Isaac, Son of Promise

Discovery for Teachers

Isaac, Son of Promise


Genesis 24:1 through 26:35

“And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.” (Genesis 26:24)


The covenant God had made with Abraham — to create from Abraham’s descendants a great nation through which He would bless the world — was passed on to the next generation through Isaac.

Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah when the patriarch was one hundred years of age, and his wife was ninety. Their choice of the name Isaac (which means “laughter”) for this long-awaited miracle child no doubt reflected their joy at his birth. His very existence was a testimony to God’s power to make His promises become a reality.

An obedient and trusting son, Isaac was willing to follow his father’s instructions even when obedience seemingly would lead to his own death. As a young man he showed a desire to commune with God and to trust the Lord to choose his wife. When it became apparent that his wife Rebekah was barren, he interceded in prayer for her to bear a child, and he prevailed in that request.

God blessed Isaac and he became very great and powerful among the inhabitants of the land. His patient and peaceful manner caused him to avoid strife, and made those who would be his enemies seek peace with him.

Isaac chose to follow his father’s faith and to do his part in obedience to God. Because he did so, he is listed among the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:9).


  1. Often the account of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22:1-24 focuses on Abraham, but it is interesting to study this passage from Isaac’s viewpoint. Although his age at this time is unknown, many Bible scholars believe he was between twenty-five and thirty-six years old. Since he was able to carry the wood for the sacrifice (verse 6), he certainly was old enough to resist being bound as a sacrifice. However, there is no record of such resistance. What convictions and qualities might Isaac have seen in Abraham that caused him to submit to impending death?

    Suggestions from your class may include: Abraham’s faith in God and commitment to Him, his willingness to obey, and his submission to God’s authority in his life. Your group should conclude that Abraham clearly inspired and taught his son the importance of trusting the one true God. Isaac not only observed, but he trusted his father and his father’s relationship with God, and followed his father’s good example.
  2. Isaac being offered as a sacrifice is often compared with Jesus being crucified. In what ways were Isaac and Jesus similar? In what ways were they dissimilar?

    Class input in response to this question may include the fact that both Isaac and Jesus were only sons, dearly beloved by their fathers. (Though Jesus had earthly siblings, He was the only Son of God.) Both were ordained by God to be a sacrifice. Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice, while Jesus carried the cross. Isaac submitted to the will of his father just as Jesus submitted to His Father, though the price was their own lives.

    Isaac and Jesus were dissimilar in that Isaac was mortal, while Jesus (though in earthly form) was the Son of God. Isaac was delivered from death, but Jesus paid the ultimate price on the Cross. Isaac’s death would have had no redeeming merit, but Jesus purchased salvation for all mankind through His death.

  3. When Abraham was old and “well stricken in age” he gave the responsibility of choosing an appropriate wife for Isaac to a trusted servant. Where was the servant sent to find a wife? Why do you think Abraham felt it was so important that Isaac not marry one of the daughters of the Canaanites? Genesis 24:1-9

    The servant was instructed to go to Abraham’s former homeland and take a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s kindred. As your class discusses why Abraham made the servant promise not to choose a wife from among the Canaanites, the conclusion should be reached that Abraham clearly was aware of the danger of intermarriage with heathen neighbors. God wanted a holy people who were set apart from the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites, and marriage between the two cultures would certainly blur any line of demarcation.

    You may wish to amplify the discussion by bringing out that God still requires His people to be separate from the world, warning us against entering into marriage or other close relationships with unbelievers.

  4. Abraham’s servant asked God for a specific sign that would identify the woman who would become Isaac’s wife. What was that sign, and what does the outcome teach us about God’s guidance and care? Genesis 24:14-20

    The servant told God that he would stand by the well where the young women of the city came to draw water. He asked that the woman God had chosen would offer to water his camels when he asked her for a drink. Before he even finished his prayer, Rebekah came to draw water and gave the very response that the servant had requested.

    Class discussion of the second half of the question should bring out that God is faithful to give guidance and provide according to His will if we seek Him. It is worth noting that the servant asked God to reveal His will in a simple and straightforward manner. Following God is not complicated. Guidance may not always come as directly as it did in this instance, but God will always make His will clear in His own way and time if we are committed to following His plan.

  5. Where was Isaac and what was he doing when Rebekah first saw him? What conclusion might we draw from this? Genesis 24:63-64

    Verse 63 indicates that Isaac was out in the field meditating. The Hebrew word translated meditate in this verse means “to muse pensively.” We can conclude Isaac was a man who contemplated the things of God; seemingly he was a man of a serious and quiet disposition.

    You might wish to follow up this question by asking your class why it is a good practice to spend time contemplating the things of God. Discussion should bring out that meditation helps us to focus on God, brings to mind reasons for praise and thanksgiving, and communicates our love and sincere interest in God’s words and ways.

  6. What conditions was Isaac to meet in order to obtain the blessings of God’s covenant? Genesis 26:2-5

    He was not to go to Egypt, but to dwell in the land that God showed him. Scripture does not give a definitive reason why God made this requirement. Bring out that sometimes we will not know the reason for the requirements God gives us. However, God requires obedience even when we do not understand. Stepping out in faith even when we do not have a reason is one way we learn to trust and to walk by faith!
  7. Genesis 26:7-11 recounts how Isaac wavered in his trust of God’s protection in the face of potentially perilous circumstances. Why is wavering so dangerous?

    Failure to trust in God can lead to sin, and sin will always have an impact — not only on ourselves, but many times on others also. In Isaac’s case, his actions, which were based on fear rather than trust in God, put Rebekah in a vulnerable position, and ultimately drew the rebuke of King Abimelech of the Philistines. To Isaac’s credit, when Abimelech confronted him about his behavior, he acknowledged rather than justified it.

    This could be a good opportunity to explore with your class the right way to deal with failures and shortcomings in our Christian lives. If we have willfully turned our backs on God and sinned, we need to repent and seek His forgiveness. If we have erred through human weakness rather than outright rebellion, we should acknowledge our error, do our best to repair any damage caused, seek for God’s help to do better the next time, and step forward in confidence that God has seen our contrite spirit and will help us to learn from our mistakes and walk victoriously in the future.

  8. What ongoing problem described in Genesis 26:12-22 did Isaac face? What did Isaac’s response to the herdsmen of Gerar reveal about his character? Genesis 26:18-28

    His enemies harassed him by stopping up the wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham. You may wish to point out to your class that sheep and goats need water on a daily basis; a large herd requires a lot of water. The area where Gerar is located has very few sources of water and a low annual rainfall. In Isaac’s day, herdsmen depended on wells. If a well could only supply one group of herdsmen, contention often resulted over who had the rights to it. Sometimes a new well was only tapping into the source of an existing well, making peaceful co-existence very difficult.

    In response to the second question, Isaac seemingly was a peace-loving man who did everything in his power to avoid trouble. He was quick to make an agreement to clear up old tensions.

  9. What key lessons can we apply to our lives based on a study of Isaac?

    As your class discusses some of the lessons we can learn, thoughts brought out may include:

    • To please God does not require great accomplishments or tremendous exhibitions of our faith. He wants us to be faithful in the call that He has placed upon our lives.

    • God has a plan for each of our lives and a role for us to fill.

    • Submission is a vital attribute in a successful Christian life.

    • God keeps His promises! We should never be afraid to trust in Him.


Like his father Abraham, Isaac was a stranger and pilgrim in a foreign land. He was a vital part of the divine plan that eventually produced the Hebrew nation, gave us the Bible, and brought Jesus Christ into the world as the Savior for all mankind.