“By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau” (Hebrews 11:20 ESV).
Hebrews 11:20 references an event that is recorded in Genesis chapter twenty-seven…
“One day when Isaac was old and turning blind, he called for Esau, his older son, and said, ‘My son.’ ‘Yes, Father?’ Esau replied. ‘I am an old man now,’ Isaac said, ‘and I don’t know when I may die.’ Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows, and go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare my favorite dish, and bring it here for me to eat. Then I will pronounce the blessing that belongs to you, my firstborn son, before I die” (Genesis 27:1-4 NLT and following).
Isaac was about 137 years old at the time of these events in Genesis chapter twenty-seven. And while Isaac would eventually go on to live for another 40 years, the act of putting his affairs in order certainly seemed like a reasonable thing for a man of his age to do. Isaac sought to accomplish that by pronouncing a blessing upon his oldest son, Esau.
While that blessing included the eldest son’s share of his father’s money and property, it also included the rights to the promises that Isaac had received from his father Abraham. Abraham received those promises directly from God, who told him, “‘…your own son shall be your heir… Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them… So shall your descendants be'” (Genesis 15:4, 5 RSV).
God later confirmed those promises to Isaac when He said, “…to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed” (Genesis 26:3-4). These were the blessings that Isaac sought to pass down to Esau.
However, there was a problem with what Isaac wanted to do. In giving that blessing to Esau, Isaac wanted to follow the normal practice of ceding all authority to the first-born son in the family. The issue was that God had already spoken to his wife Rebekah and told her that her younger son (Jacob) would have authority over her older son, according to Genesis 25:21-23.
That should have told Isaac that God had a different plan in mind for his family. But there were some other warning signs that Isaac should have noticed as well. We’ll identify some of those warning signs next.