My wife and I will be celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. I still remember many of the details from that special day and will cherish them in my heart forever. There are few things in life that compare with the beauty and wonder of one’s wedding day. As the years go by, I have found that our love continually grows stronger and stronger for both the LORD and for each other. I could have never imagined back then the great depths of love we’d discover together. And I trust that in Christ, we will continue diving deeper and deeper into the bottomless expanse of God’s limitless grace and love for many more years to come.
In this morning’s message, we will read and discuss the story of an important, historic marriage. I have titled it “Isaac and Rebekah”. This is the 13th sermon of our current series, “The Chosen Church: Getting to Know the Patriarchs”. It is based on Genesis 24.
I. SEEKING A BRIDE (v1-14)
Abraham, who by now was an old man, called his eldest servant (perhaps Eliezer mentioned in Genesis 15:2) and told him to find a wife for his son Isaac. He was not to select a wife from among the Canaanites, but rather was to return to Abraham’s homeland in Chaldea and choose from the eligible women there. The servant was then to bring her back with him, assuming she was willing to come. However, under no circumstances was Isaac to be taken to Chaldea. Having received these instructions, the servant swore to abide by them.
So the servant gathered supplies for his journey, took 10 camels, and left for Mesopotamia. He approached the city where Abraham’s brother Nahor lived (Genesis 22:20-24). The servant stopped at the water well just outside of the city at evening time and waited for the women to come and draw water. The servant prayed that the LORD would grant him success in finding Isaac’s wife. He planned to choose the young maiden who offered both he and his camels a drink of water.
Abraham’s servant was given a task by his master. He was given clear instructions and knew what needed to be done. He even devised a plan to complete the task successfully. Still, though he was fully competent to do this on his own, he prayed that God would bless his efforts and make him successful (Proverbs 16:3). This is a good practice for Christians to follow. We should seek the Lord’s blessing in everything we do, knowing that He can prosper us and cause us to triumph.
II. REBEKAH IS CHOSEN (v15-61)
As the servant was praying, a beautiful young virgin named Rebekah came from the city to the well with a jar on her shoulder. After she filled her jar with water, he ran to meet her and asked for a drink. Rebekah gave him a drink and then filled the trough for his camels to drink also. The servant was amazed and gave her a few articles of golden jewelry. He asked her who she was and if he might lodge in her father’s house for the night. She answered that her name was Rebekah, the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor, and invited him to come stay with her family, with their permission of course. Once again, the servant was awed by the LORD’s immediate provision.
Rebekah hurried home to tell them about this man she had met at the well. Her brother Laban listened carefully to Rebekah’s description of all that had happened and saw the golden ring and bracelets she wore. He rushed out to meet the servant and joyfully led him and his camels back to their house. When they entered Laban took good care of both his guests and their animals. As they ate, the servant explained who he was and why he had come. He said that he belonged to Abraham, that he’d come from Canaan to find a bride for Isaac, and that God had shown Rebekah to be one.
The servant asked Rebekah’s father if he would give her to Isaac as a bride. Having heard the servant’s story, both Bethuel and Laban realized that this was God’s plan. They had no choice in the matter but to do His will. So they heartily agreed. The servant responded by giving Rebekah and her family even more precious items of gold, silver, and garments. He wanted to return to Canaan as soon as possible, and intended to leave the next morning. However, Rebekah’s family wished her to stay for another 10 days before departing. To settle the dispute, they asked Rebekah and she agreed to leave immediately. So after receiving a blessing, Rebekah and her maids mounted the camels and left with the servant for Canaan.
Rebekah’s father and brother recognized that her departure and upcoming marriage was God’s will. As such, their personal opinions on the matter held no weight. Perhaps they were saddened to see her leave, as evidenced by their request that she might stay home for a few more days, but ultimately they had no right to detain her. God’s calling, purposes, and ways take precedence over human relationships, which at times makes for a difficult separation.
III. ISAAC GETS MARRIED (v62-67)
Isaac apparently did not live with his father Abraham, but instead resided somewhere in the Negev desert. He was a thoughtful and introspective man. He had gone to Beer-lahai-roi, the place where God had appeared to Hagar while she was pregnant with Ishmael more than 50 years earlier (Genesis 16:14), most likely to pray and reflect. He must have received word somehow that Abraham had sought out a bride for him, so he went to go see his father.
While staying with his dad (probably in Hebron), Isaac went out in the field one evening to meditate. In the distance, he saw Abraham’s servant and camels coming. From her vantage point, Rebekah likewise saw Isaac from afar and asked who he was. The servant identified him as Abraham’s son - her groom to be. Rebekah climbed down from the camel and covered her face with a veil. When they reached one another, the servant reported to Isaac all that had taken place. In the days that followed, Isaac took Rebekah as his bride. He loved her deeply. Their marriage was a great source of comfort for him, seeing that his mother Sarah had recently died.
Though there are certainly exceptions, as a rule most men need women in their lives. God created it this way. Isaac was blessed to have both Sarah and Rebekah. Boys need good, righteous mothers who will love and nurture them. Men need virtuous, godly wives who will care for and respect them. Perhaps this is why men often end up marrying women who share similar character traits with their own mothers. And in rare cases, they might even have the same name! (Both my mom and wife are named Janice…)
As I have done for the past few weeks, I’d like to end the message today by connecting this Old Testament event in the life of Isaac to the story of Jesus. In the past month we’ve talked about a miraculous birth, a substitutionary sacrifice, a holy burial, and now a glorious marriage. All of these have parallels in some form to the life and work of Christ.
Concerning the marriage specifically (which we discussed this morning), just as Rebekah was chosen to be Isaac’s bride, so also the Church which consists of all New Testament Christians has been chosen to be the Bride of Christ. Like Issac loved Rebekah, Jesus loves the Church and even gave up His life to redeem her. Someday, I believe during the Tribulation period, there will be a great celebration in Heaven called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb to commemorate this union.