The Son Receives His Bride
Introduction: This is our fourth sermon on Genesis 24. The length of the chapter and the detail it contains is meant to show us the importance of the account in later redemptive history. God isn’t just picking fun or beautiful stories to show us what the lives of people were like thousands of years ago.
Instead, He is selecting these stories to show us what He will later do in and through His Son Jesus for the people of the world. In the process of redeeming the world from the power of the devil, He is also securing a bride.
If we miss the significance of these stories, our understanding of His love for us and how He will accomplish His overall plans becomes obscure.
Text Verse: For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5
God is working in and through time – time that He created, to secure for Himself a people who will live in His presence for all eternity; a bride for a Bridegroom. The story of the Bible is the story of pure and undefiled love.
This love will be realized some glorious day when we are presented to Jesus as a bride adorned in white and suitable for the King of the Universe and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. Gifts to the Bride
We should look back at the actors and who they represent again. Abraham is a picture of God the Father, Isaac is a picture of God the Son, and the servant is a picture of the Holy Spirit. Rebekah then is a picture of the people of God; the bride of Christ.
Understanding these pictures helps us to understand why God has placed this story in the Bible and to help us see what He is doing in the world as He prepares for eternity with a group of people who have been called out of the world in which we now live.
53 Then the servant brought out jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing, and gave them to Rebekah.
Last week, we saw that after the servant explained his mission and the journey he took in fulfilling it, the family of Rebekah agreed to allow her to become Isaac’s wife. The agreement has been made and so the servant now brings out gifts for the bride.
The Hebrew word translated as “jewelry” actually means “instruments” or “vessels.” They may have been things she would use and also things she would wear, but he adorns her with these precious things.
This is a picture of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which God gives to His people, the bride of Christ. This is noted in Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”
Throughout the New Testament, the gifts of the Spirit are seen in wisdom, insight, and ability. The vessels and the instruments of the Christian faith are meant to adorn us as the Bride of Christ in anticipation of the day when we meet Him. But there is more…
She is also given “clothing” by the servant. This is noted on numerous occasions in the New Testament, both from Jesus’ own words as well as that of the apostles. In Revelation, we see the garments which will be bestowed upon us. – “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments,…” (v.5)
Later, in the same chapter of Revelation, Jesus explains this to us – “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed…” (v.18)
Rebekah has been accepted for the bridegroom as yet unseen and we can also be accepted by God and betrothed to Christ; a bride ready to meet her Bridegroom some wonderful day in the future. God leaves the choice up to us.
We can remain in the clothing we have now, soiled by sin and unfit for the King, or we can be given the pure garments of a bride, free from sin and ready for our wedding. Solomon tells us to live our lives now in that always-ready state –
Go, eat your bread with joy,
And drink your wine with a merry heart;
For God has already accepted your works.
8 Let your garments always be white,
And let your head lack no oil. Ecclesiastes 9:7, 8
53 (con’t) He also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.
A dowry is paid to the family. Laban and the mother are both given precious gifts. The term used here is the word migdanoth. In Deuteronomy 33, it describes exquisite fruits and delicacies. In the Song of Solomon it indicates precious plants or flowers.
In general, it can mean any gifts, but they are of a kind which is inferior to those Rebekah was given. What this then is signifying is that God blesses people through the people of God indirectly. Throughout the ages, this is seen as clear as crystal.
The people of the world have benefited amazingly from Jewish and Christian scientists, scholars, writers, and theologians. Any country which has persecuted Jews or Christians has only cut itself off from the blessings of God’s people because it is through us that the world receives the indirect benefits of our blessings.
54 And he and the men who were with him ate and drank and stayed all night.
Only after securing the bride through agreement and dowry does the servant take his time to eat, drink, and rest. And the picture is no less understandable in the work of the Holy Spirit who is working continuously though the word and through the church to bring the people of the world to understand the message of Christ. But there is a time when that work will be finished…
54(con’t) Then they arose in the morning, and he said, “Send me away to my master.”
At some point, the work of God’s Spirit will be complete and it will be time for His presence to be removed from the world. That day is coming and that moment will be so sudden that people won’t know it occurred. 2 Thessalonians 2 explains that time –
“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He[ is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” EXPLAIN
55 But her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go.”
Both Laban and the mother respond here. Laban probably because he wanted a chance to make more off of the deal from the Abraham’s riches and the mother because she will miss Rebekah. Once again, we see a picture of the world at the time of the rapture.
Some will mourn over the loss of what the Christian world has offered and some will mourn over the loss of the Christians. Either way, when the moment of departure is over, it will be forever. Just as the family wants Rebekah to stay for a few days, the people who dithered will long for the church to remain as well. What is taken for granted now will seem more precious than anything else.
The Hebrew term they use for the time they want her to stay is yammim oh asor – days or ten. It is difficult to understand exactly what it means and that tell us that what they want is for her to stay an indeterminate amount of time.
And this is exactly the pattern the Bible gives us. Quite a few times, it uses the term “10 days” or “10 times” to simply mean a time of unknown duration. They want Rebekah to stay until they are ready to let her go, not as the servant wishes, but as they wish.
56 And he said to them, “Do not hinder me, since the Lord has prospered my way; send me away so that I may go to my master.”
The servant is uninterested in their request. The bride was granted, the dowry was paid, and the task is complete with the exception of the delivery of the bride. He asks that nothing hinder what has been so divinely orchestrated.
And I am sure the same will be coming at the rapture. The Spirit will hear the call of many who wanted one last chance. He will hear the voices of those who had sat on the sidelines and refused to make the commitment they should have made.
And it will certainly pain Him to depart with the sadness of those people. But God has granted everyone a chance to call on Jesus. No wonder Paul is so adamant about our obligation to respond to the Spirit’s call as He wrote these words in 2 Corinthians 6 –
“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” EXPLAIN
II. The Called Out Bride
57 So they said, “We will call the young woman and ask her personally.”
I believe that the mindset of the majority of commentaries on this verse have led us to the sorry state that we’re in today. This goes for everything from television sitcoms to Friday night sports outings. They say that this verse shows that parents should never arrange for a marriage without the consent of both parties.
This is shallow thinking, considering first that Rebekah’s parents have already agreed to the marriage and secondly, the question isn’t whether she will marry Isaac, but whether she will go now without time to prepare.
The custom of arranged marriages goes back to the very first man and woman on earth and it has been these marriages within these cultures that have been known to last. The children obeyed their parents and accepted that what they directed was correct. Love came through the union and through obedience, not the opposite.
Today, we place the priority on emotional love first and it has shown to fail, time and time again. And in the same mentality, it has ended with children who are disobedient to their parents and who dictate to them, not the other way around.
The Bible’s model of marriage is one of respect and obedience which is grounded in unconditional love, not an unknown quantity of love which then directs respect and obedience. As we continue to move away from the biblical model, we co ntinue to suffer the results of our choices in failed marriages and broken families.
58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
The question about Isaac isn’t even raised. The decision was already made and she knows it. The question is “Will you go with this man?” In other words, “You haven’t seen the man you’ve been betrothed to and if you go you won’t see us anymore either. Are you willing to go through with it in this manner?”
And her answer is one of faith – both in the providence of God and in the promises of a marriage to a man she has only heard about.
This verse is the call of the redeemed and their answer – “Is Jesus Lord? Yes, Jesus is Lord.” We haven’t seen Him and we only know about Him by what the Spirit has provided – the gospel. We are called by the Spirit, the offer is given by the Spirit, and we respond in consent to the Spirit. “I belong to Jesus and I will go.”
59 So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men.
Rebekah is going on the most exciting journey of her life. She is off to meet the husband she has never seen. But as she departs, others go with her, some maids and her nurse. The nurse is Deborah, whose name we get from Genesis 35.
Deborah, although unnamed here, has a more important role than you may imagine. The term used to describe her as a nurse comes from the Hebrew verb yanaq which means to suckle. She was the one who raised and breast-fed Rebekah from her birth.
Her name means “Bee” and that doesn’t tell us much until we see a fuller picture. Her name comes from the word dabar meaning “word” and is where the phase the “Word of God” comes from.
What God is telling us here, and you shouldn’t miss it because I say it to this church and to everyone I meet week after week, is that Rebekah, a picture of the church, went to meet her husband with the Bee – the Word of God, the Bible.
This is no stretch but is exactly what the Bible itself tells us. Honey was the only sweetener of the day and it is what brought the bland to tastiness, the mundane to joy, the depressed to life. And this is how the Bible is described in the psalms –
In the 19th psalm we see a taste of this when speaking of God’s word – “Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”
We see it again in the 119th Psalm – “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (103) And in both Ezekiel and Revelation, the prophets are told to eat the scroll of prophesy and it would be as sweet as honey in their mouths.
In other words, Deborah had raised Rebekah and went along with her in her new life. We are to know God through this revelation of Himself and we are to carry it with us always until we finally meet Him. The word of God is what tends to us, teaches us, and keeps us from going astray.
If you’re relying on the Holy Spirit without the knowledge of the Word of God, you have faulty faith and theology. I honestly feel sorry for people who think all they need is for the Holy Spirit to fill them, but who don’t read their Bible
60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her: “Our sister, may you become The mother of thousands of ten thousands; And may your descendants possess The gates of those who hate them.”
This is the first blessing pronounced upon a woman in the Bible and it came to pass in its fullness, just as it was pronounced. “May you become thousands of ten thousands” is a way of saying a number beyond comprehension.
This was fulfilled literally in her two sons – Jacob and Esau who would become the Israelites and the Edomites. And of course it is fulfilled spiritually in the church – the spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“May your descendants possess the gates of those who hate them” is asking that her descendants would overcome any and all of their enemies completely. This was fulfilled literally at the time of King Solomon after his father David has subdued all of their enemies.
But this is also fulfilled in Christ where the very gates of hell will not prevail over the forces of Christ and His church – “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
The words of her family are a prophecy fulfilled in the pages of the Bible both in the world of physical reality and in the spiritual one as well – this is why this blessing is recorded for us to see.
61 Then Rebekah and her maids arose, and they rode on the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.
Up she goes to be a bride to a man she has never met. She is, as I’ve said, a picture of the church – the called out people of God. She is a virgin just as Paul describes how we are to be –
“For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
Paul isn’t speaking here of literal virginity, but of our virgin spiritual state in the purity of the gospel. We are to never mix in heresies of any kind. There is one Jesus and one gospel message. God isn’t confused and we aren’t to be either.
In a fuller and more detailed description of our role and our duties, Paul writes these words to his brothers in Ephesus –
“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” EXPLAIN
III. The Bridegroom and the Bride
62 Now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he dwelt in the South.
Isaac is a picture of the Son of God. Here we have a picture of where He is now during the Church Age. Rebekah the bride is coming, but before they meet, Isaac came from the area of Beer Lahai Roi, the “Well of the One who lives and see me.”
Jesus is the Living one and He is in His eternal state watching His bride, walking among His churches, waiting for the moment when the Bride will be ready. The very fact that the Bible explains where Isaac is tells us that this is what we are to learn about Jesus now.
63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming.
We can only speculate on what Isaac was meditating about. The term is lasuakh and this is the only time in the Bible it’s used. It appears to be an act of bending the body or the mind or even both.
It could be that one of the entourage went ahead of the caravan to tell him that they’d be arriving soon. But, whatever the reason, he was out in the field in the evening and he was in meditation – maybe thinking about the beautiful wife he was hoping for.
Jesus is waiting for a bride as well and although He already knows the future, we don’t. How are you planning on presenting yourself before this great King? Right now is the only point in your life that matters. What you’ve done in the past is behind you and what lies ahead has no guarantees.
I would hope that deep in your heart, you would commit your “right now” to becoming the most beautiful part of Christ’s wedding ceremony apart from Christ Himself.
64 Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel;
This is the seventh time the term “lift eyes” has been used so far in the Bible and I’ve never taken time to explain it. It is an idiom which means to look up or to look out intently. Normally, it doesn’t just mean to look physically, but to see something extra with your spiritual eyes as well.
In the previous verse, Isaac lifted his eyes in anticipation of the arrival of his bride. Now Rebekah lifts hers in the anticipation of seeing her bridegroom for the first time. This is a picture of the moment when God favors fallen man.
Throughout our lives, we walk in darkness, groping from one meaningless experience to another. But there is a time when the Lord lifts His eyes and they alight upon us. At that moment, He sees us in a way that didn’t exist a moment before. He sees us pure and spotless, without the sin of the past.
And at that same moment we have clarity of vision that didn’t exist even a moment before. We have, in full view, the fulfillment of the longing of our heart… we have Jesus. There will never be a second moment like this and though we were once blind, we now can see. Darkness is traded for light, vanity is traded for purpose.
When Rebekah saw Isaac, she dismounted from her camel. The word means to fall. She jumped off in anticipation. When the call is given for us to see Jesus, I will be jumping up so that I have a head start on all of you.
Isaac and Rebekah have seen each other. Right now we’re united to Christ in a form of sight that doesn’t need real eyes to be joyful, but just think about the moment when our physical eyes join what our spiritual eyes see…
65 for she had said to the servant, “Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?”
Rebekah here is the bride of the bridegroom. In a parallel pattern of the people of God, she loves this man she has never met. The love is unconditional and faithful, not emotional or erotic. Peter describes this love of the unseen Lord in his first letter –
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. 1 Peter 1:6-9
Isaac, on the other hand is our picture of Christ, he has never seen his bride, and yet he goes out to meet and receive her. This is coming, hopefully soon, and it will be the greatest moment in our lives. Paul describes it in 1 Thessalonians 4 –
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
65 (con’t) The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself.
This is an important verse to understand the nature of the Godhead. Abraham’s servant says of Isaac “It is my master.” In other words, because he is Abraham’s, and Isaac is his son, he belongs to Isaac. In the Godhead, there is a hierarchy, but not subordination.
Each member of the Godhead is fully God and is co-equal. However, there is a distinct order to the roles of each member of the Trinity.
Throughout the Bible we see statements which those who are confused about the Trinity misuse, even to the point of heresy. Jesus said that the Father is greater than Him, but that isn’t meant in the sense of more importance, but rather of logical order.
Abraham is greater than Isaac because he is logically prior to him, not because he is more human than he is. In the family, Abraham is greater than his son. The servant carries the message of the father and son just as the Holy Spirit does. It’s important to know these things and the Bible gives us clues of them as we read it.
Anyway, as soon as she learns that it is Isaac, she covers herself with a veil. This is the first of only 3 times this word is used in the Bible, all in Genesis. The word is ha’satif. From the context of the three accounts, we can be certain this is a correct translation.
What I think this veil is telling us is that there is a time between the rapture and the wedding ceremony where we will be veiled to Christ. In other words, we will be taken at the rapture, but before He actually views us in our spotless state, we will be purged of our past lives and made ready as a suitable bride. This is called the judgment seat of Christ and is seen in 2 Corinthians 5:9, 10 –
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Once we are purged of our old selves and have received our eternal and glorified body based on what we have done with our lives, we will then be ready to have the veil removed once and for all.
66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.
A full and detailed accounting of what has occurred and will occur has been given to us by the Holy Spirit, through Jesus. It is called the Holy Bible. Just as this servant is faithful to recount his mission to His Master, we have been blessed through the Lord to be given this unmatched treasure.
But how many of us let it sit gathering dust when it holds the precious words of God’s love for each of us? Are we being faithful servants of the Lord as He directs in that word? Let me give you seven things to note about this servant that hopefully you will consider in your own Christian life –
1) He didn’t go without being sent. We go at His direction, not ours. 2) He went were he was sent. We go to where the Lord wants us, not where we want to go. 3) He did only what he was directed, nothing else. In the same way, we obey the Bible and add nothing to it. 4) The servant both prayed and watched for opportunities. We cannot commune with God outside of Bible reading and prayer and once we’ve done these each day, we look for opportunities based on that. 5) He took advantage of the opportunity that God opened to him. We need to not only pray for and look for opportunities, but to grasp them when they come. 6) The servant spoke nothing except what he was directed and he spoke of the greatness and riches of his master, not himself. We need to not add to what God has revealed to us out of our own heads and we need to make sure that our words glorify God – His wisdom, His riches, and His greatness – not ours. 7) The servant presented the exact truth of the matter and expected a clear decision from his hearers. We need to present exactly what God presents and explain very precisely that heaven isn’t a place with many paths leading to it. It requires a clear decision for Christ and nothing else will satisfy God.
67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her.
There is a time coming when we will be brought into the presence of Christ. It will happen so suddenly that no change in decision will be possible. Rebekah responded immediately and without uncertainty and this is what the Lord expects from us. When the decision is made, it is done – we belong to our Lord.
And just like Rebekah, He has a tent prepared for us. The splendid words of fulfillment come from the 21st chapter of Revelation –
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
The tent of God is with men – we will love Him and He will love us, for all eternity we will rejoice in each other and hail the great Lamb of God who has done all things for His people. But there is a second half to this verse…
67 (con’t) So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
The death of the Isaac’s mother is noted for two reasons. The first is that the bride will comfort the Son in his loss. The second is that there was loss. There is a bride for a husband and husband for a bride, but there are those who won’t be in this grand wedding.
The Lord who died for all people will be grieved in his heart at those who never came into His tent, precious souls that He reached out to and who were unwilling to reach back and escape the pit of death which swallows men’s souls. Let me explain how you can be a part of the former and escape from the latter…
Closing Verse: 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. Revelation 22:17
Next Week – Isaiah 7:14 (The Christmas Story)
The Bride and the Bridegroom
The servant brought out jewelry for Rebekah
Silver, gold, and clothing to adorn her beauty
He also gave things to her brother and mother
The servant fully accomplished his assigned duty
And he and the men who were with him ate
And they drank and they stayed all night
Then they arose in the morning, the dawn was just great
And he said, “Send me away to my master, alright?
But her brother and her mother said
Let the young woman stay with us a few days
At least ten and then she may go ahead
Let us upon her tender beauty for a while gaze
And he said, “Don’t hinder me please
Since the Lord has prospered my way
Send me off, to my master give me release
It is not right that I dally the time away
So they said, “We will call the young woman
To ask her about this personally
Then they called Rebekah before the man
And asked if she would go along willingly
And she said “I will go”
It is the right thing, this I kno
So they sent away Rebekah along with her nurse
And Abraham’s servant and his men went too
And they gave her a blessing, not a curse
A blessing fulfilled in me and in you
May you become thousands and ten thousands our sister
And may your descendants possess their enemies’ gate
And she arose and followed the servant mister
Who took Rebekah and departed on this journey so great
Now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Ro-ee
For he dwelt at that time in the south
He went out to meditate in the field at evening, you see
Praying to the Lord with his heart and his mouth
And he lifted his eyes and lo he looked
And there he saw, yes camels were coming
Then Rebekah lifted her eyes and her heart was cooked
She saw Isaac and jumped from the camel, her legs were numbing
For she had said who is this man walking in the field
Coming to meet us, to him shall my heart yield?
The servant said, “It is my master that you see
So she took a veil and covered herself in modesty
And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done
Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent
He took Rebekah and they were united as one
He loved her and was comforted after his mother’s heavenly ascent
What a glorious picture of Christ and His bride
The church that will ever be at His side
What a wonderful story of hope and of love
And the greatness of our God in the heavens above
Holy, splendid, and awesome Lord
How wonderful it will be to finally meet
Until then we have a gift, Your precious word
And its pages are like the honey, so sweet
Thank You for the love of our Lord Jesus
Who has done all these wonderful things for us
Hallelujah and Amen…