Isaac is one of the most faithful biblical characters who were mentioned in Hebrews 11. He is the promised son of Abraham and Sarah. His name means laughter, which is derived from the reaction of his mother when she heard that she will have a child in her old age. He later married Rebekah and had two sons, Esau and Jacob.
The story of Isaac started in Genesis 21 and continued on until chapter 27. With this in mind, there is no doubt that we can learn a lot from His life. Isaac’s story must teach us lessons about how to be a man of God and a man for his family. Though not perfect, the life of Isaac will certainly teach us many lessons.
Lesson no. 1: Let God choose a mate for you
Next to baptism, choosing a mate is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make in this lifetime. Once you are married to a person, you are bound by God’s blessing and grace.
Jesus Christ, Himself, said this about marriage:
Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read the scripture that says that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female? And God said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together” (Matthew 19:4-6).
With the magnitude and impact marriage will have in your life, it is only rational for us to give it a deep and serious consideration before we ever decide whom to marry. When it comes to marriage, it is important for us to seek the will of God rather than our will.
When Isaac is seeking for a wife, it was his father who commanded that Isaac must look for a wife in the Abraham’s homeland. He strictly instructed his servant to never take a wife for Isaac among the daughters of the Canaanites.
At this point in time, we can learn some principles when choosing a mate. First and foremost, we need to consider the character of our future mate. Abraham knew the Canaanites are destined to ruin because of their wickedness. Isaac marrying a Canaanite would mean that he might be influenced to follow their sinful ways.
Another point to consider is to listen to wise counsel. Choosing a mate is not a joke. Isaac knew this and he listened to his father’s counsel. He knew that Abraham is being inspired by God and he will certainly give a good advice to Isaac.
In the same manner, we need to listen to our parents when making a decision. They might see something that we don’t even see because of our emotion. Finally, we can also seek counsel from our pastors and elders.
Let God write your love story and you will have a more blessed marriage.
Finally, when we read the story of how the servant of Abraham found a wife for Isaac, we can really see the hand of God working in the scene. Abraham’s servant prayed, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham” (Genesis 24:12). Not only did Abraham and Isaac put their providence in the hands of God, but also the trusted servant.
This shows us that God will guide those who seek His will. He is more than willing to help those who will submit to his commandments and purpose. Therefore, let God write your love story and you will have a more blessed marriage.
Lessons no. 2: Never play favoritism
Just like his mother, Isaac’s wife is barren. However, Isaac and Rebekah did not put the matter on their hand. They have waited on the Lord for about 20 years. Isaac fervently pleaded to God and “the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Genesis 25). Isaac did have a son, not just one, but two. He had twin children, namely Esau and Jacob.
The problem quickly becomes evident. “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:28). The game of favoritism played by Isaac and Rebekah will soon show its ugly head. Instead of being close brothers, Esau and Jacob grew to become rivals.
The rivalry between the two siblings led to Rebekah and Jacob deceiving Isaac. They tricked Isaac to give the blessing upon Jacob, instead of Esau.
As parents and even Christians, we must not play favorites. We know from the scripture that God shows no favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:7; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11). James repeatedly instructed early Christians not to show favoritism (James 2:1, 9).
The life of Isaac shows us the negative effects of showing partiality or favoritism. As Christians, we need to remember that Jesus Christ died for all of us. He did not just died for a specific group of people. He did not just died for Christians, but He died for the whole world (John 3:16).
It is very clear that the biggest problems in the family of Isaac could have been avoided if they did not show favoritism.
Therefore, it is imperative for us Christians not to be selective to whom we show goodness. Yes, Galatians 6:10 tells us, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith”. There are priorities that we must always take into consideration, but God still expects to do good to all as the opportunity presents itself.
Lesson no. 3: Be submissive to the will of God
It is very obvious that Isaac favored his son, Esau more than Jacob. He surely is more than willing to give the double portion of his inheritance to Esau. Since it is also the custom of the land, the elder brother must receive more inheritance than his younger siblings. But this did not happen in the case of Esau and Jacob.
Before Esau and Jacob were born, the Lord said to Rebekah:
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
Isaac might have also known about this prophecy as Rebekah has told him. This is the will of God from the very beginning. However, it is important to note that God is not playing favoritism here as well. We will see later that Esau indeed possesses the wrong attitude.
Esau did not put enough importance on his birthright. As a matter of fact, he sold it to Jacob for bread and a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:33). The Genesis account further added, “Thus Esau despised his birthright” (verse 34).
When the time finally comes to give the blessing to Esau, Isaac was deceived to bless Jacob instead. When Isaac realized that he blessed the wrong person, he “trembled exceedingly” and wept (Genesis 27:33, 38).
At that point in time, he recognized that it was really the will of God. Isaac knew that what had transpired was contrary to the tradition of the land. He could have withdrawn the blessing he gave to Jacob since it was done in deceit. Nevertheless, he submitted to the will of God and said to Esau, “Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him” (Genesis 27:37).
For this reason, we read in Hebrews 11:21:
By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
Like Isaac, we might have our own plans and wants in our lives. However, we must align our will to God’s will if we really want to live a life pleasing to Him. If there is one thing that you want to happen in your life, it must be the will of God.
God’s will is perfect and we can never improve that is already perfect.
We can always have the confidence that God’s plan is way better than our plans, far more than what we can imagine. Yes, it is undeniable that life is often unfair, but God is always fair, just, and merciful.
When our plans fail, we can take comfort from this beautiful passage:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Lessons no. 4: Give our life as our ultimate sacrifice
Maybe the most interesting part of the life of Isaac is the time when he was about to be killed by his father and be offered as a burnt sacrifice. In this incidence, God had confirmed the faith of Abraham.
When we read Genesis 22:1-19, it is so easy to focus our mind to Abraham. Nevertheless, have you ever thought what could have been running through the mind of Isaac when he realized that he would serve as the burnt sacrifice?
As Abraham and Isaac approached the place where the offering shall be made, Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb is. Abraham answered Isaac, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (verse 8).
The next scene could have been a very frightening situation for Isaac.
“Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood” (verse 9).
The Bible did not say much about how Isaac reacted, but we can assume there was no struggle. By this time, Isaac could have been a teenager or older. He could have been old enough to resist, but he willingly let his father tie and offer him.
Christians must be faithful even to the point of death.
We can learn from this episode that Isaac is indeed a faithful man even during his youth. There is no doubt that the thought of being killed and burned sent a flood of fear in Isaac’s mind. As he laid down there and watched his father raise a big knife to drive through his body, he did not resist but laid still.
We can see that his faith is greater than his fear. He was a courageous man who believed his father when Abraham said; “God will provide for Himself a lamb”. Isaac is willing to be faithful even to the point of death.
In the same manner, we are expected to sacrifice our lives in the service of God. In the new covenant with God, we are not expected to kill sheep and lay it as an offering. On the contrary, God wants us to do a greater sacrifice.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
God expects us to surrender our life to Him without holding anything back. We must present our lives as a living sacrifice to him, a sacrifice that is holy and acceptable. It is only through living our lives for God that we will surely find fulfillment in this life.
Lesson no. 5: Choose to be a peacemaker
One of the most important commodities in the Middle Eastern region is water. Thus, if you found water by digging a well, it means a lot for you.
Isaac is a diligent well digger. However, when he and his servant found water, “the herdsman of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen” and unjustly took possession of the well. Instead of fighting over the well, Isaac moved from one place to another. This incident happened more than once.
Like Isaac, sometimes we must choose peace over victory.
We can see that Isaac preferred peace rather than being right. Yes, there are times when we should fight for our right but Isaac recognized that vengeance belongs to God and He shall repay (Romans 12:19). Isaac surrendered his problem to God and let Him handle it.
Even the most peaceable man will even find trouble in this world governed by Satan. Psalm 120:7 tells us, “When I speak of peace, they are of war”. Though Isaac knew that he rightly owned the well, he cleaved to his peaceable principle. He preferred peace over victory.
When we seek peace, sooner or later, we will find peace. This is what happened to Isaac. After digging a third well, the people of Gerar stop contending with him.
A great reward awaits for those who love peace. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, said:
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).
Isaac’s life may not be as exciting and powerful than his father, but we can see that God uses him to confirm his promises to Abraham. Jesus Christ came from the lineage of Isaac. Because of Isaac’s faithfulness and God’s grace, he is accounted to be in the future Kingdom of God (Luke 13:28). So if you want to be part of God’s family, we must never forget the lessons from the life of Isaac.