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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”

Hebrews 11: 20

Isaac, the only son of Abraham by his wife Sarah, was born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90. Abraham laughed with pleasure when informed that he would have a son that would be born in his old age (Genesis 17: 17). Sarah laughed in disbelief when she was informed on the subject (Genesis 18: 12), but she laughed in joy and appreciation at the time of Isaac’s birth (Genesis 21: 6). This explains why Abraham named him Isaac, which means “laughter” (Genesis 21: 3).

Isaac, the rightful heir to Abraham, brought him into conflict with Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Sarah’s handmaid Hagar. The strained family relationship caused Sarah to demand that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away (Genesis 21: 9, 10). This grieved Abraham, although God comforted him by telling him that Ishmael would also become the father of a nation (Genesis 21: 11-13).

Isaac’s Marriage

Following Sarah’s death and burial, Abraham sent his servant, under God’s direction, to bring back a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s country and family. The servant found Rebekah, who willingly came back with him, and Isaac married her (Genesis 24). Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau, the older, and Jacob, the younger (Genesis 25: 21-26).

Famine forced Isaac and his family to move to Gerar, where the Lord appeared to him, and reaffirmed the covenant that He had made with Abraham (Genesis 26: 3, 4). Interestingly, Isaac passed off Rebekah as his sister instead of his wife, just as Abraham had done with Sarah (Genesis 26: 6-11). Isaac became quite prosperous, and he reopened the wells that Abraham’s servants had dug. He eventually settled in Beersheba where he built an altar, as Abraham had done (Genesis 26: 12-25).

Although the eldest son was normally the most favored, Rebekah remembered God’s declaration that the older would serve the younger (Genesis 25: 23); therefore, Rebekah and Jacob conspired to deceive the aged and blind Isaac into giving the chief blessing and birthright to Jacob. Later, Esau received a lesser blessing (Genesis 27).

Isaac died when he was 180 years old, and was buried by his sons in the cave of Machpelah (Genesis 35: 28, 29) (Genesis 49: 30, 31).

Isaac’s Admirable Character

Isaac was a quiet, thoughtful, non-resistant child and man. The chief characteristics of his character are his meek, obedient, patient and peaceful disposition, especially his faith in God and in the promises made to Abraham.

His obedience is seen by his submitting to his father Abraham as a sacrifice, an angel intervening at the last moment (Genesis 22: 6-12); and his peaceful nature is shown by his preferring to move to different locations rather than have strife and contention (Genesis 26: 20-22).

Our text shows that Isaac had faith in the Abrahamic promise by conveying the Abrahamic blessing to his son Jacob with full confidence; and he manifested equal faith in that promise when he gave a blessing to Esau also, realizing that under that original promise all the families of the earth will be blessed, including Esau’s family.

Isaac a Picture of Christ

God used Isaac and various events in his life to picture future greater individuals and events. Three examples follow:

(1.) Isaac, meaning “laughter,” was the child of promise; but on a grander scale he pictures Christ Jesus and His Church as the Children of promise. Even though they suffered many trials and sufferings in this life, they were “joyful in tribulation,” and in God’s Kingdom they will bless, and bring laughter and joy to mankind.  

(2.) Abraham offering his son Isaac on the altar pictures how the Heavenly Father freely offered up His Son on behalf of Father Adam and his race; but the Son’s sacrifice did not mean His eternal destruction, for the Father raised Him from the dead on the third day to the Divine nature. Furthermore, the Church had the privilege of suffering with Christ, and of proving her loyalty, so that she can reign with Him in God’s Kingdom.

(3.) Abraham arranging for his servant to find a wife for Isaac pictures God arranging for the calling and journey of the members of the future Bride of Christ during the Gospel Age; and the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah pictures the marriage of Christ and His Church at the end of the Gospel Age.