Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 11

The faith of Isaac

Hebrews 11:20

Genesis chapter 27 describes a strange example of faith (active belief and trust in God). It describes how Isaac blessed his sons, Esau and Jacob. By the power of the Holy Spirit, he spoke words about the future of their families.

Several holy men did that just before they died, especially in the Book of Genesis. But something very strange happened when Isaac did it. When Isaac blessed Jacob, Jacob was pretending to be Esau. Isaac was too blind and weak to distinguish between his two sons.

Esau was Isaacís favourite son, and Isaac wanted to bless him in a wonderful manner. He hoped that God would give great promises about the future of Esauís family. He wanted God to provide for them a good country where they would live. And he intended to appoint Esau to rule over his brotherís family.

But Jacob was pretending to be Esau. And the result was that Isaac declared all these things for the benefit of Jacobís family instead.

We may think that this event shows not much evidence of faith. Jacob cheated Esau. Their father Isaac believed something that was not true. He spoke words about Jacob that he intended to speak about Esau.

But the author of Hebrews declares this to be an example of faith. Isaac had faith when he blessed Jacob and Esau. In other words, Isaac really was believing and trusting God on that occasion. He was believing that God would give him the right words to say about each son. He was trusting that God would carry out those things.

When the facts of the matter became clear, it was a shock for both Isaac and Esau. Esau urged his father to bless him, too. But Isaac insisted that his words about Jacob really were for Jacob. Isaac had not spoken from his own desires or imagination. By the power of Godís Holy Spirit, he had declared Godís promises to Jacob. And Isaac was sure that he had spoken Godís words.

At first, Isaac thought that he could not even bless Esau. But afterwards, God did give Isaac some words to bless Esau. God would provide a country for Esauís family to live, although it would be a hard place to live in. Jacobís family would rule over Esauís family. But Esauís family would be able to fight back.

The fact was that God wanted to declare his kindness for Jacob. The God of Abraham and Isaac would become Jacobís God too. And the promises that God gave to Abraham and Isaac were for Jacob too. Jacob did not need to cheat anyone in order to receive the benefit of those promises. God had already decided that they were for him. And that is what Isaac declared on this occasion.

Next part: The faith of Jacob (Hebrews 11:21)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.