Children of the Bible, Part 2 by Allan McGuirl
Today we are continuing with our new study, Children of the Bible. Last week we looked at Cain and Abel and saw how jealousy can take a life and ruin a life. May the Lord help us to deal with jealousy before it breeds this kind of grief.
Let’s look at what I call a supernatural birth that only God could perform. You may already have guessed that this is the birth of Isaac. Although God had promised Abraham a son, he was now 100 years old and Sarah, his wife, was 90 – still they had no children. Now, taking into account that people lived somewhat longer in those days, still, Sarah was past the time of bearing children. I believe she had resigned herself to being childless even though she knew of God’s promise to her husband.
The Bible says in Genesis 21:1, “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had promised.” The word “gracious” means to be merciful and compassionate, for God had a special surprise for her. Back in Genesis 18, Abraham had three visitors who informed him he was going to have a son within the year. When Sarah heard this conversation, she began to laugh – “How is this possible?” she must have said to herself with sincere doubt in her mind. But true to His word, God blessed Sarah with a beautiful baby boy within the allotted time. He was given the name Isaac, which means “laughter.” In spite of Sarah’s doubting, she and Abraham had great patience in waiting for God to fulfill His promise. I believe every baby is a miracle from God who is the giver of Life; however, this boy was a special miracle performed under impossible conditions. True to his name, he brought great joy to this couple and was the center of their attention and affection. Isaac was nurtured by Sarah and Abraham and grew into a lovely young boy.
Now one day, God spoke to Abraham and tested his faith. He told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac whom he loved, and go to the region of Mount Moriah. There he was to sacrifice him as a burnt offering to God. Now what was going through Abraham’s mind? He knew that Isaac was a promised son from God, he knew that through Isaac he was to become a great nation, he knew that through Isaac all the nations of the earth would be blessed. So why would God ask him to do the unthinkable? Romans chapter 4 sheds much light on his thinking. In verse 18 it says, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead…being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.”
Also in Hebrews 11 starting at verse 17 it says, “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned,’ Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.” Abraham took God at His word and was able to walk up Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son knowing that Isaac would return with him. He said, in Genesis 22 to the servants who travelled with him, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then WE will come back to you.”
As Abraham and Isaac climbed the last section of the mountain, Isaac questioned his father, saying, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham’s reply, “God will provide himself a lamb.” Now we all know the story: how Abraham built the altar from stones on the mountain and laid the wood on top. Then he bound Isaac. Have you ever wondered why Isaac allowed himself to be bound? He was probably a teenager at this point in time and Abraham well over 110 years. Isaac could easily have overpowered his father or run from him. The text implies that he willingly allowed his father to do this. Abraham was not the only one with great faith. Isaac trusted his father implicitly and trusted God totally. How well this reminds us of another Father and Son. In fact, Abraham and Isaac give an Old Testament picture of a New Testament truth. God, the Father, sent his one and only beloved Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. In Abraham’s case, when he raised the knife to kill Isaac, God called to him from heaven and spared Isaac’s life. God tested Abraham because He knew he would pass the test. That’s a wonderful truth about God: he always tests us with the intent that we pass the test and grow in faith. At that time, they saw a ram caught in a thicket and sacrifice the ram in Isaac’s place. God did provide!
However, when Jesus came as our sacrifice, He was the substitute; there was no other who could take His place. As a human being, Jesus was able to take the punishment we deserve; as God, that sacrifice is infinite – available for everyone who believes.
Now regarding Isaac, there are at least three great lessons we can glean.
- God is the giver of life: every child born into this world is a gift from God.
- God used this precious child to test Abraham. Abraham fully trusted His God and willingly obeyed Him. In turn, God saved Isaac and would not allow him to be harmed.
- God’s hand of protection was upon Isaac because he was destined to carry on the covenant promise that Abraham would become a great nation and that through him all the people of the earth would be blessed.
In the same way, let us be thankful for the children God has given us and recognize that he has a wonderful plan for their lives. Let us trust God to protect them through the many trials and temptations that they will face. Let us teach them God’s ways so that they too will pass on the legacy of walking faithfully with God to their children.