Isaac: A Surprising Example of Faith

If I were going to highlight faith, I wouldn’t have picked this incident. Of the many examples of faith in Hebrews 11, I find the one of Isaac to be one of the most surprising: “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!

By: love_K_photo

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 double blessing of the firstborn. 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 chose to bless Esau, instead of Jacob.

When Rebekah overheard Isaac’s plan, she devised her own scheme. She prepared a feast for Jacob to bring Isaac. She dressed her favorite son in Esau’s clothes so that he smelled like his outdoor brother and coached Jacob in how to deceive his father.

Blind Isaac recognized the scent of Esau’s fabrics when he kissed Jacob. After enjoying his tasty meal, he bountifully blessed Jacob with all he had in his heart to give Esau. Jacob scarcely escaped his father’s tent when Esau returned from hunting.

Esau prepared his feast for his father and bounced into Isaac’s tent like an expectant kid on Christmas morning. The whole scam was immediately exposed. Isaac “trembled violently” when he realized he’d been tricked.

The jolt woke his faith. I believe the scene that follows demonstrates the faith that Hebrews wanted to highlight. Instead of digging in his heels and demanding his pick receive the blessing, Isaac bowed to God’s choice. He demonstrated the obedience of faith. “I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!” (Genesis 27:33, NIV).

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 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: Jacob (Israel) was God’s choice.

I began by saying 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 isn’t our natural choice. But when we submit to His revealed will, we demonstrate faith that God knows best and discover new treasures.

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

Click here to comment.



More From This Category

God’s Amazing Rescue Out of War-Torn Israel

God’s Amazing Rescue Out of War-Torn Israel

My friend Deb DeArmond and her husband Ron were in Israel when the war started on Oct. 7, 2023. Here’s the incredible story of God’s presence and provision for them in that harrowing time. God—an Ever-Present Help in Trouble Wailing sirens startled Deb and her group....

read more
4 Who Practiced Faith Despite Strong Doubts

4 Who Practiced Faith Despite Strong Doubts

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” —Psalm 20:7 I tend to associate faith with feeling confident. A fearless, ready to tackle the world attitude. But that’s not the picture the heroes in Hebrews 11 paint. Moses...

read more
Biblical Trivia and a New Game

Biblical Trivia and a New Game

Did you know that Gideon’s famous fleeces came from doubt, not faith? Do you know the three brave female heroines who played a role in saving baby Moses from death? Did you know that Daniel was willing to go to the lions’ den for a personal conviction that wasn’t even...

read more



  1. Stephanie sudano

    Thank you for writing about this story. I’ve always had a hard time understanding what it means. I appreciate your perspective!!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Stephanie, I found this puzzling too. We know God used this example for a reason. It’s fun when I get a glimmer of insight. What a great reminder that God’s ways are always better than ours even when they don’t make sense to us. I hope I remember Isaac next time I wrestle with trying to understand God’s ways.

  2. Ann

    I never really thought about the moral and deeper meaning in quite that way, Debbie. As always you make me think!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Ann.

  3. Brian

    Helpful insight on Isaac, Debbie! I’ve never thought of this. I think you’re touching on something very important. We like to use faith for what we want, or for what we think is best, many times without even considering what God’s will may be. God reserves the right to direct our lives and to shape history. Thanks for the post.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Brian, You’re right. Too often, we want to play God and have Him support our our plans. He wants to hear our desires, but He sees the big picture. Thanks for commenting.

Refreshing Faith Blog

Pin It on Pinterest