- Genesis 24: Here Comes the Bride
This story of a bride for Isaac is rich in type and symbolism. It has three dimensions which we will explore. It is the longest chapter in Genesis- containing 67 verses. Part of the length is due to the repetition of the story by the servant to Rebekah and her family.
The three dimensions are as follows:
- A historic account of Abraham sending his servant to find a bride for Isaac among his own people.
- A picture of the God the Father sending the Holy Spirit into the world to acquire a bride, the Church, for God the Son. ( Abraham, the servant and Isaac = God the Father, Holy Spirit and God the Son.)
- The third dimension is actually two-fold as we can view ourselves as the bride( the individual members of the Church) but also as the servants of God allowing the Holy Spirit to work thru us to tell others about the Son who awaits them.
At the close of chapter 22, Abraham received news from home regarding his kin and their offspring. In Genesis 22:23 we read- Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. Jesus would later tell us Your Father knows what you have need of even before you ask Him. For surely He has provided us all things we need.
The Story of Abraham, Isaac, the servant and Rebekah.
**What is interesting is who the central character of this story is: for it is not Abraham, Isaac or even Rebekah- it is the unnamed servant.
The instructions of Abraham to the unnamed but chief servant:
Abraham insists he take an oath to NOT take a wife for his son from among the Canaanite women. (Note who the oath is taken to: Lord of Heaven and Earth)
Go to Mesopotamia- Abrahams homeland and get a wife from among Abrahams relatives.
The servant asked questions to clarify his mission:
*What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land?
*Shall I take you son back to the country you came from?
*Make sure you do NOT take my son back there. Abraham explains why- this land was given to my offspring by the Lord of Heaven.
* This same Lord of Heaven will send an angel before you so you can get a wife.
*If the woman is unwilling to come back- you will be released from your oath- but Abraham repeats for emphasis- do not take my son back there.
We can see from Abrahams remarks concerning an angel sent before his servant there is a confident expectation of the outcome.
Following expectation is : Preparation for the journey:
*Loads ten camels with all kinds of good things from his master.
*Accompanied by an entourage of men necessary for this small caravan and also for protection. The journey will require several days of travel.
Following his masters directions- the servant arrives at the location of Nahor to a well outside the town. Arriving in the evening at a time the women of the town come out to draw water.
The servant is looking for some type of confirmation. First the servant goes forth with expectation- second preparation then third- a confirmation. Confirmation is for the purpose to verify and provide confidence that he has made the right choice.
The servant makes this his prayer request- may it be when I say to the girl give me a drink, she will also volunteer to draw water for my camels. The servant wants to do the will of his master. We are told this is the confidence we have in Him that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us and grants our request.
God has promised Abraham that through his offspring, Isaac, he would bless the nations and his descendants would be more numerous than the stars.
The servants prayer is an example of specific, believing prayer that has as its object to do the will of the master. Such prayer will be answered.
No sooner had the servant finished his prayer that Rebekah shows up at the well with a jar on her shoulder to draw water. She is described as very beautiful and a virgin.
The servant ask her for a drink. Rebekah gives him a drink then volunteers to draw water for his ten camels no small task. Revealing Rebekah to be not only a beautiful virgin, but also a hard working, courteous young woman.
After the camels were through drinking, the servant gives Rebekah a gold nose ring and two costly gold bracelets. He then asked two questions: whose daughter are you? Please tell me is there room in your fathers house to spend the night? Rebekah answers she is Bethuels daughter ( Isaacs second cousin) and there is plenty of room in their home plus hay for his camels.
The servant immediately bows down and thanks the Lord God of his master Abraham who has led me on this journey to my masters relatives. At the mention of Abrahams name, Rebekah runs to tell her mothers household about these things. They knew of their relative Abraham and probably of his wealth and success.
Another character is introduced that we will get to know better in the story of Jacob- he is Laban, brother of Rebekah. But in our first meeting we see what is of great interest to Laban. As soon as he had seen the nose ring and the bracelets on his sisters arms, and heard her tell what the man had said he hurried out to meet him. The riches attracted Laban.
The story continues as the servant is taken into the home, camels unloaded and provisions made and food set before the servant and his men. But the servant wants to tell them why he has come even before they eat.
Expectation led to preparation followed by confirmation which then leads to the all important presentation.
In verses 34-49, the servant presents the story in full before Rebekah and her family concluding with praise to God for directing him to the granddaughter of Abrahams brother as a potential bride for his son. And now his one question is: will you let me know your answer so I may know which way to go.
In verse 50- Laban and Bethuel answer this is from the Lord- here is Rebekah take her and go and let her become the wife of your masters son as the Lord has directed.
Then Abrahams servant brings out costly gifts for Rebekah and her family.
The next morning the servant and his entourage are ready to start back. Rebekahs family do not want her to leave so soon and want them to stay another 10 days.
The servant insists they leave immediately.
The final decision is up to Rebekah.
Here comes the invitation which is the conclusion to the preceding steps of : expectation, preparation, confirmation, and presentation.
The invitation : Will you go with this man? The answer: I will go.
Then the journey back to the bridegroom begins. The servant is there to guard, guide and answer what we imagine had to be a lot of questions about Isaac by Rebekah.
Finally they arrive. Then it is the traditional boy meets girl story. And it appears to be love at first sight. Isaac brings her into the tent of his mother Sarah and they get married and we are told Isaac loved her and was comforted after his mothers death.
A beautiful, historic account of the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah.
So now let us look at the other all-important dimensions of this story:
- A picture of God the Father sending the Holy Spirit into the world to acquire a bride, the Church, for God the Son.
Abraham is a picture of God the Father, Isaac a picture and type of Christ , the unnamed servant- a type of the Holy Spirit and of course, Rebekah- a picture of the Church made up of individual believers who have said I will go with this man.
It is interesting to note we have not heard from or seen in the story of Genesis, the son, Isaac since Mount Moriah. In other words, we have not seen Isaac since the place of sacrifice. Just as we have not seen the Lord Jesus since Calvary. He is heaven, eagerly awaiting His bride to come to Him.
Also we note the initiative to acquire a bride for the son begins with the father, Abraham. It is God the Father who sends the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to begin the task of acquiring a bride.
The servant is unnamed. Frequently in the Bible an unnamed man is used as a type of the Holy Spirit, whose delight is to draw attention to the Son rather than to Himself. In Gods purposes the execution of the divine will in the world is entrusted to the Spirit. It was He who came at Pentecost to begin the work of seeking out for Christ- His blood-bought bride, the church.
In this story in Genesis 24, the servant always acted in accordance with the will of Abraham and with Isaacs best interest in mind.
The Holy Spirits role is to make much of the Son and to tell of the Father and His wondrous ways- just as the servant told of his master, Abrahams greatness and his son who was heir to it all. We also note the courtesy of the servant and that he does not violate the will of Rebekah just as the Holy Spirit never forces or violates the human will.
In those days it was the custom for the bridegroom to pay a price for the bride. The ten camels the servant brought represented part of the bride price. In the case of the Lord Jesus and the church- he paid the ultimate price and gave Himself for us with His shed blood described as more precious than silver or gold.
Once the decision is made to go with this man- there must be no delay. Jesus told the parables of the excuses made by those invited to the wedding feast- one had bought oxen and had to go try them out, another said he had just bought a field and another said he just got married. The flesh will always try to impede one from following the Lord- that is why obedience must be immediate.
Now as the journey back to Isaac, the anxiously awaiting bridegroom, begins, we are reminded of who the Holy Spirit is. Like the servant, the Holy Spirit is the One who comes along side ( paraclete) who teaches us, guides us, and guards us. He also tells us everything about our bridegroom who awaits us. Can you imagine all the questions Rebekah had as they traveled back to the home of Isaac? How old is he? What does he look like? Is he handsome? What colors are his eyes? What does he like to do? Does he work with his Father? Question after question- which the servant was only to glad to tell her about His Masters son.
Then finally they were there- and she saw him for the first time and she put on a veil. Probably a gift given to her by her husband to be. Similarly we are clothed in His righteousness. I believe it was not only love at first sight for Isaac and Rebekah- I believe Rebekah was falling love with Isaac before she laid eyes on him because of what all the servant had told her about Isaac on the journey to his home. At last they meet and oh what a moment! Can you imagine what it will be like when we meet Him in the air?!
And finally, lets look at the other spiritual dimension of this story which is two-fold. For clearly we are the bride of Christ, as believers we were wooed and told about the Son of the Master by the Holy Spirit.. God the Father initiated it and He did so with expectations, for He is not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance.
The Holy Spirit came to do the will of the Father to invite us to become the bride of the Masters Son who is heir to all things. Notice He invites- He does not force or violate our free will. Will you go with this man, He asks? He came bearing gifts and to all those who accepted who believed and received He gave the right to become the children of God and as such joint heirs with Jesus His Son. ( In essence we not only married into the family, God went the extra step to legally make us His children by adoption- thus becoming legal heirs.)
Thus after acceptance and professing we will go with this man- we are officially engaged or betrothed. We then begin the journey through the wilderness to the place where our bride groom awaits having prepared a place for us.
The journey back is difficult at times and that is the reason the Holy Spirit is called the paraclete which means to come along side to make sure our safe arrival. Listen to the words of our anxiously Awaiting Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus: And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth. He will teach you all things. He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what He hears and He will tell you what is yet to come. ( John 14 & 16)
But there is even yet more to be gleaned from this story. For we are not only to see ourselves as the bride of Christ- but as the servant of the Father.
God has given us the responsibility and privilege of being His servants to call His Bride out of the world. In other words personal evangelism.
Remember- the Lord Jesus left the earth to go back home to heaven after a 3 ½ year ministry leaving the 11 men He had called, taught and trained to carry on the work. Of course He did not leave them powerless He gave them the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower each one to do the work of the ministry. His last words- but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth
You see this remarkable story illustrates these truths. Abraham told the servant you cannot take my son back there. The Lord Jesus is in His Glory in heaven- He is not coming back physically and visibly to win the church. When He comes again He will come first to meet us ( His Bride in the air- the rapture) a picture of Isaac awaiting outside his home in the field. When He comes to earth again it will be at the end of the tribulation to set up His earthly kingdom. But God will not send His Son back again physically to earth instead it is His plan to send the Spirit to reside in our hearts and give us the desire to seek and save the lost and tell them of the wondrous ways of the Master.
In this story we see and observe how we are to do it:
First we must go forward with confident expectations. Abraham sent forth his servant but because of his faith in Gods promises, he sent forth his servant expecting him to succeed. He told the servant the Lord will send an angel before you. In other words, the servant was not alone in his efforts- God Almighty was going to help. Our expectation should be if God is for us- who or what can be against us? (Phil>1:6) (Phil.2;13) ( I Thess. 5:24)
Second the servant prepared. He made sure he was equipped. We are to study to show ourselves approved rightly dividing the word of God. All Scripture is God-given and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness that the man of God maybe thoroughly equipped for every good work. Be Prepared- to make your presentation.
Confirmation. We noted the servant prayed a specific prayer for confirmation- a validation giving us confidence we are making the right choice. Two passages come to mind- first of all the attitude of the servant is all about doing the will of his master. This is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears our requests and grants our petition. ( I John 5:14,15) Also Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding and He will direct your path. ( Proverbs 3) If you pray for the Lord to bring into your path those to whom He would have you witness- you can be confident He will do so- be sure you are prepared and ready to obey.
Presentation- now having gone forth with a spirit of expectation based on the Fathers will; prepared and equipped to make our presentation; receiving confirmation that our steps are directed by the Lord; we make our case. Just as the servant did before Rebekah.
Then comes the invitation- Will you go with this man?
Can you now see the servant with the task accomplished reporting back to Abraham? What do you think Abraham might have said and done?
Well done thy good and faithful servant. I will put you in charge of many things. Come in and share your masters happiness.
What a remarkable story- only Gods word can provide such rich context that we can not only enjoy and learn from the actual historic account- but is written in such a way we can see ourselves as the bride and the servant also.
No wonder the Apostle Paul when he took up his pen to write those wonderful letters said this of the Old Testament: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.: ( Romans 15: 4)