Summary: 3 things in the life of Isaac which are symbolic of spiritual necessities for anyone who desires to live a life of faith.
READ: GENESIS 26:24-25.
Isaac was the son of a famous father (Abraham), and the father of a famous son (Jacob, who became Israel). THIRTEEN chapters in Genesis are devoted to telling the story of Abraham, and around TEN chapters to the story of Jacob. They are major characters in the plot. But Isaac’s story is told in just TWO — chapter 24 (the account of Abraham finding him a wife, Rebekah), and this 26th chapter.
Nevertheless, Isaac’s life was by no means insignificant. He was the child that Abraham waited 100 years for — the child of promise. He was a miracle baby; conceived after Sarah had given up on all possibility of it still happening. Isaac was the one who carried on the line in the purposes of God. And on his deathbed, it was Isaac who lay his hands upon Jacob, unwittingly though it was, and set apart the future of Israel.
Even down to the present day, the Jews speak of “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. He is listed among the champions of faith in Hebrews 11, where is says: “By faith (he) blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future”.
Isaac was the child of promise that Abraham had endured in faith for, but being the son of Abraham was NOT the key to his spiritual success. He carried on the line of God’s plan, and was used by God to set apart the next generation, but being the father of Jacob was NOT the key to his spiritual success. Isaac himself lived a life of faith, and carved out for himself the place God had predestined for him in history.
We find three things in the life of Isaac which are symbolic of spiritual necessities for anyone who desires to live a life of faith. If you examine the life of any man or woman who is experiencing real spiritual victory, you will discover these three characteristics.
Our text is Genesis 26:25, which we read a few minutes ago ...”So (Isaac) built AN ALTAR there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and he pitched HIS TENT there: and there Isaac’s servants dug A WELL”.
The first thing we see in this verse is that ...
1. ISAAC BUILT AN ALTAR
“So he built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord.”
It was a time of great difficulty for Isaac. God had greatly blessed him in the land of the Philistines where he was living, so that the Bible says (verse 13): “(Isaac) began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him”.
The envious Philistines filled in all his wells, and their king, Abimelech, said to Isaac: “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we”. So he began moving from place to place, encountering opposition and conflict, until finally he came to Beersheba.
I don’t know just how low and anxious Isaac was feeling at this point, but the night he arrived in Beersheba, God appeared to him, and God spoke to him wonderful words of assurance and promise. He reiterated to Isaac the covenant He had made with his father, Abraham: “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for my servant Abraham’s sake”.
What was Isaac’s response to the revelation of God? “So he built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord”.
An ALTAR speaks of DEDICATION.
Isaac knew all about altars, didn’t he?! You recall the gripping account of when Isaac was just a boy, how in obedience to God, Abraham took him up Mount Moriah and laid him on an altar. On that occasion, the Lord was testing the DEDICATION of Abraham — would he be obedient? Even to the point of sacrificing his own son? And the answer the Lord received was a resounding YES. Abraham’s heart was DEDICATED to God. And at the last possible moment God stayed the knife. “Stop Abraham! ... for now I know that you fear (me) since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me”.
An altar speaks of DEDICATION. Possibly NO-ONE knew the cost of full dedication more than Isaac. “So he built an altar there, and called on the name of the Lord.”
An altar is where you make your sacrifices to God. The apostle Paul implores us in ROMANS 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”.
I read about a man by the name of Taylor Smith — a man greatly used by God - and he had a practice every morning, before he would get out of bed, he would pray this prayer: “Lord Jesus, this bed is the altar; my body is the sacrifice; I offer it afresh to you in total dedication”.