19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” 24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. 27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
In this passage (verses 20-21) we learn that Isaac married Rebekah when he was forty years old. It says that Isaac prayed to the Lord on his wife’s behalf as she was childless, and God answered his prayer and she became pregnant. It sounds as if the events happen in quick succession – they get married, they discover she is barren, Isaac prays, God answers, Rebekah becomes pregnant and then has two sons… but we read in verse 26 that Rebekah give birth when Isaac was 60 years old, meaning these events happened over a 20 year period.
Rebekah was childless for almost 20 years, and I imagine that Isaac was praying for most of this time. It is interesting how the verse simply says Isaac prayed and God answered. There is no sense of the time lapse; the waiting, the wondering, the yearning and the disgrace. The fact remains the same though, that Isaac prayed and God answered, though it may have been an answer that did not come for 20 years.
I wonder, did being ‘Isaac’ – the miracle child born to an elderly couple – help him to trust God through this period of time? No doubt his parents had told him many times of the story of his birth, so had it filled him with faith? If God had done it for his parents, surely God could and would do it again? How precious that Isaac and Rebekah had their own story of waiting and seeing God make a way where there was no way.
God, please help me to draw courage from Abraham and Isaac’s story – to ask and keep on asking, and to trust and keep on trusting. Thank you that you are still in the business of answering prayers in miraculous ways. Amen!
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh