“But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac” (Genesis 24: 4).
The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah typifies the divine union between Jesus Christ and His church. When Abraham charged his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac, he gave implicit orders not to search among the Canaanites (Gen. 24: 3). The Canaanites were a wicked people alienated from the promises of God. And although they dwelt in the promised land, it was foretold that they should be expelled after the return of Israel from captivity in Egypt (Gen. 15: 16). Now Abraham had respect unto the promise of the Messiah. And, knowing that Christ would spring from his own stock, he gave his servant orders to return unto the land of his forbears and take his son a wife.
This brings to mind the great truth that every member of Christ’s bride is taken from the same household of faith. We were chosen in Jesus Christ from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1: 4-5); and as members of His body, we are bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Gen. 2: 23). Nevertheless, we are all born outside of the promised land. That is, we come into the world dead in trespasses and sins (Psalm 51: 5; Job 14: 4; Eph. 2: 1-3). Thus, when Abraham’s servant went to search for a suitable wife, he had to journey beyond the districts of Canaan. There is strong evidence that Abraham’s kindred were idolaters. At least they worshipped a form of idols (Gen. 31: 19, 30) And so it is with ourselves. Before we are baptized into Christ by the Holy Ghost, we serve divers lusts and pleasures. We live unto ourselves, and have our fruit unto wickedness. A great change must therefore be effected by the grace of God.
The change is effected by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3: 5). In time past of our lives, the soul was married to the flesh– and we brought forth works of wickedness and evil. After regeneration, however, a new man is created, and the soul is wedded thereto. Henceforth we bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. When Abraham’s servant went looking for a wife for Isaac, he prayed that God would prosper his journey (Gen. 24: 12-14). And as he stood at the well, Rebekah went down at that very moment to fetch water. Here we see God’s divine appointment. For though the elect are chosen in Christ from eternity, yet their effectual calling comes at God’s appointed time. We hear the Word, which is preached to us by Christ’s ministers, or through the reading of the Word itself, and are quickened by the Holy Spirit. And thus the change is effected, and we are espoused to Christ. This re-birth is not according to the will of man, but by the Divine appointment of the Lord (John 1: 12-13, 3: 8). As Rebekah came to the well at God’s appointed time, so we come down to the waters of salvation in our proper season.
Now, this espousal adorns us with divers spiritual graces. Rebekah was given a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekel’s weight of gold (Gen. 24: 22). But the spiritual adornments of the New Covenant are far greater in value. Peter, instructing the Christian wives, says: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corrupible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3: 3-4). This shows us that it is the inward graces of the Spirit in which God takes pleasure. The psalmist says: “The King’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold” (Psalm 45: 13). And in Ezekiel 16: 10-13, the prophet describes for us the divers graces wherewith Christ clothed those whom He chose to redeem by His blood: “I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thine hands, and a chain on thine neck.“
Thus the spiritual excellencies of the covenant are given unto us by the Holy Spirit when we are espoused to Jesus Christ. Once Abraham’s servant knew that his journey was made prosperous by the will of God, he bowed his head and worshipped the Lord (Gen. 24: 26-27). Whenever we see a soul rescued from the filth of the world and saved by the washing of the pure waters of divine grace, we, too, must rejoice. Christ’s ministers are sent into all the world to preach the gospel (Isaiah 66: 19); and those whom the Father draws with His Spirit will believe the Word, and be saved (John 6: 37, 44). However, once regeneration takes place the work of spiritual adornment is not over. For the seed is only planted at that time. And it is thenceforth nourished by Christ’s ministers, and by the watering of the word, that it may bring forth abundance of fruit. Peter teaches us that we must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3: 18). And this growth will make us more perfect in grace, and more worthy in His sight. Sanctification is a lifelong process. The old man must be mortified; and such mortification is perpetual and ongoing.
Once Abraham’s servant found Rebekah, he delayed not, but made immediate preparations for returning to his master. Although Laban and Bethuel entreated him that the damsel should stay longer (Gen. 24: 55), the servant replied: “Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way: send me away, that I go to my master” (Gen. 24: 56). When once we’re sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ and washed in the waters of spiritual renewal, any tarrying in the kingdom of darkness is impossible. We long to go and meet our Master. And the rest of our lives is spent in an ongoing journey to that wonderful land of promise, where the marriage will take place. The psalmist says: “Hearken O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house: so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord: and worship thou Him” (Psalm 45: 10-11). God’s message to the elect of all ages, is: “Come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6: 17). And spiritual re-birth alone qualifies us to leave our kindred and families and join ourselves unto the heavenly covenant, whereby we receive the promises.
And so, once the damsel consented (Gen. 24: 58), Laban and Bethuel gave her their blessing, saying: “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them” (Gen. 24: 60). Thus, spiritual dominion is given to the church of God in Christ. And we partake of this spiritual dominion, firstly, over our own corrupt natures, and secondly, in a more exalted sense, in the resurrection age, when we reign over all the subordinate creation in Christ’s spiritual Eden. But regeneration is not resurrection. And when we’re regenerated, we only begin our transition from darkness to light: from the first Adam to the Second Adam. This is typified by Rebekah’s journey. Moses tells us that “Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon camels, and followed the man” (Gen. 24: 61). When we make our pilgrimage out of the kingdom of darkness, we follow Christ’s ministers, who lead us in the ways of spiritual blessedness. And we travel on, and ever onward, until we reach that land of Canaan, where the marriage takes place. This is consummated in the “First Resurrection” (Rev. 20: 5).
It is said that “Isaac came from the well of Lahai-roi: for he dwelt in the south country: and Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide: and he lifted up his eyes, and say, and behold, the camels were coming” (Gen. 24: 62-63). What a refreshing sight that must have been! For Isaac was still mourning over the death of his mother. Yet when he saw the camels coming, he went out to meet them (Gen. 24: 65). And herein the marriage consummation is typified. As we enter into the Land of Promise in the evening of our lives (when we lay down our Cross and finish the work God has given us to do), Christ comes to meet us. When Rebekah saw Isaac, she lighted off her camel (Gen. 24: 64). When she realized it was Isaac who came to meet the entourage, she took a veil and covered herself (Gen. 24: 65); the ancient custom being, that the bride was brought to her husband, her head being covered by a veil, in token of humility and shamefacedness. And doesn’t Christ’s church represent this truth? We have no worthiness of our own, but must approach Christ in meekness and humility. For such is the bride He has chosen.
“Afterward Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother, and he took Rebekah, and she was his wife, and he loved her: so Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Gen. 24: 67). Thus, the marriage is consummated when we are given new glorified bodies. This will be after the battle of Armageddon, when Jesus Christ comes to reign on earth. At that time, we will become one with Christ. Of the present dispensation, Paul writes: “He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit” (1 Cor. 6: 17). The transition from darkness to light is made complete at the marriage, when the blood of Christ, having cleansed us completely, presents us perfectly white and spotless (Eph. 5: 27; 2 Cor. 11: 1-2). “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to Him. For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19: 7). The blood-soaked garments will at that time be exchanged for fine linen, clean and white (Rev. 7: 14, 19: 8). And so we’ll enter the marriage supper and be given a place at His royal board, where we shall feast with Him in His kingdom, and serve Him forever and ever. Amen.