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By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. – Hebrews 11:20

So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. – Genesis 22:6-8

As we have examined the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah we have seen that their trust in God, based upon His character and His Word, led them to obedience. They have been commended for their faith and set up before us as examples. We have looked in some depth at Genesis 22 where Abraham was instructed to take and offer Isaac as a sacrifice to the Lord. We have seen Abraham’s faith that even in the event that God really would require Isaac’s life, God would and could raise him from the dead in order to keep His covenant promises to Abraham through his son Isaac.

But it struck me that as we looked at Abraham we forgot to look at Isaac. Now Isaac is listed as one of the faithful as we see in the verses following where we have been in Hebrews 11. But what about this specific situation?

Isaac had to have faith. His faith led to obedience. Think about this for a minute. It was Isaac who was bound and placed by his father on that altar. Let us examine the Scriptures and see what we can learn about Isaac and his faith – faith that led him to be willing to die in obedience and submission to his father and to the Lord.

Genesis 22:6-8 gives us this glimpse of what Isaac was thinking. The two of them went together. Isaac knew they were going to worship, to offer a sacrifice to God. He was obedient to go with his father, and as any son, probably glad to have the time to be with dad. As they travelled along to the mountain he had a question. Where was the sacrifice? Abraham’s simple response exposes his faith, even as he knew that he had been commanded to offer Isaac – he replied, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.”

Isaac accepted what Abraham stated. He had faith too that God would provide a sacrifice. What trust and submission to his dad then as they arrived at the altar and Abraham bound Isaac and prepared to offer him. The Bible is silent as to anything else the two talked about on this journey but you have to wonder what they said to each other as Abraham began to tie Isaac up and place him on that altar.

We hear nothing of questions, or a struggle, or resistance. Abraham obeyed God and Isaac obeyed Abraham – trusting him with his very life. Make no mistake, Isaac was old enough to fight off Abraham if he so desired. Abraham was well over 100 years old and we know from the text that Isaac was at least 20. Surely he could have overpowered his elderly father if he so desired. His faith in God and in Abraham was such that there is no indication at all that Isaac did anything less that consent to what was happening.

We know that Ephesians 6:1 tells children to obey their parents. We know the duty we have to respect and obey those who have authority over us. But do we really have this kind of faith? Faith in God and His Word and His power over life and death to willingly trust God and those He has placed over us with our very lives?

Since we do not have any more information about this from this text, what else does the Bible tell us about Isaac so that we can see the example of faithful obedience that he is for us?

Isaac took time to meditate on the Lord (Gen 24:63), he prayed (Gen 25:21), he walked with God and was blessed by Him (Gen 26:12), he blessed his sons (Heb 11:20), and he died as part of the covenant wherein God identified Himself throughout Scripture as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Isaac was a man of faith,and we see the example of the obedience that faith will lead us to if we truly take God at His Word and trust Him with our lives. So often we try so hard to survive when God wants us to surrender. To give up. We forget at times that we live by dying and are commanded to crucify ourselves daily and to die to self.

Abraham, it says in Hebrews 11, figuratively received Isaac back from the dead, as if to say that to Abraham, Isaac was indeed as good as dead as soon as God asked for his life on that alter. Why? Because Abraham trusted God and obeyed Him. His hope was that God would raise Isaac from the dead. So when Isaac got off that altar and the ram caught in the thicket became the sacrifice provided by God, truly Isaac was received as being brought back to life from the dead.

Do we believe what the Bible tells us about heaven? About Jesus being the resurrection and the life and those of us who believe in Him though we may die we will live? Do we believe it? If God is able to give or take our physical life from us then why is it so hard to trust Him with our daily life?

Let us learn from Isaac. God can be trusted and faith leads to unquestioned obedience. Faith leads to faith. As we believe God He proves Himself true and that gives us even more cause to believe and know that God is able.

We know from the record given in Genesis that the Lord promised a son to Abraham from which would come a great nation. Abraham trusted God even though he was 100 years old before the son of promise was given. Despite Sarah‘s barreness and menopause, the Lord kept His Word. Of course Isaac had received the promises as well but after he was married it became clear that Rebekah was barren and could not have children. There were still no children given to her by the time she was in her late fifties.

As a result, in Genesis 25, Isaac prayed for her that she would conceive and bear children. Otherwise the promise and the covenant would be broken.

The Lord heard his prayer and Rebekah conceived twins. They struggled in the womb to the point that Rebekah wondered if she and they were okay. As she sought the Lord about it, the reply was that she had two nations in her womb represented by the two boys to which she would give birth. One would be stronger than the other and the older would serve the younger. Esau was born first with Jacob soon to follow, born when Rebekah was sixty years old.

As promised, during their growing up years, Esau came in from an unsuccessful hunt one day and was very hungry. Jacob had stayed home and cooked a lentil stew, and when Esau asked for something to eat he gave him the meal with one condition. Jacob wanted Esau‘s birthright.

As the firstborn, there were certain promises and privileges afforded to Esau. He was so hungry and the stew smelled so good that he swore his birthright over to Jacob for the meal. As a result the older would now be forced to serve the younger.

The stew he ate was red in color and so Esau was called Edom which means “red.” His nickname then was Red. It is a name that stuck too. The descendents of Esau became the nation of Edom. Of course the descendents of Jacob (whose name was later changed by God to Israel) became the nation of Israel. So the promises were fulfilled.

Later in life as Isaac was near death he called for Esau and wanted to bless him, to give him his birthright, ignoring or perhaps ignorant of the trade that he had made with Jacob. Isaac asked Esau to go hunt and prepare a meal for him. Rebekah heard this and after Esau departed to hunt, she took and killed 2 goats and made a meal. She also called Jacob to her and used the hair from the goats to disguise Jacob as Esau – Esau was very hairy, even from birth! Jacob was a mama’s boy, smooth skinned, and not at all like the hunter and outdoorsman Esau.

The deception worked. Isaac, who was blind, could not tell that it was Jacob. He was suspicious of the voice, but Jacob had the hairy feel and outdoorsy smell of Esau, so Isaac was fooled and gave the blessing of the birthright to Jacob.

After this, Esau returned and the deception was uncovered, but the blessing had been given and could not be revoked. Isaac did bless Esau, but it was not near the blessing of the birthright. It included the phrase that he would serve his younger brother, by virtue of Jacob having been given the birthright – fulfilling the promise.

As we see this drama unfold we have to stop and remember that Isaac is mentioned in Hebrews 11 for blessing his boys concerning their future. How was this a matter of faith amidst the deception and swapped blessings?

The faithfulness here is that Isaac passed on the promises made to Abraham by God. In faith, he believed that what God had promised his father, and later him, would still come to pass through his family line. Here are the blessings he gave, based in the faith that God would keep His covenant.

The Blessing Given to Jacob

May God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!

The Blessing Given to Esau

Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck.

Both of these blessings have an eye toward the future and toward the promises made and kept by God to this family. His faith was rooted in what he had heard and seen growing up in Abraham‘s house. From his own encounters with God. As we have seen, Issac was faithful. A man who knew God would keep His Word, and a man who was not disappointed.

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