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Isaac – Son of Abraham

Profile of Isaac, Son of Abraham and Father of Esau and Jacob

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Isaac

Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac to God.

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Isaac was a miracle child, born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age as the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham to make his descendants a great nation.

Three heavenly beings visited Abraham and told him in a year he would have a son. It seemed impossible because Sarah was 90 years old and Abraham was 100! Sarah, who was eavesdropping, laughed at the prophecy, but God heard her. She denied laughing.

God told Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son." (Genesis 18:13-14, NIV)

Of course, the prophecy came true. Abraham obeyed God, naming the baby Isaac, which means "he laughs."

When Isaac was a youth, God ordered Abraham to take this beloved son to a mountain and sacrifice him. Abraham sadly obeyed, but at the last moment, an angel stopped his hand, with the knife raised in it, telling him not to harm the boy. It was a test of Abraham's faith, and he passed. For his part, Isaac willingly became the sacrifice because of his faith in his father and in God.

Later, Isaac married Rebekah, but they found she was barren, just as Sarah had been. As a good husband, Isaac prayed for his wife, and God opened Rebekah's womb. She gave birth to twins: Esau and Jacob.

Isaac favored Esau, a burly hunter and outdoorsman, while Rebekah favored Jacob, the more sensitive, thoughtful of the two. That was an unwise move for a father to take. Isaac should have worked to love both boys equally.

Isaac's Accomplishments:

Isaac obeyed God and followed his commands. He was a loyal husband to Rebekah.

He became a patriarch of the Jewish nation, fathering Jacob and Esau. Jacob's 12 sons would go on to lead the 12 tribes of Israel.

Isaac's Strengths:

Isaac was faithful to God. He never forgot how God saved him from death and provided a ram to be sacrificed in his place. He watched and learned from his father Abraham, one of the most faithful men of the Bible.

In an era when polygamy was accepted, Isaac took only one wife, Rebekah. He loved her deeply all his life.

Isaac's Weaknesses:

To avoid death by the Philistines, Isaac lied and said Rebekah was his sister instead of his wife. His father had said the same thing about Sarah to the Egyptians.

As a father, Isaac favored Esau over Jacob. This unfairness caused a serious split in their family.

Life Lessons:

God answers prayer. He heard Isaac's prayer for Rebekah and allowed her to conceive. God hears our prayers too and gives us what is best for us.

Trusting God is wiser than lying. We are often tempted to lie to protect ourselves, but it almost always results in bad consequences. God is worthy of our trust.

Parents should not favor one child over another. The division and hurt this causes can result in irreparable harm. Every child has unique gifts that should be encouraged.

Isaac's near-sacrifice can be compared to God's sacrifice of his only son, Jesus Christ, for the sins of the world. Abraham believed that even if he sacrificed Isaac, God would raise his son from the dead: He (Abraham) said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Genesis 22:5, NIV)

Hometown:

The Negev, in south Palestine, in the area of Kadesh and Shur.

Referenced in the Bible:

Isaac's story is told in Genesis chapters 17, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, and 35. Throughout the rest of the Bible, God is often referred to as "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

Occupation:

Successful farmer, cattle and sheep owner.

Family Tree:

Father - Abraham
Mother - Sarah
Wife - Rebekah
Sons - Esau, Jacob
Half-Brother - Ishmael

Key Verses:

Genesis 17:19
Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." (NIV)

Genesis 22:9-12
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"

"Here I am," he replied.

"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."(NIV)

Galatians 4:28
Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. (NIV)

Old Testament People of the Bible (Index)
New Testament People of the Bible (Index)

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