GENESIS-SERIES NR 23
Genesis 24 : A Wife for Isaac
Although Abraham was already very old, he did not loose sight of the Lord’s perspective on the future. The Lord God’s promise was tied up in Isaac and Isaac’s future. And Abraham wants to provide for Isaac’s future – of which a wife for Isaac was probably one of the most important items on the agenda.
Gen 24 a long chapter with a detailed description of how Abraham’s servant was sent to find a wife for Isaac. One wonders why the Lord wanted so much attention to be given to this. He does not waste words, so we should listen very carefully what He is saying to us in this chapter. Is it merely a boring description of some ancient history? What should we hear in this?
Of course, there are several perspectives. Here we find God-willed and God-given guidelines for every young person who is truly reborn in the Lord Jesus, and who is underway to this important event in his/her life.
However, there is also a message for Christian parents whose child will make a marriage-choice at some time in the future. Abraham is a covenant-parent who has a concern in his heart for his son’s marriage. Parents and children must be aware that the Lord’s will has to be taken into account in the choice of a marriage partner.
Abraham knows that Isaac has to have a wife, because God’s promise was that the eternal future of God’s people would come out of Isaac. But on the other hand he cannot choose hasty, because no one who is serious about walking with the Lord can afford to make light of this choice.
Abraham himself undertakes the marriage plans. Something which seems strange to us, but not so in the culture of the Ancient Middle East at that time. There was a very close family-connectedness, and what parents decided was what mattered. The father also had the full jurisdiction over the children. Therefore, Abraham sends a servant to his country of origin to fetch a bride for Isaac – from his own family. His own family would have been closest in spirituality and furthest from paganism, and closest to true worship of the true God.
But there are two requirements that Abraham is very frank about:
First: Isaac is not allowed to marry a heathen girl. She must not be Canaanite. She had to come from the covenant nation of God. From the pagans Isaac could have found a wife very easily, and they were conveniently close by. But the Lord God thinks differently. The Lord’s guidelines does not come from a TV reality show. It comes from heaven. It is very different to the human heart’s way of thinking.
Isaac could have objected about his father’s narrow-mindedness. What does it matter whether the girl is really an absolutely committed believer in the Lord of the covenant? Is his father not making too much of a fuss about this? Is it not an unessential matter? Nowhere in the ordinary world (for example on TV) do people make such an ado about these things? All that matters is true love. Then it is settled. Or is it not? After all, it is US who want to get married and it is OUR future that matters…
By the grace of God it seems as if Isaac does not watch much TV and Facebook and You Tube. It looks as if the Lord has taken hold of his heart. He does not rebel against his father.
Abraham‘s stipulation that the marriage partner (of the opposite sex of course!) has to be a committed member of the covenant nation of the Living God, is of fundamental importance.
Die New Testament is just as clear about this. For example, in 1 Cor 6:14 > “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what does righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.” And in 1 Cor 7:39 the Apostle’s instruction to someone whose husband/wife has died is that they are free to marry someone who is IN THE LORD.
When one falls in love – and you are someone in whom the Holy Spirit truly lives – the first thing you should ask is: “What is this person’s true relationship with the Lord? Can I hear and sense that he/she has a heart on fire for the Lord, for His Word, for prayer, for the true church and not a false form of church?” These are the things that really matter, not in the first place what the person’s financial status is.
Parents and grandparents should teach their children from small that Christ Jesus is the most important factor in sexual love and marriage. Listen to Abraham: “no wife from the Canaanites!”
The second instruction Abraham gave is this: When the servant asked whether he could take Isaac along with him to Abraham’s country of origin in case the girl would perhaps not want to leave her father’s house to return with him to Isaac, Abraham refused point blank. It must not be. Abraham broke with the past. The Lord wanted His people to go into the world – not to intermingle with the world – but to be a blessing – to be witnesses. And then they must wait there until the Lord fulfil His promise to lead them into the promised land.
But, if Isaac should go to Abraham’s country of origin, Isaac could possibly forsake his high calling with which the Lord had called him. That was Abraham’s greatest fear. His future bride had to come from the correct spiritual circle, but she had to come to Isaac – in the land of the Canaanites – and not the other way around. Because nothing and nobody was to hinder Isaac from fulfilling his high calling.
Therefore, what was Abraham’s second requirement? Marriage must never get a person to digress on the road of spiritual growth and walk with the Lord. We cannot “adjust” our walk with the Lord a little for the sake of our bride/bridegroom. Our dedication in prayer, Bible study, church involvement, servitude to the work of the Lord, must not suffer because of our marriage. It must be advanced by our marriage! It is so much more important to decide about and plan these things, than what your dress would look like and what the decorations on the tables would be!
Of course, the question now is this: If these are the instructions Abraham demanded – that the servant had to swear on oath to keep – WHERE was such a girl to be found? Is it at all possible? It sounds as if such a person does not exist? When the servant arrives in Mesopotamia, WHERE will he find this chosen young woman?
That is why Abraham assures him: An angel of God will go before you! In other words: In this marriage we seek the Lord’s honour above all. Only that and nothing else. Therefore, HE will provide, because He knows who Isaac must marry, He has already chosen her. That is why He will lead and provide. He will bring together people who belong together. He will give direction. Abraham is absolutely convinced of that!
Just imagine how different things will be today if the saved children of God would be prepared to seek the Lord’s honour above all else and follow in the footsteps of the angel and primarily take into account the demands of God’s Word when there is a search for a marriage partner.
It is more essential than ever that we protect and preserve the holiness of the Biblical Christian marriage. There are attacks on this marriage from all directions – even from some circles within the Dutch Reformed church! With the approval of homosexual practices and the approval of pre-marital cohabitation, the holiness of the true Christian marriage is infected and destroyed at its very essence. And people who truly know the Lord and love the Scriptures, must recklessly rise up against it, and with determination must break away from everything which is false and misleading and impure and contrary to the Holy Scriptures!
What a wonderful word this is, coming to us from Genesis 24! God’s own Word. His promise: He will provide! Indeed, marriage is the place God Himself created for His regenerated children who belong together according to His ordination. That is how Isaac found his bride Rebekah when their God-given love ignited: “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So, she became his wife, and he loved her” (verse 67).
In the entire process of the servant fetching a bride for Isaac, we see a further couple of wonderful truths. We will mention them briefly:
First: The way in which the Lord answers prayer. Verse 12 and further. The servant prayed in his heart (verse 45) and said: “O Lord, grant me success today and show me the bride You have chosen for my master. Perhaps the one who answers my questions in such-and-such a way at the well where the camels are watered?”
And do you know what? Even BEFORE he finished praying, Rebekah approached him. No wonder that the man just bowed down and worshiped the Lord (verse 26).
The Lord hears our prayers and He answers prayer. Sometimes quicker than the speed of light.
Two: Take note of how Isaac is a prophetic picture-image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This long description of 66 verses does not appear in Genesis for nothing. It’s a prefigure of how the Holy Spirit will gather a bride for Christ from all the nations. A magnificent process that is still continuing today.
Abraham sends his servant to fetch a bride for Isaac. Not at random, but the specific girl that God had chosen for Isaac. It was Rebekah. Verse 14 states categorically “the one you have chosen as bride for your servant Isaac”.
This is all that the entire human history is about: The bride – that God the Father had given to His Son Jesus Christ even before creation – is gathered from all the nations by the Spirit and given to the Son. Among ALL the millions of people, He FINDS her and brings her to the Son. And He changes her will so that she becomes willing to belong to the Bridegroom.
Rebekah’s natural inclination would be NOT to go to Canaan and NOT wanting to belong to a perfect stranger. But the Lord’s hand was resting upon her and changed her heart and therefore – when her family asked: WILL YOU GO WITH THIS MAN? She answered: I WILL GO . And Isaac loved her. And she became his wife.
O, the absolutely glorious truth of the Divine election!! – thirdly. The knowledge that Christ’s bride is already present among the nations. We must only preach the great and glorious Gospel and the Spirit will bring in who He wills and chooses to bring. Paul says to Timothy: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain (future tense) the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Tim 2:10). He does not yet know who they are, but he is certain that they are out there.
This is the miracle: That God the Holy Spirit – in obedience to the Father and His eternal purpose – for the greater Isaac – Jesus Christ – gathers a bride closer. And gives her to the Lord Jesus. And they are inseparable for ever and eternity.
It is the Spirit who opens our eyes to who the Lord Jesus is.
Rebekah also asked the servant: “WHO is that man in the field coming to meet us?”
He answered her: “He is my master – to whom Abraham has given absolutely everything”.
So she took her veil and covered herself.
Can you see? It is THIS spiritual marriage that must precede the earthly marriage.
It is God’s perfect plan!
Translated by Marthie Wilson