THE BLESSED CALLING OF ISAAC
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. (Genesis 26:12)
And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Genesis 17:19)
The calling of Isaac is communicated to Abraham before his birth for Abraham has already received his high calling leaving his kindred and country and waiting for God to fulfill His promise of blessing him with a seed who will be a blessing to all the families on earth. This is a calling in line with the true line in which the promised Seed of the woman would come so that the image of God may be restored to those who are the children of the faith of Abraham. For righteousness is imputed by faith and not of works though works show the evidence of faith. This calling of Isaac is also purely one of grace because this is for the purpose of redemption for Adam’s fallen, lost and helpless race.
It is in this man Isaac that the Almighty will establish an everlasting covenant with his seed after him. All of these in the mind of the Divine are revealed to Abraham before his birth so that the doctrine of Election might be established according to Romans 9:16: So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. No fallen man can will God to have mercy on him on his own terms. Anyone who wants to obtain God’s mercy must come to God on the terms of the Most High for the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. It is clearly stated that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and not some are chosen to come to repentance while others are bypassed for damnation. Hence repentance will depend on the individual whether he will accept God’s terms of bestowing mercy on him. Here we see God revealing the way to obtain mercy through the calling of Isaac. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. (Joshua 24:3) Thus Isaac is given to Abraham for this specific purpose that the mercy of God will be made available to all so that all the families on earth will be blessed.
So God chooses to save all men through the Seed of this man Isaac and there is no other way. When the Seed of this man Isaac born of the Seed of the woman shows up, this truth is confirmed, Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) The definitive article before the way indicates that there is only one way and no other way. As such, it is not for anyone one to will or run to obtain mercy but it is of God Who will show mercy to all who will come to His only blessed begotten Son who is the only way back to God! For Abraham has been told of this truth and has acted upon this will of God to cast out the seed of the bond woman Ishmael; And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. (Genesis 21:12)
Here Isaac is called not because of anything he has done for he is called even before he is born. He is a chosen vessel to bring forth the Seed of the woman still in the future for the drama of redemption will go on as scheduled until the fullness of time to be revealed by a chosen forerunner yet in the future. This calling of Isaac is also understood by writers of the New Testament; Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: (Hebrews 11:18) and Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. (Romans 9:7) Apart from being called to carry on the Messianic lineage, Isaac is called to be a type of the Son of God when his father Abraham offered him on the altar according to the commandment of God, By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. (Hebrews 11:17) So Isaac is called to be a type of the only begotten son of his father. The role Isaac participated in during his offering by his father shows the picture of the greatest love the universe will one day behold when the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world by offering Himself on the Cross of Calvary.
As far as receiving a personal call from the Almighty like his father Abraham, Isaac has been assured once by the Lord God after the death of his father. And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Genesis 26:2-5) God Himself confirms this calling to him personally! He has been assured of blessings from above concerning his inheritance and his posterity based on Abraham’s obedience because of his faith in God. So the promised blessing for Abraham is passed on to him by God and not just merely by words of mouth from his father.
In a sense, Isaac also inherited the call through his father Abraham. His parents no doubt have made this call known to him while he is still a youth. The episode regarding the offering of himself by his father Abraham on the order of God undoubtedly etched a deep and lasting impression on him concerning this calling from above for his father. After all, who would not remember the incident where the close call of death nearly becomes a reality with his life cut short? How can he ever forget the cold knife of death staring him at his face when he was laid on the altar on that mountain of trial and tribulation of Abraham’s faith? Moreover, how can he forget the Almighty granting him deliverance from the heavens restraining his father hands at the very last moment? There he witnessed the triumph of faith of his father and the confirmation of God’s calling of blessing for his father Abraham. Indeed, Isaac is no stranger to the high calling of God. For he did ask his father where was the lamb on that mountain before he was laid on that stone cold altar. How the father and the son must have hugged each other in tears of joy and in thanksgiving to God for providing a lamb Himself! There he experientially learns this lesson of God’s calling first hand and the reality of this most holy faith.
Family worship must be very real to this Hebrew family. For Abraham his father also takes great pain to ensure that Isaac will not return to Mesopotamia as well as he will not take a wife from the daughters of the land in Canaan. Hence the wife of Isaac has to be specially arranged from his own kindred through divine guidance for his father Abraham has sent his steward to find him a wife. So Abraham is taking his high calling very seriously and now Isaac in turn will have to keep this high calling of God for his family close at heart. Like his father Abraham, a man of great faith, and this faith in God surely has made a deep impression on Isaac who also participated in the offering on that mountain and Isaac is now to exercise faith on his own as well.
While Abraham his father prayed and waited till an hundred years old before he was given Isaac, Isaac prayed for his wife Rebekah to conceive at a relatively young age of fifty-nine, And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (Genesis 25:21) So by sixty years old, Isaac became the proud father of twins according to Genesis 25:26: And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. With this calling given from above running through the family, marriages for these patriarchs are very serious and important matter. What his son Esau did for marrying the wives of the land has become an issue for Isaac, And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. (Genesis 26:34&35) For Abraham has to specially import a wife for Isaac from his own people, Esau takes no such heed as far as the calling for the family is concerned. Esau is seen to be a man who is cavalier in his attitude towards spiritual things and in his manner of life, especially concerning his birthright as Isaac’s firstborn which he despised according to Genesis 25:34: Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright. Esau’s ungodliness is also condemned in the New Testament in Hebrews 12:16&17: Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
Having to arrest this apostasy surfacing in his family, Isaac has to send Jacob away to get a wife from his own kindred: And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. (Genesis 28:1) So following Abraham his father’s example, Isaac charged Jacob not to take a wife of the daughters of Canaan whom God told Abraham would be destroyed when their iniquity was full (Genesis 15:16). As such, Isaac is exercising faith in his calling to preserve the Seed promised long ago that will come to be a blessing to all the families on earth through his family. In fact, Isaac was so conscious of the fact that he was the recipient of this divine calling via his father Abraham that when he thought he was about to die, he told his son Esau to prepare him the a meal to receive this God-given blessing to perpetuate the calling to the next generation in Genesis 27:1-3 though it turned out that the blessing was given to Jacob through fraud.
Isaac as the son of the father of faith and to live up to the expectation as children of the faith of Abraham, he finally exercised true faith in blessing his two sons concerning things to come as summarized in Hebrews 11:20: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. The calling of Isaac is a chosen vessel to channel the blessed calling for the salvation of the whole world in time to come. For the Lord God is calling a people out of darkness into his marvelous light through this Seed of the woman yet to be revealed through this Hebrew family. Like Isaac, all born again children of God are the children of promise not born of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but born of the Spirit of God: Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. (Galatians 4:28)
Since the calling of Isaac precedes his birth, his name is also of great significance. For his mother Sarah has been barren for a long time and it is indeed a great reproach for any woman to be without the fruits of the womb. So when Sarah gives birth to Isaac at age ninety, her joy is indescribable which is quite understandable, And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. (Genesis 21:5-7) This name Isaac given by the Lord even before his birth simply means laughter. Who would even think of giving his son such a name? But how befitting is such a name given from above, for this God-called man is to be the channel of blessings for all the families on earth through the Seed of the woman! Indeed all redeemed families on earth shall laugh because all tears shall be wiped away in eternity! There will be laughter without tears and joy not tainted with sorrow for those who are of the faith of Abraham born through the blessed Seed promised in this man Isaac.
This article is taken from a chapter in the book “The High Calling of God” which may be downloaded via: