Genesis 17:19 (NIV):
19Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[d] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Isaac`s name means laughter (Genesis 18:12), and some people may laugh at his obedience to his father Abraham and to the Lord, but his life was an example of the righteous walk with God that his father Abraham imprinted on him during upbringing.
Isaac continued the legacy that his father Abraham turned over to him: walking by faith and not by sight and staying obedient to the Lord until the day he died.
Could we say today that this is how we live and turn over our lives to our children? Do we leave a legacy that glorifies God and serves as a vivid example to our children as to how they should live, or do we waste our lives leaving a legacy of nothing but destruction of ourselves and those around us?
Isaac was a young man (term “lad” is used in Genesis 22:6) when Abraham took him to the mount Moriah as a sacrifice to God, yet Isaac stayed obedient to his father and to the Lord. Abraham was a living example before his eyes of a close walk with God.
Some bible commentators confirm that Isaac must have been at a youth age at least since he was given the task of carrying the wood for the burning offering:
6Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, (Genesis 22:6 NIV)
There must have been enough wood to provide fire for a human being, so no child could have carried such a heavy load when we think about the potential age of Isaac at the time of Abraham`s test in Genesis 22.
Leupold wrote: “He may by this time have arrived at the age of some eighteen to twenty years” (1942, 1:625). Josephus stated: “Now Isaac was twenty-five years old”(1.13.2). Adam Clarke said: “[I]t is more probable that he was now about thirty-three” (1:140, emp. in orig.). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown asserted that Isaac was “then upwards of twenty years of age” (n.d., p. 29). J. Curtis Manor described him as “a youth of sufficient strength and agility to carry a load of firewood up a mountainside”(1994, p. 103). Keil and Delitzsch affirmed that “this son had grown into a young man”(1976, 1:248). Morris added: “[T]he meaning in Isaac’s case should also be‘young man’ ” (1976, p. 373).
What`s more, Isaac had to be at the age being able to reason and ask questions about the location of the potential sacrifice because we read in Genesis 22:7-8 (NIV):
7Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
How many of us today, if a parent asked us to follow him/her to the mountain with the heap of piling wood for the fire, would obey one`s parent and have faith, like Isaac did, that God will provide the lamb for the burnt offering? This is amazing to see how much Isaac was brought up in the ways of the Lord, that he had that vivid example of his own father obeying God day in and day out.
Are you being that parent that God calls you to be? Do you walk that faithful walk by faith and not by sight as a constant example to your child of how we should know the Lord personally? This is always in my heart especially recently when I had to battle with my daughter and teach her how to pray. For a while she refused to pray with me and didn`t want to even hear anything about God. I continued to pray for her, and I finally got the results I wanted. She now prays with me and repeats the prayers as a way to learn how to talk to God.
I believe that the test in Genesis 22 was not solely for Abraham to sacrifice his only son but also for Isaac; to see if he would trust the Lord the way his father Abraham did. I believe that Isaac was at the age when he could make a conscious decision whether to serve the Lord, follow the Lord, or whether to be angry with Him and with his father for trying to bring him as a sacrifice. We see that he chose to obey his father and God without hearing us one word of him refusing to budge on this.
Isaac`s life was unhidden from God and was obedient. We read that in Genesis 25:11 (NIV):
11After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.
This place we all know from the story of Hagar and the way she was sent away by Sarah (Abraham`s wife when she got pregnant with Ishmael) and from the article that I wrote called Jehovah El-Roi: God Who sees (Genesis 16:7-16). Isaac chose to live in the place where God could see everything as a statement to those around him that he`s got nothing to hide; his walk with the Lord is genuine and true. This is why we read on the same verse that God blessed Isaac, and he lived by the place called Beer Lahai Roi.
Could you say the same thing about yourself today? Do you live a clean, genuine life of a close walk with the Lord, in front of God who sees everything; that you have nothing to be ashamed of? Isaac had nothing to be ashamed of because his life was by faith in almighty God, and not by sight.
We further read that there was famine in the land, but God commanded Isaac not to go to Egypt, but to stay in the land where He would provide for him. Did Isaac obey the Lord? Yes, he did. In Genesis 26:1-6 (NKJV):
There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. 2 Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4 And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5 because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” 6 So Isaac dwelt in Gerar.
Isaac did the following 3 things:
1. He dwelt in the land that God promised to his father Abraham.
2. He stayed obedient to the Lord and didn`t go down to Egypt; the temporary escape from famine.
3. He chose to believe the Lord who promised him to be with him and to bless him; Isaac chose to live by faith and not by sight.
Abraham truly made sure to instill in his son`s heart the essence of faith, so much so, that when Isaac had a choice to go to Egypt during the period of the famine, he chose to obey the Lord and stayed where he was. As a result, God blessed him with abundant crop despite the famine at the time.
12Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy (Genesis 26:12-13 NKJV).
Isaac wasn`t rich from the start, although he was the sole Herr of Abraham who was very wealthy, but rather we read that God blessed Isaac for his hard work and obedience to the Lord. God prospered him in the land where Isaac remained as a result of Isaac`s compliance.
This brings us to the important point:
Sometimes we have to work harder in order to follow the Lord, but God always blesses those who do that. Isaac had the opportunity to go to Egypt and to gain a fast loot through the convenience of water proximity to where he could have grown his crops, but he chose to obey the Lord and trust that God would see him through the famine in the land he was promised.
Isaac chose to work harder and dig deeper for water at the wells that got covered rather than go to Egypt.
18Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there (Genesis 26:18-19 NKJV).
As a result, of his submission to the Lord, the water they uncovered was “fresh water”. He made God his hope, his refuge, his reliance. When we make God our sole source of confidence, He promises in return to provide that “fresh, living water” that makes us thirst no more. Remember what Jesus said at the well when speaking to the Samaritan woman in John 4:13-14 (NIV):
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Isaac chose to follow God, trust His promise for his descendants, and work harder if necessary only, so he could live a pleasing life to the Lord. How about you? Do you live a compromising life that when “famine” in your life happens and you are in a crunch for money, you rely on your own solutions even if you have to go to “Egypt” (the world), rather than trusting the Lord would provide for you if only you remain in the “land” (abiding in the Lord; in your walk with the Lord)? Are you choosing to work harder and live with less, but follow God, or do you choose to compromise with sin only to get what you want?
Isaac didn`t compromise with sin; I chose not to compromise with sin. I chose to work harder, have less, but follow the Lord rather than go back to “Egypt” since I`ve made that mistake in the past and steeply paid for it. God gave me another chance to make my paths straight, and I took that opportunity, despite the price I`m paying. Every month my bills and debt amount to well above of what I can cover with my salary, yet God provides every month for me a way to pay all my bills on time. God blesses me every day of my life for walking by faith and not by sight.
Looking at the life of Isaac, we can see a legacy that could be traced all the way back to his father Abraham, and the impact that he left on his knowledge of God. As a mother, it bothers me a great deal that my daughter is not being raised in a Godly healthy family. All she`s got is my example of walk with God. I got one shot to teach her the ways of the Lord, and I want to leave a trace, like Abraham did with Isaac, so that when real life hits her, she knows who God is.
Isaac represents an image of Jesus in the Old Testament who was obedient to his father Abraham going to the mountain to die for the Lord. The same way
Jesus was obedient to His Father going to the cross, and the death on the cross for you and me. He was a grown man, like Isaac, who had a choice to refuse the will of the Father, yet Isaac, like Jesus, was obedient to Abraham and to the Lord.
Isaac chose to live in the place called Beer Lahai Roi as an example of his pure walk with the Lord that he had nothing to hide from God. He knew that he served God who sees everything.
Later, Isaac chose to work harder to dig down for the water to uncover his family`s wells, only to stay complacent with the Lord and survive through the famine rather than go to Egypt. God compensated him with abundant blessings and became that Living Water for him spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
What`s more, God gave him peace with his neighbors. In Genesis 26:26-30 (NIV):
26Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phichol the commander of his army. 27 And Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?” 28 But they said, “We have certainly seen that the Lord is with you. So we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.’” 30 So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
We read that right after Isaac received a wealthy harvest, the king of that place Abimelech asked him to leave the area because they were envious and afraid of Isaac (Genesis 26:16). This is why Isaac had to move out and dig out the wells of water to start from scratch.
Besides all other trials Isaac experienced, he was also persecuted by the local king. The response of Isaac to that was according to God`s standards: he chose to seek peace and move away to start from scratch place else. He obeyed the king`s order and removed his tents from the area, rather than going into war with him trying to win his territory back.
I can relate to that myself. When I had a choice to change the lock on my marital house (which is what was advised to me to do by my attorney) and kick my husband out only to retain the house, I chose not to do that because I knew that was an abomination in the sight of the Lord. Instead, I chose to start from scratch, so to remain in the will of God.
We always have that choice in life: whether to choose an easier way out or whether to suffer for the Lord and experience temporary inconveniences. God blessed Isaac, and He blessed me. What`s more, God brought peace to Isaac with that same king Abimelech who kicked him out of the area.
Proverbs 16:7 (NKJV):
7When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
I claim this promise for my life too, but I am yet to see it coming to pass. I want to see all my enemies make peace with me. Isaac chose to live the godly life and walk in the footsteps of his father. As a result, God rewarded him abundantly for that; He revealed Himself to Isaac confirming all the promises He gave to Abraham.
How about us? Could you live in a place called Beer Lahai Roi knowing that God sees and knows everything? The truth is God is omnipotent and omniscient, so He does know and see everything. Could we look in His eyes and honestly say that we`ve lived our lives choosing to work harder, to dig deeper, and sow for the crop from scratch only not to compromise with the temptation of going to Egypt- this world that beckons us with its lusts and "easier, better" ways to live?
The truth is, we would experience spiritual famine if we would choose the world because Jesus said that only He provides the living water. Those who drink from His well would thirst no more. I`d rather choose to live with less and work harder, but have God as my shelter, rather than choose a compromising life in this world.
Think about the legacy you choose to leave for your children, for your siblings, for those around you. Do you want to be known as an uncompromising man or a woman of God who chose to live with less but inherit more in the eternal life, or do you choose to live with more only to squander it while here on earth, and then have nothing to claim for in front of the Lord? I choose to live my life for the Lord, so I could leave a legacy for my daughter as an example of walking by faith and not by sight. I want her to know who God is from an early age, so, like Isaac, she could have no doubts when the trials come her way, how to handle them and where to look for answers. I would encourage you to think about your life and all that you live for. Is it a legacy of destruction of all those around you: your family, your spouse, your children, your parents, or is it a life of blessing to them?