In this section of the Bible the subject shifts from the revealing of the “special son” to the establishment of the covenant line. There is a brief description of Isaac’s encounter with God and than a rapid refocus on Jacob. God would develop the account of the covenant line through Jacob.
We have seen that God began laying down the prophetic picture of the “special son” through Abraham, Sarah and Isaac. The account includes prophecies of the unique conception of the “special son”, of his being offered as a special sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, and, if we can receive it, his resurrection. In Isaac’s case, he was spared from death and raised up at the last moment and a ram was substituted for him on the altar. Finally, we see the prophecy of the calling of a “special bride” for the “special son” which we maintain is a picture of the Holy Spirit calling the church to be joined to the resurrected Jesus.
God appeared to Isaac and established His covenant with him. The covenant was the same as God had cut with Abraham. The provisions included the promise of blessing, of a unique ministry to all of mankind and of stewardship of the land of Israel. Much later (almost 600 years) God would reveal Himself to Moses at Mt. Sinai as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. The covenant was being established in the “mouth of three witnesses”.
Another interesting fact concerning Isaac was that he never experienced a name change. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, Jacob’s name would be changed to Israel, but Isaac never had his name changed. This is most likely due to the prophetic significance of the relationship of Abraham to Isaac relative to the relationship of the Holy One and Messiah Jesus.
After 20 years of marriage, Isaac and Rebecca finally were blessed with children. Twins, Esau and Jacob, were born to them. Esau was born first so, according to tradition, he would receive the special tribal blessing: a double portion in the inheritance and tribal authority. Esau and Jacob were diametrically opposite to one another. Esau was a hunter while Jacob was a shepherd. Jacob was chosen by God before their birth. Later Paul would quote Malachi saying,
“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:13b).
So by God’s sovereign choice, Jacob was chosen to continue the line of promise which had previously been stated to Abraham and to Isaac. This was revealed to Rebekah before the twins were born. Jacob evidently dreamed of functioning in this capacity. Esau, on the other hand, did not embrace the vision of the Kingdom of God. He was only interested in temporal things. In a weak moment, Jacob purchased the birthright for a simple meal. Later, Jacob conspired with his mother to receive the blessing which Isaac would have given to Esau.
Jacob did not understand God’s election. He didn’t have to struggle for God’s calling. It had been given to him before his birth. However, he didn’t understand this principle. Much later David was anointed King of Israel while Saul still stood in that post. David “waited on the Lord” to establish his calling rather than attempting to establish it by his own devices. Jacob should have trusted God in this matter. Jacob was 97 years old before he simply trusted God to establish His purpose through him. His name was then changed to Israel.
We should ask ourselves the question, “How would this story be different if Jacob had simply trusted the Lord to establish his election from the beginning”? Even though Isaac was intent on giving the blessing to Esau, would God not have intervened to insure that Jacob received the anointing?
Are you struggling with God’s calling? We all must learn to “wait on the Lord”. At just the right time He will establish His purpose in you and in me.