.

• Tests of faith are opportunities for growth and victory.


“Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us,

But God tests us to help bring out the best. “

• Abraham has experienced many tests by the time chapter 22 opens,

• But none of them compare to what he is about to face.’

• This test would make demands on Abraham,

• And these demands would run contrary to human reason and to God’s promise.


• You know what it is like as a passenger on an airplane;

• When as you come in to land everything is straight forward and comfortable;

• Then suddenly the reverse thrust of the engines is used to bring the plane to a halt.

• TRANSITION: Abraham was about to experience that kind of major shock,

• Everything that God had promise to him was going smoothly;

• But now he is about to be put into reverse gear.

After all those years of looking forward to the birth of Isaac:

• Isaac was not a child;

• Possible a teenager, we was strong enough to carry the wood (vs 6)

• And have intelligent conversation (vs 6-8)

• Many Jewish Rabi’s believe Isaac was 37 years old;

• I will tell you why afterwards if you are really interested!

• But whatever Isaac’s age;

• It now seemed Abraham was about to lose him.

• So this test of obedience would create huge strains of anxiety on Abraham:

• Because logically these demands would run contrary to human reason,

• And also to God’s promise.

(1). Abraham's trial (vs 1-2).

“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

(a). It was a personal test for Abraham.

• Notice he was called by name.

• This was a test for him and him alone

• As far as we know God never repeats this request to anyone else.

(b). It was a lonely test:

• Abraham received his instructions from God,

• And they were not even for sharing with his wife Sarah.

• She was of course the mother of Isaac,

• But she was to play no role in this test,

• Abraham alone would bear the full force of it.

• That would increase the intensity and the drama of the test.

(c). It was a confusing test.

• Although the command from God is clear.

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