Genesis 24 - Isaac and Rebekah
A. Abraham's commission to his servant.
1. (1-4) Abraham sends out a servant to seek out a bride for his son.
a. The oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had is the servant named Eliezer (Genesis 15:2), or at least he was some 60 years before this. If it was someone else, the Holy Spirit didn't want us to know it!
b. According to the custom described (put your hand under my thigh), the oath is exceedingly serious. Abraham is extremely concerned that Isaac not be married to a Canaanite bride.
2. (5-9) The commission clearly defined.
a. Apparently, Abraham anticipates he might die while his servant is gone, so the instructions are made perfectly clear.
b. Isaac, the son of promise, never once left the Promised Land.
B. The servant's mission fulfilled.
1. (10-14) Eliezer's prayer to God.
a. Essentially, Eliezer is asking God to guide through providential circumstances, which is not always a bad way to discern God's will.
i. However, generally speaking, circumstances alone can be a dangerous way to discern God's will. We have a way of ignoring circumstances which speak against what we want (or attributing them to the devil), while focusing on the circumstances that speak for what we want.
ii. But in this case, Eliezer establishes what he will look for before anything happens. He isn't making up the rules as he goes along.
b. Eliezer was wise enough to ask for a sign that was remarkable, but (in human terms) possible. He didn't tempt God by asking for fire to fall from heaven or for protection as he leapt from the pinnacle of the temple.
c. In praying this prayer, there is a sense in which Eliezer "stacked the deck" against finding someone. It would take a remarkable woman to volunteer for this tedious task.
i. Considering that a camel may drink up to 20 gallons, watering ten camels meant at least an hour of hard work.
d. Eliezer cares nothing about what the woman will look like. He wants a woman of character, a woman whom God has chosen.
2. (15) God answers the servant's prayer before it was finished.
a. Isaiah 65:24 speaks of this kind of gracious answer to prayer: It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.
b. Although the servant did not yet know the prayer was answered, only time would prove it.
3. (16-21) The servant, though surprised, waits for complete confirmation of his prayer.
a. We generally regard the Bible as being given to understatement. When we read Rebekah was very beautiful to behold, we should understand Rebekah was indeed very beautiful.
b. The servant did not think it was unspiritual to introduce himself to Rebekah; yet, he certainly did not do anything to suggest she provide water for the camels. Prayer is no substitute for action.
c. As Rebekah begins the hard work of watering all the camels, the servant does not stop her. He wanted a woman who would not only say she would water the camels, but who would actually do it.
i. Perhaps Eliezer knew that for some, it is much easier to talk like a servant than to actually serve. He wanted to see if she had a servant's heart, not only a servant's talk.
4. (22-28) The servant, when the bride has been chosen, gives her rich gifts even before the marriage to the father's son.
a. Some think it gross that Rebekah would wear a nose ring, but there was certainly nothing strange, shocking, or rebellious about it in that culture.
b. Being on the way, the Lord led me: it is hard to steer a parked car. If we want to be guided by the Lord, we should be on our way.
5. (29-33) Laban entertains the servant.
a. Laban's eyes are very much on the riches the servant brings; yet, he also shows appropriate hospitality.
6. (34-49) The servant tells his story and what he is there for.
C. Rebekah is brought to Isaac.
1. (50-53) The family agrees to give Rebekah to Isaac. The father's servant gives more gifts.
a. When an agreement of marriage had been made, it was customary for the bridegroom (or his representative) to give the family of the bride gifts as a dowry to demonstrate his financial ability to provide for the bride.
2. (54-60) The servant intends to depart quickly; Rebekah agrees.
a. One of the most remarkable things about Rebekah is her total willingness to leave all to be with a bridegroom she has never seen. Her words I will go are worthy words of faith."
b. "If the world does not succeed in persuading the believer to abide in the world, it will seek to delay his exit . . . When you decide to go with the Lord, the world will applaud your devotion but will say, 'Don't rush. Abide a few days, at least ten, and then go.'" (Barnhouse)
3. (61-67) Rebekah is brought unto Isaac; they marry.
a. We can well imagine the conversations Rebekah and Eliezer would have on the journey. She would want to know all she could about Isaac, whom she loved without ever seeing, and he would be delighted to tell her.
b. Rebekah would never dream of telling Eliezer the best way to get her to the home of her bridegroom, but many of us will reject the Holy Spirit's guidance in our lives!
c. The covering with a veil signified chastity, modesty, and submission. This is how Rebekah wants to meet her bridegroom.
d. This is the first mention of Isaac since he was left on top of Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:19). We see nothing of Isaac from the time of his "resurrection" to the time he is united with his bride.
i. In all this, we see the coming together of Isaac and Rebekah as a remarkable picture of the coming together of Jesus and the church.
ii. A father, desiring a bride for his son (who has just been "dead" and "raised from the dead") sends forth a nameless servant (whose name, Eliezer, actually means "God of help" or "helper"), to get a bride for the son. The lovely bride is divinely met, chosen, and called, and then lavished with gifts. She is then entrusted to the servant, until she meets with her bridegroom. A beautiful picture of the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the work of redemption!
e. The way Isaac and Rebekah came to each other is also instructive. Neither were "dating" or any such thing. They were serving God and seeking Him (Isaac did meditate in the field), and God brought them together.
i. They obviously were more concerned with the will of God than with modern notions of romantic love.
4. Summarizing the pictures of Isaac, Rebekah, Jesus, and the Church.
a. Both Rebekah and the church:
- Were chosen for marriage before they knew it (Ephesians 1:3-4).
- Necessary for the accomplishment of God's eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:10-11).
- Destined to share in the glory of the son (John 17:22-23).
- Learn of the son through his representative.
- Must leave all with joy to be with the son.
- Are loved and cared for by the son.
b. Both Isaac and Jesus:
- Were promised before their coming.
- Finally appeared at the appointed time.
- Were conceived and born miraculously.
- Given a special name before birth.
- Offered up in sacrifice by the father.
- Brought back from the dead.
- Head of a great company to bless all people.
- Prepared a place for their bride.
- Had a ministry of prayer while the bride comes.