Hebrews 11:20

Sunday, 17 March 2019

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. Hebrews 11:20

The author now moves to Abraham’s son of promise, Isaac. He completely skips over Ishmael as irrelevant to the continued history of the redemptive narrative. Though mentioned four times in Hebrews 11, this is the one instance of Isaac’s life which is selected for mention in the Hall of Fame of Faith. Again, as before, he says, “By faith…”

What will be described is considered an act of faith because Isaac knew he was the son of promise. The words he was to pronounce were thus a divine oracle, and he was certain they would come out as prophesied. In his faith, “Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.”

In another example of divine election, the words place Jacob ahead of Esau even though Esau was the firstborn of Isaac. This selection wasn’t something that occurred later during their lifetimes and which should have surprised Isaac. Rather, when the twins were jostling in her womb, their mother Rachael was so disturbed that she inquired of the Lord about it. She asked, If all is well, why am I like this?”  And the divine response –

“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”Genesis 25:23

Before either child was born, the Lord had already divinely elected Jacob over Esau. God’s sovereign choice continued through their descendants which became “two nations.” In Malachi 1:2, 3 the Bible records –

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’
Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?”
Says the Lord.
“Yet Jacob I have loved;
But Esau I have hated,
And laid waste his mountains and his heritage
For the jackals of the wilderness.”

Paul quotes this verse in Romans 9:13 when discussing God’s sovereignty. In relation to that choice of God, Isaac’s blessings came upon his sons when they were seventy-seven years old, and the words have borne the truths revealed in them for thousands of years. The two blessings are found in Genesis 27, and they reveal matters “concerning things to come.”

The prophecies laid out the future destinies of the two sons, and they also pointed to truths found in redemptive history in regards to the coming Messiah. Isaac knew this and when confronted about the blessing upon Jacob by Esau, his response in Genesis 27:37 was, Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?”

Isaac spoke, in faith, of the surety of the outcome of the blessing, and thus he is rewarded by God – and noted here in faith’s great Hall of Fame – for his faith. Though he was old, and his eyes were so dim at that time that he could not see, he still had absolute clarity of spiritual sight in regards to these matters. He could see into the future, based upon the spoken words, and know with surety that they would come to pass.

It is for this reason that Isaac, once again, blessed Jacob before he departed to Padam Aram in order to find a bride –

“May God Almighty bless you,
And make you fruitful and multiply you,
That you may be an assembly of peoples;
And give you the blessing of Abraham,
To you and your descendants with you,
That you may inherit the land
In which you are a stranger,
Which God gave to Abraham.” Genesis 28:3, 4

Isaac understood that his first blessings upon Jacob and Esau would come true, and thus his second blessing upon Jacob clearly granted Jacob the continued promise of Abraham. Isaac was a man of faith, and he acted upon that faith, trusting that God’s ways were right and proper.

Life application: Life seems unfair at times. People are born into different situations as determined by God, and rather than being unhappy about it, we need to accept our situation and work within the parameters of our station to bring the most glory to the Creator who placed us where we are for His purposes. This doesn’t mean we have to accept our plight and wallow in it without trying to better ourselves, but it does mean that whatever our station is, we should be content in it, even as we look to better it.

O God, we often wonder why we were placed where we are. Help us, Lord, to bring glory to You by being the most faithful Christians that we can be – using the time, place, and circumstances You have dealt to us in lives which are worthy of the title of “Christian.” To Your honor and glory alone! Amen.

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