Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Bride for Isaac

Today is the fourth day of week two, in our "Read the Bible Through in a Year" foray into God's goodness.  Today's scriptures are Genesis 24-25, Mark 9, and Psalm 4.

With its sixty-seven verses, Genesis 24 is a long chapter.  It tells about Abraham sending his servant (whose name, we found out in Genesis 15, is Eliezer) to find a bride for his son Isaac.  Eliezer goes to the well and prays for wisdom.  He devises a test to see who God's choice may be.

  12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

God honors this request, and when beautiful Rebekah offers to water the camels (an act of tremendous generosity, considering how much just one camel drinks), Eliezer gives thanks to God, who has shown him this sign.  He gives lavish gifts to Rebekah, and she takes him to the house of her father, Bethuel, and her brother, Laban.  There, everything that has just happened is explained, and it is evident that what has taken place is divinely ordained.  They give her the choice, and she agrees to go and marry Isaac.  Even so, in verse 55, they want to delay her departure.  Yet, Eliezer insists that they not delay him.  They load up the caravan and return to Abraham's people.  

62 Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel 65 and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

What I love in this chapter is the symbolism that soaks every word.  "Abraham" means "Father of a Multitude."  "Isaac" means "Laughter."  "Rebekah" means "Noose," or "One who is Bound."  "Eliezer" means "The God of Help."  In a kind of symbolism called typology, we can see that here, Abraham represents God the Father (Father of a Multitude), who sends Eliezer (The Helper, or the Holy Spirit) to bring "One who is Bound" to "Laughter."  

These types are carried still further when we see the jewelry Eliezer gives to Rebekah, representing the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to the church.  Rebekah is properly a member of the household of Bethuel (whose name means "Man of God," or "House of God,") and yet she really seems to be under the authority of her brother Laban.   "Laban" means "white," but refers to the whiteness of leprosy--so his name connotatively refers to one who is cursed.  We find out later what a trickster he is--he certainly is a type of Satan in this story.  Just as Rebekah has free will and can choose whether to marry Isaac, so each person who is bound by Satan has the choice whether or not to follow the Holy Spirit's leadership and become the bride of Christ.  Satan does his best to delay the believer's departure, but is ultimately unable to detain the Christian.  

This chapter has Isaac meditating in the desert, after coming from a place called "Beer Lahai-Roi," which means "Well of Living Water."  Similarly, Jesus offers us His living water, saying that all who drink of Him will never be thirsty again.

Verse 67 says that Jacob married Rebekah, and he loved her.  This was no political union.  It was a loving marriage.  So too Jesus invites you to be married to Him--to let Him love you and care for you forever.

From the pages of the Old Testament come foreshadowings of the New.  How beautiful is the Word of God, in its many layers of meaning!   I pray that when you read God's Word, that you'll look beneath the surface and explore the gold mines beneath!  It's worth the time it takes to do some studying--you never know what treasures you might find!

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