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The Cloud of Witnesses

Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible



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Lesson 1: Isaac – The Faithful Man


Genesis 21:1-8.

Miracle Birth

If there was ever a miraculous birth, it was Isaac’s. His mother Sarah was barren and over 90 years old before she became pregnant and his father Abraham was a ‘mere’ 100 years old.

They had longed for a child for decades but nothing happened. Yet one of the hardest things to have lived with was the promise from God that they would have offspring that would be more numerous than the stars in the sky.

They had even resorted to trying to help God achieve His plan by allowing Abraham to sire a child by Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian servant. That had been both successful and a disaster. Successful in that Hagar produced a son, Ishmael. Disastrous in that it was not within the plan of God, and led to jealousy, hatred and eventually vehement animosity. Hagar and Ishmael were expelled from the family and were never included in the promises of God and the subsequent lineage of Abraham.

Just imagine for a moment being Abraham and Sarah. The long-awaited promise from God had proved right and trustworthy. What joy and wonder would have been theirs. God had chosen Isaac’s name and it means – laughter – and Abraham and Sarah would have been basking in that joy.

We are all very protective of our first child, aren’t we? It’s a first for us and so we do everything ‘by the book’ and rush forward at every cry and listen for every murmur. How much more vigilant would Abraham and Sarah have been? I doubt if Abraham left his side, except for emergencies and refreshment breaks – and then he would be back on ‘duty’ as soon as possible.

No doubt they would be showing him off to all their friends and the merchants passing by. Yes, his was a miraculous birth and a very privileged childhood. He was the apple of Daddy’s eye and Mother’s pride and joy.

As he grew up I’m quite sure he was like Abraham’s shadow. There beside him watching all he did, listening to all he said and taking in all the details of his growing responsibilities.

He’d also be learning all that Abraham knew of God – the Creator of the world and the One who walked beside Abraham and had brought him to this place and promised the great things of the future. Abraham would have told him of the promises and his part in their fulfilment and, above all else, the need to trust God and to follow His instructions to the letter.

Yes, he would learn his destiny; the reason he was born and of his miracle birth.

Isaac would say to us today...

Every birth is a miracle. No matter who your parents are or how old they are, find out what your purpose is on earth – then do it with God’s help.


Father, thank you for my parents. Thank you that my birth was a miracle and You treat me as a miracle baby. Help me receive Your love and grace and to mature and fulfil the plan and purpose for which You brought me into this world. Amen.

Additional readings

Psalm 139; Jeremiah 1:1-10; Luke 1:5-17.


What is your life’s mission?

What are your spiritual gifts?

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