Abraham, Isaac, and the Gospel
God, in his holy word, gave us an interesting layout to this portion of the book of Genesis. The details of the previous few chapters in reference to Genesis chapter 24 can only be divinely orchestrated. In Genesis chapter 22 Abraham, the father offers up his own son as a sacrifice. In Genesis chapter 23 the bride of the father is set aside. Then we arrive at Genesis chapter 24 and the son, living after being sacrificed by the father, now has an unnamed servant seeking a bride for him.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ came unto his own, and his own received him not. Now rejected by the nation, Israel is set aside. Finally, the risen Son of God ascends to the Father in heaven as the Comforter is come to seek out the bride of Christ. Jesus tells us in John 5:39 “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” The word of God teaches us about Jesus Christ, even in its types and pictures.
Abraham’s physical status and blessings
Genesis 24:1 “And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.” In Genesis 23 we read of the death of Sarah, then Genesis chapter 24 opens with physical details about Abraham. In scripture an in life there is a relentless theme built into the human condition that eventually takes us all. In our Holy Bible God testifies often of Abraham. Particularly in Romans 4, God tells of Abraham’s unstaggering faith. Again in Hebrews 11, God testimony of Abraham eventually lists him amongst a group the Lord says he is not ashamed to be called their God.
Yet, even a man as great as Abraham will not escape death, the vapor that is his life will soon vanish. He is now old, well stricken in years and soon in the word of God we will read of his death. The wages of sin is death, though not a cheerful subject that crosses people’s minds, please take a moment to consider where you will spend eternity. Please be prepared to stand before God, washed in the blood of the Lamb.
The Promises that God made to Abraham
Genesis 24 paints the scene, a conversation is taking place between Abraham and his unnamed eldest servant. Abraham will request an oath to be made, and the foundation for the oath are promises that God made Abraham. God promised that Abraham would have children whose number would equal that of the stars of heaven. Secondly, God promised Abraham a land deed for what we know as the promised land.
As we read in chapter 24 details about Abraham seeking a proper bride for his son, I would like to point out an interesting note. When God created Adam and gave him Eve, he told them to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth. When God abated the waters of Noah’s flood, he told Noah to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth. Yet as we get to Abraham, God chose a man that could not have children with his wife, and promised him he would have children that numbered with the stars. This limitation between Abraham and Sarah was but a minor detail for the Creator of heaven and earth.
Abraham and God’s Miracles
When we consider how miraculous it is that Isaac even existed, careful examination of this fact will help us gain a proper perspective of God’s miracles. Much of the Christian life is practical, lived in obedience to the clear commands of God’s word. Yet we so often desire to see God perform something miraculous. So strong is this desire in some that many silly and awful things are done in the name of God and passed off as miracles. The unfortunate reality is that this exists because men and women that identify as Christians do not want to live by faith. But without faith, it is impossible to please God.
The truth is, in the Bible when miracles appeared they almost always had a very specific purpose. Generally speaking, it was always to accomplish some aspect of God’s will or to maintain his promises. God intends to accomplish his plans, even if it takes some miraculous act to do so. This is notable in the case of Genesis 24 for a few reasons. First, we see Abraham is participating in fulfilling the promise God made him. Second, in response to Abraham’s act of faith, God blesses by performing a miracle that would lead the servant to Rebekah. God performed a miracle in response to Abraham’s faith, this miracles ultimate end would fulfill the will of God. Isaac would find a proper wife, and God would use him, as promised, to carry on Abraham’s seed.
Why doesn’t God perform miracles for us today
This is a fair question and often asked. In response, I would first ask do I display the faith of Abraham when I expect these miracles in my life? Considering that God said Abraham was a man of unstaggering faith, that is certainly important to consider. I would also ask, are you and I so important in the big scheme of God’s plans that he will need to miraculously intervene in our lives i order to accomplish his will. Have you thought of the fact that Isaac would carry on the seed that would produce the Messiah? I would consider this fairly important in the overall picture of God’s plan. Therefore a miracle may be warranted to make certain God’s will is accomplished. Finally, when we ask for these miracles to take place, do we like Abraham and his servant, have God’s will in mind every step of the way? Abraham’s instructions and the servants’ accomplishment were all done with God’s promise in mind every step of the way. This was not some random event to find a certain man this diligent and pretty wife. This was a divine act of God meant to fulfill his own will to save sinners by making God manifest in the flesh through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Consider the verses below, they detail the mindset of Abraham and his servant as they set out to find Isaac a wife.
- Genesis 24:3 “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:
- Abraham’s request was that the servant swears by “the LORD” whom he described as the God of heaven and the God of the earth. This marriage must be the fulfillment of his will, therefore it was by the Lord that Abraham demanded the servant swear.
2. Genesis 24:7 “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.”
- Abraham’s faith concerning this matter was in the LORD God of heaven. Abraham recalls the promise that God made him as he explains to the servant the guarantee of success. God made Abraham certain promises along the way, some had miraculously come to pass, somewhere yet to be fulfilled. Abraham believed God, and as a result, the action in his life reflected that fact.
3. Genesis 24:12 “And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.”
- The faithful servant, attempting to accomplish the will of his master Abraham, and in doing so accomplishing the will of God. The servant intends to do exactly what his master asked of him, and he called upon God for help. How often do we take this type of attitude throughout our daily lives as Christians? Do you pray to God as you set out to accomplish a task? This servant understood the value of seeking God’s help, and God responded to his prayer of faith by blessing.
4. Genesis 24:21 “And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.”
- No sooner than the servant had offered up his prayer for God’s help that the Lord immediately answered him. Yet, the servant did not try to manipulate the situation. Instead, he stood by to see if the Lord had so graciously answered his prayer. Of course, the Lord did answer his exact prayer, and because of his faith and patience, the servant received the reward of watching it all unfold before his eyes.
5. Genesis 24:26 “And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD.”
- This is a very important passage for us all. Notice the man did not begin to praise himself for picking the right water whole. He did not pat himself on the back for running to the right girl. He fell on his face in the worship of the God of Abraham who just so miraculously answered his prayer.
6. Genesis 24:27 “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 the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”
- After falling on his face in physical worship. Now it is time to praise the Lord. Hebrews 13:15 says that praise is the “fruit of our lips giving thanks to God. This servant knew exactly who had prospered his way, and he freely offered up the worship, the praise and the thanksgiving that was due to the Lord.
7. Genesis 24:35 “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.”
- This chapter opens by telling us the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. The servant echoes that truth here, but notice the careful wording. The servant says that Abraham is only great in reference to the God that has blessed him. Otherwise, Abraham would just be another pagan stumbling in the darkness of Ur of the Chaldees.
8. Genesis 24:40 “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:”
- Abraham made it very clear, we will please God in this matter. The Lord before whom I walk, it is he whom I trust and I will walk in such a way to perform his will.
9. Genesis 24:42 “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:”
- This would be the prime opportunity for the servant to alter this story in such a way to deem himself the hero. Yet all the way through this passage he never ceases to give God the glory! As he gives testimony of what took place, he continues to rightfully praise God.
10. Genesis 24:44 “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.”
- The servant was not seeking the hottest girl on the block. He was not willing to abandon requirements that she is diligent and faithful. Her beauty was not a suitable exchange for a measure of lewdness or contentiousness. The servant was searching for the “woman whom the LORD hath appointed.” He was set on fulfilling God’s will, and he sought the Lord in prayer to find the right girl for Isaac.
11. Genesis 24:48 “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.”
- Keep in mind that as the servant makes this statement, the family has not agreed to allow her to go. Yet he is so confident in God at this point he does not see failure as an option. Besides, who would say “no” to a God like that?
12. Genesis 24:51 “Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master’s son’s wife, as the LORD hath spoken.”
- Notice the testimony of the servant was so compelling and God-honoring that all who heard it understood it was of the Lord. This was not manipulation, but rather a man so excited about what God had done that he gave great testimony concerning the Lord. Laban’s response, “the LORD hath spoken.”
13. Genesis 24:52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.
- As the Lord continues to bless, the servant continues to worship him. An attitude such as this would erase any resemblance of Romans chapter one from our lives. A man that glorified him as God, and was thankful. The Lord is certainly looking for such people.
We can see from this list that God not only orchestrated this meeting between the servant and Rebekah, but we also see the obedience of Abraham and his servant every step of the way. I wonder what great works God would do in our lives were we to show such faith and obedience?
The seed of the woman
In Genesis, chapter 3 man fell into sin. The result, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12). Disobedience to God’s word is costly. The question is often asked, where does death come from, God tells us that sin comes from man’s disobedience. Sin is the transgression of the law, as God, he determines what is right and wrong. Furthermore, he determines what the punishment will be for disobedience and what the reward will be for obedience. Death is a consequence of sin, eternal death is a consequence of rejecting Jesus Christ.
This all started when the first man and the first woman disobeyed God in the garden. In Genesis 3:16 God said: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The woman’s seed would eventually bruise the serpents head. Thus the preservation of a seed throughout the ages was essential in carrying out God’s plan. Therefore, in respect to this promise we now have an entire chapter in Genesis 24 dedicated to selecting the right WOMAN to carry on the seed. Isaac was the chosen son, he would receive the inheritance of the blessing given to Abraham from God. This union between Isaac and his soon to be wife was of the utmost importance.
A few notes about God’s promises
God’s promises come with responsibility. Imagine for a moment that someone bought you a car. You now own this car free and clear! That would be an incredible gift. Yet, having received this free gift, does it now come with some responsibility? Who will change the oil? Who will buy the tires? Who will pay for the gas? It is wonderful that the car has been received freely, but that gift comes with responsibility.
Though Abraham is well stricken in age, he recognizes his role and the responsibility he has in making sure the promise of God is fulfilled. This is the lineage that would someday make manifest the Messiah unto Israel and subsequently the world. Therefore it was essential that Isaac marry the correct woman, it was also just as essential that Isaac stays in the promised land. Abraham, through his obedience to God, received the blessing of God, and he fulfilled both requirements.
The promises that God made to Abraham are clearly driving his decision making in this chapter. Would you consider for a moment what role God’s promises to you play in your decision making? Do you consult the word of God on a topic? Do you seek godly counsel? Or do you just make random decisions concerning life-altering events as your flesh dictates? I would encourage you to seek good godly advice every time major decisions arise.
Abraham sent a faithful servant to seek a bride for his son
Abraham gave his servant very specific instructions, then trusted him to carry those instructions out. He understood that his servant would travel into a far country, find the right girl and then travel back all the while carrying Abraham’s goods with him. It is, of course, natural that this servant finds a girl that is herself a servant. When he discovered her, she was serving her family, and then she immediately dropped everything to then serve Abraham’s servant and his camels. According to the passage she did so until they all had their fill, she placed others before herself.
I would encourage you to abandon the self-centered philosophy of this world. Under the guise of self-esteem, they teach individuals to be self-centered and self-focused. This produces a miserable life as evidenced by American society at large. Furthermore, if you are pursuing a person that has bought into this worlds philosophy, rather than biblical realities, stop all pursuit immediately. Strong relationships are built upon the value you bring to that relationship. In a marriage, for instance, the biblical model is a wife that is submissive to her husband and a husband that loves his wife like Christ loved the church. The idea is that he is determined to serve her while leading in the relationship. She is determined to serve him while following his leadership. As one seeks continually to serve the other, great value is built making the relationship something neither wants to lose.
Of course, that is not the dominating mentality today. The husband demands the wife give him what he wants, all the while never adding any value to the relationship himself. Furthermore, women are far more career driven, abandoning the family in pursuit of her own personal glory, again not providing any real value to the relationship. The result is two people moving constantly in two different directions until all is ripped apart.
Christ loved the church and sacrificed himself for it. What would your relationships be like if you were a sacrificing friend, husband, wife, son, daughter etc? What would your life look like if everything were not about you and your wants? Jesus Christ can teach you how to live this way, will you allow him?
The Lord had blessed Abraham in all things
Genesis 24:1 “And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.” Personally, I greatly enjoy reading about how good God is. The Lord honestly recorded some terrible things about the life of Abraham. Yet, here he is well stricken in years, and greatly blessed. The Lord our God is so good to his people, even though we are not deserving of such goodness.
Did you know the Christian has this same wonderful opportunity? Studying the King James Bible is wonderful, its perfection quickly becomes clear. The phrase “all things” appears in our New Testament. 1 Peter 1:3 “ According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” The Lord has blessed us with all things that pertain to life and to godliness, but how do we obtain that blessing? We obtain that blessing “through the knowledge of him” – therefore should you invest in the knowledge of the Lord, you will be given all things that pertain to life and godliness.
This will require that you and I spend ample time in our Bibles, reading, studying and meditating upon its precepts. We cannot know the Lord apart from the word of God. The strength of our relationship with God is directly related to our relationship with the word of God. Is the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ worth your time? Then let’s show him by spending time with him through his Holy Bible.
This idea goes back to the thought we laid out about our responsibilities within the Christian life. It is only reasonable that God has some expectations of us. He saves us through the shed blood of his Son. In exchange for our faith in Christ, God gives us the righteousness of Christ. So then we now have the responsibility daily to die to self and make a valid attempt at living righteously here on earth now. This is not the time to kick up our heals and coast on to heaven, God has expectations of his redeemed people. God’s word will be fulfilled just as he said it would, that does not negate the fact that we are expected to live as though God made us promises. Works without faith are nothing more than vain religion and lead souls to hell. Yet faith without works is dead, we can like Abraham allow the decisions in our life prove that our faith lines up with our acts of faith.
Isaac needs a wife
Isaac needs a wife if he is to carry on the seed of Abraham. The woman chosen would have great consequence for the future of God’s chosen people. There were dangerous options all around. First Abraham did not want Isaac to end up with say, an Egyptian handmaid. The would only produce another wild man for this world to contend with for thousands of years. Second, Lot’s daughters were not an option. At this point not only were their minds vexed by the conversation of Sodon, but they were raising children produced by incest with their own father. Finally, the outlandish and heathen Canaanite women were not acceptable. By this time a Canaanite woman would willingly throw her child in the fire as a sacrifice to Molech or Baal.
Abraham was very specific about where Isaac’s wife should come from. This type of separation in marriage would carry over into the law of Moses and even into New Testament Christianity. In Deuteronomy 7:1-11, God said that Hebrew men were not to marry heathen women and Hebrew women were not to marry heathen men. In the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 teach us that Christians are not to be yoked together with unbelievers.
Let’s examine the idea of not being yoked together with unbelievers for a moment. For convenience sake, we often take this idea at its most basic meaning. When a man and a woman become infatuated with one another, in order to check the box of equally yoked, a testimony of salvation is squeezed out of the object of their affection. When asked if the person goes to church, participates in ministries or spends time in their Bible the unequally yoked tap dance begins. If the person you are pursuing does not go to church faithfully, as they should, and you do go to church faithfully, then you are entering into an unequally yoked relationship. This is true of any area of the Christian life that person refuses to faithfully participate in. Do not just settle for a simple testimony of salvation, look for someone that can be your proper helper in serving the Lord.
Is your intention in life is to serve Jesus Christ? Then you have a responsibility to make certain there are no areas of life in which you are unequally yoked together. This often happens when the realities of our responsibility are clouded by the excitement of meeting that beautiful new person. In your relationships, take the time to step back and evaluate whether they are godly or not. If you don’t believe yourself capable of doing so, there is safety in a multitude of councilors. Seek the advice of your Pastor, Deacons, faithful brothers and sisters in Christ etc. Do not purposely search for someone that will simply affirm the desires you have. Find godly men and women that will tell you the truth in love.
Isaac was not to leave the promised land
God promised Abraham he would be a great nation, and he was promised land in which that nation would dwell. It was essential that a wife is provided for Isaac, but he was not to leave that land to find a wife. Furthermore, he was instructed not to take a wife from the land of the Canaanites. Those people were found to be so pagan that at one point God wanted even their images destroyed. As a result Abraham would task his eldest and trusted servant to travel back to Ur of the Chaldeas and seek out a wife for his son Isaac. The servant, once again showing himself a type of the Holy Spirit, seeking out a bride for the fathers son.
At this time in the life of Isaac he was about 40 years old according to Genesis 25:20. That would make Abraham around 140 years old. In chapter 23 Isaac lost his mother, in chapter 25 he would lose his father Abraham. Yet the Lord was good in providing him with a bride to cling to in chapter 24.
Abraham’s oath with his trusted eldest servant
Genesis 24:2-4, “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.”
Abraham and his servant swore an oath unto the lord. Abraham placed much trust in this man as his servant. Not only would he send him on a far journey with a highly important task, but he would send him away with expensive goods and servants to assist him. To do such a thing would require great trust between the persons involved.
Abraham did not place this trust in his servant simply because he was eldest, but rather over the years this servant had proven himself trustworthy. We can make great application to our own lives here. Firstly, we can see the folly of ideas such as tenure in the realm of business and careers. Just because a person is eldest does not mean they are the best person for the upcoming task. Being the eldest on the job or at the job does not automatically mean that person is deserving of special treatment. These are matters of merit, not time in service. Promotions and special treatment in the work place should be based upon the work ethic and application thereof among the employees.
Secondly, many want the position, title and the prestige that comes with being selected for special tasks. Yet they do not want to spend the years necessary faithfully serving as an unnamed servant to obtain that position of recognition. Whether serving God or working for an employer, both are seeking men and women willing to faithfully and diligently perform the tasks and duties assigned them.
There is special significance to this idea in the spiritual realm. Churches are so often torn apart because to many Korah’s are sitting in the pews. Demanding they be recognized and despising the leadership that God placed in their church. rather than assuming the humble spirit of an unnamed servant, as God has asked us to do, they cause divisions among the brethren. Do not be that person in your church, my Pastor brother James Knox often reminds us what the Bible teaches in proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”
Just be patient, and serve the Lord in accord with his word. You can never go wrong if that is your authority. Do not think so highly of yourself, that you deceive yourself into believing that tearing your church apart and installing yourself as its new hero will please God. God hates them that sow discord among the brethren, again, I encourage you not to be that person.
The vulnerability of the oath
Genesis 24:2-3, “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:”
This type of oath shows up one other time in the Bible. Genesis 47:29, “And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:” Israel makes a request of Joseph his son. He asked Joseph to swear to him that he would not bury him in Egypt, but rather that he would take him back to the land that God promised him and bury him there.
We can see here a beautiful picture of the trinity so clearly taught in our New Testament. 1 John 5:7 says. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” The bible teaches that there is one God, and only one God (Isaiah 44:6, 8). This one God is comprised of the Father, the Word (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Ghost. Three persons make up the one true God.
Back in our Genesis passage, we have an unnamed servant swearing an oath of loyalty to the father. In Genesis 47 we have a son that sits on a high throne swearing his loyalty to the father. The servant is a great picture of the loyalty and work of the Holy Spirit, and Joseph is a great picture of the loyalty and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This passage in Genesis 24 is rich with applicable truths and types of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have several pages of notes that we could go through and discuss and learn from. Maybe sometime in the future we will revisit this passage. For now, my intent was to emphasize the just how important this event was, Isaac would carry on the seed of Abraham that would eventually make the Messiah manifest in the flesh. Without this taking place, God’s promises fail and it all ends here. Yet he is faithful, and true, and trustworthy. God was made manifest in the flesh, according to Hebrews 2:16, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” he then went to the cross and paid for the sins of the Lord, praise God for Jesus Christ the Righteous.
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