Sunday School – Old Testament: Lesson 9

09 February

old-testament-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual-355700001As with most of their lessons this next one has a tiny bit of truth mixed in with a whole bunch of nonsense, I hope to adequately address both in the following paragraphs. The premise of lesson 9 centers on sacrifice, it gives a biblical account of Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice Isaac and touches on this being a similitude of God’s willingness to sacrifice Jesus.

Before I get to the biblical part of the lesson, I want to discuss the nonsense part first. It’s here we find ourselves one again in the book of Abraham. According to Abraham chapter 1, a young Abraham is going to be used as a sacrifice by the “false priests” of Chaldea. Is “event” isn’t recorded in the bible; the only place it occurred was in the mind of Joseph Smith.

“Elkenah”, the priest who was going to sacrifice Abraham according to Smith, wasn’t even a priest, and his name isn’t an Egyptian name.

I’m not quite sure what the class members are to glean from this fictitious story. You would think an event like this would be recorded in God’s word, but it’s not.

God commands Abraham and Sarah to take Hagar as another “wife”

In this next section the class members are asked this question:

“Why did Sarah give Hagar to Abraham as his wife?”

Perhaps a better question would be:

 “Why was Sarah disobeying God, and not trusting in Him to deliver on His promises?”

Genesis 16:1-2 reads

“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”

Hagar was a servant; she wasn’t “given” as a wife to Abraham by God. Sarah thought she  “obtain children by her (meaning Hagar)”, and therefore the child would be hers.

This section goes on to claim that God commanded Abraham and Sarah to accept Hagar as his wife:

Doctrine and Covenants 132:34-35 reads:

“34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.  35 Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it.”

We know from God’s word (Genesis 17:15-19) this isn’t true, His promise was that through Abraham and Sarah God would build a nation. He mentions nothing about Hagar when He approaches Abraham with His promise.

When we stay focused on what God has said occurred we see Abraham taking Hagar as a wife was Sarah’s doing not God’s.

Genesis 16:3 reads: “And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.”

Even though it was a common practice in those days for a barren woman to give one of her servants to her husband as a “wife” in hopes of continuing the family line, what Sarah did was a big mistake.

She received a direct promise from God, but she grew tired of waiting, and decided she knew best, taking matters into her own hands.

God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac

Finally the “tiny bit of truth” I referred to earlier. God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and that’s where it ends. Genesis 22 records Abraham and Isaac’s travel to Moriah, Abraham’s obedience to God to sacrifice his son and God providing a ram to be used as the sacrifice instead.

 While the lesson points out this is a similitude of God sacrificing Jesus, what it misses is why Abraham and Isaac were there in the first place. Abraham was making a burnt offering to the Lord, as a way of reconciling himself to the Lord, a sacrifice for sin.

It also neglects to point out what Abraham’s righteousness and obedience to God means to us. The righteousness that was accredited to Abraham is the same righteousness given to us when we repent and become followers of Jesus Christ. We can read about this in Romans 4.

Jesus became sin; He traded His righteousness for our sins so that we can have a permanent home in Heaven when we die if we only seek forgiveness of our sins and place our faith in Him.

As we see from 2 Corinthians 5:21

  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

In Christ,

Melissa Grimes (melissa@lifeafter.org

Reference:

Sunday School Old Testament Lesson 9- http://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-class-member-study-guide/lesson-9-god-will-provide-himself-a-lamb?lang=eng

Book of Abraham – http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/1?lang=eng

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