Isaac: A Surprising Example of Faith

Written By: Debbie W. Wilson

If I were going to highlight faith, I wouldn’t have picked the incident of Isaac blessing Jacob. “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future” (Hebrews 11:20, NIV).

Do you remember the debacle of Isaac blessing Jacob? He thought he was blessing Esau!

God had told Rebekah, while the twins fought in her womb, that He had big plans for both sons. Both would become nations, but He’d chosen to pass on the blessing of Abraham to the younger one (Genesis 25:23).

Isaac didn’t agree with God’s choice. Esau was a hunter, and Isaac enjoyed eating game. Since Esau was born first, Isaac may have felt it was only right to give him the firstborn’s double blessing. Perhaps he reasoned, if God really wanted Jacob to inherit the blessing, He would have told me too, not just Rebekah. Whatever his excuse, Isaac wanted to bless Esau instead of Jacob and tried to behind Rebekah’s back.

But Rebekah overheard Isaac’s plan and devised her own scheme. She prepared a feast for Isaac and dressed her favorite son in Esau’s clothes to deliver it.

Blind Isaac grabbed Jacob to kiss him and smell him. The scent of Esau’s fabrics reassured him he had the right son. After savoring the tasty meal, he blessed Jacob with all he had in his heart to give Esau. Jacob scarcely escaped his father’s tent when Esau returned with the wild game he’d killed for Isaac.

Esau prepared his feast for his father and bounced into Isaac’s tent expectantly. Isaac “trembled violently” when he realized what had happened.

But the jolt woke Isaac’s faith. I believe the scene that followed demonstrates the faith the author of Hebrews wanted to highlight.

“I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!” (Genesis 27:33 NIV).

Instead of crying “Unfair” and demanding his pick receive the blessing, Isaac bowed to God’s choice. He demonstrated the obedience of faith.

Isaac’s words over his beloved Esau echoed what God had told Rebekah: the nation that would come from Jacob would be greater than the one that would come from Esau. Isaac finally believed God’s choice. Shortly afterwards, he blessed Jacob as Jacob before sending him off to find a wife (Genesis 28:1).

God blessed both Jacob and Esau during their lifetimes. But God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and fulfilled the blessing Isaac spoke over him on his descendants. Thousands of years later, we see what Isaac came to believe by faith: Jacob (Israel) was God’s chosen one for the lineage of Christ.

I said I wouldn’t have picked Isaac as an example of faith. But like Isaac, I’ve changed my mind. Isaac reminds us that faith is demonstrated through obedience. Faith supports God’s right to choose. He selects heirs to the promise and examples of faith. He defines right and wrong and what’s moral and immoral.

Sometimes God’s will goes against our natural inclinations. When we submit to His revealed will, we demonstrate faith that God knows best and discover new treasures.

Are you resisting God’s will in an area? Do you think you know better than God? It’s not too late to embrace His revealed will. Doing so landed Isaac in God’s hall of faith. What might it do for you?


Bio: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks and writes to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. They, along with their two grown children and two standard poodles, enjoy calling North Carolina home. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.


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