Character Sketches » Isaac
Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in Gerar when Abraham was 100 years of age and Sarah was 90. Isaac is God's promised heir to Abraham. When the Lord visited Abraham and Sarah and foretold the birth Sarah laughed because she couldn't believe she was going to have a child so late in life, especially when she had none previously. The name Isaac means “laughter” from Sarah's laughing and perhaps Abraham's laugh of joy at having his son. Jesus is considered the descendant of Isaac through Abraham by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike.
It is possible that Isaac was the first child to be circumcised on the eighth day in compliance with God's covenant with Abraham. Around the third to the fifth year of his life he was weaned and a feast was held for the occasion. During the feast it was noticed by Sarah that his half-brother Ishmael mocked Isaac, and soon he was sent away into the wilderness with his mother, Hagar, one of Abraham's concubines.
Ishmael is considered by the Muslims to be their spiritual father and many Muslims believe that Muhammad is descended from him. The scripture concerning him that might well seal that belief is found in Genesis 16:12 where it states, “And he will be a wild man, his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him, and he shall dwell in the presence of his brethren.” Since both Muslims and Jews stem from Abraham, and since they dwell in such close proximity to one another “dwelling in the presence of his brethren” could be applicable.
It is very clear that Isaac's call was inherent prior to his birth for God promised the continuation of Abraham's seed through him. He accepted the call as a matter of course because he was taught by Abraham what his course of duty was.
The first recorded journey in his life is one of the most outstanding portions of scripture in God's word. Abraham is told by God to take Isaac to Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice on a mountain which would be shown to him. Much is said of Abraham's immediate obedience and faith concerning Isaac, but even though it is outstanding, we shouldn't minimize the faith of Isaac or his obedience either. Isaac went obediently carrying the wood and only asked one question about the missing lamb for the sacrifice. How Abraham's heart must have burned within him when Isaac prefaced the question with the word; “My Father.” Then when the altar was built and the wood set, Isaac showed great courage, faith in God and his Father and obedience by submitting to being bound and placed upon the altar.
There is a similarity to Jesus Christ to be examined in Isaac's sacrifice. First, Abraham in offering his only true son and heir to the promise mirrors God giving his only begotten son. Isaac allowing himself to be bound upon the altar mirrors Christ bearing the atrocities including being nailed to the cross. Both Isaac and Jesus were obedient even though both knew it would mean their death. Both had complete trust in their Fathers. Finally, Isaac rose up from the altar and Jesus rose from the grave.
As it is recorded, God sent an angel to stop Abraham from sacrificing his son, and Abraham turned and saw a ram caught in the thicket, and Abraham's words to his son on their way up the hill were fulfilled as God had indeed provided a sacrificial lamb for the offering. God also promised Isaac that his seed would be without number.
Abraham later sends his servant to find a bride for Isaac. The servant finds Rebekah drawing from a well and she brings water for his camels which is what they servant prayed would happen to prove it was the woman of God's choice. Here again there are types which are worthy of mention. Abraham seeks a bride for his son and God the Father seeks a bride for his Son. Rebekah is the bride “called out” to be the bride of Isaac as the body of believers are “called out” to be the bride of Christ.
When Rebekah arrives, Isaac is meditating in the evening, and she sees him, and goes to meet him according to custom. So at the age of 40 Isaac took Rebekah to wife. Abraham gives Isaac everything he has before he dies, and God continues to prosper Isaac. Isaac and Ishmael both take Abraham to Macpelah and bury him with Sarah.
Isaac intercedes to God on Rebekah's behalf because she is barren, and God honors the prayer with the birth of Esau and Jacob. Later the deception of Jacob to obtain Isaac's inheritance comes to pass and fulfills the prophecy of the older son serving the younger son. As time passes Isaac lives to see Jacob's grief over Joseph who was betrayed by his brothers and sold into Egypt. Shortly after that Isaac dies and is buried at Macpelah after living 180 years of life.
Isaac could be said to be docile, trustful, affectionate, quiet, unassuming, submissive, meek, patient, thoughtful and of great faith. He was, perhaps, submissive to a fault because it affected his relationships in a way detrimental to him. He loved his family, provided for them, and taught them of spiritual things. He failed when his love blinded him to sound judgment. Isaac still stands as a great patriarch and man of God.
C. R. Lord © 1980