Learning the Hard Way

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. Psalm 119:67

If you asked me to select a stellar moment in Isaac’s life of faith, I’d probably choose his willingness to be bound to the altar atop Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22:9). Yet that is not the incident God highlights in the Heroes’ Hall of Faith recorded in Hebrews 11. In fact, at first glance the event God chooses appears to be a lowlight: “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future” (Hebrews 11:20).

How do the treacherous events surrounding the stolen blessing evidence Isaac’s faith? The Bible makes it very clear that Esau was Isaac’s favorite son (Genesis 25:27-28). He fully intended to give Esau the blessing in spite of the fact that God had told Rebekah that the elder son would serve the younger son (Genesis 25:23). But God allowed Jacob and Rebekah to take advantage of Isaac’s blindness and deceive him.

When Isaac realized that he had blessed Jacob instead of Esau, he finally yielded to God’s plan: “Isaac trembled violently and said . . . I blessed [Jacob] and indeed he will be blessed” (Genesis 27:33). We know he yielded because shortly thereafter, as Jacob was leaving for Padanaram, Isaac voluntarily gave him another blessing: “May God give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham . . .” (Genesis 28:3-4).

For decades Isaac had resisted what He knew God had ordained, but God would not be thwarted. He used Rebekah and Jacob’s deceit to break Isaac’s heart and bring him to repentance. When Isaac finally yielded, God did not shout, “Hah! I told you so.” He commended Isaac for his obedience.

That is how God loves us. Like a sculptor, He patiently chips away at our hardened hearts and our stony wills until they break apart. What remains when He’s finished is a masterpiece—made in the likeness of His Son (2 Corinthians 3:18). Are you resisting God’s desires as Isaac did? Is it time to yield to His plan and receive His praise?


Read Genesis 27. Take note of all the wrong things that Jacob, Rebekah, Issac, and Esau say and do. How does God work around all of their sins and accomplish His will?

Galatians 6:7 reminds us that “a man reaps what he sows.” Jacob sowed deception in his home. Read Genesis 29:22-27 and Genesis 37:28-36 to see how bitterly he reaped it.

Read Hebrews 11. What kind of acts and decisions does God praise? What would He say about you if He added your name to this list?

To avoid learning the hard way as Isaac did, we need to be sensitive to God’s desires. Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 141:4 are openhearted, humble prayers we should pray often.

Denise K. Loock

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