Seeking a Bride for Isaac


VERSE 1  “And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.”

Two points are revealed in this verse: Abraham was now old—‘well stricken in age’; and the Lord had blessed him ‘in all things’. At this time Abraham was 140 years old: his wife, Sarah, had been dead for three years; and Isaac was now forty years of age. While he had made mistakes, it was still true that the Lord had blessed him in all things, for, because of the covenant the Lord had made with Abraham, his providences overshadowed him continually. No testimony more worthwhile could be given of any servant of God than that which is here stated concerning Abraham. What life could be more rich and more satisfactory than one which the Lord blesses ‘in all things’!

VERSES 2-6  “And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
“And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
“But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
“And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?
“And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.”

The ‘eldest servant’ of Abraham’s house was Eliezer (Gen. 15:2), although his name is not mentioned in this chapter. He was not only his chief servant, but before the birth of Isaac, Abraham had decided to make him his chief heir. But the Lord corrected him in this and gave instructions that one of his own children must be his heir.—Gen. 15:4

Abraham was very solicitous that Isaac should not marry one of the Canaanites, but that a bride should be secured for him from among his own people. At the same time, for some reason not explained in the chapter, he did not want Isaac to go personally to his kinsfolk in Mesopotamia to find a wife, so he decided upon the course here outlined: namely, that of sending his chief servant to seek a bride for his son.

The fact that Abraham occupied such an important position in connection with the outworking of God’s plan, and that Isaac was the seed of promise, justifies the student in the assumption that the manner in which a bride was secured for the promised seed is intended to be illustrative of a still more important feature of the plan of God; namely, the manner in which a ‘bride’ is found for Christ, the antitypical Isaac and the true spiritual seed of Abraham.

In this beautiful picture it seems reasonable to conclude that Abraham represented the Heavenly Father; Isaac, the Lord Jesus; and Eliezer, the Holy Spirit. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit of God, as it operates through the truth—which is the calling agency—that the church, the bride of Christ, is sought out and enabled to make the journey over the narrow way to her Heavenly Bridegroom, Christ Jesus.

VERSES 7-9  “The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.
“And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.
“And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.”

Abraham had great faith that Eliezer’s mission would be successful. God had blessed him, and he was sure that the same God would send his angel before Eliezer to direct in this important undertaking. And how true it is that, in the exercise of his influence, his power (the Holy Spirit), the Lord can and does make use of every necessary agency, or messenger, to accomplish his good purposes.

Abraham assured his servant that if he followed instruction and failed in his mission he would be released from the covenant that he had made to find a bride for Isaac from among his master’s own people. All of the Lord’s people during the Gospel Age cooperate with the Holy Spirit in seeking and finding a bride for Christ: and Abraham’s willingness to release his servant from responsibility for lack of success if he did the best he could, might suggest to us that we are responsible only for our best efforts to carry out the Lord’s commission of service, not for the results we might or might not achieve.

VERSES 10-14  “And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.
“And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.
“And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham.
“Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:
“And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.”

In these verses is revealed what was probably one of the principal reasons that Eliezer had been made the chief servant in his Master’s household, for they reveal that he believed in Abraham’s God and was glad to look to him for guidance and blessing in the undertaking assigned him by his master. Doubtless Eliezer sensed that this mission was one which had further to do with the covenant God had made with Abraham; and having witnessed the marvelous manner in which God had blessed his master up to this point, he believed that he would continue to do so. Hence he looked to Abraham’s God in confidence that he would guide him to the proper maiden to be Isaac’s bride.

VERSES 15-28  “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.
“And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.
“And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.
“And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.
“And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.
“And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.
“And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.
“And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;
“And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?
“And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.
“She said moreover unto him, we have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.
“And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord.
“And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.
“And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother’s house these things.”

Abraham’s servant outlined a plan in his mind by which he would be able to determine the Lord’s leading. Arriving in Mesopotamia, he halted by a well just outside the city of Nahor. It was apparently the custom of maidens to secure water for their households and Eliezer reasoned that here he would have a good opportunity to meet the one for whom he was looking.

It was at this well of water that Abraham’s servant found Rebekah—found her drawing water, and glad to serve those in need. The spirit of service is one of the chief characteristics of those called by the Holy Spirit to be members of the antitypical Isaac’s bride. They are not only found near the great fountain of truth—as represented by the well—but are on the alert to use every opportunity possible to refresh others with its sparkling waters—the exceeding great and precious promises of God which make up the Divine plan of the ages.

Upon inquiry Eliezer learned that Rebekah was indeed one of his master’s own people. Also, in addition to being glad to serve him with water, she manifested further her desire to serve through her gracious hospitality. Like Abraham, who entertained angels unawares, Rebekah, unknown to her then, urged a messenger of the Lord to take lodging with them, saying, “We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in’.

Receiving this cordial invitation, Eliezer bowed down and worshiped the Lord. How appropriate! Too often, perhaps, we think more of the means the Lord uses to bless us than we do of him. Nor did Eliezer overlook the fact that God was blessing his mission because of Abraham, and in addressing him in prayer said, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren’.

James tells us that Abraham was called a “friend of God” (James 2:23), and what a wonderful testimony Eliezer gave to the effect that God does not leave his friends destitute of mercy and truth! Quite apart from his earthly possessions, Abraham was the richest man of his day simply because God had entered into a covenant with him and had revealed to him that portion of his plan which was then due to be understood. And how rich are we today whose eyes of understanding have been opened to see and appreciate the length and breadth and height and depth of the Divine plan to bless all the families of earth, in keeping with the promise made to Abraham.

Eliezer gave Rebekah a ‘jewel for the forehead’ (Margin), and bracelets. These might symbolize spiritual blessings which all receive when they begin to respond to the influences of the Holy Spirit through the truth. Rebekah displayed enthusiasm over what was occurring, and ran to inform her family. Enthusiasm for the Lord and for the truth is another trait essential to all those who will eventually become members of the antitypical bride class.

VERSES 29-31  “And Rebekah had a brother and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man unto the well.
“And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.
“And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.”

Laban, Rebekah’s brother, displayed great interest in the one she had invited into the home. Before he confirmed his sister’s invitation, however, he seemingly made sure that Eliezer was not an impostor. He noted the jewelry he had given to Rebekah, and listened to her testimony of what the visitor had said, and was convinced.

Evidently Abraham was not the only one in his family who trusted in the true God; and it would seem also that Eliezer’s manner of expression in connection with the God of Abraham, was familiar to Rebekah and Laban, for he said to their visitor, ‘Come in, thou blessed of the Lord’.

VERSES 32-54  “And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men’s feet that were with him.
“And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on.
“And he said, I am Abraham’s servant.
“And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.
“And Sarah my master’s wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath.
“And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell:
“But thou shalt go unto my father’s house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.
“And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me.
“And he said unto me, The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father’s house:
“Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath.
“And I came this day unto the well, and said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go:
“Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;
“And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master’s son.
“And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee.
“And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also.
“And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.
“And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son.
“And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.
“Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.
“Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken.
“And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth.
“And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.
“And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master.”

Eliezer was extended every courtesy in the home of Rebekah’s people. Food was at once set before him, but for the moment he had more important things on his mind than satisfying his hunger. The Lord had blessed him so wonderfully in leading him to this home that now he wanted to settle the matter at once as to whether or not the arrangements could be consummated. This show of hospitality and desire to serve by Rebekah and Laban might quickly change when they learned the real purpose of his mission.

So, before he would eat, he insisted on telling his story. He started in by identifying himself as Abraham’s servant. It had been many years since they had seen or heard from Abraham, and when they learned that his chief servant was now under their roof, they were overjoyed and anxious for Eliezer to proceed with his story. Then he explained the real purpose of his mission, going into great detail as to the exact manner in which the Lord’s providences had guided him up to this point.

Having set the facts before the family, Eliezer put the matter right up to them as to whether or not they were willing to cooperate. In telling them the story, he stressed the thought of the Lord’s directing hand in the matter, and when Laban answered his pointed question concerning their willingness for Rebekah to accompany him back to Canaan and to Isaac, he said, ‘The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the Lord hath spoken’.

Hearing this reply, Eliezer again ‘worshipped the Lord’. Then he gave further gifts of jewelry to Rebekah, as well as clothing; bestowing gifts also on Laban and their mother. This seems to represent the additional blessings which come to the prospective members of the bride class when they come to the point of decision to walk in the narrow way; and also the blessings which come even to members of their families who cooperate with rather than oppose, those who make a consecration of their all to follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit.

VERSES 55-60  “And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.
“And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.
“And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth.
“And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.
“And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.
“And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.”

Eliezer remained but the one night in this hospitable home. He arose early the next morning, and asked that he be permitted to leave at once for the return journey. But when Rebekah’s mother and brother were faced with her actual and sudden departure, it was seemingly more of a shock to them than they had expected, for they pleaded with Eliezer that she remain with them for a while—at least ten days. The Margin indicates “a full year, or ten months.” The betrothal of a year was customary in those days. But Eliezer insisted on the importance of being on his way.

Then they said to their visitor that they would call Rebekah, and let her decide the matter. If she was willing to start right away, they would not hinder her. This was done, and when the matter was put before her, she said, ‘I will go’.

How beautifully this represents the attitude of those who become members of the antitypical bride class! It is the spirit of true and prompt consecration. Through the truth, these learn about the love of God and the love of Christ. They learn that Christ is the One “altogether lovely” (Song of Sol. 5:16), full of grace and truth. They learn of their privilege of following the leadings of the Holy Spirit and eventually reaching the heavenly Canaan to be forever with the Lord. They hear the Holy Spirit, through the truth, saying to them, “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.” (Ps. 45:10,11), and, like Rebekah, they respond, ‘I will go’.

While it was apparently the custom of the day for the family to have some say in the matter of who the daughters would marry, the final decision, apparently, was left up to them. At least it was so in the case of Rebekah. And, having made the decision favorable to Isaac, the mother and brother blessed Rebekah, and said to her: ‘Be thou the mother of thousands of millions.’ (vs. 60) This, in reality, is a prophecy. The antitypical Rebekah class, the bride of Christ, will, in association with him, be the channel of blessing through which life will come to the entire race—easily, ‘thousands of millions’!

VERSES 61-67  “And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
“And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.
“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.
“And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
“For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.
“And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.
“And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

Rebekah and her maidens—servants—made the journey to Isaac on camels. These might well represent the Word of God, or the various doctrines of his Word, which support the prospective members of the antitypical bride-to-be, as they make their journey to him. Only a wholehearted love for the Lord and a well-grounded faith in the “exceeding great and precious promises” (II Pet. 1:4) of his Word will carry us through to the end of the journey, joyful in our anticipation of being finally accepted into glory with our Beloved, the King of Glory.

In the antitype, it is not an individual who becomes the bride of Christ, but the entire church class, beginning with those accepted at Pentecost, and continuing even until now. Rebekah’s journey would, therefore, represent the journey of the church throughout the entire Gospel Age.

As Eliezer brought Rebekah safely to the end of her journey, and to the presence of Isaac at Lahai-roi, so the Holy Spirit guides the church to the end of her journey, even to the presence (the parousia) of Christ. How stimulating it is to realize that now we are in the time of his presence—that already the majority of the bride class no longer needs its camels, and that those still this side the veil have the assurance that their deliverance draweth near, and that they, too, soon will be with their Lord, the Heavenly Bridegroom, in glory!—Luke 21:28

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