Isaac was the firstborn son of Sarah but second son of Abraham, Ishmael the son of a concubine being Abraham’s firstborn. However as indicated in the previous post the promises to Abraham state that in Isaac Abraham’s seed would be called. Hence he is presented as the inheritor of the promises.
Genesis 24, details how Rebekah, Isaac’s wife is found for him when aged 40 (Genesis 25:20) under Abraham’s direction of his servant who travels back to Haran. She is Isaac’s niece (Genesis 24:15 Rebekah who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother).
The following summarises the main events recorded of the life of Isaac:-
- Genesis 25:20, Isaac, aged 40 takes Rebekah to wife.
- Genesis 25:22-23, Rebekah, pregnant with twins, told that elder will serve younger.
- Genesis 25:26, Isaac, aged 60, has 2 children by Rebekah – Esau and Jacob.
- Genesis 25:27, Esau becomes hunter, whilst Jacob agriculturist.
- Genesis 25:28, Isaac has greater affection for Esau, whilst Rebekah’s affection is greater for Jacob.
- Genesis 25:30-34, Esau, when hungry sold his birthright to Jacob for ‘mess of pottage’.
- Genesis 26, Isaac, in time of famine sojourned in Philistine territory, re-digging wells that Abraham had previously used.
- Genesis 26:34, Esau, aged 40 takes wives of Hittite origin, which are said to have been ‘a grief of mind’ to his parents.
- Genesis 27, Isaac, old and blind fearing that death might be near, instructs Esau to bring him a venison dish that he might eat and give his blessing upon Esau. Rebekah instructs Jacob to masquerade as Esau with a goat meat dish and claim the blessing. Isaac, blesses Jacob as a firstborn, and when Esau returns, he weeps for his loss demanding a secondary blessing.
- Genesis 27:41-46, Due to Jacob’s receipt of Isaac’s blessing, Esau expresses his hatred with determination to kill Jacob once Isaac is dead. Rebekah, arranges for Jacob to flee to Haran to her brother Laban, hoping with time the hatred would be reduced.
- Genesis 28:1-5, Isaac instructs Jacob to leave for Haran and Laban to take a wife from there.
- Genesis 35:27-29, Isaac dies aged 180 in Hebron.
Confirmation of Isaac as the inheritor of the Abramic promises is given in:- Genesis 26:2-4 the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Genesis 26:24 the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.
Paul in the NT, uses aspects of Isaac’s life in explanation of God’s choice of those to whom he shows grace. He also contends that as Isaac was chosen over and above his elder brother Ishmael, so God had chosen those of faith, of both Gentile and Jewish origin over and above the natural seed of Abraham. In Hebrews , the apostle offers Esau’s sale of his birthright as a warning to Christians, not to let go the opportunity they had been given, for salvation.
Romans 9:7-16 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
Hebrews 12:15-17 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
Next time we will look at the life of Jacob