Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
God's Word tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). When God extends Grace to man, He extends Grace from His love for us (Romans 5:8). God extends His Grace to Adam and Eve by offering the first sacrifice for their sin. He extends Grace to Cain by allowing him to live and giving him a chance to follow the Lord. He again extends Grace to mankind by calling Noah to build the ark that would save he and his family. From the fall of man to the great flood, God's Grace is clearly seen in the book of Genesis.
When you study the second half of the book of Genesis, you discover that the material is arranged around four main personalities. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. We are told that God is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Joseph is put into the position of Savior, by the Lord’s intervention, for his family and the line of Christ during what was a devastating famine that could very well have ended the nation of Israel before it really began. But, God shows Grace to each of them working toward the ultimate expression of Grace… Jesus! When we look at the stories of these 4 men, we see what God is doing in the lives of men who dare to walk by faith with God. They are human and they carry all of the faults and sinful nature that all humans experience. Abraham is a man of faith and obeys the Lord after the Lord tells him to go to a land that He will show him. He (and his father) takes their family and packs their belongings, moving out of Ur to follow God. Often driven by fear, he makes mistakes. But in the end, he is a man of faith whose prayers are answered faithfully by God. Abraham slips away and now Isaac comes to the center stage.
Students will see and understand that God expects to be our top priority in life! Students should be encouraged to evaluate the priority of their own walk with God and to compare it with the priority of family, wealth, health, social standing, etc. Then to determine if a shift, similar to the shift in priorities that Isaac made, needs to be made in our own lives?
From the life of Isaac, we learn that God can use even the most common man or woman.
Like Isaac, our top priority is usually the thing we put the most time into.
The Lord must be our top priority and if He is, how we use our time and resources will reveal it!
1. Isaac who? - Genesis 25
The book of Genesis contains a lot more about Abraham and his grandson, Jacob, than it does about Isaac. Someone once said, Isaac was an ordinary son of an extraordinary father and the ordinary father of an extraordinary son. Isaac may have been better known as “Abraham’s son” than as being his own man? “Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham became the father of Isaac;” (Genesis 25:19). In many ways, Isaac spent most of his life standing in the shadow of his father, Abraham, and later he is overshadowed by his son, Jacob. Isaac's name does not appear as frequently in God's word as do Abraham's or Jacob’s.
240 Old Testament
70 New Testament
105 Old Testament
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320 Old Testament
25 New Testament
Isaac lived a simple, ordinary life. One thing that stands out is that Isaac is the first to be mentioned as having fathered twins. He seems to have a giving heart. He tries to keep the peace everywhere he goes and would rather move than face conflict. In the Word of God, he becomes a picture or type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are just a few interesting parallels between Isaac and Jesus. When Abraham is commanded to sacrifice his son whom he loved, they travel for 3 days and finally come to Mount Moriah. Mount Moriah is where Jerusalem is located, the place where Jesus would be crucified and rise three days later. Isaac carries the wood that he is to be sacrificed upon and Jesus carried the wood that He would be sacrificed upon. Both Isaac and Jesus were submissive to their fathers. Isaac was replaced by a sacrificial ram that was caught in the thorns and Jesus wore a crown of thorns... Isaac is a picture of Jesus in his birth. Isaac was born in a miraculous way and Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin. And there are more. These are small little things that some may think are just coincidence, but the offer of Isaac by Abraham may teach us more about what the Father and His Son went through for us than any other account in the Scripture. Isaac is used to paint a picture of the coming Christ! Although Isaac was a simple man, he was obviously important to the Lord! “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;” (Matthew 8:11). God can use ordinary people in extraordinary ways!
When you study the different characters of the Bible, you discover that many of them are characterized by their relationship to some particular thing. For instance, when we read about Abraham, we find he was a man of the tent and the altar. Everywhere Abraham goes, he builds an altar and pitches a tent. Lot became known for his relationship to the city of Sodom.
When you come to the life of Isaac, there is something which is characteristic of him. Digging wells. Over and over again we are told that Isaac dug this or that well. Isaac unstopped a well that his father dug which someone else had stopped up (Genesis 26:15). Isaac the well digger may be a good description of Isaac for much of his life.
Wells are important in the scripture. Not just holes in the ground that hold water (called cisterns), but wells that spring fresh water from them. There is a comparison made between cisterns which holds water and wells which are sources of running water. Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” So wells come to be symbols of the source of blessings of God's people. In Isaiah 12:3, we are told: “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.”
When you think about it, Isaac was about digging wells that would spring up fresh water for life. And Jesus said, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
It has been said that the thing that you spend the most time on is probably the thing that is most important to you. For much of Isaac's life digging wells was his first priority. The problem was, he was not digging them for God! He was digging them for himself!
2. Like Father, Like Son - Genesis 26:1-22
Like Abraham before him, when a famine hit the land, Isaac begins to work his way South toward Egypt. He gets as far as the Philistines and God intervenes and tells him “Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 26:2) Isaac had been raised by a father who had moved through the land ending up in Egypt. His father also lied multiple times because of fear. Isaac grew up knowing what his father had done. His priorities were the same priorities that Abraham had! Parents teach kids by what parents do, not by the words they say. God intervenes because Isaac is headed to Egypt. Then out of fear (just like his father), Isaac repeats his father’s example and lies about his wife being his sister… “So Isaac lived in Gerar. When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister,’ for he was afraid to say, ‘my wife,’ thinking, ‘the men of the place might kill me’” (Genesis 26:6-7). Abimelech found out the truth and was upset. He had been burned from Abraham's lies and he remembered what happened then! He did not want a repeat with Isaac and Rebekah!
For a good part of his life, Isaac's faith seems to come and go. At times in his life, he exhibits faith by praying. He prayed for Rebekah! God answered his prayers and gave her Isaac. And there are also times when he does not seem to trust God for his own safety in spite of being promised by God that He would be with him! He faces the same problems with fear that his father had. When he faces conflict or resistance he runs by moving on to a new location. When Isaac moved to a new location, the first thing he would do was not to pray or worship, it was to have his servants dig for water. If they struck water, they would stay! He dug wells, but it does not say he built any altars to worship the Lord until he finally gets aways from all of the people who had been influencing and opposing him. The scriptures simply say, “He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth” (Genesis 26:22). Finally, he begins to develop and exercise real faith…
3. A Shift in Priorities - Genesis 26:22-26
After digging and then quarreling over a number of wells with their neighbors, Isaac finally realizes that God is taking care of him. He “dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, for he said, ‘At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.’” (Genesis 26:22) So he names that well, Rehoboth, which means God has made room for us. Rehoboth was a big step for Isaac. This is the first time that he really acknowledges that God is going to take care of him and make him fruitful in the land just like God had promised his father. His faith began to grow and he finally began to understand that everything was not about Isaac. It is evident from what happens next that Isaac shifted his priorities and put the Lord first in his life.
When he goes to Beersheba, Isaac builds an altar when he arrives. That is not the Isaac we have come to know up to this point. Isaac's fear of running out of water was usually his motivation and now he seems to be motivated to worship the Lord first. “The Lord appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, for the sake of My servant Abraham.’ So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.” (Genesis 26:24-25) This is the first time that the Lord talks to Isaac that is recorded in the scriptures! The Lord responds with Grace and promises to bless him but not because of his past performance! He said he would do it “For the sake of My servant Abraham.”
Isaac’s faith was growing! The Scriptures show us the change in the order that he sets up his camp:
After this, when Isaac is old, his own son, Jacob, lies to him and receives the blessing from his father. Jacob and Isaac’s wife, Rebecca, have learned the lessons of impatience, desire for material things and deception, well from Isaac himself. Isaac has a dysfunctional family that is divided between a mama's boy and a daddy’s boy and there are huge problems that cause division for many generations to come. The spiritual was not important in Isaac and Rebecca's home. We see that in the rivalry between husband and wife that translated into rivalry between the boys. Of Jacob and Esau, they both struggle with life and God is not the priority when they are younger. Jacob will become a man of faith later in life, but Esau never does. His descendants do not follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Esau’s descendants are called Edomites. They lived in Edom and carved the city of Petra. The Edomites joined forces with Nebuchadnezzar and helped destroy Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple. They hated the Jews so much, that they even destroyed the foundations of the Temple. They are no longer a nation. God promised to destroy them for their actions against Israel and apparently He has already done so?
But Isaac is mentioned with honor throughout the rest of the Scriptures and there is no doubt he grew into a man of faith. Our God, is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and nothing will ever change that! The Son of God came through the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
Application - What does this lesson teach us about God? Man? Sin? Grace?
We cannot read about Isaac without identifying with him. He is the common person that God uses in spite of all of his failings. God can use any of us if we would only come to the place of worship that Isaac came to. He finally comes to a place of worship and he is putting God first! He probably had built altars before? He surely had seen his father worship at an altar. He certainly remembered the time God rescued him on the altar when he was young but he did not put the Lord first in his life!
Something happened to Isaac when he dug the well that no-one quarreled over called Rehoboth. He names that well Rehoboth, because the Lord has made room for them. What exactly happened? We don't know for sure but it's likely that for the first time in his life, he's actually noticing the hand of God at work in his life. God has made room for us! He gives credit to God for the first time. He goes about 20 miles away to Beersheba. And there the Lord talks to him for the first time in his life, that we know of. What did it take for him to hear from the Lord? Unconditional surrender!
Have you ever come to that time in your life when you have given the Lord unconditional surrender? Unconditional surrender means a surrender without any terms or conditions. It is a surrender that bows down and simply says I am yours do with me as you see fit. That's the point Isaac came to and that is why he is included as one of the three men that describes God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Here's a good question - how will God's name be used when your name is attached to it? I think Isaac might very well say to us today these words; if God can use me, He can use you too!
Isaac is the common man! He is ordinary and makes some bad decisions! Maybe that's why so many people can identify with Isaac. He's just one of us! And in spite of his failings, God uses him as a great picture of Jesus Christ! As it turns out, that's exactly who God wants to use for His purposes! Someone like you and I!
How about you? Is your life a picture of Jesus Christ?
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