Snapshots of the Kingdom: Isaac
Issue No. 373
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are three distinct snapshots of the Kingdom, but yet they are closely tied together as one. Each of these men represent a different feast day revelation in the path to Sonship.
Abraham is the example of New Covenant faith, which is the revelation of Passover.
Isaac is the example of obedience, which is the revelation of Pentecost.
Jacob is the example of agreement, which is the revelation of Tabernacles.
When applied to the division of time into ages, we see also a progression of the Kingdom in terms of the three churches.
The Passover church is “the church in the wilderness” under Moses (Acts 7:38), which began when Israel left Egypt at Passover and ended when Jesus fulfilled that feast on the cross—again, at Passover.
The Pentecost church began in Acts 2 shortly after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. Its prophesied time was 40 Jubilees from 33-1993 A.D.
The Tabernacles church is what many call “The Kingdom,” although technically, all three churches are kingdoms in their own right, each building upon the other. The Tabernacles church, I believe, is the thousand-year reign of Christ and the overcomers, ending with the Great White Throne judgment.
As I said, each of these three churches, or church ages, have examples—types and shadows—to teach us the characteristics of each in a progressive manner. Our journey begins with faith, but without learning obedience no one can come into agreement with God and experience Tabernacles.
Our previous study focused upon Abraham. This study focuses upon Isaac, the cheerful obedient servant.
Isaac Means He Laughs
When Abraham was 99 years old, God revealed to him that he would have a son other than Ishmael, and that he would be the promised seed through whom the world would be blessed. That son was to be born through Sarah, because she represented the New Covenant. The New Covenant was God’s promise, and it was to be the only successful way in which the world could be blessed.
Abraham’s response is seen in Gen. 17:17,
17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
Abraham’s laughter was not borne of unbelief but of amazement and wonder, for Paul tells us in Rom. 4:19-21,
19 And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.
In other words, he understood the weakness of the flesh, but yet he knew that God was able to do whatever He said He would do. We should take note that Old Covenant faith is self-confidence, being assured that the flesh can succeed with some help from God. New Covenant faith does not rely upon the flesh at all, but rests in the promise of God.
Because Abraham “laughed,” God told him that he should name his son Isaac, “he laughs.” Gen. 17:19 says,
19 But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him…”
In the context of Isaac representing an obedient servant, his name suggests that true obedience is seen only when a servant is cheerful. Cheerfulness is the path to agreement. As long as men view obedience as an inconvenience and a drudgery, they show that they yet disagree with God’s laws and commands. Likewise, those who disagree with the law of God show that they still do not understand it or view it through the eyes of God. They are still not ready to exercise the authority of the manifested sons of God.
The Obedient Servant
In Rom. 1:5 and 16:26 the Apostle Paul uses a compound Greek word, hupakoen-pisteos, “obedience-faith,” or faith-obedience. This, he says, is the goal and consequence of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, for in the end, “all nations” will come to the place of faith-obedience.
The Hebrew word shama means “to hear” and “to obey.” It is translated both ways in the Scriptures. Paul says in Rom. 10:17 “faith comes from hearing,” so true faith is fully dependent upon God speaking. If He does not speak, how can we hear? If we do not hear, we can have no faith. With no faith, we are left only with positive thinking, which is the carnal source of what men often think is “faith.”
Faith and obedience are thus linked together. Paul’s main focus was on faith, while James focused upon obedience. These are not contradictory ideas, as some have thought, because faith, to be genuine, must be expressed through obedience. In other words, faith is hidden and theoretical until it manifests in some real action.
In Genesis 22 God tested Abraham’s faith-obedience by telling him to sacrifice his son on an altar on Mount Moriah. We know that Abraham had faith in Genesis 17, but in chapter 22 his faith was tested in the crucible of experience in order to provide evidence to all men that it was genuine.
Gen. 22:2 says,
2 And He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.
God had no intention of having Abraham actually offer his son as a burnt offering, of course. God’s hidden motive was to reveal the fact that God would provide a lamb as a substitute, so that we would not have to die for our own sins. But Abraham did not know this yet. All he knew was that the promise of God could not fail, even if he were to kill the son of promise.
So it is with all who have been given a promise of God. Sometimes we hold so tightly to the promise, the calling, or the ministry that our obedience is actually under threat. Our ministries can never be a substitute for obedience.
In 1981 God took away my ministry to teach me to hear His voice and thereby instill in me a new level of faith. I fought it for a few years, because I knew my calling. I was determined that no one would take my crown (Rev. 3:11). I did not yet understand the need to lay it on the altar and let God raise it up in His way and in His time.
I recall the day when I wrote in my notes that I was putting my “Isaac” on the altar. I had to be willing to let go of my calling and lose all hope of doing the ministry that I had been called to do. Only then could God give it back to me, and when He did, it was truly His ministry, not mine. I learned that God had the right to “waste my time” if He saw fit. I also came to agree with Him that my time was not wasted at all. It prepared me for the ministry.
Abraham himself would have killed his son on an altar on Mount Moriah, had not God stayed his hand. God then provided a ram entangled in a nearby bush, which Abraham then offered as a sacrifice.
On one prophetic level, the ram represented Jesus Christ, who was offered as the final Sacrifice in our place. On another level, by the principle of identification, Abraham played the role of God, while Isaac played the role of Christ. In this way, the plan of salvation was revealed, where God was to send His only Son, Jesus, to be offered for the sin of the world.
Abraham’s act of faith-obedience essentially dedicated Isaac to God, making him God’s servant. By extension, the seed of Isaac also were dedicated as the Servant People through whom the blessings were to be distributed to all nations and all families of the earth.
Because Isaac was the son of Sarah, we learn that only New Covenant believers are qualified to function in this calling. Many others have the desire to do so but having failed to learn true obedience to the laws of God, their ministries can only succeed partially. They can never actually finish the work until they learn obedience and come into full agreement with the mind and intent of God.
The Blind Servant
Gen. 27:1 says,
1 Now it came about, when Isaac was old, and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And he said to him, “Here I am.”
This chapter records how Isaac intended to pass on the blessing to Esau, and how Jacob took advantage of Isaac’s blindness by stealing Esau’s identity. He pretended to be Esau in order to trick Isaac into giving him the blessing.
I have explained the consequences of that story in other studies, such as The Struggle for the Birthright, so I will not repeat what I have already written. Our present purpose is to show that Isaac was blind. This is the origin of the great theme that we find in Isaiah’s so-called “Servant Poems” in the last half of his book.
Isaac was the cheerful, blind servant, prophesying of his seed that was to finish the work that he started.
Isaiah 42:18-20 says,
18 Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see. 19 Who is blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as the servant of the Lord? 20 You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; your ears are open, but none hears.
Israel was the blind and deaf servant. Blindness did not disqualify him from being called “My servant.” It was, in fact, part of the divine plan.
Israel had taken an Old Covenant vow at Mount Horeb, vowing obedience, even though they were incapable of keeping that vow. The moment they vowed, their doom as a nation was assured. They would eventually go into exile and captivity to Assyria and Babylon, according to the laws of tribulation in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. One of those “curses” for disobedience and lawlessness is found in Deut. 28:28, 29,
28 The Lord will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart. 29 and you shall grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.
Though blindness is primarily a judgment upon men for refusing to hear the word of the Lord, it is also a sign of mercy. All of God’s laws are merciful in the end, once we understand them properly by His mind and intent. Over all, the laws are intended to correct sinners and teach them the ways of righteousness.
Yet the law of blindness is merciful in a different way as well, for it reduces one’s liability for sin. In the law of tribulation, the people and their descendants were sentenced to serve other gods (Deut. 28:64), but because God blinded them at the same time, their liability was reduced.
The same principle is seen in Paul’s confession of the things he did in his former life. He says in 1 Tim. 1:13,
13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.
When Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, God put scales on his eyes, blinding him for a season (Acts 9:8, 9). The scales were removed a few days later when he was baptized in water and by the Spirit (Acts 9:17, 18).
It is also significant that he spent those three days of blindness in the house of Judas (Acts 9:11). The apparent coincidence of this name suggests that he had been guilty of betraying Christ, even as Judas Iscariot had done.
The law prophesied blindness upon the lawless ones of Israel who had refused to hear the word of the Lord. This had occurred at Mount Horeb, when the people refused to hear the word (Exodus 20:18-21). The Old Covenant veil was put over their eyes at that time, which gave them partial blindness whenever the law was read (2 Cor. 3:15).
The Sovereign God Takes the Credit
To put blame on the Israelites does not give us a complete understanding of what was transpiring. It is true that the Israelites appeared to blind themselves, but on a deeper level God Himself blinded their eyes that they would, in turn, blind their own eyes. So we read in Exodus 4:11,
11 And the Lord said to him [Moses], “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”
Forty years later, God told Moses in Deut. 29:4,
4 Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.
So in the end, we must trace all blindness back to God, since He Himself took credit for doing this. But this is not to say that God can be faulted for blinding people. Though He does it, His motives are righteous, because blindness also has a merciful purpose, as we see in Exodus 21:26,
26 And if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.
Hence, God obligates Himself to set His servants (or slaves) free for the sake of their blind eyes. This law is a guarantee of a future Jubilee, where all men are set free.
In Isaiah 29:10, 11 God takes credit for blinding the eyes of His servants,
10 For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers. 11 And the entire vision shall be to you like the words of a sealed book….
Again, Isaiah 44:18 says,
18 They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend.
God was not being mean. He was being merciful. He was letting us know by the law of blind servants that He had caused the blindness and therefore He was obligated to heal their blindness as well. So we read in Isaiah 42:6, 7,
6 … And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, 7 to open blind eyes, to bring prisoners from the dungeon, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
Whenever Jesus healed the blind, He was proving that He is the great Healer, not only of physical blindness but also of the inner blindness that has imprisoned many in the dark dungeon of ignorance and sin. In John 9:1-4 we read,
1 And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work.”
Take note that Jesus did not claim to be the only healer. Though He is certainly the great Healer, we too are called to heal men’s blindness. Jesus said “WE must work the works of Him who sent Me.” That included the disciples.
So also, when Isaiah 42:6, 7 speaks of opening blind eyes, it refers not only to Christ, “My Servant” (Isaiah 42:1) but also those of His body who do as He did. After all, He did what He did as an example to His disciples, so that they too would participate in the same ministry.
Blind and Deaf Witnesses
In a court of law, eyewitnesses and ear witnesses are called to testify to what they have seen or heard. Strangely enough, Israel was a blind and deaf witness. We have already seen how Israel was blind and deaf, but Isaiah 43:10 also says,
10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.”
Being blind and deaf did not mean they were disqualified as witnesses. They were only limited to certain cases. In this case, their very blindness witnessed to the sovereignty of God. Their condition was a silent witness proving that they could do nothing about their condition. Blind men cannot heal themselves.
Yet everything that God’s blind servant did gave testimony to the sovereign works of God. He told Israel ahead of time in the laws of tribulation that He would blind their eyes during their captivity to Assyria. The fact that they remained blind during the entire “seven times” of captivity bore witness to God’s sovereignty.
In other words, Israel has been Exhibit A in the great courtroom of history and prophecy.
The Isaac Company
Isaac was the blind servant whose life prophesied of many things. He gives us a snapshot of Kingdom obedience, but only a few in this age have truly understood obedience. His name prophesied cheerfulness and laughter, which is the mark of a genuine servant, but few have reached the place of cheerful obedience.
What Israel sought, the remnant of grace has found, Paul says in Rom. 11:7. The few will bless the many. Their work has already begun in the present age, but the work is far greater, for most of humanity did not have opportunity to hear the truly good news of the gospel in their lifetime. After the general resurrection at the Great White Throne, they will be blessed in the Age to come.
Meanwhile, the overcoming remnant of grace are those who are no longer called servants but friends (John 15:15). While servants blindly do what they are told, friends are given understanding to know the divine plan and are in agreement with it. God speaks to them and gives them understanding of His mind, His laws, and His intentions. Friends do not act blindly, for their eyes have been healed. The revelation of Isaac is about blind servants, but the understanding is given to the overcomers.