Rebekah: A Bride for the Son
J. H. Hughes, Nutley
A wedding makes an unfailing appeal to us all, and its joy expands to the wide circle of friendship, while on occasions it can bring a passing happiness to a nation. At its centre is the simple response of the bride as she says, "I will", and with a word embarks on a new way of life in every respect. It was so with Rebekah as she renounced home, kindred and country to become the wife of a man of whom she had heard, but whom she had not seen.
We have seen the pattern of the ideal union of Christ and the Church set before us in Eden, the blissful scene so soon shattered. Yet it was but a part in God's over-ruling purpose to create new heavens and a new earth, with a paradise prepared for the Son and the Bride that He would win at so great a cost. We will therefore consider briefly from the story of Isaac the son, the messenger and the bride, shadows of the great transaction in which, by sovereign grace, we are involved.
Abraham gave all that he had to his son Isaac, reminding us of the words of John the Baptist, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand", John 3. 35. The first mention of love is in Genesis 22, where we read, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest . . . and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of". In a figure he was indeed raised from the dead, and so declared a son by resurrection. He never left the land of promise. All his resources were there; he sowed in the land and reaped a hundredfold, and he became very great, Gen. 26. 12-18. It was all his own by promise.
For this son Abraham sent his servant to Haran to seek a bride. His instructions were explicit. Isaac had already been forbidden to go down to Egypt; now he must not go to the land from whence his father had come. So we have the delightful story of chapter 24, with the servant's prayer for guidance, and God's answer in sending Rebekah herself to meet him. He gave her the tokens of his master's wealth, and finally came the important question, "Wilt thou go with this man?", and her answer, "I will go". On his part Isaac goes into the field at eventide to pray, and there he sees Eliezer returning with the woman of God's choice. It is instructive to notice that in reply to Rebekah's question he did not say "It is my master's son", but "It is my master".
One other thought concerning Rebekah is to remember her background of Haran in Syria, and thus a Gentile in contrast to Abraham "the Hebrew". Later in Deuteronomy 26. 5, when looking back to the origin of God's chosen people, the Israelite was instructed to stand and confess, "A Syrian ready to perish was my father". Thus we see that Rebekah was called to leave her "world" to share the pilgrim life of faith with Isaac, and the hope of the Gospel to which we also are called.
These thoughts are brief indeed, but sufficient to illustrate the work of the Holy Spirit in this dispensation in visiting the Gentiles, "to take out of them a people for his name", Acts 15. 14. It is being accomplished through the preaching of the Gospel, "calling" men and women to the "obedience of faith" in Christ. It is not enough that we read and understand these great chapters of the Old Testament. The questions we must all face are: Have I from the heart responded to the message? Has the One of whom it speaks captivated my heart, so that with Peter we can say, "whom having not seen, ye love"? And has the Holy Spirit sealed me as one with Him for ever?
The late Mr. Laidlaw related an interesting incident concerning a young soldier who hesitated to respond when challenged by the Gospel. He was expecting to be married, and our good brother said to him that when the inevitable question is put to him, "Wilt thou have this woman . . . ?", that unless he replied, "I will", she would never be his wife. He saw the implication, and yielded his heart to Christ.
The message of the cross brings us to a junction in our lives. The lines at the junction diverge so little as the train comes to the points, but the destinations may be very far apart. So our first simple response to the love of God expressed in so great a gift guides us into the way leading to the marriage of the Lamb, and a place in the home that He has gone to prepare.