The Faith of Isaac

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, November 5, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Before you do anything else today, grab the closest box to you. Does it look like a box that could contain the living God? That might seem like a silly question, but human beings often try to put their Creator in a figurative “box," as if he ought to bless our plans and will rather than us serving him. To further illustrate how foolish this is, take a look at the “pale blue dot” in the picture here. The photo was taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990 from a record distance of 3.7 billion miles from earth. Oh, and by the way, that pale blue dot that you can barely see IS planet earth. The Bible tells us that God created all of that and some other stuff in one day. Then on a separate day, God created the sun, moon, and stars. Now, I was reminded of God’s greatness a short time ago when I was awoken in the middle of the night by my wife’s cat and decided to go outside and try to see the meteor shower that was advertised. While I did see 3 meteors that night, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the things that are in the sky EVERY night - the stars. I looked up and saw more stars than I could count, yet I remember that the Bible says, “He also made the stars," like they were an afterthought for God in the midst of everything else he was creating (Genesis 1:16).

God is so much bigger than our finite minds can even possibly comprehend, yet we try to fit him into OUR plans. Maybe you are still begging him to bless the dysfunctional relationship you’re in rather than patiently waiting for him to bring you the right person. Maybe you want God to take away your desires for drugs, alcohol, or pornography but you still want to be able to “dabble” in them from time to time. Maybe you are asking God to bless you financially, but you aren’t willing to work hard for it or to give God what he commands from your income. If any of these circumstances describe your life currently, you can learn from Isaac’s example.

In Hebrews 11:20, all we see about Isaac is that his faith caused him to “bless Jacob and Esau in regard to their future." That may seem insignificant until you learn that the Greek word for “blessed” there is “eulogeo,” which simply means “to praise." It’s also where we get the English word “eulogy." This is especially meaningful right now to me because, on the day I’m writing this post, I did a funeral service this morning and then met with someone else in the afternoon regarding another funeral I’m doing later this week. One of the most important parts of a funeral is the eulogy, a time when the deceased person is praised and remembered for their characteristics, achievements, or faith. As a society, we generally only eulogize someone after they have passed. Yet, Isaac had faith in a God who was bigger than his plans and his view of the future and chose to eulogize them regarding what God determined would happen. Going back to our foundational verse of Hebrews 11:3, Isaac knew that if God could create everything in the universe out of what is not seen, then he can certainly be trusted with the future.

Just like his mother and father, Sarah and Abraham, Isaac did not have perfect faith that was without struggle. However, he started out on the right track. In the story we talked about last week from Genesis 22, where Isaac was about to be sacrificed according to God’s command to Abraham, Isaac was completely submissive and trusting toward his father. Let’s not forget that Abraham was well over 100 years old and Isaac was a young man, easily the stronger of the two. Had he wanted to overpower his elderly father, he could have. But Isaac was a foreshadowing of Jesus, who humbled himself as a man and became obedient to a horrible death (Philippians 2:5-8). That is the only way God can be put into a box - when he chooses to put himself in it temporarily! Isaac trusted his father, and we see the same thing happen again in Genesis 24 when Isaac does not try to find a partner on his own, but waits on the Lord to provide his future wife through the efforts of his father and a servant. Isaac could’ve doubted God, as he knew he was the heir of the promise yet did not yet have a wife who might bear him a son. But his faith was still intact, and God blessed him with Rebekah.

When you are walking with God and putting your faith and trust in him, Satan just leaves you alone, right? NOT! Genesis 25 brings us the death of Abraham, followed by some of the same struggles for Isaac and Rebekah that Abraham and Sarah faced. Isaac and Rebekah deal with infertility and pray to the Lord about it. When we have questions about his promises, we are always invited to go straight to him. He’s not afraid to be questioned. Rebekah is then told she will have twin sons, one who will be stronger than the other. Just like with Isaac and Ishmael as sons of Abraham, one child represents life with God and the other life without God. Isaac’s two sons are Jacob and Esau, and even though God had revealed that the promise would continue through Jacob, verse 28 tells us that Isaac favors Esau over Jacob because Esau is a skilled hunter and Isaac loves the wild game. Because Rebekah favors Jacob more, this was the start of the family dysfunction and slow fade away from faith that would mark a large part of the rest of their story.

In Genesis 26, we see that even after God reminds Isaac of the promise and is very clear about what he should do, Isaac lies about his wife Rebekah to a foreign king, much in the same way that Abraham had lied about Sarah. In both cases, the men of God chose to live by sight rather than faith. They allowed their own plans and fears to overcome their faith momentarily, and God’s plan and promise are threatened by the very clear plans of the devil. Read the chapter and see for yourself how God thwarts the devil’s schemes despite Isaac not living by faith. While God’s plan cannot be destroyed by sin, we certainly experience the consequences of it. At the very end in verses 34-35, we see that Isaac’s favorite son, Esau, marries two pagan women that become a source of grief for his parents. This comes as no surprise because Esau had disregarded his spiritual blessing, referred to back then as his “birthright," a long time before this.

You can read Genesis 27 to see how the family dysfunction really takes on a whole new level. It’s the stuff you’d see on a daytime talk show. I’m talking about lies, distrust, gossip, eavesdropping, and deception. God has made it clear which son gets the blessing and which son has chosen to go his own way and marry pagan women and disregard the blessing that would’ve originally been his, yet Isaac still favors Esau based solely on “manly” characteristics. He tries to bless Esau, but Rebekah and Jacob deceive him into blessing Jacob. It isn’t until after all this happens that Isaac basically says, “You win, God." In verse 33, he states that Jacob will “indeed be blessed." Despite all of Isaac’s efforts otherwise, Jacob received the blessing, and it was as if Isaac finally accepted this was God’s will. His final blessing to Jacob in Genesis 28:1-4 shows that Isaac is finally on board with God’s will and choosing to live by faith.

While the Hebrew birthright takes on a cultural significance that we might not fully grasp in our society, it was connected to the original promise to Abraham and all future Israelites because of this family. Isaac initially tried to box God’s will into his own plans, but later came to accept what God wanted by faith. That faith allowed him to see the future through God’s eyes rather than his own, which led to complete trust and a proper “eulogy” for his sons. If you have an area of your life where you have not been trusting the Lord and you’ve been in the same vicious and dysfunctional cycle of begging him to bless the plans you have already made, it’s time to realize that you can only find true happiness and fulfillment in letting HIM set your course and walking accordingly.

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