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When all hope is gone, Lord provides a Lamb

At the October 1992 general conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of some of his favorite stories from the Bible, and then commented on their teachings and impact on his life. One story was that of Abraham and Isaac, which he said, he thought he understood as a boy but did not begin to understand until later.

"The Lord spoke to Abraham and told him to take his son Isaac and go to the top of a mountain in the land of Moriah `and offer him there for a burnt offering,' " Elder Oaks said, quoting Gen. 22:2."Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled one of his animals, and they started out. I thought that Isaac must have felt privileged to be with his father on such a trip.

"On the third day, Abraham and Isaac climbed the mountain to worship. Like most young men, Isaac was curious. He saw the fire and the wood and the knife they carried, `but,' he asked his father, `where is the lamb for a burnt offering?' (Gen. 22:7.) I did not realize until I had sons of my own how much pain Abraham must have felt when he answered simply, `My son, God will provide.' (22:8.)

"When they came to the prescribed place, Abraham built an altar and laid wood upon it. Then, the Bible says, `Abraham . . . bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.' (Gen. 22:9.) What did Isaac think when Abraham did such a strange thing? The Bible mentions no struggle or objection. Isaac's silence can be explained only in terms of his trust in and obedience to his father.

"And then the Bible says, `Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.' (Gen. 22:10.)

"As you know, Abraham had passed his test, and the Lord saved young Isaac. `Lay not thine hand upon the lad,' an angel commanded Abraham. (Gen. 22:12.) A ram whose horns were caught in a thicket became the offering, instead of Isaac.

"As a young man, I saw mostly the adventure in that story, though I was surely impressed with Isaac's obedience. When I was older, I learned that the experience of Abraham and Isaac was what the scriptures call a type, which is a likeness or reminder of something else. The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said that the command for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac was `a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.' (Jacob 4:5.)

"This story also shows the goodness of God in protecting Isaac and in providing a substitute so he would not have to die. Because of our sins and our mortality, we, like Isaac, are condemned to death. When all other hope is gone, our Father in Heaven provides the Lamb of God, and we are saved by His sacrifice.

"The Apostle Paul taught that the scriptures are `given by inspiration of God' and are `profitable . . . for instruction in righteousness.' (2 Tim. 3:16.) We obtain instruction in righteousness from the experiences recorded in the scriptures. They provide what we might call case studies of the results of keeping or breaking the commandments of God."