Genesis 22: 1-18

New Resources

  • Story of Isaac

    by Leonard Cohen
  • Abraham to Kill Him

    Poem by Emily Dickinson
  • Exegesis (Genesis 22:1-14)

    by Richard Niell Donovan
  • Binding of Isaac

    Podcast with Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester and Kathryn Schifferdecker
  • Being Put to the Test

    by John Kavanaugh, SJ
  • Binding of Isaac

    Narrative Podcast with Robb McCoy and Eric Fistler
  • The Anatomy of Sacrifice

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    A gift, by definition, is something that is not deserved but given freely. What is our first impulse when we are given a gift? Our instinctual response is: “I can’t take this! I don’t deserve this!” In essence, that gesture, that healthy instinctual response, is an attempt to give the gift back to its giver. But, of course, the giver refuses to take the gift back and re-gives it to us with the assurance: “but I want you to have this!” When we receive it the second time, it is now more properly ours because, by trying to give it back, we healthily recognized that it was a gift, unmerited, undeserved. That is the exact set of dynamics within the story of Abraham offering to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac comes to him as the greatest, most-undeserved, gift of his life. His willingness to sacrifice him parallels the instinctual gesture: “I don’t deserve this! I cannot accept this!” He offers the gift back to its giver. But the giver, Love itself, stops the gesture and gives the gift the second time. Now Abraham can receive Isaac, without guilt, as gift. When they are walking back home, Isaac is now Abraham’s son in a way that he never was before. Abraham had to receive the gift twice by sacrificing it the first time...
  • God Will Provide

    by Paul C. Sizemore
  • Sacrifice

    by Eleonore Stump
    The Nazis had randomly selected 10 prisoners to die, and Franciszek Gajowniczek was one of them. When he was picked, he cried out, “Oh, my poor wife! My poor children! I will never see them again!” But Maximilian Kolbe stepped forward and offered to take Franciszek’s place. Kolbe knew that the selected prisoners would be slowly starved to death in a dark and airless bunker. But Kolbe offered his life for that of his fellow prisoner anyway. Witnesses reported afterwards that Kolbe prayed and sang hymns until the end when his voice failed...

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tab”. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Sacrifice

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • God on Trial

    by Mickey Anders
  • Proper 8A (2017)

    by Doug Bratt
    On the dustcover of Mary Elise Sarotte’s book, The Collapse, the publisher notes, “On the night of November 9, 1989, massive crowds surged toward the Berlin Wall, drawn by an announcement that caught the world by surprise: East Germans could now move freely to the West. The Wall — the infamous symbol of a divided Cold War Europe — seemed to be falling. But the opening of the gate that night was not planned by the East German ruling regime — nor was it the result of a bargain between either Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It was an accident.” Or providence. But the opening of the gate that night was not planned by the East German ruling regime — nor was it the result of a bargain between either Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It was an accident.” Or providence.
  • A Father Sacrifices His Son, A God Tests His Disciple

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("In his book Fear and Trembling (1843), one of the most provocative treatments of this passage, the Danish writer Soren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) devoted an entire book to this story....")
  • Story of Isaac

    by Leonard Cohen
  • Scary Story

    by Faith Conklin
    ("A father tells about a tornado that struck his home. He raced to his son's room as it approached. He'd just touched the boy when suddenly the tornado ripped off the side of their house and pulled his eight-year-old son into the night. The parents held on to their other children and cried out their prayers to God. Not long afterward, when the chaos of the tornado subsided, the father saw his son walking toward him. The boy said he'd been taken up into the sky and then had floated back down...")
  • Fear and Trembling

    by Johannes de Silentio
    (commentary on Soren Kierkegaard's text)
  • God Will Provide

    by Richard Donovan
    When I was a boy, I loved and trusted my grandfather in the same way that Abraham loved and trusted God. I knew that my grandfather would never hurt me and would always love me. I believed that nothing bad could happen to me as long as I was with Granddad. Granddad took great pleasure in that trust. He often told me the chicken-house story. When I was two years old, he had to repair the chicken-house roof. He took me with him. Grandmother was not happy with him for putting a two-year-old atop a roof where I might fall, but Granddad insisted that it was safe. He laughed as he told me years later that he had set me in the middle of the roof and had instructed me not to move—and that I had stayed right there. Granddad was so delighted that I would trust him and obey him. I did not obey anyone else, but I obeyed Granddad. But the real story of trust came years later. Granddad taught me to drive. Kansas highways in those days were lightly travelled, so he started my instruction on Sunday afternoon drives in the country...
  • No Laughing Matter

    by Robert Elder
  • A Place of Sacrifice

    by Sil Galvan
    During one of what seemed to be endless visits to the doctor, I asked him for the truth: "Is Kim going to die?" "I can't answer that question," he said. "She has a good chance, if her body starts responding to treatment." "If! If! That's all I've been hearing for 16 months. Kim has had these painful shots every two weeks since she was born. You can see how she screams and cries. And all you can tell me is, 'if'?" Understanding the stress and fear behind my outburst, the doctor did not take offense. "Her white blood cell count is the lowest it has ever been," he said gently, holding the lab report in his hand. "The gamma globulin shots have helped her to survive her bouts of illness, but her own body is not producing white blood cells in large enough quantities. I can't give you a miracle. Kim will either start producing enough white cells or she won't."
  • Proper 8A (2011)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("Whenever I watch something like the Olympics in recent days, I often think that I'm sure glad my whole life doesn't typically come down to a single make-or-break performance! But that's the way of it in something like the Olympic Games, and you sense it most keenly in those events that involve a single athlete alone out on the ice...")
  • Against Type

    from Homiletics Online
    Few actors can play both comedy and drama with great success. Only Tom Hanks could convincingly portray, in one lifetime, a young lawyer dying of AIDS, a cool-under-pressure astronaut, a true blue World War II hero, a simple-minded shrimp boat captain, and a suicidal island castaway, all while occasionally romancing Meg Ryan. Most of us didn't rush out to theaters when Drew Barrymore, known for playing ditzy roles, starred as a struggling teenage mother in Riding in Cars with Boys. Apparently we liked her better as a three-year-old screaming in E.T., or as a high-kicking detective babe in Charlie's Angels. Could Jackie Chan (or Chris Rock) ever play Hamlet? Would Julia Roberts dare play Maria von Braun? Meryl Streep in Die Hard 4? God as a bad guy? Abraham as an abusive father? It's this "against type" edginess that makes us uneasy when we think about Genesis 22...
  • Promises, Promises

    by Fred Kane
    ("A man named Paul O'Brien reflected on those who have experienced tremendous losses in life. He focused particularly on literary personalities and how they coped with loss. He talked about William Thackery, whose manuscript for a novel was inadvertently destroyed by a servant..." and other illustrations)
  • The Agony of Abraham

    by Terrance Klein
    ("The River Thames froze in January of 1649. The King asked Thomas Herbert, the Parliamentarian official attending him, to dress him in two shirts, lest the rabble, watching him die, think that he shivered from cowardice. Charles insisted, 'I fear not death. Death is not terrible to me, bless my God, I am prepared.' Imagine the mind of a man facing death, loosed from the illusion that it is far removed and uncertain. It's not easy to do, because we dwell in that delusion...")
  • Give It Up!

    by Samuel T. Lloyd III
  • Tales of Terror (Part 2)

    by David Martyn
    One hundred and fifty years ago, this summer, 87 pioneers in 23 wagons set forth from Springfield, Missouri, bound for a new life out west. From Fort Bridger, Wyoming, those chose to take an uncharged shortcut through the Hastings Cutoff. The short-cut proved to be all but impassable, costing the party precious days. They failed by one day in their bid to outrace the season's first snowfall. Instead, they became trapped in the worst winter ever recorded in the High Sierras. And so the Donnar party spent six months in starvation and a bitterly cruel cold winter. Almost half of the party perished. Some died of violence, others of disease and despair, and still others in self-sacrifice. Some of the dead were eaten by survivors. These events, painfully recorded in personal journals, rant the full range of human drama from murder and cowardice to heroism and trust. The story of the Donnar party, like that of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac is somewhat of a parable. All of life is a journey...
  • Testing, Testing, Testing

    by David Martyn
    Once a beggar named Koppel came to a strange city and went straight to the best section in town, looking for money. He saw a big, beautiful house, and rang the bell. The owner of the house, Yosele, invited him in. They sat for a while, having tea and cake, discussing many things. Finally, Yosele asked Koppel, the beggar, what he wanted. It should be no mystery; Koppel said that he needed some money to get a place to stay and food. Well, the change in Yosele was from day to night. His face turned dark with anger. He yelled a few obscenities at Koppel and then threw him out onto the street, telling him never to return. Koppel brushed himself off and went to the town’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Kalman. The good rabbi gave Koppel advice on where to go and where not to go. One thing for sure, he said, never try to get anything out of the town miser who lived in a big house in the wealthy section and whose name was Yosele. "I’ve met him already," said Koppel. "So, nu?" asked the rabbi. "You are correct. He was pleasant at first. But when I asked for money, I was out on my head." "That is the way it is with him," Kalman said. "He seems nice, but, oy vey, what a temper!" So, Koppel, the beggar, followed the rabbi’s advice and found a place to live. He must have done something right because the next Friday morning when he awoke, he discovered an envelope under the door with the exact amount of money needed to buy food for Shabbat and to carry him through the week...
  • No Reservations

    by James McCrea
    ("Different cultures understand everyday events in divergent ways, which can sometimes lead to unanticipated problems. For example, one American Peace Corps volunteer was assigned to a small village in the Dominican Republic. On their first morning there, the volunteer went out for an early morning jog...")
  • Radical Trust

    by Jim McCrea
    Jill Duffield, the editor of The Presbyterian Outlook, tells of a mission trip her husband went on to Guatemala roughly 17 years ago. Like the mission trip Delight and I went on to Kenya last January, it wasn’t about painting projects or Bible studies. Instead, the focus was on building relationships. Jill says the trip was transformative for her husband. Here’s how she describes it: “Despite the jet lag and travel weariness, he was eager to talk about all he’d seen. The country was beautiful, the people warm, the guide patient. Then he said something I didn’t expect. He said, ‘I had the best meal of my life there.’ ‘Really?’ I asked. ‘What was it?’ ‘A bowl of black beans and hardboiled egg.’ He was effusive about this meal.
  • The Competition

    by Lynn Miller
    ("The prize would be a commission to create a set of doors for the Florence Baptistry. At least seven artists entered the competition in 1401, creating a competition piece using the specified size, shape and material. The assigned subject was the sacrifice of Isaac. The work - not surprisingly - differed. Only two of those competition panels come down to us today...")
  • Proper 8A

    by Robert Morrison
    ("James Carroll, whose book about Christians' struggle about participation in anti-Semitism, among other prejudices, wrote 'there are four Gospels, not one...")
  • Proper 8A

    by J. Paul Mullen
    ("On a similar note, I had a friend in high school named Mike. Mike was a fine musician. All he wanted to do was to go to college, get in a band and spend the rest of his life making music..." and other illustrations)
  • Trust Dad

    by Larry Patten
    ("As I 'watched' Abraham guide his son toward that makeshift altar, I recall Dad taking my dog Ginger to the vet, but returning home alone. I'd always wanted a dog. I whined about getting a dog. I pleaded with Mom. I promised Dad I'd do everything necessary to care for a puppy. My parents, though not pet lovers, finally succumbed to their eager nine-year-old son. I don't think I kept all my promises. I suspect Mom and Dad spent more time caring for Ginger than they wanted. But! I! Had! A! Dog! And then one day I didn't...")
  • Holy Is the Lord

    Song and Video by Andrew Petersen
  • Perfectly Related

    by Michael Phillips
    ("In C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund betrays his friends Peter, Susan, and Lucy. In the land of Narnia, a traitor must pay the price of blood. If not, Narnia will perish in fire and water...")
  • A Cup of Water for Isaac

    by Andrew Prior
    includes several quotes
  • The Anatomy of Sacrifice

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("That is the exact set of dynamics within the story of Abraham offering to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac comes to him as the greatest, most-undeserved, gift of his life. His willingness to sacrifice him parallels the instinctual gesture: 'I don’t deserve this! I cannot accept this!' He offers the gift back to its giver. But the giver, Love itself, stops the gesture and gives the gift the second time. Now Abraham can receive Isaac, without guilt, as gift...")
  • Proper 8A (2017)

    from Sacra Conversazione
    In The Gift of Death, Jacques Derrida writes about this discovery which Abraham made (and caused Kierkegaard to call him “the Second Father of the human race”): “…this is the moment when Abraham gives the sign of absolute sacrifice, namely by putting to death or giving death to his own son, putting to death his absolute love for what is dearest, his only son; this is the instant of absolute imminence in which Abraham can no longer go back on his decision, nor even suspend it. In this instant, therefore, in the imminence that no longer even separates the decision from the act, God gives him back his son….”
  • Failed the Test

    by Norm Seli
  • Getting Real

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
  • This Is a Test

    by Mark Trotter
  • Courageous Faith

    by Keith Wagner
    ("When Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac in 1982, it had just taken off from Washington National Airport. There were a few survivors struggling in the icy waters. Priscilla Tirado was too weak to grab the line when the helicopter dropped the line to her. A watching bystander, Congressional Budget Office assistant Lenny Skutnik, stripped off his coat and boots, and in short sleeves, dove into the icy water, and swam out to assist her")
  • Living Up to the Test

    by Keith Wagner
  • What God Wants

    by Keith Wagner
  • Isaac and Ishmael

    Script from TV show West Wing
    (first show done after the tragedies of 9/11)
  • Better Than Luck

    by Carl Wilton
    Three times this little story uses the word, “provide.” It’s the one point the author of Genesis hammers home, so we don’t miss it. This is not a story about luck. It’s a story about something else that may resemble luck, but is very different. It’s a story about something called providence. Hiding within that larger word is the word, “provide.” Providence is how God generously provides us with the essentials of life. And it’s something we’d all do well to rely on a little more confidently than we do. Forget lottery tickets. Forget the St. Joseph statue buried in the backyard. Forget rubbing the tummy of the laughing Buddha. It’s God’s providence that will really get you through, not dumb luck.
  • Images of Abraham and Isaac

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Abraham

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
    (see especially Eye of God)

Other Resources from 2020

  • Proper 8A (2020)

    by Amanda Benckhuysen
  • Abraham and Meeting the Test

    by Gerald L. Borchert
  • Abraham

    by Frederick Buechner
  • Proper 8A (2020)

    by Joseph Coleson
  • Gift, Not Sacrifice

    by Cynthia Dahlin
  • Bound for Glory

    by Jim Eaton
    Woody Guthrie sang a song called Bound for Glory. It’s an old mountain spiritual, I guess it didn’t appeal to the more urban, middle class people of Congregational Churches, because it’s not in any of our hymnals. It’s not a hymnal sort of song, it’s the sort you just know and you sing without a book. The song says, This train is bound for glory, this train This train is bound for glory, this train This train is bound for glory But riding that train takes some faith. That’s the thing about trains, you have to give up some control. You can’t steer the train, you can’t make the train stop or go, you have to have a little faith in the engineer. Abraham had faith in God and his faith carried him to a terrible place. After this place, Genesis doesn’t record Sarah or Isaac ever speaking to him again. But in that place, he realized God had provided...
  • Call Me Ishmael

    by Jim Eaton
  • Desires of the Heart

    by Julie Dotterweich Gunby
  • Given

    Art and Theology by Victoria Jones
    Sunday’s lectionary reading from Genesis is a difficult one—about Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son Isaac. Christians have traditionally understood it as a prefiguration of the sacrifice of Jesus, the beloved and faithful Son who, like Isaac, carried the wood for his own sacrifice to the top of a mountain and laid down on it to die. He is also the lamb who takes our place, saving us from the flames of death. Jamaican artist Greg Bailey casts two young black men as Abraham and Isaac. Isaac lies down on a floral-printed sheet, his open palms facing upward in surrender, as Abraham, whose face is hidden from our view, raises his machete...
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 8A)(2020)

    by Stan Mast
    The story is so dramatic that it sounds fictional, but multiple sources say it is true. A famous tightrope artist rode his bicycle back and forth on a line stretched over Niagara Falls. After he had done that several times, he called out to the crowd, “Do you believe I can do it again?” And the crowd shouted back, “Yes!” “Do you really trust that I can?” “Yes!” “Good,” he said, “Who would like to climb on my back and ride over with me?” The crowd melted away. In theory they trusted, but when their own lives were on the line, they didn’t. The only way to prove your trust is to pass the test of putting your life on the line.
  • The Anatomy of Sacrifice

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    Webster's definition of a sacrifice is the surrender of something of value for the sake of something else. That is a good definition, but it contains more than first meets the eye, as is evident when we look at the concept of sacrifice in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Take, for example, the famous story where Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. What is ultimately behind God's invitation to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on an altar?...
  • Proper 8A

    by Howard Wallace et al

Other Resources from 2017 to 2019

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Other Resources from 2014 to 2016

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Other Resources from 2011 to 2013

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Other Resources from 1999 to 2010

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources and Dramas

Currently Unavailable

  • And God Said "Just Trust Me"

    by Jim Chern
    When was the last time you had someone say to you “Just Trust Me” for something… when your doubts, suspicions, and worries were really doing a number on you? To the point that you just couldn’t see a way forward, not knowing how this situation was going to pan out or you weren’t even sure if there would be an answer or a solution - yet, someone was emphatically trying to encourage you to keep going, not give into despair, not lose hope, to keep trying, and keep believing, no matter what. Even to the point of pleading with you that to keep the faith- that if you couldn’t trust yourself, then to trust them: Just trust Me. For example: Having a friend who was given some incredibly bleak news by one doctor, being encouraged to go to another, to try something else, and finally finding that someone else who affirmed yes you will die – we all will one day - but not because of this and not when that other doctor told you would – just trust me... Which happily was very spot on...
  • Word Search

    by Don Crownover
  • Easter Vigil

    by Charles Irvin
  • Now I Know

    by James Mays
  • Mount Moriah

    by Alan Mizelle
  • Lent 2B (2015)

    by Jim Schmitmeyer
  • Changing Our Perception of God

    by Alex Thomas
    My understanding is that in early times the Canaanite religion demanded the sacrifice of a son to the fiery god Marduk. This was ingrained in the people's thinking, and they felt that an offering such as this was necessary to keep foreign enemies from invading the land. This kind of thinking was common. There was human sacrifice in that part of the world, and human sacrifice is indicated in some other parts of the Hebrew Scriptures. This story of Abraham taking Isaac up to the mountain to sacrifice him illustrates to me a change in Abraham's understanding of God. This God that was calling him to be the father of a new nation was not like Marduk or any of the other gods worshipped by the people of that time and place. Abraham discovered that this God that he was coming to know did not demand human sacrifice.