Meet Isaac in the Bible: Abraham's Miracle Son

Isaac Bible
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Isaac in the Bible was the 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.

Isaac in the Bible

  • Known for: Isaac is God’s promised son born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. He is one of Israel’s great founding fathers.
  • Bible References: 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."
  • Accomplishments: Isaac obeyed God and followed the Lord’s 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. 
  • Occupation: Successful farmer, cattle, and sheep owner.
  • Hometown: Isaac was from the Negev, in southern Palestine, in the area of Kadesh and Shur.
  • Family Tree:
    Father - Abraham
    Mother - Sarah
    Wife - Rebekah
    Sons - Esau, Jacob
    Half-Brother - Ishmael

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! Abraham laughed in disbelief (Genesis 17:17–19). Sarah, who was eavesdropping, also laughed at the prophecy, but God heard her. She denied laughing (Genesis 18:11–15).

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," reflecting his parents’ unbelieving laughter regarding the promise. In accordance with the Lord's instructions, Isaac was circumcised on the eighth day as a member of God's covenant family (Genesis 17:10–14).

When Isaac was a youth, God ordered Abraham to take this beloved son to a mountain and sacrifice him. Although he was heavy-hearted with sadness, Abraham obeyed. 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.

At age 40, Isaac married Rebekah, but they found she was barren, just as Sarah had been. As a good and loving husband, Isaac prayed for his wife, and God opened Rebekah's womb. She gave birth to twins: Esau and Jacob.

When famine struck, Isaac moved his family to Gerar. The Lord blessed him, and Isaac became a prosperous farmer and rancher, later moving to Beersheba (Genesis 26:23).

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.

Strengths

Although Isaac was less prominent in the patriarchal narratives than his father Abraham and his son Jacob, his faithfulness to God was evident and remarkable. 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.

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)

Key Bible 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)

Sources

  • Isaac. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 837).
  • Isaac. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 1045).
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Zavada, Jack. "Meet Isaac in the Bible: Abraham's Miracle Son." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2022, learnreligions.com/isaac-son-of-abraham-701154. Zavada, Jack. (2022, February 8). Meet Isaac in the Bible: Abraham's Miracle Son. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/isaac-son-of-abraham-701154 Zavada, Jack. "Meet Isaac in the Bible: Abraham's Miracle Son." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/isaac-son-of-abraham-701154 (accessed June 28, 2022).

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