Genesis 24-26: The virgin bride of Christ

1.  “It is not good for man to be alone”: Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24)

2.  Abraham, Keturah, Isaac and Ishmael (Genesis 25:1-28 )

3.  Jacob and Esau – birthright = stew? (Genesis 25:19-34)

4.  Isaac and the Philistines (Genesis 26:1-33)

5.  Esau and the Hittites (Genesis 26:34-35)

1.  “It is not good for man to be alone”: Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24)

v.2 – Abraham’s servant, “the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had” is told to swear by the LORD, God of heaven and earth (note, not only the God of Abraham!), that he is to take a wife from his country and his kindred.  What kindred would that be?  The Hebrews!  And there shall the chief servant take a wife for his son Isaac.

This is an amazing prophecy to the work of the Great Commission.  The gospel is presented in a short few verses (v.2-4).  To make things simpler:

(a)  Abraham = The Father

(b)  Isaac = The Son, the Bridegroom

(c)  Chief Servant = The evangelist, steward of the earth

(d)  Wife = The bride

Let’s work through these representations.  In Genesis 22 we saw Abraham sacrifice Isaac, and that it is a direct parallel to his sacrifice of Christ himself.  Does the typology end there?  Absolutely not.  Here, the chief servant of the Son’s Father asks the chief servant of his house to find Isaac, his only beloved Son, a wife.  And yes – that is much of our mission in life today.  To serve our Master, our Father, by finding more men and women to add to the bride.  And many things are taught in Genesis 24.

Firstly, we swear by the LORD that we will not take a wife from the adulterous Canaanites.  What I mean here is that the Canaanites are not lovers of LORD Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai, Abba… rather, they are lovers of their own idols of their own makings.  Such is the definition of spiritual adultery – and as represented by the Canaanites.  Thus, it isn’t merely a case of Abraham seeking a physical family – he is seeking a spiritual family to build up God’s kingdom.  So, in everything we do in our evangelism, we are seeking to find a Christian bride, a bride who loves Christ and who will honour Christ.  A spiritual Canaanite simply will not do, but completely contradict the point of evangelism.  Hence the odd statement from the servant: “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follower me to this land.  Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” (v.5)

Charles Spurgeon has this to say:

“If she will not come to Isaac, shall Isaac go down to her?  This is the suggestion of the present hour:  if the world will not come to Jesus, shall Jesus tone down his teachings to the world?  In other words, if the world will not rise to the church, shall not the church go down to the world?  Instead of bidding men to be converted, and come out from among sinners, and be separate from them, let us join with the ungodly world, enter into union with it, and so pervade it with our influence by allowing it to influence us.  Let us have a Christian world”.

Thus, though the steward be prudent, there is a sense of fear.  “What if the gospel will fail?”  “What if no one will believe the report?”  “What if the bride is unwilling?”  These are all statements of insecurity – but Abraham’s response is exactly that of the response of the Father when he sends us to find more to add to the Son’s bride; his response is “See to it that you do not take my son back there (v.6)”.  He maintains that his Son stay put.  It is for the wife to come to the Son, because the work is complete.  The promise has already been made.  Although the promise hasn’t been fulfilled, it is de facto completed.  “To your offspring I will give this land’, he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there”.  (v.7)

This isn’t just some hasty statement – Abraham is saying that the promise will be fulfilled – and that Jesus, God’s chief Sent One, will be before the servant, the evangelist.  In the same way should we regard evangelism – it is not ‘ours’ to control, however eloquent we might be.  It is by the power of the Angel, by the power of the Spirit, that anyone can come to join as the bride of Christ.

Here, the chief servant goes to find the wife – not blindly, but with the sense given to him by the instruction of Abraham.  He seeks first the instruction of the LORD as well – “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham”.  He asks for a sign, he asks for confirmation.  “Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink'”.  In the same way should we ask for confirmation and not to rush into the open and preach like a mad-man.  Indeed, Paul confirms that he is sent from the LORD, as do all the evangelists.  The shipwreck is there to stop him, when the LORD wanted him to go elsewhere.

Then, in v. 22-30, the chief servant Eleazar of Damascus prepares the gift of inheritance.  Gold ring and two bracelets for Rebekah’s arms weighing ten gold shekels, after understanding that her heart is open.  How does he know?  Because of the fulfilled promises – that she is from the line of Shem, the line of Nahor, Abraham’s brother.  She gave Eleazar a drink and watered his ten camels.  Now she is given the possession of the inheritance – but that is merely a foretaste, a firstfruit, of the marriage to come.  Like the dove which took an olive leaf (Genesis 8:11), like a king’s signet ring (Esther 8:8), is it a foretaste of the true communion with the High King, the Father.  This ring represents the Holy Spirit, the gift of inheritance; the bracelets are adornments of righteousness which we receive by Christ’s blood (Job 29:14).

Yet, if the woman refuses?  Then the chief servant shall be clear from this his oath: only bring not his son to the woman.  If we therefore faithfully preach the gospel without watering it down, then even though numbers have not been added to the saved, it is fine – we can keep enduring, but we have stood firm.  The blood is not on our hands (Ezekiel 3:20).

And what of the significance of a virgin woman?  For he is to be the bride’s First Love (Revelation 2:4), as the bride is Christ’s first love – and in Him will Rebekah become “thousands of ten thousands, and may [her] offspring possess the gate of those who hate Him” (Genesis 24:60).  This proclamation shows the forward looking nature of the Arameans then – they remembered God’s covenant with Adam (Genesis 3:15), with Seth, with Noah, with Abraham.  She may cover herself with a wedding veil (v.65), whilst still wearing the ring and bracelets of inheritance and righteousness, but that veil will only be temporary, until the day it is torn completely apart on the great Wedding Day between the Son and his Bride.  For now, the veil will last as we are still merely engaged to Christ.

“So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (v. 67).  It is not good for man to be alone.  And what an awesome picture of evangelism and marriage to cure Isaac of his loneliness, which is not good.  So, it is also not good for Jesus to be alone – and the Father and the Spirit have been working hard since Day 7 of creation to build up the church and body of Christ.

2.  Abraham, Keturah, Isaac and Ishmael (Genesis 25:1-28 )

Abraham took another wife – and by now, despite being over 100 years old (and that he had previously had serious difficulties bearing children), he is bearing many.  The sons of Midian will later lead to Jethro, the priest whom Moses will meet, and his very father-in-law.  Yet, the sons of his concubines he merely gave gifts, but sent them away from Isaac to the eastward to the east country.  Abraham is working hard to maintain the Israelite line without corruptions, that the sons of concubines may not be related to the Promised Son.

Here is a table which I prepared for easy reference of the genealogy in this chapter, the new sons of Abraham, and the sons of Ishmael.

So, what’s interesting is that Ishmael returns to bury Abraham!  However, we don’t know where he came from and how he heard the knews.  That appears unimportant – what is starking is his uninvolvement besides the burial.  His name is mentioned, and then instantly forgotten – for after the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son (v.11).  Could Moses have added another line…”and Ishmael as well” to v.11?  There is a very good reason he is omitted, because he is not part of the chosen line.  What we finally hear about him is that God has fulfilled his promise to him – that 12 princes have come from his line.  But, like the Kenite genealogy, his people settled from Havilah to Shur, opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria.  Unlike Abraham, Sarah, and later Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob… Ishmael’s line settled not in Canaan,  he was however gathered to his people eventually in Assyria.  Like Lot, he chose to settle with the world, and not with the LORD, and it is no surprise that we find the Assyrians later becoming enemies of the LORD.

3.  Jacob and Esau – birthright = stew? (Genesis 25:29- Genesis 26:33)

It seems that Jacob and Esau have had their personality predicted from birth.  “Two nations are in your womb and two peoples from within you shall be divided”.  Essentially, speaking of the Israelites (as Jacob shall later be renamed Israel after his struggle with the Angel of the Lord, Jesus) vs. the Edomites as to even reward an entire book speaking of the judgment against Esau’s line:

10(M) Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
shame shall cover you,
(N) and you shall be cut off forever.
11(O) On the day that you stood aloof,
(P) on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
(Q) and cast lots for Jerusalem,
you were like one of them.
12(R) But do not gloat over the day of your brother
in the day of his misfortune;
(S) do not rejoice over the people of Judah
in the day of their ruin;
(T) do not boast[e]
in the day of distress.
13(U) Do not enter the gate of my people
in the day of their calamity;
(V) do not gloat over his disaster
in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
in the day of his calamity.
14(W) Do not stand at the crossroads
to cut off his fugitives;
do not hand over his survivors
in the day of distress. (Obadiah 1:10-14)

And here we have two nations – one labelled “red”, the Edomites, because of his desire for red stew.  Another called “Jacob”, meaning “he takes by the heel” or “he cheats”.  What a way to describe two nations!  One that is cheating, full of struggle; another that desires food and short-term fulfillment over the long-term promise!  Esau’s desire for red stew even preceded that of his birthright!  “I am about to die” (v.32) he says!  Like Eve was about to die if she didn’t eat the fruit from the tree of good and evil?  Like Judas was about to die if he didn’t betray Jesus?  Like Balaam was about to die if he didn’t curse Israel?  Such is the mindset of the sinner… “I am about to die”.  It is a statement not of desperation – it is simply whining!  And yet, despite Jacob’s questionable methods, he planned far ahead.  He wanted the birthright.  He didn’t want to die, physically and even in the long-term – spiritually.  Yet, Edom wanted to live now, live fast… and die not only young, but die forever.  A stew for his birthright – quite clearly, “he despised his birthright”.

4.  Isaac and the Philistines (Genesis 26:1-33)

Isaac settled in Gerar, because the LORD told him so.  He didn’t go with his ‘rationale’ – he didn’t go with good foresight in planning (though that may be helpful in certain situations).  But he went there, simply because the LORD said so.  What great reverence!

Unfortunately, he feared the men of the place and lied about his wife being his sister, much like his father.  And to the same people like his father!  What is most interesting however is that this chapter maps out in far more detail about Isaac’s life than Abraham’s time with Abimelech in Genesis 20.  We have the Philistines:

(a) envying him (v.14) – an emotion expressed by filling up Abraham’s servants’ dug-out wells with earth.  Abraham respons by encamping in the Valley of Gerar and digs the wells again, giving them the names his father had given them previously.

(b) contending with him (v.20) – that the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen over the water which Isaac had found.  Yet Isaac is gracious once more; he leaves to another land, digs another well, and named that well Rehoboth (meaning broad place/room) rather than Sitnah (meaning enmity).  We can tell that Isaac is a man very much unlike Jacob and Esau who struggle against one another.  Rather, Isaac is gracious and seems to be looking to the LORD over everything.  Such is the stark contrast between the Philistines who contend with Isaac for something as a personal gain; but Isaac relinquishes it, just to be equally blessed but to give thanks to the LORD exclusively for that blessing.

(c) admiring him (v.28-29) – “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you, that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace.  You are now the blessed of the LORD”.  What sarcasm from the Philistines!  They want to keep face; but they must admit that they admire Isaac, because he is the “blessed of the LORD”.  The problem, however, is that a Christian may misread this history and say that you can only be blessed after such trials.  NO.  read v.3 – “I will be with you and will bless you”, and v. 4 – “…And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”.  This is more of God’s promises – one-sided promises.  He establishes this covenant which he later fulfills by himself.  Though it is through the word of the Philistines that his ‘blessedness’ is established, Isaac is by no means perfect.  We saw that in his fear of the people of Gerar when he said his wife is merely his sister.  Yet, like Abraham, he has faith in Christ, the truly blessed man – the only one who is blessed and can bless others.  It is important to note that Isaac depended not on himself, for Jesus appeared to him twice in this chapter, firstly before he set off as a wandering pilgrim, inevitably meeting enemies and insecurities (v.2); and secondly in the midst of his difficulties in v.24-25.

The oath between Philistines and Isaac is interesting.  It doesn’t last.  We see that more clearly when Samson fought the Philistines in the book of Judges.  Yet, God’s promises, his oath to us, lasts.  There may be water in the well of oath now, but that water can be easily filled with earth again by the Philistines.  But God’s oaths are never-failing.

5.  Esau and the Hittites (Genesis 26:34-35)

Finally, we end on a solemn note with Esau marrying a Hittite.  Such is the pain and trouble which Isaac’s father had tried to prevent.  And yet, such is the case when a Christian marries a non-Christian.  Contradictions, compromises and troubles are inevitable – not only that, but it is a clear misrepresentation of the gospel.  Can you see Jesus being preached when Christ comes to the world and marries his adulterous church?  Or can you see Jesus being preached when the church, his bride, conforms to him single-heartedly after his initiative work on the cross before the foundations of creation?  (Revelation 13:8 )

Genesis 24-26: The virgin bride of Christ

Genesis 18-20: Abraham, Lot, and God’s faithfulness

1.  The LORD who eats with us (Genesis 18:1-21)

2.  Sodom and Gomorrah:  Character study of Lot (Genesis 18:22 – Genesis 19:38 )

3.  Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 20)

1.  The LORD who eats with us (Genesis 18:1-20)

Jesus appears to Abraham again by the oaks of Mamre.  This place is very symbolic – where Abraham had previously built an altar to the LORD (Genesis 13:18), and where Abraham found Amorite and other brethren against the kings and rulers (Genesis 14:13).  However, this time, it is a bit different.  Not only does Jesus appear to give him promises, but here we have the Anointed One, appearing with two other sent ones, to have a meal with Abraham!

Some find this incredulous, to the point of saying that these three men are either human or just mere angels (thus it isn’t God himself manifestly present in the face of Abraham).  But the reason people find this chapter fantastic, is because of the common misconception that God doesn’t tabernacle, or dwell with us.  Rather, God is a goal we reach, and he is untouchable.  Is that a Scriptural understanding?  Not the kind of God whom I know.  I, like Abraham, look forward to the day when I can also have a meal with the LORD, the same LORD who broke bread and shared wine with 12 apostles; the same LORD who had fish with his disciples after his resurrection; the same wedding feast which the LORD will come down to earth to attend

2And I saw(A) the holy city,(B) new Jerusalem,(C) coming down out of heaven from God,(D) prepared(E) as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold,(F) the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will(G) dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4(H) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and(I) death shall be no more,(J) neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Then, we have the Angel profess to Sarah that around 1 year later, he would visit Sarah again.  This is interesting – in Chapter 21:1, the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised.  Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, even after the “way of the woman” had ceased to be with Sarah.  This is interesting – and it parallels the story of the virgin birth.  Firstly, the re-establishment that one of the sent ones is the LORD himself; secondly, that the LORD is capable of doing the impossible, raising life when there should only have been death.  If the LORD is capable of raising Isaac out of the impossible, then how much more is the LORD capable of raising Isaac if he should ask Abraham to give Isaac as an offering to Him?  Surely this would justify Abraham’s behaviour in Genesis 22 – for Isaac was given completely from God, and to return his only son to God is more than acceptable (Job 1:21 – “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”)

2.  Sodom and Gomorrah:  Character study of Lot (Genesis 18:21 – Genesis 19:38 )

Then the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is very disturbing.  Abraham firstly intercedes for Sodom – yet he is very aware of the nature of the Sodomites.  Indeed, Abraham is burdened for the souls of the Sodomites – just as we all should be.  His constant plea, from 50, to 45, to 40, 30, 20, 10… and God is patient and loving and keeps to his promise.  How could Abraham be expecting 10-50 people righteous in the country?  Because he is not speaking of literally righteous people who are pleasing to the LORD.  Rather, he is speaking of those who are righteous by their faith in Christ.  It is quite evident why that is, when Lot and his two daughters are the only ones who escaped.  All those who failed to escape, being his sons in laws and his wife who turned into a pillar of salt, were all examples of those who are unrighteous – those who did not look to God, but looked back onto the city which they cherished.

(a)  The city

The city is something which Lot himself also cherished, but he failed to be the gospel witness that he should have been, compared to Abraham’s tent-like lifestyle.  Rather, as we saw in Genesis 13, he settled in the city.  Unlike Abraham, he did not look forward to the eternal kingdom (Hebrews 11) by living in tents, but only looked to his present comfort and lived in the city (Genesis 19:1; Proverbs 31:23).  Listen to him speak in verses Genesis 19:19-20:

“…But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one.  Let me escape there – is it not a little one? – and my life will be saved!”

What strange words to be coming from a man who is about to be saved from God himself.  He actually has PREFERENCES!  Yet, the LORD is patient, and grants him this favour also (Chapter 19:21).

(b)  Lot’s evangelism

There are a lot of problems with Lot’s evangelism.  Firstly, he failed to influence those around him – and he was a mere sojourner, who fully molded himself to the society’s culture.  Even the men wanted to rape the angels (Jude 7 – the men desired “strange” flesh), and Lot dared to even offer his two daughters, as if they are suitable substitutes.  It seems that Lot had completely back-fired from his rather ‘religious’ comment, that raping is ‘wicked’.  In only a matter of a few seconds, or minutes, he offers his own two daughters for rape!  Furthermore, he sounded unconvincing to his two sons-in-law when he sends the message of the imminent destruction of the city, the sons who no-doubt are not Jesus-fearers themselves.  The only people who did leave were Lot, his two daughters and his wife.  Even his wife looked back.  This is a clear example of the physical church – Lot, his two daughers, and his wife.  But only the true spiritual Israelites would pass through the fire; but the physical Israelite as it were, Lot’s wife, would not pass through.  The true church vs. the physical church.

Finally, it is pitiful to see that there weren’t even 10 righteous men.  Who are such ‘righteous’ men?  People who believed in God, for even God called Lot righteous (2 Peter 2:7), despite his compromises, his failure to evangelise and influence his neighbours, his lingering (Genesis 19:16), his offering of his daughers for rape… he is still considered as righteous.  So Abraham interceded for 10 men who had faith in Christ… and in all the time Lot had spent there, he still failed to influence even 10 men for Christ.  This shows that his time at Sodom was not for ministry; his time at Sodom was simply to be part of the family, possibly even marrying Sodomite men to his daughters.

(c)  The angels, and the Angel

Lot however is very aware of the angels – he even baked unleavened bread and made a feast for them which they ate, just as Abraham had done the same.  Both are aware of the angels’ awesomeness, but the latter failed to live up to his actions.  He knew the city centre is dangerous, hence he decides to welcome the angels into his house.  But, like an introvert Christian, he lives in a holy bubble yet slowly molded to the culture’s standards.

I would like to impute some meaning to the unleavened bread here, but the symbolism of the unleavened bread had not taken its effect until the time of Exodus.  Contrarily, look at Abraham’s actions – Genesis 18:8 says his wife had prepared curds, milk, calf… a full course meal, that took time to prepare.  But unleavened bread, which is hardly as tasty as leavened bread, was prepared for the angelic guest.  What kind of ‘feast’ Lot had offered is unknown (Genesis 19:3), but the way it was written displays a sense where Lot’s response to the angels is less convicting than Abraham’s response.  Abraham had displayed thorough family teamwork by asking his helper, his wife, to make the food; whereas Lot worked by himself, whilst his two daughters and his wife were unaware and uninvolved.  Lot not only had evangelistic problems outside his house; he had the same problems inside.

Genesis 19:7 – though the ESV translation says “And as they brought them out, one said”, the better translation is “And as they brought them out, the one (meaning the one standing OUTSIDE of the city) said, ‘Escape for your life… escape to the hills…”.  The reason why I make this distinction is because the same ONE Angel is referred to in v. 21.  “He said to him…” – it would be entirely difficult to know who “He” is, unless in the Hebrew, the Angel of the Lord had already been impliedly distinguished in v. 17.

Now, if you, like Trypho in his dialogue with Justin Martyr, have been assuming that this LORD is the Creator, the father Himself, let’s put the terminology “LORD” into context.  Genesis 19:24, the verse which stumps all non-Trinitarian doctrines in the Old Testament.  “The LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven”.  Which LORD are we speaking of?  Of course, the first LORD is the one who had awaited with Abraham, the LORD who warned Lot himself.  This is Jesus.  And the LORD out of heaven?  The Father himself.

(d)  The father of the Moabites and Ammonites

These are the Moabites and Ammonites that Moses himself knew, as chronicled in Deuteronomy 23:3-6 –

3(B) “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever, 4(C) because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they(D) hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of(E) Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5But the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the LORD your God turned(F) the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loved you. 6You(G) shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

And yet, we get a little side-story on how they came around – by the illegal and sinful incestuous conception of his two daughters.  Lot, not only did he fail to persuade his daughters NOT to make him drunk, in his drunkenness had sex with his two daughters.  Yet, this is the same righteous Lot Peter spoke about in his second letter.  Have I hammered the point enough that Lot is therefore not righteous by his own standards, but by Christ?

3.  Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 20)

This is a repeat of Abraham’s sin in Genesis 12:10-20.  Yet, the LORD is continually faithful, despite his rather repetative inability to present his wife as his WIFE.  Here, Abraham feared men more than God – and yet God is still faithful to him.  This just enforces God’s faithfulness to Abraham; Abraham compromises his faith too often to be assured of his own salvation, had he relied on his ‘work’ – that is – faith.

Conclusion

In overview, we get a character study of Lot and the continual faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and his relationship with his Father is further revealed in Genesis 19:24.  So far, we have recorded several instances of the Trinity working; from Genesis 1-3 in creation and in Jesus walking throughout the garden; from the pre-Mosaic law sacrifices made; from the Noahic flood; from the Christophanic appearances to Abraham and Lot; from the Trinity going to confuse the people of their understanding in the making of Babel… these are merely the instances reeled off the top of my head.  If anything, the deity of Christ is far more focused here, in comparison to the New Testament.  This is why Jesus can say that he saw Abraham (John 8:57) – because he really did!  If we are ever going to look for the deity of Christ, why look in the NT when the OT is littered with other names which also described the same Son, when he is called LORD, the Angel of the LORD, the Blessed man, the Anointed One, the righteous One… which point so much more to his character and deity which the incarnate Christ had also embodied?

Genesis 18-20: Abraham, Lot, and God’s faithfulness