After the testing of Abraham and Isaac, Isaac has a rather uneventful life compared to that of his father Abraham and his son Jacob. In fact, many Catholics know very little about Isaac’s life other than his attempted sacrifice and his being tricked in his old age. This is because Isaac lived in peace, followed the Lord, and was blessed abundantly. In addition, he was the only one of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who was completely faithful to his wife. The combination of these do not often make a great story, but there are things we can learn.
It wasn’t long after the testing of Abraham that his wife Sarah died. Knowing that his time was coming soon, Abraham arranged a burial place for him and his descendants. He then desired to find a wife for his son. Knowing the sinful nature of the local people and their lack of faith in God, he sent his servant to search for a wife back in his homeland. After asking a sign of God (a woman offers him a drink from the well for him and the camels), Rebekah was chosen to be Isaac’s wife.
Not long after their marriage, Abraham passes away, and all of Abraham’s wealth is left to Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah were unable to conceive, and Isaac prayed to the Lord for descendants. God granted twin boys to them, which caused Rebekah great pain because they fought in the womb. God told them that the boys would be the beginning of two nations and that one would be bigger than the other while the older served the younger. When they were born, Esau emerged first with Jacob grabbing his heel. This lays the foundation for their famous feud over birthright and blessing.
Everywhere Isaac went, he worked the land and received abundantly from the Lord. The neighboring nations noticed and respected Isaac and his clan. Wherever Isaac went, he was known as blessed by God. Yet Isaac was not able to pass on his faith to his eldest son Esau who was a profane man because he despised his birthright. In addition, Isaac was tricked and watched helplessly as his sons feuded. However, he would ultimately see their reconciliation before his death.
While there is not much information on Isaac, there are some things we can learn from his life. First is Isaac’s faith from the testing of him and his father on Mt. Moriah endured his entire life. Even when Isaac is tricked by his sons, he accepts God’s plan and honors Jacob’s blessing despite favoring Esau. Next, we see the continuation of the theme of good men who are unable to pass on their faith to their eldest son which will continue in the Old Testament, but ultimately be rectified in Jesus.
Finally, we see the continual blessing of Isaac, despite his imperfections. God continues to uphold his promise to Abraham through Isaac. The clan that God is preparing to become a nation for His only Son to be born into is growing. God is a Father who keeps His promises, despite human failures. In fact, God uses our failures to welcome us into his redemptive plan of salvation history. This will become even more evident as Jacob and his sons inherit Abraham and Isaac’s blessing.