ISAAC was a person of upright, tranquil, peaceful life. Not one thing is said against him. He was not great, as men would speak of greatness, but was quiet, meek and lowly. To him belonged five peculiar and special things, in each of which he was a type and represented some peculiar truth or special person or persons. These things were, his birth, his name, his being offered to God as a sacrifice, his marriage, and his blessing his son Jacob, the younger. These will be considered.
Isaac was the only son of Abraham and Sarah, and at his birth his father was one hundred years old and his mother ninety. Therefore his birth was supernatural and according to the promise and power of God. Thus Isaac was the child of faith and the heir of promise. Moreover, he was born in the covenant that God made with Abraham. And as he was their first and only son in the covenant of God with them, he was therefore the head of the covenant. Now, that was an everlasting covenant, and in it and in Isaac God blessed all the nations, kindreds and families of the earth. In all this Isaac was, first, a blessed type of "the only begotten Son of God," who is the Head of all God's covenant people and children, all of whom God blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ. God established the covenant in Isaac, and fulfilled it in Jesus.
Then, second, Isaac was as well a type of every one of God's chosen and covenant people in Christ; for as both Isaac and Jesus were the promised sons of Abraham and of God, and were born by the supernatural power and of the infinite love of God, so also is every child of God thus born, and, like Isaac, they are children of God's promise to Abraham, and his heirs in the covenant.
"Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannuleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. * * * And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
"Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bond-woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free-woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. * * * Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her Son: for the son of the bond woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond woman, but of the free." Paul to the Galatians.
How blessedly this shows us that the covenant and promise of God to Abraham embraced both Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, and Christ, the Son of God and the holy Jerusalem, and with them all who are Christ's, all the children of the free woman, the new covenant, the children of the promise. All these are the children of Abraham, the children of God, and are one with Isaac and Jesus in the covenant of life. They are all born by promise, as Isaac was, born of God, and the heavenly Jerusalem is their mother. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." So the children of God are one with Christ in his sufferings, seven as they shall be one with him in his life of glory.
The name Isaac means laughter. His name is typical. When he was born, there was joy and gladness in his father's house. For they knew that what God had promised, he was able also to perform, and their faith in God was confirmed; and they believed in him and were glad. They had experienced the power and the faithfulness of God. The realization of this always brings trust and hope in God, with peace and joy. So Isaac was the child of faith, as well as of promise. And faith brings hope and love, thanksgiving and joy in the Lord. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose." But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying." "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." And so there is gladness in the house of God when the children of the promise are born in Zion, and therefore they are all given the name of Isaac. "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." In this anointing all the children of God were one with their Head, and his gladness is theirs in him, and he will show them his glory. "Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their Head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away."
And so the prophecy of Sarah at the birth of her promised son shall be fulfilled. "And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me."
But Oh! it seemed that God would turn their laughter into weeping. Isaac had grown up to promising manhood, a lovely youth of twenty-five summers, the glory of his father and the joy of his mother, when God said unto him, "Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." There was no mistaking the fearful words of this command, and Abraham knew that it was God who spoke to him, who had also given a command to Adam. Should he disobey God, as Adam had done? He knew how ruinous that act was. No! he could not disobey the voice of God, in whom he believed and trusted. He knew that Isaac was the gift of God, and that he had the right to take him away. But O how great was the sacrifice! Why would not one of his faithful servants have sufficed for the sacrifice, instead of his only darling son? Then, God had never before required that the father should sacrifice the son. Oh! what could it mean? How fearfully mysterious and dark. Yet there was the command. He must go forward, and leave all with God, who had said to him, "For in Isaac shall thy seed be called." "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together." O, could any scene be more sorrowful and heartrending! The innocent son carrying up the mount the altar upon which he was to die, and his own father should deliver him up! Even so the Son of God bore his cross, near the same place, up mount Calvary. Weep, O heaven and earth, at the solemn scene!
"And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son." How endearing and tender the appeal, and the response! "And he said, Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a Iamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together." This was a glorious triumph of faith, and the son believed it with the father. It was far out of sight of reason and above it, yet their faith in God accepted this most wonderful truth of all truth, that God would provide himself a Lamb for the sacrifice, the offering for sin. Isaac was unresisting and obedient, though he must have felt that he was the only lamb for the offering. This was a trial and sorrow to both the father and the son too deep for words, and more than flesh could meet, but faith in God sustained them. "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter."
Blessed be the holy name of God! Isaac, the beloved and only son of his father, was the lamb of God for an offering in type only, though at that moment neither his father nor himself understood this, but God was about to open their eyes and show it to them.
"And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." Faith in God was full; the obedience was perfect; God was well pleased; the triumph was glorious! Isaac, type of Jesus, was released from death, and all the children of the promise were released in him.
"And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Je-ho-vah ji-reh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen." (That is, The lord will see, or, provide.)
And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
In solemn grandeur and infinite mercy and blessing in its meaning, this offering up of Isaac was the most wonderful that God had ever commanded. He only could give Abraham the faithfulness and power to fulfill it. In this sacrifice of his only son, whom he loved, Abraham was like God himself, for God was with him. There should be but one other offering made on earth like it. This one should be the well beloved and only Son of God himself, in whom were all the promises of God, and in him God confirmed the covenant with an oath to Abraham, as we have just read.
Let us consider the type and its blessed fulfillment: When Isaac was bound, and laid upon the altar, the covenant of God and all his promises of a glorious inheritance and a family as countless as the stars were in him. The Son of God himself, according to the flesh, was in Isaac. Moses and the priests, the prophets and the kings of Israel, with all the covenant people, were in the life of Isaac. Therefore, should he be cut off and live no more, then all, all should perish in him. This Abraham knew. But his faith had the power of God in it, and there was nothing impossible with God. His God had promised him a son, in whom all nations should be blessed. "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness."
When he firmly grasped the knife in his strong hand to slay that son of God's promise, his faith in God was steadfast and stronger than death. Of this perfect faith in God and its perfect obedience Paul says: "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." "GOD was able to raise him up from the dead." This was the overcoming faith of Abraham. It is also the faith of all who truly believe in God.
Faith in God, therefore, embraces the resurrection of the dead. Unbelief staggers at this and rejects it. It denies the power of God to raise up the dead. If Abraham had not believed in the resurrection of the dead, and that God would raise up his beloved son into life again, then he could not have obeyed God, nor offered up Isaac. But his obedience and the obedience of his son in yielding unto death, was the beautiful type and sure promise of the righteous obedience of the Son of God unto death, even the death of the cross, by which he should destroy both sin and death, and God, who is able, would raise him up, even from the dead, by the glory of his power. So the resurrection of the dead is the realization and crowning glory of faith. If the dead rise not, faith fails and is vain. If the dead rise not, then there is no righteous obedience unto God, no end to sin, and the perfect obedience of Abraham's faith counted no more than disobedience. How dark and fearful is unbelief!
In a figure Abraham received his son from death. That figure was the ram that died in Isaac's stead. God provided himself this lamb for an offering. It was a figure of the Lamb of God. "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God." He testified that it was the will of God that he should lay down his life, and take it up again. He did this .in the perfect obedience of faith and love. He offered up himself without spot unto God. In his body that God provided him as the Lamb for an offering for sin, Christ was righteous and holy. His offering was infinite in virtue and merit, so that law and justice were honored fulfilled, and God was well pleased with the holy obedience of his Son.
The offering of Isaac was a wonderful figure of this glorious obedience of the holy Lamb and Son of God. Christ was both the Lamb for an offering, and the Son and High Priest to make one sacrifice for sins for ever. As the Lamb of God he died, but as the Son of God, the Father unbound him, when he loosed the pains of death; for it was not possible that he should be holden of it. So Abraham, who offered up his son, had the unspeakable joy of faith and love to loose him at God's command, and, lo, Isaac lived! So in him as the type of the risen Son of God, all the elect family of God, all the chosen in Christ, were made free from death and shall enter into life everlasting. In his faith Abraham saw this when he raised up Isaac, and he rejoiced in the coming glory. This well beloved and obedient Son said to the Jews: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad."
"And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men. And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them." This great blessing was of God, and it was fulfilled, both literally and spiritually, in the type and in the anti-type.
Isaac was then forty years old, his mother was with God, and he was alone with his father. The Lord had said, "It is not good that the man should be alone." "And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house. that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: and I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac." Isaac should dwell in Canaan, the promised inheritance, and she should leave her own country and people, and should go and be the wife of Isaac. But if she was not willing to go, then the servant should be free from his oath to his master. There should be no urging, nor force, but all should be according to the choice of her heart. How suitable and good this is! It is the divine pattern, the example the Lord has given to his servants. The true and faithful will be faithful to their Master and true to their oath, as Abraham's servant was. Abraham knew the failure and folly of bringing in a stranger and bondwoman to try to build his household.
The servant had told the touching story of his master's greatness and excellence, and of his only son, the heir of all his father's glory.
The heart of the lovely Rebekah was won, and we have heard her simple answer: "I WILL GO!" A meaning was in it too sublime for words to tell. It was full of love and faith, trust and hope. Isaac was more to her than all the world. God had greatly blessed him. He was her beloved kinsman. And now she should be one with him in his blessing and estate and honor. His joyous name and blessed life were hers with him. "And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah." These were the gifts of Isaac "Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way," said the servant. "I will go," said the sweet voice of Rebekah. "This is the Lord's doing; and it is marvelous in our eyes."
"Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we well remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee." "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love."
"And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her." "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." Isaac and Rebekah were lovely and blessed, but Christ and the church are lovely, blessed and glorious. All this is in the love of God. "The King's daughter is all glorious: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the King's palace."
"My Beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away." Thus drawn, the fair and lovely Rebekah, type of the church, went to the goodly land of Canaan and was married to Isaac, after he had been loosed from death, and God had confirmed the covenant and the blessing in him. Canaan and its wine and milk and honey, and many good things, was a type and a promise of the militant gospel kingdom; for Canaan was a goodly heritage, a pleasant land. God gave it to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob by promise. They were called out and separated from the nations to dwell there, in the home he gave them, to be married unto the Lord, as Rebekah to Isaac. That house or family should dwell alone, live unto the Lord and worship him, and not be reckoned among the nations. They were the favored children of Isaac and Rebekah.
Now, all this was typical. So it was after our spiritual Isaac was loosed from death by his Father, that his lovely bride came and entered with her adored Bridegroom into the gospel house. This is all by the power of living Faith, God given faith, the faith that worketh by love, purifieth the heart, and overcometh the world.
To Isaac and Rebekah God gave two children, twin brothers, Esau and Jacob. These two differed very widely in their lives, their features, tastes and pursuits. In all this they were typical or representative of things which are true in the people of God.
The time came when their father Isaac should bestow the patriarchal blessing, as he was old. By usage this blessing should descend upon the head of Esau, the first-born, and Isaac so intended it, but the Lord caused him to bless Jacob, the younger. Having blessed him, Isaac could not reverse the blessing, but he confirmed it and said, "yea, and he shall be blessed." Isaac said to Esau: "Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; and by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck."
That we may see the meaning of all this, let us notice the early youth of Esau and Jacob. We read: "And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field: and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents." Even before their birth the children struggled. So Rebekah enquired of the Lord why it was thus. "And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be Separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." Thus the Lord had blessed Jacob before the children were born. Rebekah knew this, and so it was an act of faith in the word of the Lord, when she disguised Jacob as Esau, and sent him with the delicious food she had prepared to obtain his father's blessing. Faith only obtains the blessing. Esau was natural, and he was without faith. His name and nature prove him an earthy man, red and hairy. Therefore, he despised his birthright, and sold it to Jacob to satisfy his natural appetite. Jacob was not so, but he was smooth, fair and plain, dwelling in tents at home with his mother. It will help us, to stand with him in his father's tent, while he speaks the words of blessing. "And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed: therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee,"
We are now deeply interested in Jacob, and regard him with peculiar favor, while we pity Esau, but cannot really love him. Their parents were lovely, and the Lord had blessed them, and their twin sons were embraced in the covenant that God made with Abraham. Yet the children were so radically different in their natures, even from their birth, that their desires and pursuits were unlike, and neither one was pleased with the other. What does all this mean, and whom do they represent? God had made them different, yet his purpose was in each of them. We have seen that Isaac blessed Esau with no mean blessing, but it was earthly.
The Lord said to Israel by Malachi: "I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid. his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness." This is the sense in which the Lord hated Esau; for he does not hate, only in the sense of his righteous dealings and judgments. Of Rebekah and her two sons Paul said: "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."
It is plain to us now, that the love and special blessing of God was upon Jacob, yet Esau was his brother. In this they were evidently typical, and represented that which is true in the kingdom of God, and true of the people of his covenant. It is true, we know, that every one of the people of God is dual or complex, as born of the flesh, and born of the Spirit. They are all as the Shulamite, in whom we see as it were the company of two armies, For in every child of God on earth is found the life and nature of the earthly man, and also the life and nature of the heavenly Man, and these are as twin-brothers; yet they are as Esau and Jacob. Esau represents every child of God in Adam, and Jacob represents every child of God in Christ. It is in Christ that God loved and blessed his people, and each one in whom Christ liveth is a Jacob. Yet in that child of God there is as well the twin brother, Esau. For sadly enough, we are earthborn, where the curse of God fell, and we are earthly, like our brother Esau; alas! too earthly. But we rejoice that God loved Jacob (Jesus), and said Esau should serve him. "The first shall be last." Esau was first, then Jacob. And so Paul said: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." This he said of the two Adams. This is true also in the manifestation of every child of God. The child of earth (Esau) is first; and afterward the child of heaven (Jacob). "And these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Paul found it so in himself.
Jacob loved the Lord and the house of the Lord; but Esau loved the field, and pursued the chase, the sports of earth. As Esau, we would run downward to the earth; but as Jacob, we are drawn upward to things heavenly. Being risen with Christ, Jacob's blessing is ours, and the word of the Lord is in our heart to seek his face, and so we seek those things which are above. In this experience the word of the Lord is true in us: "And the elder shall serve the younger." How blessed it is that the Lord has ordained that it SHALL be so. For now Christ has the dominion, and by him grace much more abounds than sin; for grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life.
We are taught by the example of Esau and Jacob this solemn truth: That God did not love and choose and bless his people in Adam, but in Christ; and that not in the flesh are they lovely in his sight, but in the Spirit. The one is Esau, the other is Jacob. "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." This is true in the experience of every one who is led by the Spirit of God; for each one loves what God loves, but hates what he hates. You love the lovely Christ and his image, but you hate your own sinful nature.
But blessed be God! "We shall all be changed." We shall awake with the likeness of Christ, and be satisfied. "And there shall be no more curse."
Elder David Bartley
"The Christ-Man in Type