I am sure every believer looks forward to the blessed day when they will get their first glimpse of Christ. That is the truth depicted typically in the second of this series on the brides of scripture. Genesis chapter 24 is the first recorded courtship and marriage in the Bible and points typically to the day when Christ will come to take the church, His bride, to be with Himself. The first bride, Eve, appreciated the invisible wound inflicted on Adam in order to become his bride, but Rebekah will value the visible wealth of the son in whose blessings she will share. Practically, it lays down principles for God’s guidance in marriage, but is not a licence to enter into marriage without meeting and getting to know one another first.
The first mention of Rebekah is found in Genesis chapter 22 verse 23. In the shadow of the altar on Mount Moriah, news has reached Abraham that Bethuel, his nephew has a daughter called Rebekah. This future bride for his beloved son is linked typically to Isaac by ‘the cross’. The typical outline of God’s purposes for Israel and the church can be traced through chapter 23 where Sarai is set aside in death, just like Israel who have been set aside awaiting judgement as the unfaithful wife of Jehovah. They are typically taken up again in chapter 25, just as Abraham takes up another wife, Keturah. Between them is chapter 24, the longest in Genesis, where we find this beautiful picture of the church as the bride of Christ.
Genesis chapter 24 begins with blessing, ‘And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things’. The word ‘blessed’ is used six times throughout the chapter, a reminder that the spiritual blessings of the church, the bride of Christ, originate with God and are found in Christ alone, Eph. 1. 3. In chapter 25 verse 11, Isaac is blessed by God as he returns to Lahairoi, with his new bride, the place he left to come and fetch her. Abraham must have been about 140 years old now, because Isaac was forty, Gen. 25. 20. His advanced age would have made a journey back to the city of Nahor (500 miles each way) for a bride for Isaac virtually impossible. He decides to send his more experienced servant to ensure that Isaac would get a wife that is not of the Canaanites. This unnamed servant is probably Eliezer, mentioned in chapter 15 verse 2, who, after fifty-five years has experience and has built up trust with his master, and promises to be faithful by placing his hand under his master’s thigh. Abraham sets out clearly the requirements for his servant and reminds him of the importance God placed on the seed, ‘Unto thy seed will I give this land’, 24. 7.
Viewed through natural eyes, the servant reasoned that no woman would want to follow him back to the land of Canaan, but Abraham’s faith was now well-developed, having passed the test of Moriah, and he knew exactly what God was capable of. If the woman would not follow the servant, Abraham said, ‘then thou shalt be clear’, v. 8. When God guides us by His word, we should be equally clear in discerning what is His will and what is not.
How will this servant recognize the bride? The servant is a vivid picture of the Holy Spirit, who came down in God’s time at Pentecost to call out a bride for His Son. God’s guidance in the timing of this servant is perfect. The master had put all his goods in ‘his hand’, 24. 10, but his times were in God’s hand, Ps. 31. 15. The servant’s path would cross with Rebekah’s at ‘the time’ when women come out to draw water.
Jesus Christ said of the Holy Spirit, ‘he, the Spirit of truth … will guide you into all truth’, John 16. 13, but He also taught the importance of asking in order that you might receive, v. 23. The servant asks God to shew him which woman is the chosen bride by her words. We should never underestimate the importance of prayer and asking in faith to seek God’s mind. In Romans chapter 8 verse 27, we read of ‘the mind of the Spirit … [who] maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God’.
The servant met Rebekah at a well, one of a number of wells in Isaac’s life, each with a spiritual lesson. The lesson in this well is God’s leading in truth, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me’, v. 27. What way? The only way, the way of obedience and faith. Knowing God’s will is not having a huge blueprint for the years ahead but a simple daily trust and obedience to God’s word. Before the servant finishes praying, Rebekah appears at the well and is noted for her birth, beauty, purity, and strength. Rebekah carried fifty gallons of water, supplying all ten camels. She certainly had the strength of the virtuous woman, Prov. 31. 17, who ‘strengtheneth her arms’, and ‘looketh well to the ways of her household’, v. 27. But who was this woman? Her identity would be forever linked with something very precious.
One of the great features of this chapter is the wealth that the servant had in his possession. Four of the nine mentions of gold in Genesis are found in this chapter alone. The golden earring or face jewel must have impressed Rebekah, 24. 22, and it certainly caught Laban’s eye, v. 30, but the objective of the wealth bestowed upon Rebekah and her family was to increase her faith in the report from the servant concerning Abraham and Isaac. As the bride of Christ, the Holy Spirit has revealed to us that in Christ are ‘hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’, Col. 2. 3, and our access to the unsearchable riches of Christ is through faith in God’s word. Rebekah’s faith would come by hearing and hearing by the word of God. As Laban and Bethuel recognized that all they saw was of God, they were not going to stand in the way of Rebekah going to claim her inheritance in the son, v. 51. The servant is caused to worship God as he realizes he has secured the bride longed for by his master.
Rebekah is now consulted and this beautiful daughter, so able, willing, and attentive to her parents, will be snatched out of her world into the world of a man she has never seen. From Isaac’s standpoint, she will be fetched, just as Christ will come to take and receive His bride, yet Rebekah will never be Isaac’s unless she is willing to go. She responds like every true believer who enters into the spiritual blessings found alone in Christ, saying, ‘I will go’, Gen. 24. 58. She leaves with the purpose of it all ringing in her ears, ‘be thou the mother of thousands of millions’, 24. 60.
It is interesting that the servant says, ‘send me away that I may go to my master’, v. 56, and not to Isaac. When she says, ‘I will go’, she is agreeing to become Abraham’s gift to Isaac, just as in Christ, we are ‘heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ’, Rom. 8. 17. Her journey on the camels must have been bumpy, but the anticipation of the bridegroom would make every bump one step closer to Isaac. As they meet, it is Rebekah who asks who the man is who comes to meet them. Isaac knows who she is - no doubt the occupation of his meditation in the field. He is watching for one bride alone, and the camels catch his eye because verse 61 mentions that Rebekah ‘rode upon the camels’. However, let us not forget the servant in the midst of this glorious meeting. In Revelation chapter 22 verse 17, ‘the Spirit and the bride say, Come’. Rebekah follows the servant just as the Holy Spirit guides us to the Father’s house. However, she does not follow all the way, for the bridegroom has come to meet her and receive his bride. She has made herself ready, taking a veil and covering herself, while he would notice she was displaying the riches that had come from his father’s house. Now she gets that blessed first glimpse of the one in whom all her wealth and love is found.
This bride is remarkable in two ways. First, Rebekah, while never seen by Isaac, becomes the object of his love. It is his love for her that is declared in verse 67, yet there is no doubt she loved him, for she was linked with him in spirit until the day when her faith gave way to sight. We too love Christ ‘because he first loved us’, 1 John 4. 19. She would no doubt spend many days at his feet learning of the altar, the lamb, and the ram that God provided at Mount Moriah.
Second, we never read of Rebekah’s death, typical of the eternal bride of Christ who will enter into an eternal city where there is no death, no pain, and no parting, but to enjoy ‘fellowship sweet as we kneel at His feet and the lover of sinners adore’ for evermore. Isaac was comforted, v. 67, for ‘the comforter’ had secured a chaste bride to God’s holy satisfaction.
O the blessed joy of meeting,
All the desert past;
O the wondrous words of greeting,
He shall speak at last!
He and I together ent’ring
The fair realm above;
He and I together sharing
All the Father’s love.
[Gerhardt Tersteegen (1697-1769)]
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