Today’s Bible Reading – Genesis 23 & 24 and Matthew 12
In Genesis 24, we find the story of Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for his beloved son Isaac. It’s interesting that the story of creation as recorded in Genesis 1 required only 31 verses, but that this chapter about a wife for Isaac, with its 67 verses is the longest chapter in Genesis. In addition to the obvious story we read in this chapter, I think there are additional things we can learn from this chapter. As I read about the story of finding a wife for Isaac, I see a parallel with GOD (Abraham in this story) finding a bride (the church for Christ, Rebekah for Isaac) for His beloved son, Jesus (Isaac in this story). I also see lessons for us to consider when seeking a spouse. This will get long, but I’ll try to touch briefly on the story, the comparison with God, and application for marriage.
Abraham had been following the Lord for 65 years by this point in our story. Abraham wanted to arrange the marriage for Isaac to the right wife, before he died. The story starts with Abraham giving instructions to his servant. Genesis 24: 3-4 says, “I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I’m living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
The servant travelled hundreds of miles (possibly nearly 500 miles) with servants and 10 camels loaded with gifts to get to where Abraham’s relatives lived. Once he got there, before doing anything else, he prayed, as recorded in Genesis 24: 12-14, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, “Please let down your jar that I may have a drink. And she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ – let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.” He not only prayed, he also asked for a sign to know who was the right one.
While he was still praying, Rebekah came out to draw water. He asked her to give him some water – which she did, and then went ahead and watered his camels too, without being asked. (Note: a single thirsty camel can drink up to 40 gallons of water – she was obviously a hard worker.) During all this, the servant just watched quietly and waited.
He then asked, “whose daughter are you.” Once he found out she was related to Abraham, he immediately bowed down and worshiped God. When he did this, Rebekah ran back home to tell her mom what happened – leaving the servant at the well.
Rebekah’s brother, Laban, came out to invite the servant to come home with him. Before the servant would even eat, he wanted to tell the reason for his visit. Once he told them about Abraham, and Isaac, he asked the family if Rebekah could marry Isaac. They decided to leave that up to Rebekah, who said, “Yes.”
The servant gave both Rebekah and her family many gifts. The servant also told how rich Abraham was, and that he had given everything to his son Isaac – indicating how rich Rebekah would be once she married Isaac.
The next day, the servant wanted to take Rebekah and go back home. Her family wanted to wait a while. They asked Rebekah, and since she was eager to go too, they left right away.
As soon as they got back to Isaac, the servant gave an account to Isaac of all he had done. Then Rebekah married Isaac, and they lived happily ever after – or at least, “So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
Parallel: I see similarities between Abraham as a loving father, and God. And between Isaac, who had a miraculous birth, and was obedient to the point of being sacrificed, and Jesus. Rebekah, the bride for Isaac, reminds me of the church as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-24).
Neither Abraham nor Isaac went to find a bride, instead, Abraham sent a faithful servant, who swore to be obedient to Abraham’s wishes. The unnamed servant referred to Abraham as “my master” 19 times in this chapter. Everything he did was to obey and serve his master. (We would do well to take this to heart ourselves, as servants of God.) Neither God nor Jesus are physically present today to build the church. God sends faithful servants to invite “sinners” to become “the bride of Christ”.
The servant was eager to complete his master’s mission. Once the bride accepted the invitation, she too was eager to complete the task. I think it’s imperative that we faithfully serve God eagerly. Also, once a person decides to accept the invitation to join God’s family, I think it is imperative they respond quickly, otherwise, they may slip away.
The servant gave gifts that were sort of a down payment of immeasurable wealth Rebekah would receive once she joined the family, which is reminiscent of 2 Cor 1:22 which says God’s Holy Spirit in believers is a deposit, guaranteeing the promise that is to come.
Finally, when the servant got back, he had to give an account to Isaac, which reminds us that one day, each of us will have to give an account of our lives (Romans 14:12) and even for every idle word we say (Matthew 12:36). Will we be a “good and faithful servant?”
Application for marriage: Christians should not marry non-Christians. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says that believers should not be unequally yoked to unbelievers. 1 Corinthians 7:39 says that if a woman’s husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wants, but only a believer.
Christian’s should pray for God’s direction, ask God for confirmation, watch the person’s character to see if this may be the right one, verify they are a hard worker and they are in the right family (the family of God) – all before ever considering asking (or accepting) “will you marry me”.