Daily Devotions

Isaac’s death at the good old age of 180

Genesis 35:27-29

‘Jacob came to Isaac his father, to Mamre — to the city of Arbah which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. And the days of Isaac were 180 years. And Isaac gave up the spirit and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.’ Genesis 35:27-29

Isaac is the comfort of ordinary believers. His life history, compared to that of Abraham and Jacob, is quickly described. At his death, the struggle between his two sons — grips you more than does Isaac.

Isaac was in every respect weaker. In Abraham, the priest was represented; in Isaac, the lamb to be offered. When bound by his father as the lamb to be offered, he did not cry out. Yet that silence mightily spoke so powerfully of the faith God had worked in him (Genesis 22:1-12)..

Just like Abraham and Jacob, Isaac too built an altar to the Lord — at Beer-Sheba. Indeed, Isaac in Gerar became a rich man — even richer than Abraham!

Isaac too was counted among those who sought a better fatherland (Hebrews 11:8-20). Yet later, we see Isaac sinking, when his strength dwindled. And Isaac died — ‘old, and full of days’.

Calvin commented: “On the death of Isaac, the fountain of the holy race became divided…into two streams…. It is said that ‘he died old’ and ‘full of days’…. Having fulfilled the course of his life, he departed by a mature death. This, therefore, is ascribed to the blessing of God….

“I refer these words not merely to the duration of his life, but also to the state of his feelings. Implying that Isaac, being satisfied with life, willingly and placidly departed out of the world….

“We may see certain decrepid old men who are not less desirous of life than they were in the flower of their age…. With one foot in the grave, they still have a horror of death…. Though long life is reckoned among the blessings of God, yet it is not enough for men to be able to count up a great number of years. Unless they feel that they have lived long — and, being satisfied with the favour of God and with their own age, prepare themselves for their departure….

“In order that old men may have their minds formed to this kind of moderation, it behooves them to have a good conscience…that they may not flee from the presence of God. For an evil conscience pursues and agitates the wicked with terror….

“Isaac was buried by his two sons…. The resurrection’s…first-fruits had not yet appeared. It behooved the holy fathers to be so much the more diligently trained in significant ceremonies, in order that they might correct the impression produced by the semblance of destruction which is presented in death.” Thus Isaac died, at the good old age of 180!