The name Isaac, which means “he laughs,” was derived from his parents’ reaction  when God told Abraham that he, at 100 years old, and his wife Sarah, at the age  of 90, would have a son (Genesis  17:17; 18:12).  Isaac was Abraham’s second son; his first, Ishmael, was by Sarah’s maidservant,  Hagar, as a result of Sarah’s impatience to give Abraham a family (Genesis 16:1-2). As soon  as Isaac was weaned, Sarah insisted that Abraham send Hagar and her son away,  ensuring the family inheritance would go to Isaac (Genesis  21:3-12).

As a teenager, Isaac was taken by his father up a  mountain where Abraham, in obedience to God, prepared to sacrifice him (Genesis 22:1-14). There  is an interesting analogy in this account that mirrors God giving up His only  son, Jesus, to be sacrificed. When Isaac was forty years old, his father sent  one of his servants to find a wife for him from their clan, as Abraham was  determined his son should not have a Canaanite for a wife (Genesis 24:1-51). And  so, Isaac married his cousin Rebekah.

Isaac, unlike his father Abraham,  sets a new standard of being nonconfrontational, as we see him move from place  to place to avoid trouble with his neighbours over the rights to the wells in  the region. And yet, God re-affirms His covenant with Isaac that He had made  with Abraham before him (Genesis  26:4). Later, in verse 7, we see history repeating itself as Isaac, just  like his father, passes his wife off as his sister, for fear of his  life.

Rebekah bore twin sons, Esau and Jacob. While Isaac favored his  elder son, Esau, Rebekah’s favorite was Jacob. This caused great rivalry within  the family and led to Jacob, the younger son, receiving the inheritance and his  father’s blessing which should have gone to Esau, the older son, after Isaac and  Esau were deceived by Rebekah and Jacob.

We might think there is little  for us to learn from such a character as Isaac, and yet this isn’t the case.  When Isaac discovered, for instance, that he had been deceived by his son Jacob,  he accepted and submitted to what he recognised as God’s will, in spite of it  being completely against the accepted tradition at the time. Just as Isaac  discovered, we, too, must always remember that God’s ways are not our ways or  His thoughts the same as ours (Isaiah  55:8).

Though there are no great achievements to speak of concerning  Isaac’s life, it was Isaac that God chose to continue the covenant line, the  same line that would produce our Messiah, Jesus. And for many generations the  Jewish nation described their God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Indeed, there are several Scriptures where God describes Himself in the same  manner (e.g., Exodus 3:6).  Isaac is listed with the other patriarchs and in Jesus’ own words will be found  seated in His kingdom (Luke 13:28).  And there is no greater honor we can hope to achieve.