We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

A Bride for Isaac

Rebekah’s engagement to Isaac constitutes one of the longest narratives in Genesis. It accounts for no less than 67 verses in the English Bible. In fact, Moses allocates twice as much space to his report of this romance as he did to the immensely important account of the creation. Why would he do this? There is a profound theology expressed in this remarkable allocation. Creation, for all its magnificence, is merely the work of God’s fingers (Psalms 8:3). Redemption, however, is the labor of His arm, and the travail of His soul (Isaiah 53:1, 11). The great picture of redemption in the Bible is the romance, as an earthly bride is chosen for the Son of heaven (Ephesians 5:23, Rev 21:2). If Isaac is a type of Jesus, then certainly Rebekah is a type of the church, the bride of Christ. How does this romance develop, and what may we learn about our own calling from the providence that directed Rebekah to give herself in love to a man she had never seen? What may we learn about our destiny from a bride who was promised to a groom in a far country and for whom she would have to leave everything? The marriage of Isaac and Rebekah does not begin with the love of the couple, but with the choice of the father to secure a bride for his beloved son (Genesis 24:3-4). Trusting in the providence of God s covenant faithfulness, Abraham sent his servant away to a far country to secure a bride for Isaac. Once the servant had identified the chosen bride, a great price was paid to her family for her release (Genesis24:53). She then left all her family to undertake a long pilgrimage to come to her betrothed in a land she would share with him as an inheritance (Genesis 24:61). Such was the marriage custom in the ancient Near East, and so is the pattern of the gospel of grace. For our betrothal began with the sovereign choice of God the Father to take a bride for His beloved Son. Once we were chosen, a great price was paid for our particular redemption. And we, like Rebekah, were called to leave everything behind in order to persevere through the pilgrimage of this life to our own wedding, one day to be celebrated in a promised country. In order to appreciate just how Rebekah s betrothal to Isaac foretells the circumstances of our own espousal to the Lord, let s imagine for a moment a conversation Rebekah might have had with Abraham s servant, perhaps around a camp fire, as they made that long journey back to the land of promise and to the family of Abraham and Isaac. Surely Rebekah would have asked so kind and good a servant about the man whom she had consented to marry. We can imagine that Abraham s servant would have answered her something like this Rebekah, the young man who is to be your husband had a most remarkable birth. An angel of God announced that he was to be born, for this birth was nothing less than a miracle, his mother being both barren and beyond the years of child-bearing. But his birth was just as had been foretold by prophecy, and it was the occasion of great good-will, so much so that he was named Isaac or laughter, for all the joy he would bring. Great prophecies attended his birth, for God is to use his family to bring blessing to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3). And although he was rejected by his brother, he is nonetheless the delight of his father, who is well pleased with his son. But even for a son so favored, there came a dread day when his father was told to offer up this beloved son upon an altar of sacrifice. And so his father took him on a hard journey to the mountains of Moriah. They reached the appointed place on the third day after they set out. Abraham then made known to Isaac that even though he was the hope of the world, the one through whom blessing would come to all the nations, he was nonetheless the sacrifice God required that day. In obedience to the will of God and his father, Isaac humbly submitted to God s will and permitted himself to be bound for the sacrifice. But at the last minute God spared Isaac from the knife Abraham was lifting up over his son. So on the third day of that terrible trial Isaac was delivered from death. And so to complete all his delight, his father Abraham, knowing that it is not good for a man to be alone, sent me to seek out the one God had chosen as a bride worthy of so great a son. And you, precious daughter, are that chosen one! You will be great Abraham’s daughter, and heir with Isaac of all that obtains to his oath and covenant (Galatians 3:29). Isaac s joy will be your own portion forever, for God has already prepared his heart to delight in you! (Galatians 4:28). Your Seed by this man will redeem the earth, and triumph over the gates of the all his enemies! (Matthew 16:8, cf. Genesis 24:60). This is the young man to whom you have given your heart already, the son beloved of his father, the son whom having not yet seen, nonetheless already you love! (1 Peter 1:8).

Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Oncoming Forces

I once saw something that I will never forget. A little boy was walking with his mom at the airport, helping her push the luggage cart down a little incline. As the incline became steeper, the loaded cart began gaining speed. Suddenly a bus approached, just as the boy sped into the street with the luggage cart! I don t know what kind of braking system this bus had, but the driver stopped on a dime, right there, two inches away from this boy’s face. The driver and the boy met eye-to-eye. And I will never forget what happened next. The mother ran out into the street, picked up her little boy, and brought him to safety. She knelt down and passionately embraced him. You see, if we live without a proper sense of impending danger, we are all on a downward slope, soon to be hit by an oncoming force. These devastating forces however are not outside the control of an all wise and powerful God. He allows threatening situations, not to discourage us, but to turn us toward him, so that he might run out and bring us to safety. God will not beat us into submission however; but he loves us too much to let us remain in our sinful blind condition. In Lamentations 3 Jeremiah writes: Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!

Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment