In our discussion on faith in Relief Society meeting last Sunday, we spoke of Abraham and Isaac and their faith that God would provide. Someone made the statement that Isaac was a grown man and would have had to help himself onto the altar…that Abraham couldn’t have lifted him. Several others had heard and/or taught the same. How old was he — and is there scriptural reference to his age, or do we deduce his age from other scriptures?
The estimate of Isaac’s age at the time of their journey to the land of Moriah where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son has been taken from Jewish tradition. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, has recorded the following statement of the subject-
“Abraham takes Isaac, his only begotten son, up upon Mount Moriah, there to sacrifice him at the Lord’s command; and Isaac, reputed by Jewish tradition to be thirty-seven years of age at the time, submits willingly to his father’s will-all as a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son [Jacob 4:5] (The Mortal Messiah, Vol.1, p.364).
But why would anyone think that Abraham could not have lifted a grown man up on the altar? True, he was 100 years old when Isaac was born, and if Isaac were 37 at the time of the sacrifice, Abraham would have been 137 at the time. I suppose those who think that he was so weak try to compare him to a 137-year-old man in our day and age. Abraham lived to be 175 years old. If he declined in strength according to his age in proportion to the ages of men today, he would have had the strength comparable to a man today in his 50’s. Since Abraham tied Isaac up he would have had to have placed him on the alter. Do those who think that he wouldn’t have the strength to lift his grown son, believe that based on their astute deductions of the strength of men in Abraham’s time that the scriptures are wrong?
On the other hand, if Isaac had refused to be the sacrificial victim, there is no doubt that he could have successfully resisted his father’s efforts to place him on the alter. Hence, he would have had to have voluntarily submitted to his father’s will. As such, consistent with the above statement by Elder McConkie, both Abraham and Isaac willingly bowed to the Father’s will in their willingness to typify the great atoning sacrifice of the Savior.