by Ann Cooke
“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” Hebrews 11:20
When I think about the patriarch Isaac, I think about laughter.
The name means “laughter” because both Abraham and Sarah laughed when they heard they would finally have a son. Well, c’mon, Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah ninety! I would have laughed too, wouldn’t you? Imagine the wonder at such a marvelous miracle!
However, their laughter was that of joy and disbelief. Their faith in God’s covenant with Abraham about being the father of a great nation had been tested. They had grown weary—even to the point of “getting things done themselves.” Sarah, being barren and past the point of conceiving a child, leaned back on the custom of their time and gave her handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham to bring forth this promised son, and Abraham acquiesced.
The temptation to do things their own way instead of God’s way seemed to run in the family. Abraham lied to King Abimelech about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife. He feared the men would see her beauty and take her away from him. He didn’t trust God to take care of them. Isaac repeated this same incident with his wife Rebekah. Isaac’s son Jacob, along with his mother plotted to deceive Isaac, tricking him to give Jacob the blessing of the firstborn instead of his brother Esau.These patriarchs were just like us, imperfect. They trusted God imperfectly, as do we. However, they may have doubted God’s provision, but they put their faith in the covenant God had made with them.
Isaac died in faith, passing on the promises to Jacob and Esau as his father did to him. So did Jacob to Joseph. They all died without seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises, but they passed them on to their children by faith, for things to come!
Abraham’s son by Hagar, Ishmael, represents the flesh and is symbolic of “works” or “man’s way.” The fact that God later gave Sarah her own son represents His grace. The schemes of man (or in this case woman) cannot bring about God’s plan of reconciliation between man and Himself. A barren woman well past her childbearing years bearing a child is a feat only God can accomplish. This, my friends, is the plan of grace! And it points to grace which is available to all men through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ birth to a virgin was humanly impossible, too. But God, in His grace, worked the miracle so “whosoever will” could be reconciled to Him! Glory in that with me!
Isaac, therefore, is a type of Christ pointing to His sacrifice on the cross, a thing to come. So the mention of Isaac in this verse of the great “Hall of the Faithful” in Hebrews is not about Isaac bringing laughter, as one tends to think of Isaac, but rather about pointing to things to come, namely, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
So let me leave you with two questions.
(1) Who or what do you trust in for salvation? Is it your schemes to get what you want? Your established presence in society? Your church attendance? And
(2) How do you pass the blessings and promises on to your children by faith for things to come?
I’d love to hear your comments!
Bio: Ann Cooke is a Christian wife, mother, grandmother of four and aspiring writer. Born in Iowa, but a southerner for thirty-eight years, Ann makes her home in South Carolina with her family. Her involvement in church, missions and local ministries serves as avenues for her to do what she loves best, sharing God and His word and encouraging others.
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