In this next installment of Hebrews chapter eleven we are going to look at just three verses,
seventeen,eighteen and nineteen. These three verses continue to cause confusion among the Christian
Churches. The idea that God would “tempt” Abraham.
Remember that we are looking at the Roll Call of Honor, those that believed God and wrought great
miracles. These three verses tell of an act that Abraham did that was so tremendous that it affects us
Hebrews 11:17-19 (KJV)
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered
up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him
in a figure.
Let’s read the record.
Genesis 22:1-19 (KJV)
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him,
Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the
land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will
tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young
men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and
went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go
yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took
the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son.
And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went
both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and
laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and
he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I
know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicketby his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the
stead of his son.
14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the
mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and
hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the
heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my
19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba;
and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
Some of the questions that we want to explore are:
1) Did God tempt Abraham?
2) What does “tempt” mean?
3) What is a burnt offering?
4) What did Abraham do that was so spectacular?
Did God tempt Abraham? The quick answer to this is “No.” Look at James 1:13.
James 1:13 (KJV)
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil,
neither tempteth he any man:
So, if God can’t tempt then what exactly happened?
The problem mainly lays in translation. The Hebrew word for the word “tempt” in verse one is “Nacah.”
This word can be translated “prove” or “tempt.”
The definition of “prove” according to the American Dictionary of the English Language, is “ To ascertain
some unknown quality or truth by an experiment, or by a test or standard.” Whereas the definition for
“tempt” is “To incite or solicit to an evil act.”
These definitions in and of themselves don’t explain what happened because asking someone to offer
their son as a burnt offering seems a little bit on the evil side, doesn’t it? To more fully understand this
word let’s look at other verses that use this Hebrew word “nacah.”
Deuteronomy 8:2 (KJV)
2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the
wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove (nacah) thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou
wouldest keep his commandments, or no.Exodus 20:20 (KJV)
20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove (nacah) you, and that his fear may
be before your faces, that ye sin not.
Daniel 1:8-12 (KJV)
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s
meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that
he might not defile himself.
9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed
your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which
are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah,
12 Prove (nacah) thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and
water to drink.
As you can see, in each of these verses the Hebrew word “nacah” should be translated “prove” or “to
prove.” Therefore, God did not tempt Abraham, but, ascertained some unknown quality or truth by an
experiment, or by a test or standard.
As we read this we have to understand God never wanted human sacrifice and the definition for “burnt
offering is completely different for people than it is for animals. In Judges chapter eleven is a record of a
human “burnt offering.”
Judges 11:30-40 (KJV)
30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of
Ammon into mine hands,
31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in
peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered
them into his hands.
33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain
of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the
children of Israel.
34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with
timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.
35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast
brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the
LORD, and I cannot go back.
36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according
to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee
of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.
37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up
and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.
38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, andbewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her
according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,
40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in
a year.
Jephthah’s daughter didn’t die, but, she went into the service of the Lord. In those days every young
girl’s desire was to get married and have children. To not have children would be an extreme hardship
for Jephthah’s daughter.Her commitment was so respected by the daughters of Israel that each year
they would go see her, not to lament, but, to honor her and her commitment to God and her father.
There are arguments still on whether God told Abraham to literally slay Isaac and burn him or to offer
Isaac up as a burnt offering by dedicating him to God much as Jephthah did with his daughter. However,
there is one thing that is clear Abraham carried out what he believed to be the commandment of God.
This had to be a huge commitment for Abraham. His only son by his wife Sarah. The son that he had
when he and Sarah were well past child bearing age. The son God had promised him. But, Abraham
believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. Because of Abraham’s unwavering allegiance to God,
never doubting God, he became the father of all who believe.
Romans 4:16 (KJV)
16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all
the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham;
who is the father of us all,
Galatians 3:6-7 (KJV)
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.