Summary: Isaac is the first real reference to Christ. God did the exact same thing with Christ that He expected Abraham to do with Isaac.
From 1935 to 1962, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had a daily newspaper column in which she would write her opinion on various world events. Mrs. Roosevelt was a very talented writer and speaker, and many famous quotes attributed to her name came from these columns and speeches. Some examples include “Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product,” “Understanding is a two-way street,” and “Do what you feel in your heart to be right -- for you’ll be criticized anyway.” These quotes, and others, have firmly cemented Eleanor Roosevelt as one of the greats in literature and public speaking. But tonight, though, I want to discuss a completely different quote with you. This quote was in an article she wrote in 1946, “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”
I’ll say it again: “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”
This is pretty straightforward, right? This is one of the hallmarks of a good leader. But this quote means so much more than just how to show good leadership -- this is a reference to a specific scene in the book of Genesis. Turn with me to Genesis chapter 18.
As you’re turning, let’s review a bit from what we discussed last week. Abraham was the recipient of a specific promise by God -- Abraham’s son will be the source of a great and mighty nation, who will be considered God’s own people. Abraham already had a son, though, through his impatience: Ishmael. God promised Abraham that Ishmael would also become a great nation, but God emphasized that the promise He had for Abraham was only to be considered through Abraham’s future son with Sarah. And, just like last week, we’re going to be going fairly quickly through several chapters in the book of Genesis! Let’s start with chapter 18:1-2:
“1The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.”
Skip ahead to verse 9:
“9“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. 10Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?””
Sarah literally heard angels prophesy that she would give birth to a son, and her first reaction was to wonder how it would be possible! But, like all prophecy, it did come true in Genesis 21, after waiting for 25 years, Abraham and Sarah finally deliver a baby: Isaac. Verse 1:
“1Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’ 7And she added, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’”
Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. We know from previous chapters that Sarah was 10 years younger than Abraham, making her 90 when Isaac was born. You don’t have to be an expert in biology to understand how impossible it is for a 100-year-old man to have a child with a 90-year-old woman!
Isaac’s life began as a miracle; his life was a biological impossibility. But what made his life special didn’t end with the circumstances of his birth! Look at Genesis chapter 22:
“1Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” 3Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”