Genesis 21:1-7 (NRSV)
The Birth of Isaac
The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised.
Sarah and Abraham had waited a very long time for this child—but God’s promise is sure!
2Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. 4And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Isaac becomes a wonderful type (picture) of Jesus:
- – Both were the promised sons.
- – Both were born after a period of delay.
- – Both mothers were assured by God’s omnipotence (Genesis 18:13-14; Luke 1:34, 37).
- – Both were given names rich with meaning before they were born.
- – Both births occurred at God’s appointed time (Genesis 21:2; Galatians 4:4).
- – Both births were miraculous.
- – Both births were accompanied by joy (Genesis 21:6; Luke 1:46-47; 2:10-11).
The comparison of Isaac and Jesus will become even clearer in the next chapter.
6Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 7And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Galatians 4:28 (New Living Translation)
And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise,
just like Isaac.
Another Isaac . . . Isaac Watts
Watts was born July 17, 1674 at Southampton, England, the eldest of nine children. His father was a Dissenter from the Anglican Church and on at least one occasion was thrown in jail for not following the Church of England. Isaac followed his father’s strongly biblical faith. Isaac was a very intelligent child who loved books and learned to read early. He began learning Latin at age four and went on to learn Greek, Hebrew, and French as well. From an early age Isaac had a propensity to rhyming, and often even his conversation was in rhyme.
Because Isaac would not follow the national Church of England, he could not attend the Universities of Cambridge or Oxford. Instead, he attended an academy sponsored by Independent Christians. After completing his formal schooling, Watts spent five years as a tutor. During those years he began to devote himself more diligently than before to the study of the Scriptures. In 1707 he published his first edition of Hymns and Spiritual Songs.
For a few years Watts served as pastor to an Independent congregation in London. A violent and continual fever from which he never recovered forced him to leave the pastorate. Sir Thomas Abney received Watts into his home, and Sir Thomas’ family continued to provide a home and serve as Watts’ patrons for the next 36 years.
Watts’ most published book was his Psalms of David, first published in 1719. In his poetic paraphrases of the psalms, Watts adapted the psalms for use by the Church and made David speak “the language of a Christian.” Examples of Watts’ method can be seen in his paraphrases of Psalm 72 into the hymn “Jesus Shall Reign Wher’er the Sun,” Psalm 90 into “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” and Psalm 98 into “Joy to the World.”
Benjamin Franklin first published Watts’ psalm paraphrases in America in 1729. They were well-loved by Americans of the Revolutionary period.
After his death on November 25, 1748, a monument to Watts was erected in Westminster Abbey.
And HERE is his greatest hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (based on Galatians 6:14). Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in no small part so that centuries later, Jesus could be born to die for our sins.
Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book I, Chapter 2 “Take Now thy Son”).
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.