I was not always an obedient child. In fact, I could be quite mischievous. One time, after a big rain, I went outside to play. My grandpa, who raised me in place of my dad, told me not to get dirty. Looking back, I remember thinking that he must be joking. Outside was muddy. I was obviously going to get dirty.
I had a friend over at the time. At first, we just climbed trees and talked, but then we started a conversation about skincare. Keep in mind, I was in elementary school; I had zero expertise on skincare. However, my friend and I had heard that mud was really good for the skin, so we went to my grandpa’s garden and covered our entire bodies with mud from head to toe.
Believe it or not, I was shocked when my grandpa got mad at us. Telling me to not get dirty was like telling a cheetah not to be fast. I didn’t think he was serious. I learned that lesson fast. Always assume an adult is not joking when giving a command. It’s better to obey than to look like a fool.
Faith Shown Through Obedience
Many Christians call Hebrews 11 the Hall of Faith because the text lists a whole bunch of people who obeyed God. Hebrews 11:20 mentions the boy who we’re talking about today. It says, “It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.” This verse speaks about Isaac as a grown man. This lesson about children in the Bible will focus on Issac as a boy around the age of 12.
Hebrews 11:20 is the second time Isaac is referenced. Hebrews 11:17-18 says, “It was by faith that Abraham, who received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, ‘Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.’” I’d continue to verse 19, but that would spoil Genesis 22, which you should read. It’s what this lesson is all about.
Isaac wasn’t Abraham’s first son. Long before he was born, God promised Abraham that he would have a son and, from that son, be the father of more people than there were stars in the sky. That’s a lot! The promise gets even better: the whole world would be blessed through Abraham’s family, who later were known as the Israelites, God’s chosen people.
Unfortunately, Abraham and his wife were old and grew impatient. They made a plan that resulted in Ishmael’s birth. But after Ishmael was born, God came again to Abraham and said that Ishmael wasn’t God’s chosen one. God would choose the son of both Abraham and his wife, Sarah—Isaac.
After Isaac was born, things got tense at home. Have you ever seen your family argue? Well, there was a lot of arguing going on because of jealousy and self-righteousness. If Abraham and Sarah had obeyed and waited for God to give them Isaac, all the fighting wouldn’t have happened. But it did, and Ishmael and his mother had to leave.
What can we learn from Isaac’s Obedience ?
Being obedient isn’t easy, and although most of the stories in the bible are about adults, there are lots of children in the Bible too. Isaac was a big one. Even though Abraham was credited for his obedience, Isaac must have been obedient as well. I mean, God told his dad, Abraham, to kill him, and Isaac obeyed his father and stuck to the plan. If it were me, I would have run for the hills and never looked back.
In Genesis 22, where this story comes from, we aren’t given a lot of insight into how much Isaac knew about the situation. After getting the command, Abraham took Isaac and two servants and traveled to the location God wanted the sacrifice done. Abraham then chopped wood for the sacrifice.
After three days, Abraham told his servants to wait while he and Isaac went the rest of the way. Before heading out, Abraham attached the firewood onto Isaac’s back. On the way, Isaac noticed that his father had everything for a burnt offering except for the animal to be killed. When he asked Abraham, he said that God would provide. At this point, I think Isaac might have been catching on to the fact that he was the intended sacrifice, and yet Isaac trusted his father and continued the journey.
Once they reached their destination, Abraham prepared the alter with the wood and then tied Isaac to it. Okay, now Isaac must have known what was going on. The Bible is silent on Isaac’s reaction. How would you react? I’d be terrified.
The lack of detail might suggest that Isaac didn’t struggle. He most likely knew he was God’s chosen one. I’m sure his parents didn’t keep this a secret from him. He could have obeyed his father because he trusted the God his father served. And God doesn’t break promises.
If you haven’t heard or read this Bible lesson, you are probably holding your breath at this point to find out how the story ends. Did Abraham kill Isaac? He almost did. As Abraham lifted the knife, the Lord cried out for him to stop. And just like Abraham said, God did provide a sacrifice—a ram caught in the thicket.
Isaac’s Obedience Made a Difference
In Genesis 22, Isaac’s role in this story was to represent Jesus. There are several stories in the Bible that foreshadow what Jesus later did for us on the cross, and Isaac’s story was included.
Isaac carried the wood on his back up to his own sacrifice. Jesus did this when he carried the cross. Isaac was called Abraham’s “only son.” John 3:16 says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
However, unlike Jesus, Isaac wasn’t the perfect sacrifice. He sinned like everyone else. So instead of allowing Isaac to die, God provided a substitute with the ram. In Jesus’ case, He is the substitute. He never sinned. If Isaac hadn’t obeyed, Christianity’s corner stone wouldn’t have been foreshadowed through Isaac’s life.
Obedience Is Hard
Every day, we are tempted to disobey our teachers, bosses and parents (to name a few). Sometimes we just want what we can’t have. Sometimes we want to avoid doing something we’re told to do. Sometimes we disagree with the person of authority’s decision.
Unfortunately, we can’t use temptation as an excuse. God gives us the power to say no to sin every single time. Colossians 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Children aren’t the only ones who must obey. Us adults have to as well. I love how God uses children in the Bible to teach us grownups.
Obedience Shows Love and Trust
Before Jesus went to the cross, he told his disciples (the people who choose to follow him) that if they obeyed the commandments he had given, they would show their love for him. When we obey our parents, grandparents, teachers and bosses, we show our love for them.
I understand that you might not feel love for some of these people. Maybe you can’t stand one of your teachers or think your boss is mean. Well, love isn’t a feeling. It’s action. Therefore, you can show love with obedience without necessarily feeling the love behind the obedience.
To obey often requires trust. Isaac had to trust his father in order to willingly be sacrificed. Abraham had to trust God to keep his promise even when what he commanded seemed to break the promise. It’s easier to obey when we trust God.
Most parents want what’s best for their children. I know I want what’s best for my preteen daughter. When I tell her to do something, it’s not an empty command. There’s a reason behind my rules. She doesn’t always understand, but she doesn’t need to. She only needs to trust that she has my support and love and can trust in my decisions whether or not she agrees with me.
Prayer for Obedience
Dear God, help me to obey the authorities in my life. Give me a willingness in me to show love to my parents and teachers by following their rules. Help me to trust you and obey your Word. I know that I need to read your Word in order to know your will for my life. Give me a love for your Word and a desire to obey it. I believe you know and want what’s best for me. I trust you. Amen.
Extra Resources for Studying Genesis 22:
https://youtu.be/8QTk848O-yQ?feature=shared kids video on Genesis 22
https://sermons4kids.com/abraham_is_tested_crossword.htm printable crossword
https://sermons4kids.com/abraham_is_tested_wordsearch.htm printable word search
Continue learning about obedience by reading Obedience: A three-day plan found in the Bible App.
Guest Blogger Bio.
Rebecca (Bex) Easterwood supports neurodiversity by providing a weekly devotional for parents with complex kids that you can find on her website, www.bexeasterwood.com, and by representing neurodiversity in her fiction. She lives in rural Missouri with her husband, AuDHD daughter, two cats, a dog, two Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and a gerbil. She works part-time as an elder-care paralegal and is lucky enough to have her best friend as her boss. Her hobbies include reading, drinking way too much coffee, volleyball, and playing cards and boardgames with her family and friends. She’s an active member of her church and sings on the worship team.