Isaac, the child the Lord promised to Abraham, continues the line in which God will fulfill the covenant promises of blessing made to Abraham. Isaac marries Rebekah and together they have twin sons, Jacob and Esau. The life of Isaac includes both faithfulness and failure. His faithfulness is seen in submission to his father (Gen. 22), in his trust in God for children (Gen. 25:21-26), and in his prayer life (Gen. 26:25). The New Testament affirms his faith in the Lord (Heb. 11:20). Isaac also failed (we will consider this below). Despite his failures, God remained faithful to His promise to Abraham, which was repeated to Isaac (Gen. 26:4).
Isaac didn’t get married until he was 40 years old. When Abraham was advanced in years he instructed his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. Abraham wanted the wife for his son to be from his homeland (this journey was over 800 kilometers). Abraham’s servant goes on the long journey and seeks guidance from the Lord and makes a specific request (Gen. 24:12-14). Once he arrives Rebekah shoes generous kindness and does exactly what the servant had prayed. God is then praised (Gen. 24:27-28), Rebekah and her family acknowledge this to be God’s will, she is blessed, and she leaves for home and family to marry Isaac (cf. Gen. 12:1-3). When she arrives she covers herself with a veil before the wedding. Isaac is informed then the two marry (Gen. 24:62-67). This marriage is a highpoint and shows the reader that God’s promises made back in Genesis 3:15 and 12:1-3 are coming to pass.
For twenty years, Isaac and Rebekah were unable to have children, as Rebekah was infertile. Isaac prayed for his wife and God answered his prayer (Gen. 25:21). This shows the consequences of the curse (Gen. 3) and God’s plan to undo the curse through the blessing promised to Abraham (Gen. 12). Rebekah conceived and she was carrying twins! The Genesis account records that “the children struggled together within her” (Gen. 25:22). This is a theme reaped in Genesis (and throughout the Bible) of conflict (cf. Gen. 4). It is the playing out of the conflict between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. God reveals to Rebekah His sovereign plan for the children – the older will serve the younger: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23). This sets the stage for God’s plan to pass on the promise made to Abraham, repeated to Isaac, in the life of Jacob.
When they were born, we learn about their different personalities and temperaments. Esau was a more outgoing outdoorsman, whereas Jacob was a more reserved homebody. Problems occur when Isaac favoured Esau and Rebekah favoured Jacob (Gen. 25:27-28). This is followed by the birthright incident. Esau displays disregard and Jacob deception. Despite Isaac’s initial act, in the end, he acknowledged that what happened is what was supposed to happen. This reveals that he ultimately submitted to God’s plan (Gen. 27:33 and Heb. 11:20).