GENESIS - CHAPTER 24
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
Since the typical significance of this chapter is nowhere better outlined than in the Scofield Reference Bible notes, we will begin this study by quoting them in full:
“The entire chapter is highly typical: (1) Abraham, a type of a certain king who would make a marriage for his son (Mt 22:2); (2) the unnamed servant, a type of the Holy Spirit, who does not ‘speak of himself’ but takes of the things of the Bridegroom with which to win the bride (Jn 16:13-14); (3) the servant, a type of the Spirit as enriching the bride with the Bridegroom’s gifts (1 Co 12:7-11; Ga 5:22-23); (4) the servant, a type of the Spirit as bringing the bride to the meeting with the Bridegroom (Acts 13:4; 16:6-7; Ro 8:11; 1 Th 4:14-17); (5) Rebekah, a type of the Church, the ecclesia, the ‘called out’ virgin bride of Christ (Ge 24:16; 2 Co 11:2; Eph 5:25-32); (6) Isaac, a type of the Bridegroom ‘whom having not seen,” the bride loves through the testimony of the unnamed Servant (1 Pe 1:8); and (7) Isaac, a type of the Bridegroom who goes out to meet and receive His bride (Ge 24:63; 1 Th 4:14-17)”.
24:1. “And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.”
In chapter 22 Christ’s death is represented in Isaac’s figurative death, Heb 11:19 “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure”; and in the death of Sarah in chapter 23 there is the typical revelation of the setting aside of Israel during this present age of grace. The next great event in God’s program is the calling out of the Church from among the nations, to be a bride for His Son. Few will fail to see that event portrayed in chapter 24 in the calling of Rebekah to be Isaac’s bride.
The reference to Abraham’s being old would teach us something about faith, which Abraham of course represents. Faith is something that belongs to earth, and one day it will give place to sight, Heb 11:1, “Faith is the substance (ground or confidence) of things hoped for.” Like everything else of earth, it must grow old and eventually pass away. The increased age of Abraham, the representative of faith, is the typical demonstration of that truth.
Faith has been upon the earth since Adam, and is therefore, now, by human reckoning, about six thousand years old, or by divine reckoning, six days old. The imminence of the Tribulation and Millennium, which will bring earth’s history to a close, assures us that faith is indeed growing old: it has but another thousand years, or one day, to live. Then it will give place to sight.
“... and the Lord had blessed him in all things.” God always has, and always will bless faith. Without faith there can be no blessing, for “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6).
24:2. “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:”
It is clear that this “eldest servant” is a type of the Holy Spirit. (For another example of the Holy Spirit’s being portrayed by a nameless manservant, see Mk 14:13, where the man with the pitcher of water leads the disciples to the upper room). His being described as the “eldest servant” points to the eternal existence of the Holy Spirit Whom he represents. None has served longer than He because He also is God; and, with the Son, is co-eternal with the Father.
”... of his house.” The Holy Spirit serves the household of faith.
“... that ruled over all that he had.” As Abraham, the representative man of faith, had appointed this servant to rule over all he had, so should we, as men of faith, permit the Holy Spirit to have the same control over all the affairs of our lives.
“Put ... thy hand under my thigh.” It is generally accepted that this ritual was the symbolic way of declaring that if the oath were violated, the children yet unborn would avenge the breach of trust.
24:3. “And I will make thee sware 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.”
In making the servant swear by the God of heaven and earth Abraham may perhaps have been reminding him that unfaithfulness would be avenged, not only by children yet unborn, but what was of far greater consequence, by God Himself.
In describing Him as the God of both heaven and earth, Abraham may also have been reminding his servant that violation of the oath would bring divine retribution, not only in time, but also in eternity. The practical lesson God would have us learn is that the same principle applies to us: disobedience will have consequences on earth, and also at the Bema.
Since the Canaanites traffickers represent those who use Scripture only for earthly gain, the lesson being taught is that those who constitute the Bride of Christ must be men and women of faith. The spiritual “trafficker” has no place in that elect company.
“... among whom I dwell.” As faith (represented by Abraham) dwelt then among literal traffickers, so does faith today dwell amongst their spiritual counterparts: the believer lives on an earth ruled spiritually by those who are “traffickers” in divine things, for the great harlot “church” which rules over apostate Christendom, is a spiritual Canaanite, trafficking in men’s souls for her own enrichment.
24:4. “But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.”
It may seem strange that Abraham should seek a bride for his son in the place and among the people from which he himself had been called out. Why should a Chaldean woman have been any better than a Canaanite? The reason isn’t really strange, however. The Canaanite, the trafficker, represents the man who knows the truth, but who deliberately refuses to bow to it, choosing rather to use it only for worldly gain. His deliberate rejection of truth already known makes his salvation impossible, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2 Pe 2:21). All of the second chapter of second Peter should be read in this connection.
The Chaldean on the other hand seems to represent more the man who does not possess the truth. In his case there is the possibility that he may submit to the truth when he hears it. Abraham himself was an example of such a man.
Another truth being taught in Abraham’s insistence that the bride be found in his former country, and among his kindred has to do with the Church which is the Bride of Christ. Isaac’s bride must be of the same stock as himself. In relation to Christ, of Whom Isaac is a type, we read, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same” (Heb 2:14); “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11). “He took on Him the seed of Abraham ... wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren” (Heb 2:16-17). The similarity between husband and wife is used also to demonstrate the similarity between Christ and His Church. See Ephesians five.
That Isaac may be viewed as having once been in Chaldea is clear from Heb 7:7-10 where Levi is viewed as having given tithes to Melchizedek, “Levi ... paid tithes in Abraham, for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him (Abraham).” In the same way Isaac, still in the loins of Abraham, was in Chaldea when Abraham was there.
The Christ Who was once Himself on earth will have by His side for all eternity a bride who has been called out of that same earth.
24:5. “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?”
This verse emphasizes the truth that those who constitute the Bride of Christ will be in that company, not by compulsion or chance, but by choice. It also refutes the Calvinistic error that the saved have been predestinated to salvation, and the unsaved to damnation. Heaven is the predestined eternal abode of the saved, and the lake of fire is the predestined eternal abode of the unsaved, but each man chooses for himself whether to remain where the natural birth has placed him - among the unsaved, or whether, by the new birth, to place himself in the company of the saved.
24:6. “And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.”
The answer to the servant’s question was unequivocal. The use of the word again implies that Isaac had been in Chaldea before, and as already discussed, since he had never been there literally, it can only have been figuratively, when like Levi, he was in the loins of his father. The spiritual truth God would teach us in this is that Christ, having been here on the earth once to make atonement for sin, will not return to it as Savior. When He comes back it will be as God’s anointed King.
At the Rapture He will not return to the earth, but to the air, and the Church, His Bride, will rise from the earth to meet Him there. At the end of the Tribulation He will return with that Bride, but he will return as King to set up His millennial kingdom. On that occasion He will come, not to the air, but to the earth, “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives” (Zech 14:4).
Since the time of the search for Isaac’s bride represents this present age of grace, God is careful, even in the type, to preserve accuracy. Christ will not come back to earth as Savior, but as King and Judge.
24:7. “The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from 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 adamant refusal to seek Isaac’s bride anywhere but in his former country, and from among his own kin, has several things to teach us. First, there is a strong indication that God had instructed him. The outworking of faith is never based on mere human judgment, but on God’s Word. Abraham was confident as to where the bride would be found.
Second, she must be willing to walk the same path Abraham had walked, and as Isaac, in the loins of Abraham, had also walked. Abraham’s walk had begun when “the Lord God of heaven” had called him. The bride’s walk must also begin with an obedient response to the call of that same God; and what is true of Abraham and of Rebekah is true of every member of the family of faith.
“... which took me from my father’s house.” Obedience to the call of God, as it would be given by Abraham’s servant in the form of his invitation to Rebekah to follow him and become Isaac’s bride, must take her from her father’s house, as it must also take every believer out of Satan’s house, for Satan is the spiritual father of every unbeliever.
”... and from my kindred.” She too, must separate herself from her kindred, as every believer must separate himself from Adam, for “In Adam all die ... in Christ shall all be made alive” 1 Cor 15:22.
“... and which spake unto me.” She too, must be willing to listen to God, as must every believer.
“... and that sware unto me.” God had promised Abraham much, and he had believed that promise. Rebekah must believe the servant’s promise, and so must every believer.
“... unto thy seed will I give this land.” What was given Abraham became Isaac’s, and what was Isaac’s belonged also to Rebekah. The believer has the same promise. The Father has given all things to the Son, and believers are “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ” (Ro 8:17).
Isaac, in the loins of Abraham, figuratively walked the same path. As it is with every member of the household of faith, so has it been with the Son Who is Head of that house, “... Christ as a son over his own house: whose house are we” (Heb 3:6). He too, walked step by step in the same path of obedience. The path of faith never changes.
Third, Abraham’s refusal to even consider a Canaanite woman teaches us that only those who are of the household of faith can have part with Christ. The mere spiritual “trafficker” is rejected.
24:8. “And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear of this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.”
The necessity of the woman’s willingness is emphasized again. God would impress the truth that acceptance or rejection of salvation is a choice which involves man’s will.
There is continued emphasis also upon the fact that Isaac was not to be brought again into Chaldea, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands ... but into heaven itself ... nor yet that he should offer himself often ... but now once in the end of the age hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb 9:24-26). “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all .... For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:10-14). When Christ returns to earth it will be as Judge, not as Savior.
The servant’s responsibility would be fulfilled when he had delivered the invitation. It then became the responsibility of Rebekah to accept or reject that invitation. The final responsibility in regard to salvation rests with man, as does also the responsibility of the believer to submit his life to God’s control.
24:9. “And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.”
The commission would be discharged with the same punctiliousness as if Abraham himself had gone. In this we see the affinity between the Father and the Holy Spirit. They are One.
24:10. “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.”
The ass represents the body as the servant of the old nature, the wild ass portraying the body fulfilling every fleshly lust without any restraint, while the bridled ass portrays the body, still as the servant of the old nature, but with some measure of moral restraint imposed by the conventions of religion, society, etc. The camel, on the other hand, represents the body of the believer, as the servant of the new nature, and the aptness of the type is apparent when we consider the camel. It is a beast of the desert, and it is his human body that carries the believer through the desert of this world. The camel needs little in the way of food, and similar austerity marks the life of the spiritual man as far as bodily needs are concerned. It must kneel at the beginning and end of each stage of a journey to be loaded and unloaded. The spiritual believer begins and ends each task for the Master by kneeling in prayer.
When Rebekah had completed her journey across the desert she dismounted from her camel. That meeting at the end of the desert journey is a picture of the Rapture. When we meet the heavenly Isaac in the air at the end of our desert journey, we too will “dismount from the camel” - the human body will no longer be needed.
Those ten camels taken by the servant represent something connected with the believer’s body, and there being ten of them points to divine government. The spiritual lesson is easily read. The Holy Spirit works through people who have obeyed the injunction of Paul, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (spiritual worship)....” (Ro 12:1).
The servant’s mission would have been impossible without those camels, and the Holy Spirit’s mission of winning men to Christ would also be impossible (humanly speaking) without the “camels,” the yielded bodies of believers. Since ten is the number associated with God as Governor, and twelve the number associated with the governed, e.g., the twelve tribes of Israel under the government of God, the ten camels remind us that the Holy Spirit must have as His instruments those who are obedient to that government. Their being “the camels of his master” reminds us that God’s work can be done only by those who belong to Him.
“... all the goods of his master were in his hand.” All of God’s vast resources are similarly at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, and out of that limitless supply He equips each man for the work to be done, “But all things worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Co 12:11).
”... and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.” Mesopotamia, meaning exalted, is a picture of this world which has exalted itself in opposition to God. In regard to our Christian warfare, we are reminded that “... we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds: casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God....” (2 Co 10:3-5). The man of sin, the last great world ruler, is also described as the one “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God....” (2 Thes 2:4).
“... unto the city of Nahor.” Nahor means snorter, with piercer or slayer also as possible meanings, and since the full significance of his name has been discussed in our study of chapter 22:20, it need not be repeated here. He seems to be a type of Satan, the evil prince of this world, so that the servant’s going to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor is typical of the work of the Holy Spirit. He too has come to the place which has exalted itself, and which, like the city of Nahor, is ruled over by Satan, of whom Nahor is a type.
24:11. “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.”
Since the camel represents the body of the believer yielded to God, and since kneeling is the attitude of prayer, one lesson we may learn from this is that prayer must precede any service. Their kneeling down “outside the city” would teach us also that the best place for prayer is not in the midst of activity, but in the quiet place away from the world, with nothing to distract.
“... by the well of water.” The well represents the Word, and their kneeling by the well would teach us that while we must talk to God through prayer, He must be allowed to talk to us through His Word.
Another lesson is taught in connection with the time. It was “at the time of the evening.” The day was drawing to a close. The day of grace has also reached “the time of the evening.” It too is drawing to a close. There is little time left to serve the Master and win souls for Him.
It was also “the time that women go out to draw water.” The woman in Scripture symbolizes submission, and the spiritual lesson being taught here is that those submissive to God’s will, devote the evening hours, not to the world’s amusements, but to drawing up out of the well of Scripture, the water of the Word, not only for their own cleansing and refreshment, but also for that of others. There is very great need for believers to devote their evenings to this very necessary work.
24:12. “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.”
While Abraham, throughout this chapter, represents the Father; and the servant, the Holy Spirit, the literal, rather than the symbolic is emphasized in this verse, and the emphasis continues to be upon the need for prayer.
It is also significant, however, that here, and throughout the chapter, there is the repeated designation of Abraham as my master. This, combined with the fact that we can grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30) and quench Him (1 Th 5:19), is designed to teach us something about our relationship with Him. Abraham here represents the man of faith; but it is the Holy Spirit Who is cast in the role of servant. His control of our lives is governed by our wills, and that control must be voluntarily granted. He will never bypass an individual’s will in order to gain control. That spiritual activity which is accompanied by involuntary utterance, has every mark of being demonic rather than holy.
Abraham’s servant sought his master’s welfare, not his own, and this is a consistent mark of the Holy Spirit.
24:13. “Behold, I stand here by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water.”
Since this nameless servant represents not only the Holy Spirit, but also anyone who would serve God, his standing by the well of water teaches us that the Holy Spirit also “stands by the well of the Word” and works through that same Word. Only that service which is according to the written Word is acceptable to God.
In the coming of the daughters to draw water, we have the truth of verse 11 repeated: only those who are willing to submit to the Word are candidates for salvation if they are sinners, and for service if they are saints.
24:14. “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 showed kindness unto my master.”
The bride was to be identified by her fulfillment of every suggestion made to God by the servant. God’s complete agreement with the servant’s suggestion was demonstrated by the fact that Rebekah fulfilled every requirement. This is an illustration of the perfect harmony existing between the members of the Godhead. It is to be noted also that what Rebekah did was of her own volition. So is it with regard to sinner and saint alike. The former is free to accept or reject the Savior; the latter, to obey or disobey his Lord.
The servant’s suggestion of the method, rather than God’s dictation of it, reveals that the Holy Spirit is free to act sovereignly, ordering circumstances as he may choose. It would teach also that what many mistake for predestination is instead divine foreknowledge. God foreknew what Rebekah would do, but in no way did He compel her response. It is the same in regard to both salvation and service. As noted already, the sinner, by an act of his own free will accepts or rejects the Gospel; the saint, by an act of his own free will, obeys or disobeys the Lord.
It is necessary to pause here to note that the place in the narrative which typifies Rebekah’s conversion is 24:58 when, in response to the question, “Wilt thou go with this man?” she replied, “I will go.” In all that precedes that avowal she is to be viewed as one whose salvation is foreknown to God, but who has not yet become a believer. Her obedience prior to that confession reminds us that the sinner who would be saved must yield obedience to the striving of the Holy Spirit.
It is instructive to note that her first act was to obey the servant’s request. Her obedience enabled him to drink and thus refresh himself. Since he represents the Holy Spirit, this would speak of the refreshment or pleasure God derives from the first obedient step taken by the sinner. As noted already, the camels represent believers, so that her giving them water also, declares the truth that those who would be saved must have a right attitude towards God’s servants. The normal attitude of the natural man is to hate them, but acceptance of God’s Word in the Gospel requires also acceptance of His servants who bring it.
”... let the same be she that thou hast appointed for ... Isaac.” As Rebekah, by meeting the servant’s conditions, revealed herself to be indeed the bride for Isaac, so do sinners, by meeting God’s conditions, make themselves members of that mystical body which is the bride of Christ.
“... for thy servant Isaac.” The reference to Isaac as Thy servant reminds us that he is but a type of God’s perfect Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son for Whom the Father also sought a bride.
24:15. “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.”
Regarding Israel it is written, “Before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isa 65:24). Of Daniel it is written, “... from the first day that thou didst set thy heart to understand ... thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words (lit., in answer to thy prayer) ... but the prince of Persia withstood me twenty-one days ....” (Da 10:12-13). The answer was sent on the first day that Daniel prayed, though under God’s permissive will its arrival was delayed. From this we learn of the speed with which God answers the earnest prayers of His own. Under His permissive will the answer may be delayed in coming, and that may be to teach us patience, but we should never doubt that our prayers are heard. “Before he had done speaking ... Rebekah came out.”
As has been discussed in our study of 22:20, Milcah and Nahor seem to represent the spiritual “parents” of the nations, Nahor being a type of Satan; and Milcah, of false religion. Their son Bethuel has three meanings dweller in God: point ye out God; wasting of God. Since Beth means house, and El is one of the names of God, the first meaning dweller in God would seem to be the more exact. If this is so, then this father of Rebekah represents a believer, for every believer is of similar evil stock: before conversion our spiritual parents were Satan and some form of false religion. Rebekah therefore, was a daughter of faith. Her name means tying, and is particularly appropriate for one who became tied to Isaac in marriage, as every believer is “tied” to the heavenly Isaac.
Having regard to the fact that Bethuel was the father of Rebekah, who is a type of the Church; plus the fact that he was the eighth son of Nahor and Milcah, and eight is the Biblical number of a new beginning, he may perhaps represent that small number from among the nations who are saved, and who, as His witnesses, “point out God” to others. As Rebekah came from Bethuel, so does the Church come from those among the nations who trust in Christ during this present age of grace; and as was suggested earlier, this family group may be a type of the nations during this present age.
”... with her pitcher on her shoulder.” While the camel represents the believer’s earthly body (as servant to the new nature) in which he crosses the desert of this world on his way home to heaven, the pitcher appears to represent the body as a receptacle, for at conversion the believer is filled with the water of life, “... the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn 4:14). What the believer is as a new creature in Christ is portrayed in Rebekah the woman. What he is in his natural body is represented in the pitcher. Until death or the Rapture, the believer and his earthly body go together, just as here Rebekah and her pitcher went together. As the literal pitcher had to be constantly replenished, so is the believer to be also constantly replenished with the water of the Word, for he is simply the channel by which that water is poured out to sinners in the Gospel, and to saints in ministry.
Bethuel and Rebekah’s evil parentage confirms, rather than invalidates the view suggested, for every believer is of similar evil stock. Rebekah therefore, was a daughter of faith.
There is instruction also in the fact that the pitcher was upon her shoulder, for the shoulder is the Biblical symbol of strength and security. Like the recovered lost sheep in Lk 15:5, the believer rests on the shoulder of the Good Shepherd, and the impossibility of his ever being dislodged from that secure place is announced in Jn 10:27-30 “My sheep hear my voice ... and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand ... and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”
24:16. “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.”
Rebekah’s physical beauty symbolizes the believer’s spiritual state. As it is with the Church so is it also with each of those who comprise that mystical spiritual bride. As it is written, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it ... that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). God sees us as we are in Christ.
Her being a virgin points also to her being a picture of the Church, for Paul in 2 Co 11:2 reminds the believers, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
“... and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher.” The practical lesson being taught in this is that the “pitcher” must be regularly filled. Just as the women went to the wells daily to fill their pitchers with water, so must the believer go daily to the well of the Word.
”... and came up.” The pitcher was only a vessel in which the water was carried from the well to where it was needed. The spiritual analogy is easily drawn: through our eyes and ears and minds we take in the “water” and fill the “pitcher.” With our mouths, and with our hands (in writing) we empty the pitcher and dispense the water.
24:17. “And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.”
In the servant’s running, we learn that God’s business is urgent. There may be no tomorrow in which to minister the Word either to saint or sinner. We or they, or all of us could have gone from time into eternity. Every servant does well who conducts the Master’s business with a sense of urgency.
There was no way that Rebekah could have known that the whole course of her future life was to hinge on her reply to the servant’s request; and in the same way the fate of a man’s soul may depend on the response he gives to the word spoken by one of the Lord’s messengers today. There are multitudes in hell because their response to God’s invitation was to scorn or mock His messengers when they presented the Gospel.
As noted already, however, the moment of her conversion appears to have been when she responded affirmatively to the question of whether she would go with the servant to become Isaac’s bride (v. 58), all that preceded that moment being symbolically true of one foreknown, but not yet become a believer. So is it here, and what is being portrayed is the call, not of a sinner to salvation, but of a saint to service. That is why she is seen giving the water rather than receiving it. Nor should we miss the significance of its being the servant who was given the water first, for, as noted already, he is a type of God the Holy Spirit, so that typically she gave to God. But the water is a type of Christ the living Word, so that what we are being shown here is the presentation of Christ to God. It is a picture of worship, and the lesson God would teach us is that worship comes before service. We come in on the first day of the week to worship, and then go out to serve.
We should note further that she had already filled the pitcher, and that involved effort. It is folly to believe that we will have anything to offer the Father in worship if we haven’t been “filling the pitcher” during the week, i.e., filling our minds with the Word of God.
A further lesson is to be learnt from the servant’s asking for the water. God desires above all else to have us come into His presence with worship, as the Lord Himself declared to the Samaritan woman, “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn 4:23).
24:18. “And she said, Drink, my lord; and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.”
The haste with which she responded indicates the willingness with which she obeyed his request, and would remind us of the need to render the same willing obedience to every request made of us.
24:19. “And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.”
Only after she had given him water did she draw for the camels, they, as noted already, being types of believers; and the typological lesson continues to be: first worship, then service. But we have here also a demonstration of the proper order of our service. It is to be first to God, then to believers, and then to the unconverted, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Ga 6:10).
24:20. “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.”
The words hasted and ran continue to emphasize not only the thought of urgency, but also of the zeal with which she rendered her service, reminding us of what is written, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ec 9:10), and again, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24).
The magnitude of her task tends to be overlooked among the other details of the story. A camel can drink several gallons of water at one time, and to draw enough to satisfy ten of them must have required many trips between the well and the trough, and verse 16 indicates that the well lay at the bottom of a set of steps. All of this speaks of a willing, wholehearted service that didn’t stop to count the cost. And it was an undiscriminating service: she drew water, not just for some of the camels, but for all of them. Nor was it with her as it so often is with us: a service that begins with much zeal, and then quickly peters out. She didn’t stop until all of them had done drinking.
24:21. “And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.”
Since all that he had prayed for in verse 14 had been granted, the question may well be asked, What more was required to convince him that Rebekah was indeed the woman who would become Isaac’s bride? All that God could do had been done, but one thing was still lacking: Rebekah must be willing to leave country and kindred, and follow the servant to Isaac’s home.
Whether we apply this to a sinner being called through the Gospel, or to a saint being called to full commitment in service, the lesson God would have us learn is that the individual’s will is involved. There is neither compulsion nor predestination in regard to either salvation or service. The individual must exercise his will and make a choice. The prosperity of the servant’s journey depended on whether Rebekah would choose to follow him.
But we remember that another condition must be met: she must be of Abraham’s kindred, that is, of the same blood line. In this we learn the necessity of the new birth. Her work in drawing the water was not in itself sufficient qualification to be Isaac’s bride. It is the new birth alone that makes us members of the body of Christ. Good works ought to accompany the new life, but they are not the source of that life.
24:22. “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;”
The ear is the channel through which we hear God’s voice, and gold is the symbol of glory, while a ring, having neither beginning nor ending, speaks of that which is eternal, so that Rebekah’s being given this golden earring declares symbolically that there is eternal glory for all who hear God’s voice and obey His commands.
Its being half a shekel in weight has also its lesson, for a half in Scripture always speaks of the incompleteness associated with an earthly state, while pointing at the same time to eternity when the other half will be added, either of good or ill. For the unbeliever, the toil of earth which ends with physical death will be followed in eternity by the other half: the second death, and torment which is eternal. For the believer, the earthly recompense of obedience is the peace of God which passeth understanding, but in eternity there will be added the other half: an eternal reward the magnitude of which is beyond the grasp of the finite mind (1 Co 2:9).
The golden bracelets for her hands have also their lesson. A bracelet is simply an enlarged ring, so that the same spiritual significance attaches to both. The hand however, is the Biblical symbol of service, so that the lesson of the bracelets for her hands is that Spirit-directed service, faithfully performed, will also bring, not only satisfaction and peace here on earth, but an eternal reward in heaven.
It is unclear whether the ten shekels was the weight of each bracelet or the combined weight, and it isn’t important. Ten is the Biblical number of God’s government, as twelve is the number of those under that government, so that the lesson being taught in the weight of the bracelets is that the only service which will prove worthy of eternal reward will be that which is rendered according to God’s Word, and not, as is all too often the case, what is rendered according to self-willed human caprice.
We should note also that the gifts were given only after the camels had done drinking. The lesson isn’t difficult to read. It isn’t here on earth that we are to be looking for the recompense of service. The rewards will be given at the Bema, when the work is done and we’re home in heaven.
A further lesson to be learnt is that her faithfulness in doing the menial work of drawing water for the camels was that which led to great promotion: she would become Isaac’s bride, and mistress over all his house - a very great honor, for Isaac was a very wealthy, powerful man. No spiritual mind will fail to see in this a figure of the glory awaiting those who comprise the Church which is the bride of the true Isaac.
The practical lesson, however, shouldn’t be missed, for Rebekah’s experience is simply the demonstration of the truth that only as we are faithful in small things will we be entrusted with the care of greater, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Lk 16:10-11). Many a believer has denied himself spiritual promotion by disdaining as beneath his dignity the work assigned him by the Lord. He who refuses to “draw water for the camels,” however, need not look for what he deems “more honorable” service.” It will not be given him. What marks the believer to whom God entrusts increasingly important service is an ear adorned with the golden earring (an obedient heart), and hands encircled with the golden bracelets (service rendered according to God’s Word and as directed by the Holy Spirit).
24:23. “And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?”
In view of the fact that Rebekah had fulfilled all the conditions set by the servant when he prayed in verses 12-14, it would seem that his question was not whether Rebekah was of Abraham’s family, but rather, which specific branch of that family.
His question as to whether there was room in the house for him and his entourage has a deeper spiritual significance than is conveyed by the literal language. Remembering that he represents the Holy Spirit, the question then becomes whether there was room in the house for Him. To have no room for the Holy Spirit is to have no room for Christ, and therefore to have no part with Him.
24:24. “And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.”
As we have noted in our study of verse 15, and of 22:20, Bethuel appears to represent one who is a believer; and since daughters speak of the spiritual fruit that results from submission of the believer’s will to the divine will, Rebekah, as Bethuel’s daughter, has also something to teach us. She represents the extension of Bethuel’s own life, so that in her union with Isaac, Bethuel himself, in figure, was also joined to Isaac. Submission to God’s will always produces the same result: it brings the believer into a closer relationship with Christ.
Since the spiritual significance of Nahor and Milcah has already been discussed in our study of verse 15 and 22:20, it needn’t been repeated here.
24:25. “She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.”
The straw was for the camels to rest on, and the provender was for them to eat, and there was ample room and provision for the whole company. When we remember the meaning of Bethuel’s name dweller in God, the spiritual lesson is easily read. There is always rest and refreshment for God’s people in the house of the man who is a dweller in God.
24:26. “And the man bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord.”
His is an example we should follow. He gave thanks for the Lord’s guidance and provision. Too often our only communication with God is to present selfish petitions or complaints. In Php 4:16 the command is given, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Even a casual survey of God’s dealings with us will reveal that we have very much to be thankful for.
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 in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”
Another rendering of “I being in the way” is “I being in the way of obedience and faith.” The man who walks the path of obedience and faith will never lack divine guidance. It is folly to expect that guidance however, when we choose to walk in faithless disobedience.
Like the One he represents, the servant doesn’t speak of himself, but of the one who had sent him. His master’s welfare and business were his primary concern. It was so when the Lord Jesus Christ represented the Father here on earth; and it is so now that His place has been taken by the Holy Spirit, for that same divine Servant speaks not of himself, but of the One He represents. (We should note incidentally that a verse often used, erroneously, to support this attitude of the Holy Spirit is Jn 16:13, “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” The words “He shall not speak of himself” refer to the authority by which the Holy Spirit speaks. Better translations are “He shall not speak of his own accord,” or “on His own initiative,” or “He will not speak on His own authority”).
24:28. “And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother’s house these things.”
As has been discussed in our study of chapter 22 verse 20, Milcah seems to represent the great false world church. It is significant therefore, that it isn’t said that Rebekah told her mother, but rather that she told them of her mother’s house. There are true believers even in the midst of the harlot church, and God’s command to them is “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Re 18:4).
24:29. “And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.”
I regret that I am unable to see clearly what Laban represents here, for he proves eventually to be the representative of evil inasmuch as he was the oppressor of Jacob, the son of Isaac and Rebekah. His name means white, which is of course the color of righteousness, but, considering his character, it can only be the self-righteousness of mere morality. The key may perhaps lie in realizing, that as frequently in Scripture, he may be a double type. We have noted already that his father Bethuel is a type of the believing man, so that as Bethuel’s son, Laban would represent the activity of Bethuel’s will, just as Rebekah portrays the submission of his will. Laban the man, however, apart from his relationship to Bethuel and Rebekah, is clearly a type of evil. He seems, in fact, to portray mere self-righteous religious morality.
“Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.” He too was attracted to Abraham’s servant, but it seems clear that his interest was governed by cupidity. This is always the character of the mere religious morality which he seems to represent: its service to righteousness is yielded, not out of love for Christ, but in hope of gain. The man expects to earn admission to heaven on the basis of his good living. Rebekah’s service was disinterested. She was concerned only for the comfort of the travellers. We might note also that Laban went out “unto the well,” but unlike Rebekah, he drew no water. The mere religious moralist’s interest in the Word of God is at best superficial.
24:30. “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.”
The more Scripture is studied the more the reader must become convinced of its divine authorship. As well as the bracelets, Rebekah had received also an earring, yet notice how the divine Penman has recorded how Laban saw things: “he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands.” There is no mention of the ear, only of the hands which are the symbols of service or work. The unconverted moralist is blind to everything except works. Laban’s offer of hospitality seems to have been prompted by hope of gain, as is all that the unconverted moralist does in the name of Christian service.
Unquestionably there was conversation between Laban and Abraham’s servant, but it is of further significance that there is no record of any such conversation, except the word of rebuke in verse 56, “Hinder me not....” Laban was impelled by what had been spoken to Rebekah. It is the same with the mere moralist: he seizes hopefully upon what God has addressed to the true believer, and seeks to apply it to himself.
“He (the servant) stood by the camels at the well.” In this we have a picture of God’s relationship with the believer. The man was standing. Sitting is indicative of rest; standing, of service. The Holy Spirit “stands” tirelessly serving those who belong to Christ. The camels, presumably resting “at the well,” represent, as already noted, believers resting around the Word, with the Holy Spirit “standing by” in ceaseless service. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is through the written Word.
24:31. “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’s effusive offer of hospitality is typical of the works of the unconverted moralist. There is much outward show, but the heart isn’t in it, because the heart isn’t right with God. The motive is wrong. His service, instead of being the grateful expression of gratitude for God’s gift of eternal life, is his own vain attempt to purchase that life by good works.
His question reflects the lack in the life of the self-righteous man, “Wherefore standest thou without?” For all his morality, he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, for He can’t enter the life where works occupy the place that belongs only to faith.
There is no question as to there being room in the house for Abraham’s servant, but it is significant that the statement of Scripture is, “I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.” The omission which places the emphasis upon there being room for the camels, without mention also of there being room for the servant, paints a clear picture of the mere moralist’s spiritual state. There are works (righteousness according to man’s standard), and even ministry to believers; but the essential thing lacking is that there is no room for Christ. He is made to stand outside. The place that belongs to Him has been given to works.
There is need for care on the part of the genuine believer that he too doesn’t become so occupied with service that there is no room in his life for communion with the Lord Jesus Christ.
24:32. “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.”
It has been taught that Bethuel may have been dead at this time (see Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary), but verse 50 leaves no doubt that he was still alive. This indicates, then, that the house into which they entered was Bethuel’s, not Laban’s, and this is significant, for it is in harmony with the truth that the Holy Spirit lodges only in the “house” (life) of the believer.
It was Laban who ungirded the camels, and though it was he who set the straw and provender before them, it was Bethuel who furnished those supplies. God may sometimes use the unconverted as instruments to bring His provision to His own, but only faith can minister to faith.
Laban also set before them water to wash their feet, but it isn’t said that he himself did the washing. Rebekah not only drew the water for the servant and the camels: she also poured it for them. God is careful, even in the type, to emphasize that there is a difference between faith and mere morality.
24:33. “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.”
The servant would give no consideration to his own needs until he had completed his master’s business. The practical lesson God would have us learn from this is that His business is to have the same priority with us. This is not the time for eating and drinking and resting or making merry. This is the day of service when we should be impelled by the same zeal that led the Lord to ask His parents, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Lk 2:49).
24:34. “And he said, I am Abraham’s servant.”
He would immediately dispel any misconceptions they might have had about him. The riches weren’t his. They belonged to his master, and he was careful to ensure right from the beginning that his master should receive all the glory. Paul, another faithful servant, was likewise careful to ensure that his Master received all the glory when he asked, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers (servants).... I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Co 3:5-6).
Christians are all too prone to set the servant on a pedestal, forgetting - and sometimes causing the servant to forget - that his gift has been given by God, and is to be used only for His glory.
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.”
In the present context, of course, Abraham, seeking a bride for Isaac, is a type of God the Father seeking a bride for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that Abraham’s riches typify the wealth of God the Father.
Since we have already discussed in our study of chapter 13 the spiritual significance of the things that constituted Abraham’s wealth, we needn’t elaborate further here, except to note that there they represent his possessions as a spiritual believer, but here, the riches of the Father. Cattle were first on the list in chapter 13 because the emphasis there was upon the value of his worship; but here the list begins with the flocks (sheep and goats) because here Abraham portrays the Father, Who Himself provided “the Lamb” and “the Goat,” the Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect Burnt and Sin Offering.
The menservants represent the activity of the will; and the maidservants, the submission of the will, in the service of God. The camel, as has been noted already, represents the believer’s body for the service of the new nature; while the ass represents the body as the servant of the old nature. Here clearly the asses were domesticated rather than wild, so that the picture is of the body kept in subjection, and no longer allowed to serve the lusts of the old nature, as Paul writes in 1 Co 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection....” The typical picture is of everything under God’s control, and rendering Him service.
24:36. “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.”
Israel is referred to in Scripture as the wife of Jehovah, e.g., Isa 54:5 “For thy Maker is thy Husband; the Lord of hosts is His name.” Sarah, therefore, the wife who bore the heir to Abraham’s wealth, is a type of Israel, from which, humanly speaking, came Christ, God’s Son and Heir. As Sarah produced Isaac when she was old, so has it been also with Israel. It was when the nation was old that Israel produced Christ as the Lamb of God Who must die to make atonement for sin; and she will be still older when she produces Him again as the Lion of Judah to rule the world for God’s glory in the Millennium.
“... and unto him hath he given all that he hath.” As it was with Abraham and Isaac, so is it also with the Father and the Son, as the Lord Himself declared, “All that the Father hath is Mine” (Jn 16:15).
24:37. “And my master made me sware, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell.”
If verses 37-41 were an exact repetition of verses 2-8 there would be no need to repeat what has already been discussed, but there are slight differences which will repay examination. In verse 3 the Canaanites are described as those “among whom I dwell,” but here it is, “in whose land I dwell.” Land is missing from the list of Abraham’s wealth in verse 35, but though the Canaanite was then in possession, that land had been promised to Abraham, and to Isaac; but when the bride was being sought the land was still in the possession of the enemy. During this age of grace when the bride of the heavenly Isaac is being called, the “land” is still in the hand of the enemy, but as Canaan will one day be possessed by Isaac through his posterity in the Millennium, so will this world become the possession of Christ and His bride the Church.
24:38. “But thou shalt go unto my father’s house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.”
In verse 4 it is “thou shalt go unto my country and kindred,” but here it is “unto my father’s house and kindred.” There are many differences between country and a father’s house. Connected with country is the thought of citizenship only; but the father’s house evokes the thought of kinship and love. The bride is to be more than just a citizen of Abraham’s country: she is to be of his kin, of his father’s house. The Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth and assumed humanity in everything except sin, in order that He might lift us up and make us fit to be partakers of His nature. Those who comprise His bride will stand in heaven, not as mere citizens, but as those whom the Lord calls “My brethren.” We will be there as sons and daughters in the Father’s house.
In verse 4 it is, “and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” Here it is, “and take a wife unto my son.” When it was a matter of instructing the servant, there may have been need to emphasize that the bride was to be for Isaac rather than for Ishmael; but when it is a matter of inviting the bride, there is no thought of anyone except Isaac.
In Job 1:6 we read that, “the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord,” and in Job 38:7 we read that, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” It is clear that whatever these may be who are referred to as “sons of God” they are of an order inferior to Christ. He only is God’s Son, and we who comprise the bride recognize that while inferior orders may be designated “sons of God,” God has only one Son. No one even thinks of anyone else except the Lord Jesus Christ when the term “the Son,” or “the Son of God” is used. He is preeminent, and it is upon Him that the Holy Spirit would have us focus all our attention.
24:39. “And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me.”
In verse 5 it is “peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land.” Rebekah wasn’t being invited to go to a better land: she was being invited to go to a person, Isaac. Her willingness to follow the servant would certainly take her to a better land, Canaan, but surely no one would ever make the mistake of thinking that it was that prospect which induced her to undertake the journey. We, however, do sometimes tend to be occupied more with the prospect of seeing heaven than of seeing Him. The proper thought has been captured in the words of the hymn:
The bride eyes not her garment, But her dear Bridegroom’s face:
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace -
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand:
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.
In the original conversation between Abraham and the servant it was stressed that under no circumstances was Isaac to be brought unto the land from which Abraham had come, but this is omitted from the servant’s report of that conversation, and we may learn something from this. Nothing would have been gained by derogatory implication concerning the land in which Rebekah and her family lived, and we should remember this when trying to win men to Christ. Disparagement of a man’s religion or church only makes him more defensive of them.
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.”
In verse 7 there is no mention of Abraham’s walk. All the emphasis is upon what God had done, but here attention is focused upon Abraham’s manner of life. It was marked by an obedience that had begun when he first obeyed God’s call to do what Rebekah must also do if she would be Isaac’s bride: she must leave country, kindred, and father’s house (Ge 12:1), and so must all who would become members of that mystical body which is the bride of Christ. Abraham’s obedient life left no doubt that God would prosper the servant’s journey. He who would enjoy similar blessing must yield the same obedience.
24:41. “Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred: and if they give not thee one, then shalt thou be clear from my oath.”
In verse 8 the condition was “and if the woman will not be willing to follow thee.” It involved only Rebekah’s will, but here the will or permission of her kindred, i.e., of Bethuel her father, as head of the family, plays a part. Bethuel we have seen to be a believer, so that his son Laban represents the activity of his will; and his daughter Rebekah, the passivity of his will. His willingness to allow Rebekah to go with Abraham’s servant (type of the Holy Spirit), speaks therefore, of the obedience of faith that would have the Holy Spirit control, not only the activity of the life, but the passivity also, for it must be kept in mind that until the moment she became Isaac’s bride, Rebekah was Bethuel’s daughter, and therefore the symbolic representative of the passivity of his will. (At the moment she becomes Isaac’s bride, however, the symbolic picture changes, for then she becomes the symbolic representative of the believer’s new life).
It might be well to take a moment here to consider something about the passivity of the believer’s will. Unlike the activity of the will, which expresses itself in action, the passivity is that part which bows to the will of God, accepting not only His direction, but also His testings, resting in the assurance that “All things (even seeming misfortune) work together for good to them that love God” (Ro 8:28).
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,”
Emphasis continues to be laid upon the fact that God’s guidance and the “well” of the Word can’t be separated. In the original prayer in verse 12 the emphasis was upon his desire for a speedy answer to his quest, but here it is upon his desire for God to show that the long road he had travelled had been the right one. We do well to remember that the journey of life also has an end. The wise man’s prayer will be that it too may prove to have been the right one. Paul gave expression to this desire when he wrote to the Corinthians, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Co 9:27). His fear wasn’t that his soul would be lost, but that the work of his life might prove to be worthless. Only what’s done by the Holy Spirit’s direction has value in God’s sight.
It is to be noted also that he described the way as “my way which I go.” The Holy Spirit’s control is not apart from the individual’s will. For every man, the way he goes is the way he has chosen to go, either in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading, or in self-will, for the Spirit will not overrule the individual’s will to compel obedience.
24:43. “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.”
If we miss the lesson that the Holy Spirit’s guidance is by means of the Word, it will not be because God has failed to provide repeated instruction, for this is the second time we read of the servant’s standing “by the well of water.”
In verses 13 and 14 he had spoken of “the daughters of the men of the city,” and of “the damsel,” but now he is more specific: he says “when the virgin cometh forth.” She who would be Isaac’s bride would enter into that relationship in purity, and not with the taint of having been the paramour of another. This portrays the state of the believer as a new creation, standing before God in all the unsullied righteousness of Christ. And as is each individual believer, so also is the Church, the bride of the heavenly Isaac, as we read in Eph 5:25-27 “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” and again in Re 19:8 “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
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 for my master’s son.”
In verse 14 he had described her as the woman appointed for “Thy servant Isaac,” but here she is spoken of as the one appointed for “my master’s son.” When seeking direction from God there was no need to mention Isaac’s relationship to Abraham: God was aware of it. But when it was a matter of describing Isaac to the family of the future bride, the servant was careful to remind them that Rebekah’s future husband was the son, and therefore heir, of the rich and powerful master described in verse 35. Those whom the Holy Spirit is now seeking to be members of that mystical body which is the bride of Christ, are being invited to join themselves to Him Who is the Son of God, and Who Himself assured His own, “All things that the Father hath are mine” (Jn 16:15).
24:45. “And before I had done speaking in my 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.”
In verse 15 God describes Rebekah’s lineage, and in verse 24 she herself describes it, but in relating what had happened at that first meeting with her, the servant omits any reference to her family line. Certainly it was unnecessary: they knew well enough, but God is here presenting us with a picture of spiritual order. First, He knows our pedigree all too well. This is the lesson of verse 15. But we must be led to confess it. This is the lesson of verse 24. (The Israelite’s offering of Firstfruits was always to be accompanied by the confession, A Syrian ready to perish was my father - Dt 26:5, that confession being the symbolic annunciation of the principle that confession of a sinful state, a bad lineage, must precede conversion).
With that confession given, however, that old pedigree is forgotten as far as God is concerned. He sees us as a new creation whose lineage begins with Christ, not condemned Adam.
24:46. “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.”
24:47. “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.”
In verses 15 and 24 the order of her lineage is Bethuel, Milcah and Nahor, but here in verse 47 it is Nahor instead of Milcah who is mentioned immediately after Bethuel.
Since God doesn’t prepare His lists capriciously, there must be good reason for the change. Keeping in mind that Nahor represents Satan; Milcah, the great false church; Bethuel, a believer; and Rebekah (in her role as his daughter), submissiveness, one lesson we may learn is that faith should grow in knowledge. The unfolding story of Rebekah’s experience represents also the passage of time. At the beginning of our Christian life, our knowledge is limited, and we are more aware of the evil of the system (portrayed by Milcah) from which we have been delivered, than we are of the fact that that system is but the instrument of Satan, the source of everything evil. It is only as our knowledge grows that we come to realize that behind every evil system lurks the great antagonist, Satan.
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.”
24:49. “And now if ye will deal kindly with my master, tell me, and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.”
It was Laban and Bethuel who answered, indicating that the servant’s question had been addressed to them. Since, as noted already, Bethuel represents the believer; and Laban, as his son, the righteousness that results from the obedient activity of the believer’s will, the spiritual lesson would seem to be that whether we deal well or ill with God depends on whether we are willing to yield to the Holy Spirit the submission which Rebekah represents.
“... that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.” This implies that he would continue his search should they be unwilling to give Rebekah, or should she be unwilling to go with him.
From chapter 22:20-24 we learn that there were others in this branch of Abraham’s family, Bethuel being Nahor’s eighth child, so it may be presumed that there others besides Rebekah, who might have become Isaac’s bride, and in this God would teach us that we rob ourselves when we refuse to yield obedience to His Holy Spirit. There are others who will yield that obedience, and in doing so, be enriched by what we, in our folly, forfeit through disobedience. It is just such disobedience against which we are warned in Re 3:11, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
In the servant’s inability to compel obedience from any of those involved, we are being reminded that though the Holy Spirit could, He will not compel the obedience of either saint or sinner.
As Isaac’s bride, Rebekah would be elevated to a position of honor, fame, wealth, and glory. The refusal of Laban and Bethuel, or of Rebekah herself, would therefore have returned her to the obscurity that had been hers until that moment when she met Abraham’s servant, and another would have been found to accept what was being offered her.
It is instructive that their consent was given when there was nothing more than the word of the servant to justify their faith. It is the same with us during our lives here on earth. We are called to yield obedience to God, with nothing more than the promises of Scripture as the foundation for our faith. But faith believes that the journey will end for us as it did for Rebekah. For her it was the meeting with Isaac at the end of the long desert journey. For us it will be the meeting with Christ at the end of the long journey through the desert of this world.
24:50. “Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.”
The mention of Laban here before his father Bethuel is unusual, and is undoubtedly meant to teach us something. Its significance will perhaps be better understood if we stop to look at an unusual circumstance related to Bethuel’s wife. Her name isn’t given, and were it not for the brief statement in verse 53, it might be concluded that she was dead. This nameless woman seems to have had much in common with Lot’s wife, in connection with whom the reader is referred to the comments on chapter 22.
Since the wife represents the expression of the man’s spiritual life, the paucity of detail regarding her would seem to indicate that as it had been with Lot, so was it also with Bethuel. The meanings of his name, and the fact that he was the eighth of Nahor’s children, present him as a believer, but there appears to have been little in his life to advertise that fact. Further confirmation of this is found in the fact that the activity of his will produced what his son Laban represents - a righteousness that was more the result of mere conformity to a moral code than to an active obedience impelled by love for God. The character of his spiritual life is easily read in what is recorded of his family. His wife, is only mentioned briefly, and plays no active roll, indicating symbolically that spiritual things may have had an equally small place in Bethuel’s life. Rebekah, as his daughter, represents the passivity of his will, and her prominent place in the narrative points to a mere passivity of his will which would refrain from evil, but would not actively seek to do good. Laban whiteness represents mere moral righteousness, and, as Bethuel’s son, represents also what was produced by the activity of his will. Laban’s prominent place in the narrative, and his being placed here in this verse before his father, appears to confirm that the pursuit of mere morality, rather the positive doing of good, may have been the predominant feature of Bethuel’s active will.
There is no record of either consent or dissent from her mother in regard to Rebekah’s going, and in the expression of consent given by her brother and father, passivity, rather than activity of the will seems to be emphasized, “the thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.” God’s ideal is that activity and passivity of the will should be in equal measure in our lives, but we rarely achieve the ideal. The blessing, however, that followed Laban’s and Bethuel’s consent to Rebekah’s departure would teach us that God will honor the faith that yields even passive submission to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
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.”
Since Rebekah, as Bethuel’s daughter, represents the passivity of his will, this consent, as has been noted already, represents his willingness to submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading. The result was that Rebekah became the mother of Jacob, who, in turn, became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, the nation which in the Millennium, will demonstrate to all the nations of the earth, the blessing that attends obedience, just as in the past she has demonstrated to those same nations, the folly of disobedience.
24:52. “And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth.”
The true servant always finds pleasure in the obedience of God’s people, but since this nameless servant represents the Holy Spirit, his grateful worship speaks of the joy which God Himself finds in the obedience of His own.
His bowing himself to the earth would remind us that God is to be approached and addressed with reverence.
24:53. “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.”
The order in which the gifts are named is one found frequently in Scripture. It begins with the metal of lesser value, the silver, which is the emblem of redemption, and is followed by gold which is the emblem of glory, and concludes with raiment, the symbol of righteousness (either the filthy rags of self-righteousness covering the unbeliever, or the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness which clothes the believer). All of this portrays spiritual order. As sinners, we must first receive the redemption portrayed by the silver, and then in eternity will be seen what is portrayed by the gold and the raiment: glory and perfect righteousness unobscured by the flesh, as they are now.
As has been noted already, the point in Rebekah’s life which corresponds to conversion is when she herself says “I will go” verse 57, everything else recorded of her up to that point being related to one foreknown by God as a believer, but not yet converted. That applies here also. She received the gifts which symbolize the things that become the possession of the sinner who trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, God dealing with her as a foreknown one of His own.
Since his wife represents the expression of Bethuel’s spiritual life; and Laban, as his son, the activity of Bethuel’s will, their being given precious things, is the symbolic announcement of the truth that when a man’s submissive will (represented by Rebekah as Bethuel’s daughter) is pleasing to God, the quality of the whole life is enriched. (It is emphasized that it is only as his children that Laban and Rebekah symbolize the activity and passivity respectively of Bethuel’s will. As individuals, and in the case of Rebekah as Isaac’s wife, the symbolic picture changes, and must be interpreted from that new perspective).
24:54. “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 said, Send me away unto my master.”
As has been noted already, Bethuel, his wife, Laban, and Rebekah represent different aspects of the believer’s life. The servant’s tarrying with them “all night” therefore, may speak of the presence of the Holy Spirit with the believer during this spiritual “night time” when Christ, the light of the world, is absent. The communion they enjoyed together at that feast is a picture, not only of the joy God finds in the obedient life, but it may be also a picture of the Lord’s supper, where God and obedient believers enjoy communion together.
Can there be any doubt as to the subject of the conversation around that table? They must have been just as anxious to learn of Isaac as the servant would be to speak of his master’s son. The same experience should be ours when we sit down together to “keep the feast” until that moment when we meet Him face to face. Christ, and he alone, should occupy our minds, and employ our lips as we sit at His table.
”... and they rose up in the morning.” On the first day of each week we stop for a little while on our journey through the desert of this world to “keep the feast,” but the journey must be resumed, for each weekly feast on earth is but a milestone on the road home to heaven.
“... send me away unto my master.” We come in to keep that feast, but having been thus fitted to face a hostile world, we must go out to serve. The servant’s work wasn’t yet done: the bride must be taken to the master’s house. The work of the Holy Spirit is not yet complete. He sits down with us at each Lord’s supper, disclosing fresh revelations of His “Master’s Son,” but His work won’t be complete until the bride (the Church) is presented safe in His Master’s house. Nor will our work be done either until that moment, for we are the instruments the Holy Spirit uses in His work.
24:55. “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.”
The “few days, at least ten” is literally “a full year or ten months.” It is significant that it is Laban who (not as Bethuel’s son, but as an individual), is the representative of legalistic morality, and her mother (the representative of a feeble spiritual life), who request the delay. The things they represent are always hindrances to God’s work.
The speaker was Laban, who, as Bethuel’s son, represents the activity of Bethuel’s will, but who, as an individual, represents legalistic morality. The request for a delay of at least ten months is what might be expected from such as he. The ten directs attention to the ten commandments (the law); and the month (the twelfth part of a year), points to divine government (twelve being the number of that government on display). Legalism will make law-keeping supreme in the life, and compel the Holy Spirit to take a secondary place.
But her mother also requested the delay, and since she, in this present context, represents a feeble spiritual life, the lesson God would have us learn is that anything other than wholeheartedness in spiritual things is a hindrance to the Spirit’s work.
24:56. “And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send we away that I may go to my master.”
Nothing must be permitted to hinder the Spirit in His work. Since legalistic good works are what results from the activity of the flesh, the servant’s rejection of their request would teach us that the activity of the flesh, no matter how righteous it may seem, is as much a hindrance to the Spirit’s work as is the slothfulness of a feeble spirituality that will yield no service to God.
“... seeing the Lord hath prospered my way.” Up to this point everything indicated that the Lord had been leading every step of the way. True spiritual discernment will be quick to recognize God’s leading in any particular work, and will be careful not to spoil that work either by mere activity of the flesh on the one hand, or by spiritual apathy on the other.
”... that I may go to my master.” The servant’s business required that he return to Abraham with a bride for Isaac. Nothing must be allowed to hinder that business. The Holy Spirit is similarly employed today. His business is to return to the Father with the Church, the Bride for the Son. Our responsibility is not only to be sure that we do nothing to impede that business, but that we do everything to assist it.
24:57. “And they said, We will call the damsel and inquire at her mouth.”
It is Rebekah herself who must ultimately make the choice. As Bethuel’s daughter she represents the submissiveness of his will, and in her making the final choice, God would teach us that the purposes of His perfect will for our greatest good can be accomplished only as our wills are completely submissive to His.
24:58. “And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.”
This corresponds spiritually to the moment of conversion, all that has befallen her up to this point being related to God’s dealings with her as one foreknown but not yet saved. It serves further to demonstrate that no one can be saved apart from an act of his own free will in placing his trust in Christ as Savior. No one is predestinated to be saved, nor will God save any man apart from that man’s will.
A further lesson to be learnt from the ultimate blessings that followed Rebekah’s “I will,” is that our eternal enrichment is equally dependant on a similar unreserved submission to the Holy Spirit’s will.
24:59. “And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.”
The name of Rebekah’s nurse was Deborah, meaning a bee: her speaking. The Hebrew word for nurse is primarily related to suckling or feeding, and when we put suckling and speaking together the spiritual significance is immediately apparent. This nurse portrays the written Word which nourishes the believer through its words, and as Deborah accompanied Rebekah on the journey across the desert to meet Isaac, so is the Word to accompany us on our journey through the desert of this world to the meeting with the heavenly Isaac.
A bee, the other meaning of her name, appears to add confirmation to this interpretation, for honey is connected with bees, and in Scripture it is written, “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good” (Pr 24:13). We might note incidentally that the popular teaching which equates honey with mere natural sweetness, finds no support whatsoever in Scripture. Honey is not found once in all of Scripture in a bad connection.
A further lesson being taught in Deborah’s going with Rebekah is that the leading of the Holy Spirit is not apart from the written Word. The measure in which He fills us is in direct proportion to the measure of our obedience to that Word.
24:60. “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.”
Whether the term our sister indicates that there were other siblings besides Laban, or whether it was just a general term indicating relationship, the thought of relationship is certainly prominent, and that being so we should notice again the spiritual significance of those relationships.
As Bethuel’s daughter she represents the submission, rather than the activity of a spiritual life having little but passivity to commend it. Her being Laban’s sister reminds us that even though the activity of the believer’s will, which Laban represents, may be cold and legalistic, and therefore of little spiritual worth, the obedient passivity of the believer’s will has spiritual value, and will be blessed. She who has been a sister, was to become a wife and mother. She was being promoted to a higher dignity. This is always the recompense of quiet submission to God’s will.
In the countless multitudes that have descended, and that will yet descend from Rebekah, we see the literal fulfillment of the blessing invoked that day; and in that perpetuation of her line we see the truth that the obedient life will be perpetuated, not just through the years of time, but for ever.
As for the subjugation of their enemies, the day is not far off when that blessing will also be theirs as the Lord Jesus Christ returns in power and glory to crush Israel’s foes, and establish her in supremacy over the nations. One of our blessings is that on that day we shall reign with Him over the millennial earth from the heavenly Jerusalem poised in the air above that earth.
24:61. “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.”
The damsels, or serving maids, speak also of the service of submission; and as Rebekah’s attendants, would continue to emphasize that the spirit of submissive obedience that had marked her as Bethuel’s daughter went with her now as the future bride of Isaac. God sets a high value on a meek and quiet spirit, “But let it (a godly wife’s adornment) be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Pe 3:4).
As noted in our study of verse 10, the camel appears to represent the believer’s body as the servant of the new nature, so that their riding upon camels continues to reinforce the idea of willing submission.
”... and followed the man.” This speaks of her willingness to follow his leading, and is meant to teach us that we should be willing to yield the same obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Rebekah wasn’t compelled to follow, nor are we. Obedience, to have any value, must be given willingly. The divine order should be noted here. First, Rebekah followed the man, and then follows the statement that the servant took Rebekah. First came her willing following, then came his implied control, and this is always God’s order. The Holy Spirit will control the man who desires that control, but He will never direct a believer along a path which that believer isn’t willing to travel.
“... and went his way.” It was his way, and that way would bring Rebekah to Isaac. Only the Spirit’s way brings men to Christ.
24:62. “And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the south country.”
Since the significance of this well has already been discussed in our study of Ge 16:14, we won’t discuss it further here.
Since the well represents the Word, Isaac’s coming from “the way of the well Lahai-roi” would speak of the fact that the Christ Who will come forth to welcome His bride at the Rapture will come also from the “way of the well.” He Who was led by that Word through every step of His earthly life, and by it led also into death (as was Isaac symbolically), will come forth in resurrection glory (as did Isaac symbolically) to receive His bride, the Church.
The south in Scripture is always connected with faith. Isaac’s dwelling in the south country therefore, tells us that where Christ dwells is where faith also dwells.
24:63. “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.”
Since the end of Rebekah’s journey is clearly a type of the Rapture, Isaac’s meditating may be meant to teach us something of the present attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ as He awaits that moment of union with His blood-bought bride, the Church. Does He, perhaps, meditate upon His days on earth, and that terrible day at Calvary when He purchased her with His life’s blood, and does He perhaps meditate upon that eternal future, when with her by His side, He will reign in glory over a redeemed creation never again to be marred by sin?
Isaac’s being “in the field” (symbol of the world), reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ will also come out of His Father’s house to meet us at the Rapture, though it must be noted that that coming will be to the air, not to the earth itself. He will not return to the earth where he was rejected and crucified, until he returns with His bride to rule over it as God’s anointed King.
The time was the eventide, the end of the day. Only the spiritually blind will fail to see that it is the eventide of the day of grace. The Lord could come to the air for His own today!
It would seem that Isaac was watching for the return of the camels. This portrays the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ. He too is watching for the return of “the camels.” It isn’t difficult to imagine the joy with which Isaac ran to meet them, nor is it difficult to imagine the joy with which the Lord will fulfill the type and come to the air to meet His bride. Something of the eagerness with which He will hasten to meet us is revealed in 1 Th 4:16, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout....” and 1 Co 15:52, “... in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye....”
24:64. “And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.”
As has been noted already, the camel represents the body as the servant of the new nature. Rebekah’s dismounting from the camel therefore, is the symbolic announcement of the truth that at the Rapture we too will alight from off the “camels.” These earthly bodies on which we journey through the desert of this world on the way to our meeting with the heavenly Isaac, will then no longer be needed. They will be replaced with bodies “fashioned like unto his glorious body....” (Php 3:21).
24:65. “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.”
It would seem that Rebekah’s question was presented while Isaac was still at a considerable distance. This is further implied in the use of the past tense relative to the servants reply, “the servant had said....” The believer who walks in the daily expectation of the Rapture will display the same desire to know more of the One he is soon to meet, and the servant’s reply will be duplicated in the Holy Spirit’s taking the things of Christ and revealing them unto that man. “When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth.... He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you” (Jn 16:13-14).
Scripture is the revelation of Christ. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he (Christ) expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27). The primary objective of the study of Scripture ought to be the acquisition of a fuller knowledge of Him.
”It is my master.” Up to this point the servant had spoken of Abraham as “my master,” but now the same term is used to describe Isaac. It is as though Abraham and Isaac were one. Christ is God. The Father and the Son are One.
“... she took a vail and covered herself.” We can’t read this without recalling that today in the meetings of the Church the woman is to put a covering over her hair, for her long hair “is a glory to her” (1 Co 11:15), and all human glory is to be veiled in the presence of the greater glory, Christ’s. On that day when we see Him face to face we will be occupied with His glory, not ours, that truth having been beautifully expressed in the words of the hymn-writer:
The bride eyes not her garment, But her dear bridegroom’s face.
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace.
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand.
The Lamb is all the glory,
Of Immanuel’s land.
24:66. “And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.”
The servant’s rendering an account of all that he had done, reminds us that the Rapture will also be followed by a rendering of account. “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.... Everyone of us shall give account of himself to God” (Ro 14:10-12). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Co 5:10).
It behooves us to live in the light of that knowledge.
24:67. “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.”
As Rebekah was brought into the tent once occupied by Sarah, so has the Church been brought into the place of blessing forfeited by a now spiritually dead Israel.
“... and she became his wife.” There is no closer earthly relationship than that which exists between husband and wife, and in Rebekah’s becoming Isaac’s wife we are being shown the closeness of the relationship that will exist eternally between Christ and His bride, the Church.
“... and he loved her.” Isaac’s love for Rebekah typifies the love of Christ for those who comprise the Church. “Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it” (Eph 5:25).
”... and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” The implied mourning of Isaac for Sarah tells of the sorrow Christ knew when Israel, by disobedience, cut herself off from those blessings which are now bestowed upon the Church. Another revelation of that sorrow is given in Lk 19:41-42, “... and when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it....” But Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. This tells of the joy and comfort Christ will find in His bride, the Church. “... who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame....” (Heb 12:12). “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied” (Isa 53:11).