A BRIDE FOR ISAAC
A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinOctober 23, 1994
So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, ‘Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac. (Gen 24:2-4)
Abraham was an old man, when it was time for Isaac to have a wife. He sent his most trusted servant to his native country with the task of finding a wife for his son. This was a serious responsibility. The servant had to find the right woman that not only would make Isaac happy, but would also be able to start the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that Abraham’s descendant will occupy the land of Canaan. Before the servant left on his important mission, Abraham made him take an oath that he would not choose a Canaanite. Instead, he was to select one from Abraham’s own ancestry. Abraham also gave strict orders that Isaac was not to accompany him. He was concerned that if Isaac went with him, he might fall in love with a woman that would not be willing to travel back to Canaan. Therefore, Isaac would be inclined to marry the woman there and not return to the land promised to his father. Abraham assured his servant that the Lord would guide his ways and lead him the right woman.
When the servant arrived at Abraham’s homeland, he strategically placed himself at the city’s well during the evening. The servant knew that it was most likely that Isaac’s bride would come from one of the women who drew water at the well. When the women came, the servant earnestly prayed that the Lord would somehow make known which woman was best suited to became Isaac’s bride. He prayed that whoever would offer to give his camels water, that would be a sign that this woman was the Lord’s choice. Before the servant was finished speaking, he noticed Rebekah’s beauty. He went to her for a drink of water. When he was finished, Rebekah than offered to give his camels water. After the camels finished drinking, the servant found out that she was the daughter of Abraham’s brother. The servant was ecstatic. He knew that his important mission was accomplished. Afterwards, when Isaac saw Rebekah, he rejoiced and married her.
Like Abraham’s servant, we also are called to find a bride for Isaac. We are to find genuine truths that can properly display good that is from the Lord. “Isaac” represents genuine good in our lives. “Rebekah” represents the truth that make this good visible. When this account is examined interiorly, it can teach us how we should search for the bona fide truths that can express heavenly goods or loves. This story can also teach us how we can distinguish authentic truths from apparent truths.
When Abraham’s servant was about to depart on his important journey, he received strict orders not to take Isaac with him. It certainly would have been much more convenient to take Isaac along and have him choose a wife for himself. But Abraham knew that the Lord’s promise could only be fulfilled if the servant himself made the long journey alone. When we make our important searches for truth, we should not do so casually. We too are given strict orders to select the proper truths that can fully express a love to the Lord and toward the neighbor. We are not to just accept anything that sounds good. Instead, we are to examine, study, reflect, and pray as we strive to recognize genuine truths in the Word. It would be simpler for us to just accept anything that sounds good or is pleasant to our senses. But instead, we are commanded to reflect and thoroughly examine what we regard as true before we take the step of applying it to our lives. When we are willing to exercise the necessary caution we are in the affection of truth. If we are in this affection, we will long not just for anything that appears good on the surface, but for that special truth that will enable us to perfectly manifest the Lord’s love that is within us. This willingness to make the painstaking search for the genuine truth is represented by the servant’s willingness to make the long journey alone.
Abraham’s servant was not only commanded to make the journey alone, he was also told not to choose a Canaanite woman. When we choose a principle that we will live by, we must be certain that it will not excuse or justify an evil desire. We must not conform the Word to confirm an evil love or habit; rather, we must conform ourselves to what the Word teaches. If we choose to twist the meaning of the Word around so we will be able to continue to indulge in our evil delights, then we have chosen a Canaanite. However, if we strive to understand what the Word is genuinely teaching, then the holiness of the Word will remain intact. Just as it was vitally important for the servant to choose a woman from Abraham’s own family, so we must choose the genuine truths in the Word before the Lord can operate fully within us.
When the servant came to Abraham’s homeland, he purposefully went to the well where the available women would probably come. When we make the determination to live according to the truths which the Lord directly teaches, we must go to the Word itself and conduct our search there. Genuine truths come form no other source. The Word is where the Lord is directly present, where He reveals and teaches Divine truths to us.
While the servant was at the well, he earnestly prayed to the Lord that the best suited woman would be revealed to him. The servant’s prayer illustrates the quality of our desire in making our search for truth in the Lord’s Word. When we search for Divine principles that we are to live by, we must also pray, in our individual way, for the light that enables us to recognize these truths. Divine truths are revealed by the Lord through the Word. He only reveals Divine truths, truths to live by, to those who look to the Word with the desire to be conjoined with Him. If the servant conducted his search at the well with the attitude that he did not need the Lord’s help, he would have overlooked Rebekah. If we go to the Word with the attitude that we can know Divine truths without help form the Lord, then we will not recognize them.
When Rebekah was revealed to the servant, he noticed that she was very beautiful. When the Lord reveals Divine truth to us, it will be very beautiful. It will be beautiful because we will perceive the heavenly joys we will have when they are applied to life. It will be beautiful because we will receive the assurance that the Lord is operating, with His full Divinity, within that truth. And it will be beautiful because we will find fulfillment and satisfaction in the service we will be able to provide for others. Divine truth is the means whereby we can free ourselves from evil. Divine truth breaks the grip and the bonds which the hells hold over us. This freedom from the hells is the core of the beauty of Divine truth. The Lord taught that spiritual freedom comes through truth when He told those who believed Him:
If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (Jn 8:31 & 32)
Freedom from bondage to the hells is what makes Divine truth attractive. This beauty is revealed only to those who allow the Lord to enter their lives through truths, just as the beauty of Rebekah was revealed to the servant when he prayed for Divine guidance.
But notice, Abraham’s servant did not immediately respond when he saw Rebekah’s beauty. He waited until she had watered all his camels, before he asked here who here family was. Rebekah still had to perform the test. When we form ideas from the Lord’s Word that sounds good on the surface, we still are not to apply them immediately. Further examination is still required. We must be absolutely sure that the doctrine we draw from the Word is based upon genuine truths. Each teaching we receive from the Word must past the test before we determine that it will be applied to our lives. The test is simply if the teaching will lead to a stronger relationship and conjunction with the Lord, and if it will provide true uses toward our neighbor. We must insure that the teachings we find beautiful in the Word are beautiful because they benefit the Lord’s Church on Earth, not merely because they benefit ourselves.
After the servant found out who Rebekah’s family was, he brought her to Isaac. When Isaac saw Rebekah, he loved her and they became husband and wife. This conjunction between Isaac and Rebekah represents the application of genuine truth to our lives from a love to the Lord and a love toward our neighbor. When we make the necessary effort to find out how we are to truly love the Lord, and how we are to truly acto toward others, the Lord will show us. And when we are sure how we are to love, think, and act, we must strive to make Divine truth a reality in our lives. If we do what the Word truly tells us to do, then we will receive heavenly blessings from the Lord, which are represented by the marriage delights between Isaac and Rebekah.
Therefore, daily reading and study of the Word need not be a drudgery. Rather, it can be the most stimulating and inspiring part of our lives. When we approach the Word with the right purpose, the Lord will directly communicate to us as He did with Abraham’s servant at the well. The Lord will speak to us, when we are willing to search the Word carefully and reflectively for the principles and guidelines in our lives. But the examination of doctrinal teachings must be perpetual. The deeper we penetrate the Lord’s Word for guidance, the more pure and perfect our doctrine from the Word will become. The leading into more genuine and perfect truths in the Lord’ Word is the promise of the Holy Spirit. And this promise the Lord made to His disciples is just as alive today:
… when He the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (Jn 16:13-15)