Compared to other Bible characters, Isaacís life was quiet. His faith was real but t was not full of exciting events like Noah and Abraham. Even though his life was quiet, it still contained many lessons that would be helpful to us.
Just think of what it may have been like to be Abrahamís son. Imagine some of the great stories about Godís providing for and blessing him. Abraham probably shared some of his mistakes as well as adventures and Isaac must have learned much about how faith worked. He shared with him the many promises that God made and how God always kept them. It is important to remember that our faith always rests on Godís keeping His promises. The whole life of Abraham was about how faithful God was. We can be certain that Isaac believed that as well.
Back in those days there were no radios or televisions (or computers) to give us information so the family gathered and talked and shared life stories. It was the main source of education as well. Just think of what it is like to hear our parents talk about how good God is and how He always came through when they were in need. Abrahamís faith influenced Isaac as we will see as our story continues. Think about your parents telling what happened when you were little and growing up. They told you about something interesting that you did. That is what Isaac experienced as a child, hearing his father Abraham telling these wonderful stories that were true.
But hearing stories about someone elseís faith is not the same as seeing God work in your own life. Isaac had to come to the place where he had to have his own experience of faith.
We mentioned that altars were a reminder of Godís faithfulness to Abraham, now Isaac was going to have some altars of his own to remember. The next part of our lesson talks about an important altar that Isaac would later remember as the most important one in his life.
One day Isaac went with Abraham to a top of a mountain to offer to God a sacrifice. He helped his father gather wood and to build a stone altar. As he looked around a question came into his mind. ďFather, look we have wood and an altar but where is the animal we are to place on the altar?Ē Isaac did not know that God had spoken to Abraham before and told him that he was to offer his son as a sacrifice. Abraham knew what was to happen but Isaac didnít. Imagine his surprise when he saw his father carefully laying him on the stack of wood and tying him there. What do you think Isaac must have thought? Maybe he said ďfather why are you doing this to meĒ? Abraham at the same time must have been saying ďwhy do I have to do this.Ē But Abraham obeyed God once again and remembered that God said that he would bless Abraham through his son Isaac.
How far was Abraham willing to obey God? Abraham comforted Isaac by saying that ďGod will provide a lambĒ. Later the bible tell us that Abraham believed that if his son died, God would raise Isaac from the dead. Just as Abraham was about to kill Isaac, God called out and told Him not to do so, and being true to his promise provided a ram to take Isaacís place. That was Isaacís first altar experience and one that he would remember for the rest of his life. He had an experience of a ram taking his place on the altar just like Jesus did for us when He died for our sins on the cross.
This was a test of Isaacís faith as well as Abrahamís. Isaac was willing to trust God even when he didnít understand why. Sometimes we need to be like Isaac. God has given our parents to us and sometimes they ask us to do that which seems unreasonable. Remember what we said in our first lesson, that no one cares more about us than our parents and we must learn to obey them even when we donít understand their instructions. Faith is believing in God when nothing makes sense. Someday they will if we are patient and willing for God to show us why in His time.
We will study about Isaacís son Jacob in our next story. Isaac was different from Jacob and Abraham in that he had only one wife. Perhaps we can say that he learned from Abrahamís mistake as well as Abraham did.. He made an effort to make certain that Isaac married the right person and we can say he stayed happily married for the rest of his life with Rebekah. Isaac was a quiet person and he showed his faith in practical ways. He did not hastily try to find someone to marry but left the choice of his lifeís mate to God. Sometimes we get in a hurry and want something right away and when we do that we make wrong choices. Someday you like Isaac may have to wait for the right time and the right person to come along. It is important to leave our need for marriage in Godís hands. Isaacís wife was both beautiful and faithful Faithfulness should be a a character quality that everyone should seek.
For many years, Isaac and Rebekah could have no children. It was not easy for older people to be without children. If you didnít have children in those days, people thought that you were strange. (As if it was your fault.) Once again God had promised that Isaac would have children so they waited for God to act. Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah and they did not have children until twenty years later. I know of married couples who for years could not have children. They decided to adopt and when they did they had three more children of their own. Iím sure that they learned a lesson on how God works. Isaac waited for Godís time and finally the day came when Rebekah gave birth to twin boys.
Isaac had his weaknesses. A similar experience happened to him like that of Abraham. Because there was famine in the land, Isaac headed to a place called Gerar, where there was food and water. Does this story sound familiar? He came before king Abimelech and told him that Rebekah was his sister. You would think that he would have learned from Abrahamís mistake, but we often learn the best lessons from our own mistakes. Once again God stepped in and kept Isaac from harm.
God blessed Isaac with great riches. Sometimes being rich isnít that great because it often has many temptations that come with it. Isaacís riches caused him to be generous, and did not leave him selfish. Five times he dug wells of water and each time someone came and took them away from Him. He never fought to get them back or blamed them for being mean. He just let them have it and moved on to dig another one. Isaac became an experienced well digger, but well digging was not the purpose God had in mind for him. Often, God uses our talents to be a blessing to others. Isaac was a good example to us of what it means to be unselfish. Isaac realized that what he had was from God . He had no problem with sharing them with others. When we take the attitude that God owns all that we have and it is His, giving it away becomes no problem.
People took advantage of Isaacís generosity, like they do to everyone else. Even when he was old and could no longer see, his wife and son took advantage of him to get something for themselves. Isaac was big enough to accept the tricks that they played and forgave them later. Isaac and Rebekah waited 20 years to have their children. Isaac learned how to wait on God and God never failed to provide for His every need.
He will do that for you as well when you place your trust in Him. Proverbs 3: 5,6 is a good verse to memorize.
ďTrust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and He shall direct your paths.Ē