To Find a Wife
Introduction: We’re going to start chapter 24 today and this chapter gives us the story about how Isaac got his wife. The account is really lovely, and goes into great detail so that you will hopefully come to see in it patterns and pictures that focus on our relationship with Jesus.
Because the chapter is so long, it will take four full weeks to get through it and it won’t make complete sense unless you listen to the entire series, but when you see the overall pictures of the Godhead, it is a beautiful testament to the way God works through His word.
He takes real people, who really lived, and He uses them and their circumstances to point to Jesus and our relationship with Him.
One of the things that we need to understand in order to really grasp this chapter are the roles of the members of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The pictures in today’s sermon are dealing mostly with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the preparation of a bride for the Son.
Text Verse: He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22
God performed the first wedding ceremony when He presented Eve to Adam. He is preparing another wedding and it will be with His Son’s bride – a spotless and chaste virgin who has been selected especially for Him and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. To Find a Bride
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.
As we go along, we’ll see the people in this account representing others. Abraham is a picture of God the Father. Keep that in mind as we go. There is both the literal story and there is the intended picture of what God is showing us as He works out His plan of redemption.
At this time, Abraham is 140 years old. We’ll find this out from details in the next chapter which tells us that Isaac was married at 40 years of age. Abraham had Isaac when he was one hundred and Sarah died when she was 127. So, this is 3 years after Sarah’s death and it is the year 2149AM.
An amazing fact which I would hate to skip is that Shem, the son of Noah, who is Isaac’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather will still be alive for 10 more years. That is 12 generations – 9 greats, a grandfather, and a father.
Anyway, in his old age, it says that Jehovah had blessed Abraham in all things. We already know from Abraham’s life that he is a very wealthy man and in a few verses, we’ll see that he will use this immense wealth in the process of obtaining a bride for Isaac.
2 So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh,
As I said, Abraham is a picture of God the Father. As we go on, we’ll see that this servant is a picture of the Holy Spirit. Abraham here calls the oldest servant of his house who is also the one who rules over all he has. This person is like the CEO of a company.
He makes all the decisions and directs all the people. He is the most trusted person in Abraham’s life. Almost all commentators agree that this is Eliezer of Damascus who was the chief steward of the house all the way back in Genesis 15.
That was about 55 years earlier and he was the head of the household at that time which means that he has worked for Abraham for a very, very long time. From this chapter we will see that he is completely and wholeheartedly dedicated to Abraham.
This chief servant of the household speaks not on his own authority, but on the authority of the one who sends him. This is exactly how Jesus describes the Holy Spirit in John 16 –
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
We will see how accurately he fulfills this position described of the Holy Spirit in the verses ahead. Even his name implies this. It is Eliezer which means “God is Help.” Jesus not only calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth” but also the Helper in John 14 –
25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
He is the one to help Abraham in the task ahead, just as the Holy Spirit is the Helper of God in the parallel tasks that are going on, even now in the Church Age. Anyway, Abraham calls him and says to him, “Please, put your hand under my thigh…”
This is the most intimate part of the man and it is therefore the most solemn vow that can be made. Under the thigh is where Abraham’s life was continued on through his seed, resulting in Isaac. It is also where the rite of circumcision was conducted.
Both of these actions point to the coming Messiah. Abraham’s seed would lead to the Messiah through Isaac, the son of promise and circumcision as a rite pictures the cutting away of the sin nature. The oath that is being made concerns the highest decision in the life of Abraham and it is the highest priority of the servant who will carry it out.
3 and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell;
Abraham uses an elongated form of what is stated in Genesis 1:1. There it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Here he says, “the Lord, the God of the heavens and the God of the earth.”
b’Yehovah elohe ha’shemayim v’elohe ha’arets
There is no doubt in the Old Testament that Jehovah is both the Creator and the Sustainer. And yet Genesis 1:1 doesn’t say that. Instead it only says “God.” We’re learning as we progress through the Bible about both the nature of the Godhead and how God reveals Himself through verses like this one.
We’ve already seen that Jehovah walked in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were present, and He walked up to Abraham as he sat in a tent. In both cases He talked to these people face to face. And yet we know that God is Spirit, that God dwells in an unapproachable light, and that no man has seen God.
We will also learn, from both Old and New Testaments, that Jehovah is Jesus. If you’re having a hard time grasping these things, don’t feel ashamed or overwhelmed. The mystery of the Godhead and the mystery of the incarnation are so complicated that men have been studying them for thousands of years and we are still struggling to fully comprehend them.
We’ll have to trust for now that what God has revealed in the Bible is true and then align our theology with that, rather than trying to align our theology with what we want to believe about God.
It is by Jehovah, who is the God of the heavens and the God of the earth, that Abraham makes Eliezer swear that he won’t take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom he dwells. And here we have an interesting hidden concept. The word that Abraham uses for “dwell” is the Hebrew word yoshev.
This word, yoshev, has the same numerical value as the name of the chief servant, Eliezer. Both of them numerically equal 318. If you were here during the sermon of Genesis 14, you might remember that this number is the same as the number of fighting men that were in Abraham’s camp.
I think what is being told to us here is that Abraham, who is a picture of God the Father, is sending his helper Eliezer, who is a picture of the Holy Spirit, to conduct a particular task which is his responsibility.
The things of God the Father and where He dwells are different than the things of the Helper, the Holy Spirit. I don’t think this is a crazy analysis either, but rather these things are hidden here for us to dig out and to learn in order to see how each member of the Godhead functions and what their responsibility is.
As far as the reason for a wife not to be taken from the Canaanites, it certainly stems from the curse of Canaan which goes all the way back to Genesis 9. When Ham, the youngest son of Noah committed an offense against his father, Noah turned and cursed his youngest son Canaan –
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brethren.”
26 And he said:
“Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Shem,
And may Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth,
And may he dwell in the tents of Shem;
And may Canaan be his servant.”
It would be out of the question for the son of promise to have a wife from a people who were under a curse. This brings in the next concept. Isaac is a picture of Jesus, the Son of the Father. The Canaanites then picture the people of the world – all who are under the curse of the law, which is God’s standard.
Paul explains this in the Galatians 3 –
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
One more thing about the Canaanites, in addition to being under a curse, they would eventually be dispossessed by Abraham’s descendants. He knew that this would happen in little over 350 years. And so He makes his wish known to his chief servant…
4 but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
At this time, it would be good to introduce Jesus’ words from Matthew 22 –
And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son
Jesus equates the kingdom of heaven to being like a king – and Abraham is certainly a kingly figure in the Bible – who arranged a marriage for his son. And he is arranging someone to marry Isaac who is of his same people and family.
They would have the same customs and understanding of God and they would have his same nature. Are you seeing Jesus and the church in any of this? I hope so.
II. She Must Come by Faith
5 And the servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?”
Before swearing the oath, the servant asks an obvious question because it’s something that if he didn’t get an answer for in advance, it could get him into trouble later. “What if I can’t find someone willing to follow me back here? Shall I take Isaac there?”
The way he speaks shows that he assumes he will find someone but that she may want to see Isaac first, before actually agreeing to marry him. If this happens, then would it be right to take Isaac back to Mesopotamia to meet her? This verse now points to us.
Regardless of what thousands upon thousands of people have claimed since Jesus left, no believer has seen Him since the time of the apostles. I don’t care how honest they sound, how adamant they are, or how convincing their story is, it hasn’t happened.
There are several ways that we can know this directly from the Bible and they are prefigured in this verse right here. We are betrothed to a husband we have not seen. One of countless sets of verses which tell us this is so is from 1 Peter 1 –
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
Faith is, as Hebrews explains it, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith that is seen is no longer faith and we, as the Bride of Christ, live by faith and not by sight. I wish anyone who claims they have seen Jesus well, but I simply do not believe them.
6 But Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there.
As this account pictures the taking of a bride for God’s Son, this verse confirms what I just said. Isaac was not to be taken back to the land where his bride was residing and Jesus will not return to the land where we are now.
Instead, we will meet him in the clouds for the first time when we meet Him at the rapture. This verse is an imperative from the father. Either the bride agrees to the terms or the bride won’t meet the one she was to be chosen for. And this reflects our state.
We must agree, without seeing Jesus, that He is the one in whom we will place our trust and our hope. If we aren’t willing to, by faith, receive what He offers, then we will have no part at all with Him. Just as the choice is given to the bride of Isaac, the choice is also given to the people of the world.
As has been the pattern since the very first verses after the fall, everything about our relationship with God comes down to faith. This is what God expects and this is what pleases Him. He is asking each one of us to pick up His love letter to us, read it, and accept it by faith. Are you willing to do this? Romans 10 says so –
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Will we stay in our own land, not believing God’s word, or will we be ready to meet the Lord when He comes in the clouds? The word which was sent from father Abraham through Eliezer is given and the word which has been sent from the Father through the Holy Spirit, which is the Holy Bible, has also been given.
This is another in a long line of reasons why you should read your Bible, know your Bible, and believe your Bible. The Son is there, in its pages, waiting for His bride.
7 The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my family, and who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.
Here in verse 7, Abraham shortens what he said earlier and simply states “the Lord God of the heavens” or Yehovah elohe ha’shemayim. This time he leaves off the second half of the title which said, “the Lord God of the earth.” Why? Why did he do this?
The only real difference between the verses is that the Canaanites aren’t mentioned and so it must be that he is connecting Jehovah of the earth to the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. The One who brought him into Canaan is more fully revealed to him now.
Abraham says it was the Lord God of the heavens that took him from his father’s house and from the land of his family, and it was He who swore to him that he would be given the land. The same Lord, he is certain, will now find a wife for Isaac.
So you can comprehend what I really want you to understand, think of it like this. You work for a person who owns two big companies – Charlie’s Cookies and Charlie’s Cakes. You work at Charlie’s Cakes.
You tell your best employee that you want him to do something for you and you let him know that the owner of Charlie’s Cookies and Charlie’s Cakes will be keeping an eye on how this goes. Your employee agrees and so you tell him you need him to find out how they get their cookies to be both tasty and delicious.
He says, “What if I find out how but I need to bring someone from Charlie’s Cakes to the Cookie Company?” That is a “no, no” because company rule’s won’t allow that. Instead you tell him that the owner of Charlie’s Cookies will ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Even though the same person owns both companies, you now only mention the cookie company. This is what’s going on here with Abraham. Through the Bible, we’re seeing an explanation of how we can and should perceive God.
He is sovereign over all of creation, but He is working things out in different ways at different times and fulfilling different roles in the process. This is the same as when we call Jesus Savior, but we also call Him Redeemer. We call Him King, but we also call Him Lord. We call him our Brother, and yet we call Him our Friend.
God is putting these details in here and is asking us to pay attention to them, not skip over them with a ho and a hum, or a fee, a fie, a foe, and a diddly dum.
If it is important enough for God to place in His word, then we owe Him the honor and the respect of paying attention to it as we read and study. Great God, beautiful word, glorious Lord!
III. The Son Remains in the Promised Land
8 And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.
Abraham already knows the outcome of what he’s requested. God has promised him that he and his descendants will possess the land. He also knows that one of the Canaanites will not be a suitable wife for Isaac. He is going on the certainty that what he is doing is the right thing. And yet, he has misunderstood things in the past.
Because he has, he tells Eliezer that he will be released from the oath if the woman he is certain is there simply won’t come back with Him. The imperative is repeated though – “Only do not take my son back there.” There must be willingness on the part of the bride and she must accept this deal by faith and not by sight.
Isaac was to remain in the Promised Land while the servant sought out a bride for him. In the same way, Jesus will remain in heaven, exactly as the Bible says, until the Holy Spirit has His bride ready. This is both a challenge and a test for us. Are we willing to live by faith, and by faith alone, in what God has promised?
Some of the gifts that the Bible speaks of for believers are wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, mercy, discernment, tongues, administration, and helping.
Let me ask you, are any of these unique to Christianity? No. Not one of these gifts is exclusive to Christianity. There are false prophets. There are people who speak in tongues in many religions. All over the world there are healers, and performers of miracles, and givers, and those who lead, and those who exhort.
If we are relying on outward signs of gifts in order to be taken to the Promised Land, then we are making a fundamental error in our religion and we are violating the very premise of the Bible – that we are to live by faith. Of all of these gifts, the gift of discernment is wonderful, because we can tell when other gifts aren’t real.
But even this gift can be misused by wrong discernment. In the end, what we must have in order to be among the marriage ceremony is faith that our promised Bridegroom is who He claims to be. Keep that in mind as you’re in church that requires speaking in tongues.
9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
As I said earlier, within the Godhead there are individual roles. This isn’t speculation, but rather it is what the Bible teaches in both testaments. The Spirit issues from the Father through the Son. The Gospel of John makes that perfectly clear. Because this is so, we have a picture of the Spirit’s work beginning here.
The servant was asked to perform his duties on an oath which required him to place his hand under Abraham’s thigh. Here in this picture is the Spirit receiving His direction from the Father through the Son, just as the servant is symbolically receiving his instruction from Abraham through the Issac who issued from Abraham.
What the servant is doing is directed by the father for the benefit of the son. Even though the son, Isaac, isn’t explicitly seen in this picture, he is seen implicitly, because of the placement of the hand during the oath. Abraham’s seed issues from this place.
Likewise, even though the Son isn’t seen in the world today, He is implicitly here – both in word (the Holy Bible) and in Spirit through the gifts we are given. This will become evident in the next verse…
10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, for all his master’s goods were in his hand.
Ten is the biblical number for fullness. I could give you many examples of this, but we’ll pick two just to give you an awareness of the concept. There are Ten Commandments, right. But in the law there are actually 613 lesser laws. However, these are summed up in the ten. They are the fullness of the law.
As a second example, we can go to Revelation and see Jesus’ words there – “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
The term “ten days” indicates a fullness of testing. It is an indeterminate amount of time which is used by Job, Daniel, and elsewhere. As I said, there are numerous uses of the number 10 in the Bible and they will invariably indicate fullness.
And this is what we see here. The servant takes ten camels with “all his master’s goods...” This doesn’t mean that he left Abraham and all of the people in the camp sitting on the ground out in the open. It means that he took a fullness or a full representation of everything Abraham possessed.
And once again, this is exactly what the Spirit does. The New Testament is filled with descriptions of the gifts of the Spirit, the workings of the Spirit, and the comfort of the Spirit. This servant, picturing the Holy Spirit, sets off with his goods at the direction of the father and on behalf of the son, echoing Jesus’ words about the Holy Spirit as he goes –
14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. John 16:14, 15
Isaac is the inheritor of Abraham’s estate and all things which belong to Abraham likewise belong to him. And so it is with Jesus. He is the inheritor of all things. Isaac is to receive a bride and Jesus is also going to receive one. Will you be ready when He comes?
10 (Con’t) And he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.
Off goes the servant with his ten camels to Mesopotamia. In Hebrew, the land is known as Naharaim or “the two rivers.” In this land he went to the city of Nahor, Abraham’s younger brother.
In the coming verses, Nahor will be mentioned several times, but only in reference to someone else. In other words, he is probably already dead. However, Nahor is an important figure in the Bible even though it doesn’t record him really doing anything. In a coming sermon, I’ll explain why he’s important.
11 And he made his camels kneel down outside the city by a well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water.
This is our last verse today and we end with the servant’s arrival at a well outside the city. The importance of wells is found throughout the Bible and this one will be no different. The day I was typing this sermon, I was thinking about water.
If we are deprived of water, then nothing in the world is more important to us. Food is similar, but if we are deprived of both food and water, the first thing we will go for is the water. We are so tied to it that even a short period without it and our life will end.
The water is the first spot that the servant goes to after his long journey. Not only does he need it, but his camels will too. And when he arrives, it is evening time – the end of a long day and the time when the women go out to draw water for the evening.
They do this because it’s hot during the day. Going in the early morning and the evening allows them to keep out of the heat during the task of carrying the jar, working at the well to bring up the water, and then carrying the full jar back.
In John 4, there is a story about a woman at a well that we’ll take a short look at –
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
What I want you to get from this story about the life of Jesus today is that this woman was going out to get her water at the sixth hour. By the time standard that John uses, this is noon – the middle of the hot day in Israel.
Unlike the other ladies, she went at noon because she was an outcast. She’d been married 5 times and was at that time living with a man she wasn’t married to. But Jesus still sat and talked with her, leading her to a much deeper well with much purer water than she would find elsewhere.
The point I’d like to make is that your life may be completely messed up and you may be hiding it from others, but Jesus is there and He knows full well everything you have done. You very well may need the water of life that He offers. If so, stop going to the well in the heat of the day looking for water that will never satisfy.
Instead, reach out to Him and He promises you water which will spring up to everlasting life. And He offers it freely. On the very last page of the Bible, we read this in Revelation 22:17 – “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
The Spirit is out, right now, bearing gifts and calling the bride to meet the Bridegroom. And some day, He will depart with that bride to meet the Lord. Though we haven’t seen Him, we love Him, and though You may not know Him, He knows you. Let me take just a moment to explain how you can become a part of what God is doing through and for His Son, Jesus…
Closing Verse: For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him. 2 Samuel 14:14
Next Week – Genesis 24:12-28 (Rebekah)
Sending Out For a Bride
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in life
And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all ways
It was his intent to obtain for his son a wife
One that would bring him joy, all of his days
So He said to his oldest servant, a very good guy
The one who ruled over all his house
“Please, put your hand here under my thigh
And I will make you swear an oath concerning my son’s spouse
By the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth
You will not take a wife for my son from Canaan’s daughters
Those among whom I dwell, and the land of his birth
You shall go to my country, to the Two Rivers’ waters
From my family, you shall take for my son Isaac a wife
This is the oath to which you shall bind your life
And the servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman will not
Be willing to follow me to this land whence Isaac was begot
“Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?
“Beware you don’t take him back there, Abraham did exclaim
The Lord God of heaven, who led me from my father’s band
And from the land of my family, and who spoke to me
Swore to me, saying, “To your descendants I give this land,
He will send His angel before you to find a wife, you see
And you shall take a wife for my son from there
But if the woman is not willing to follow you
Then you will be released from this oath, do not despair
Only do not take my son back, this you shall not do
So the servant put his hand under the thigh
Of Abraham his master, and to the oath he swore
Then he took ten of Abraham’s camels and waved goodbye
And departed, with his master’s goods which the camels bore
He arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor
And he made his camels kneel down outside the city
From the journey he was probably tired, thirsty, and sore
But he was on a mission, not one looking for pity
By a well of water at evening time he waited
The time when women go out to draw from the well
And certainly as he sat, he antici………pated
The completion of his task and hearing the wedding bell
Likewise the Father is looking for a bride for His Son
And the Spirit is searching hearts, searching every one
And the heart which is tender and responds to the call
Will be led to the waters which spring to eternal life
And someday the bride will wear her wedding shawl
When Jesus comes for His long anticipated wife
Oh! A beautiful bride for the Lord wearing radiant white
The marriage of the Lamb will be a resplendent sight
Until that day we wait in faith for our precious Lord
And seek His face through His wonderful word
Hallelujah and Amen…