<<promised son of Abraham and Sarah>>
He was one of the three patriarchs or father figures of the nation of Israel (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). God had said several times to Abraham that he would have a son and ultimately a great nation would result. Sarah was barren and Ishmael (Isaac’s older stepbrother) was born to Sarah’s maid. However, God continued to state that Sarah would be the mother of the promised child. Isaac was finally born, 14 yrs after Ishmael, much to his parents delight. His wife was Rebekah, and he was the father of Esau and Jacob. He was born about 2066 BC and his story is told in Genesis 17:15-35:29, with various references in the NT.
Lessons from his life: * Isaac was miraculously spared from being slain by his father in the test of faith and devotion when God told Abraham to “offer your son to me as a sacrifice”. God intervened at the last-minute and a ram was sacrificed instead of the boy (Gen 22:2,12,13). Isaac had questioned his father about the lack of a visible sacrifice on the way up the mountain, not aware that it was to be him. Imagine the relief when he was freed as a “living sacrifice” and the ram was slain instead. God did not want the physical death of Isaac as He condemned such practices (Ex 20:13; Lev 20:1-6). However, He wanted all those involved to know that Abraham loved God more than he loved this long awaited son, who could have become an idol. We too will be challenged in our heart to sacrifice anything that is misplacing Him (Ex 20:3-5; Rom 12:1,2). As ‘living sacrifices’, we should be extremely thankful that Christ took our place.
* He prayed to God that Rebekah his wife, who was barren, would be able to have a child (Gen 25:21). This was necessary for God’s promise to Abraham for ‘a great nation’ coming to pass. The women of three successive generations of this family line were unable to conceive until there was divine intervention (Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel). Often the purposes and promises of God are not easily appropriated. There is a spiritual battle and the obstacles must be brought into submission to Christ (2 Cor 10:4,5; Eph 6:12). Do I really press into God, not accepting anything less than His promises becoming reality?
* He lied, stating that Rebekah was his sister, and not his wife (Gen 26:6-11). He was fearful of his life. This was the same tactic his father Abraham had used in a similar situation (Gen 12:10-19). Good and bad values and habits often run in the family. What character qualities am I passing on to those who follow me?
* Rather than resort to conflict he withdrew on three separate occasions when the all-important water wells were at the center of disputes (Gen 26:17-22). He valued peace above his rights. However we need wisdom to know when to compromise and surrender our rights and when to stand up and fight for a non-negotiable principle. Conflicts are easily started yet hard to resolve. How do I react when something of value and necessity is taken from me or things don’t go my way and my ego is not ministered to? (Lk 6:29; Heb 10:34).
* Isaac favoured Esau, one of his twin sons more than Jacob, the other, and this created conflict within the family (Gen 25:28). Favouritism always creates jealousy, ill feeling and tension.
* Responding to the comment of Rebekah he gave wise instructions to Jacob not to marry an unbeliever in God (Gen 27:46, 28:1). If Esau received this counsel he did not follow it (Gen 26:34,35, 28:6-9). Although the final decision rests with the individual, it is the parent’s responsibility to provide guidance for their children, especially in the major areas of life, to avoid heartache later for all concerned.
See also: Abraham, Esau, favouritism, Ishmael, Jacob, Rebekah.