Genesis 25:21 – And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
With Abraham, his wife Sarah and son Ishmael now all dead, Moses moves the Genesis story forward to focus on the birth of Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau. Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah and, like Isaac’s mother, she was unable to conceive a child. Isaac trusted that God could and would give Rebekah a son just as God had given him to his barren mother Sarah. This is another great example of how Isaac’s parents modeled faith for him, and he can put this faith into practice in his own life, as he was the promised, long-awaited son of a formerly barren woman.
Importantly, Isaac will remain faithful to his wife, unlike his father Abraham, so the sin of adultery is not passed on to the next generation. Instead, Isaac prayed in faith for 20 years for the blessing of children and God answered the prayer, giving the couple twin boys when Isaac was sixty years of age. Isaac married Rebekah at the age of 40 and, though he had to wait some 20 years for the birth of his promised son, he did not make the same mistake as his father Abraham and attempt to take matters into his own hands by fathering a child with a woman other than his wife.
Curiously, while the other family lines in Genesis are usually quite large, Isaac only has two sons. But, while the 12 sons of Isaac’s half-brother Ishmael are mentioned in only a few verses, Isaac’s sons Esau and Jacob receive nearly 12 chapters of attention in Genesis (25:19-37:1) because they relate to the promises of the covenant.
The conflict between the boys began in the womb as they wrestled for preeminence. Curious as to what was occurring in her womb, Rebekah prayed to God for insight, and He told her that the boys would struggle throughout their life as the older would serve the younger and each boy would grow into a nation in conflict with the other (Esau became the nation of Edom and Jacob became the nation of Israel). This battle between the nation of Israel through Jacob and the nation of Edom through Esau continues throughout the Old Testament and culminates with Herod the Edomite king seeking to kill the young King of Israel, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-2, 2:13).
Tomorrow, we will learn more about these brothers and the struggles they endured throughout their lives.
What does this story teach us about prayer and God’s timing in answering prayer?
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