The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

At a recent pastors’ conference someone threw out the question, “Why does God often refer to himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?” (See Exodus 3:6, I Kings 18:36 & Matthew 22:32)

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the three patriarchs who got the Jewish nation, God’s chosen people, started. When you refer to God in this way there is no doubt which God one is talking about.

Then someone mentioned that it might be a reference to the three persons of the Holy Trinity. Abraham, whose name means “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5) would represent God the Father.

Isaac connects with Jesus on many levels. According to John 1:14 Jesus is the Word made flesh. In a sense Isaac is too. He was born as the result of a promise. God promised that Abraham and his wife Sarah would have a son from their own flesh even though they were past the age of child-bearing. So it was because of God’s Word, not by human activity, that Isaac was born. (Genesis 17:15-19 & Galatians 4:28)

Then in Genesis 22 Isaac is the one that God asks Abraham to sacrifice to show his love for God. At the last second God stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and provides a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead. Jesus is the Son of God who was sacrificed in our stead for the sins of the world.

Jacob, aka Israel, might be a little trickier to connect with the Holy Spirit. At least one thing Jacob and the Holy Spirit have in common is explosive growth. In Acts we read about how when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples the church went from 120 members to several thousands in a very short amount of time.

In the same way, when Jacob starts having kids Abraham’s family grows very rapidly. The family goes from just a handful of folks to 70 in a short amount of time. (Genesis 29:31-30:24 & Exodus 1:1-7)

Jacob is also probably the most unpredictable of the three patriarchs reminding me of what Jesus says about the Spirit – it blows wherever it want and no one knows where it comes from or where it is going.

Without more concrete exegesis it is hard to say definitively that the phrase “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” is a reference to the Holy Trinity but it is certainly an intriguing thought.

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