Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 5
Law and Grace: Time Line: Isaac
Turn to Genesis 24. We were drawing a comparison of the sending out of the servant for a bride for the son, Isaac, as a parallel of the work of the Holy Spirit today in calling out the Body of Christ. We will finish this chapter and then go to the Book of Psalms, Chapter 2. So look now at Genesis 24:10. As we saw in our last lesson, the servant made a covenant or oath with his master, Abraham:
“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.”
Let’s look at the map of this area on page 36 again.
Abraham was a wealthy man with tons of silver and gold and flocks and servants. No doubt this servant, which I assume was Eliezer, took a pretty good sampling of all that wealth, making his way into Mesopotamia. As this map shows, it wasn’t that far, as we Americans think of, in miles. Everything in the Middle East is very compact; but for that day, and going by camel, it was still a good long journey. Eliezer went up to Haran, the area from which Abraham had come earlier, and where his old father, Terah, had died.
“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.”
It’s interesting that we in America can’t quite comprehend women coming more and more into the work force. It’s kind of against our ethics. But it’s the way it’s always been. I can remember way back when I was a kid and missionaries would come back from Africa with their old 8mm movies. They showed the African men sitting outside their huts drinking their homemade brew and getting drunk, while the women were out in the fields doing all the work, the grinding, and the cooking. So I have known that women have been more or less the slaves of the men for many, many centuries. And that was so in Haran as well. It was the women who drew the water, took care of the flocks. I suppose the men just sort of sat back and acted as overlords. That was the situation the servant found when he brought his camels to the well of water, and he made a prayer in verses 12-14.
“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. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 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 has appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.’”
The servant laid out a fleece before God. He basically said, “Lord, when a girl answers in that way, then I’ll know she’s the right one.” I always think of the Book of Ruth. Remember when Naomi had lost her sons and ended up with two daughters-in-law? One stayed in Moab, but Ruth came back with her to Israel. The word is used that Ruth “happened” to end up in the right field – one belonging to the next of kin to Naomi – when she went to labor in the harvest field. That word “hap” or “happened” means more than that.
I was talking to a man not too long ago, and said to him, “I wish you luck.” He answered, “Les, in the life of a believer there is no such thing as luck.” He was absolutely correct. God is in such complete control that we can honestly say that everything that happens is in His hands. This next verse makes it so plain:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
It was the same way here. It just “happened”, but not really, that Rebekah was the girl to make the first approach. When the servant asked for water, she responded exactly as he had asked God for her to do. She came on the scene in verse 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,” Let’s refer to the family tree on page 37 again.
“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. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, ‘Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.’ And she said, ‘Drink, my lord:’ and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand,and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.’”
What did the servant know? She was the right girl! She was eligible and had all the physical attributes that caught his attention. After all, these people were just as human as we are. So she hastily drew the water and he knew that she was the one! Now verses 26-29a.
“And the man (Abraham’s servant) bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. 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.’ And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother’s house these things. And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban:…” Laban will come on the scene later in Genesis when we start dealing with Jacob. Remember, it was Laban for whom Jacob worked for his two wives, Leah and Rachel.
This young man, Laban, came running out, and I like verse 30 because all these people were so human. I think a lot of times people get the idea that these Bible characters were somehow a cut above the human. But they were not! They were just as human as we are. So when her brother came running out:
“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.” What did he see? The wealth that this man represented. I’ll bet that when he saw them his eyes bugged out and he thought “Wow! What in the world is my little sister getting into?” He was all for this arrangement when he saw the wealth that was involved.
“And he said, ‘Come in, thou blessed of the LORD (Jehovah);’”
I always have to remind the people I teach that when these pagans speak of the Lord and of God, it isn’t that they themselves were actual believers, or that they knew Jehovah. You must remember that all the people who lived in this Middle Eastern environment were saturated with paganism. Even these relatives of Abraham, the children of Terah, were idolaters.
Soon we’ll come to the episode where Jacob, his wives and children had left for Canaan (long after this particular time), and, suddenly, Laban came running after them looking for his family gods – the idols which Rachel had secretly brought with her. So because all these people were idolaters, take it with a grain of salt when they use the name of Jehovah. They were using that Name, not because they knew Him, but just as another name of another god, and they realized that He was the God of Abraham. Then word passed to the girl’s father that this servant of their relative, Abraham, was looking for a bride for Isaac, and Rebekah seemed to be the one. We won’t go through all these verses, but if you’ll read it later, you’ll find that even though the servant does all he can to win this beautiful girl, she had to make the final decision. After they’ve had their feasting, and getting acquainted in the house of Rebekah and her family, it all boils down to her making the choice.
“And they said, ‘We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth.’ And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, ‘Wilt thou go with this man?’ And she said, ‘I will go.’”
She made the final decision. It’s the same way with Salvation today. The Holy Spirit can woo; the Holy Spirit can convict; but God will never take someone by the nape of the neck and force the issue. I often say I am certainly not against evangelism, but I am against arm twisting, because that falls down into the energy of the flesh. Salvation has to be totally the work of the Holy Spirit. Too many times other things enter in, and people are almost forced to make a false decision. Then, years later, people wonder what happened that that Christian is bankrupt spiritually. I’m afraid they’ve never had a true experience, because it was approached in the wrong way. But here, Rebekah was given the choice and she said, “I will go.”
“And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.”
So they took off from way up in Syria, heading back down to the land of Canaan. Now we’ll pick up the husband-to-be. The man who is representative of Christ, Himself; who is allowing the Holy Spirit to do the wooing and the winning of those who come into the Body of Christ.
“And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the south country.” Isaac lived south of Jerusalem, down in the Negev, in the area of Beersheba. Beersheba is still a bustling city of about 300-400 thousand in that same area of Israel.
“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide:…”
Now, there are a lot of commentaries that have differing opinions regarding this word “meditate.” Some think he just went out to think things through, while others think that he was thinking about the servant bringing him a bride. But I think that the crux of the matter was found back in Chapter 23, when a very important person in his life, his mother, died. I think what happened here was that Isaac was mourning the loss of his mother, and had gone out in the field to contemplate that loss.
“…and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.”
Now, all of a sudden his grief and his loneliness had turned to joy; to expectation. His bride had come. What I want you to understand, is that Isaac, who had been living down south of Jerusalem in the desert, had left his home and the tents of Abraham. And somewhere between “the far country” from which his bride was coming, and his home, there was a meeting. What was the lesson? It will be the same way when Christ calls His Bride home. He’s not going to immediately call her to Heaven, but He’s going to leave Heaven and meet her part way. We’ll look at that probably in our next lesson. Anyway, Isaac had left home going part way toward Mesopotamia, and suddenly saw his ride coming.
“And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, ‘What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us?’”
I’m sure she had a pretty good idea who the man was, but Scripture does that so often! How many times have I pointed out to you that Jesus, when He wanted to get somebody’s attention, would ask them a question. He knew the answer! And way back in the Garden of Eden, God didn’t have to ask, but He said, “Adam, what have you done?” I think the Scripture does that just to give us time to think, so she said, “who is this?” She knew! Oh, this was her husband-to-be, her fiance as we call it today.
“And the servant had said, ‘It is my master:’ therefore she took a veil, and covered herself (That was a Middle Eastern custom). And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.”
I want you to picture these things. Isaac and Rebekah had just met, and the servant explains to Isaac how miraculously this whole thing had come together. “There’s no doubt Isaac, that this girl is God’s choice for you.” So Isaac had no doubt that this was, indeed, God’s choice of a wife for him.
“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 I’ve pointed out before, The Bible never tells a wife to love her husband, but it does say, “Husband, love your wife.” And here it is: It doesn’t say that Rebekah loved him (although we know that she did), but it began with Isaac loving his wife. Now, this is why I think he had been meditating over his mother’s death. He was comforted by the whole new experience that came into his life. That vacuum that his mother had left was suddenly filled by his new bride. Now let’s go to Psalm 2. We won’t be able to finish all that I’d like to do concerning this Psalm in this lesson, but perhaps we can be prepared for the next part of our study, and that is “how is the present day Age of Grace pictured as the calling out of a Gentile bride for God the Son, for The Christ?”
The only way we can understand the language of the Apostle Paul regarding the calling out of the Bride, is to get an even better understanding of the Old Testament program. Here is where we have had so much confusion over the years throughout all Christendom. There is so much difference between the Old Testament program and the Age of Grace, that nobody really knows what to believe, or why, or how. So, we’re going to take some time now to outline the Old Testament program. The reason I’m emphasizing this is because nowhere in the Old Testament, or well into the New Testament, is there a single hint that there would be a Gentile wife of Christ. Everything was Israel. Israel was to be the bride of Jehovah.
In the Book of Hosea, Hosea was actually instructed by God to go out and marry a “woman of the street”, and take her home to be his wife. But it wasn’t very long until she was back out on the street with all of her multitudes of lovers; and by the end of the book, she had been restored and was back in fellowship with her husband. That was the beautiful picture of Israel. Even though she had been an idolatrous nation, always chasing after other gods all the way through the Old Testament, we know that the day is coming when Israel is going to be restored, and all her adulterous past will be put behind her and forgotten. But we have another analogy, and that is “The Bride of Christ.” Let me show you the verse in II Corinthians. There are probably some who don’t agree with me that the Church is the Bride of Christ, but you don’t have to. I just teach it as I see it and the way that I am most comfortable. Turn to II Corinthians 11:1, where Paul begins:
II Corinthians 11:1
“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.”
That’s how I feel sometimes, when I begin to teach some of these things that I know the average believer has never heard. I have to say, “Bear with me, because sooner or later I’ll show you that this is actually what the Scriptures say.” Paul was writing to the Corinthian church, a Gentile church.
II Corinthians 11:2
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul said, I have gotten you engaged to one husband, that I may present you (that is, the Body of Christ) as a chaste (pure) virgin to Christ.
All the way through Paul’s letters he makes reference to Christ as the head and the husband, and the Body of Christ is the virgin Bride. That is why Paul is always admonishing believers to live a life of purity, a life of separation, because we are not to be the adulterous wife of Jehovah as Israel was. Let’s turn back now to Psalm 2. This is an outline of the Old Testament program. Like the rest of the Old Testament, as well as in the Gospels, in this Psalm there is no hint of this “mystery”, this secret hid in the mind of God of this Gentile Bride of Christ, or the Body of Christ. Everything had been promises made to Israel.
“Why do the heathen (Gentiles) rage, and the people (Israel) imagine a vain thing?
That word, “vain” is probably best defined as Solomon used it in Ecclesiastes 12:8, when he said, “‘Vanity of vanities,’ saith the preacher;‘ all is vanity.’” It’s just an activity of uselessness. This is what the Scriptures are asking. Why do Israel, and the heathen world alike, constantly exercise for nothing? Let’s go on.
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers (of Israel) take counsel together, (Jews and Gentiles) against the LORD, (Jehovah) and against his anointed (Christ—the anointed One), saying,…” Why do the rulers of this world and Israel reject The Messiah?
“‘Let us break their bands asunder (the control of the Godhead, that’s why the plural pronoun is used), and cast away their cords from us.’”
In other words, they’re rejecting God in their affairs. Remember when Israel was presented with Christ by Pilate, what was their reply? “Away with Him, we’ll not have this man to rule over us!” Pilate carried it out; the Jews abandoned Him; and the whole human race fell under the guilt of the Crucifixion, because the rulers of Jews and Gentiles alike rejected him and said, “Crucify Him!” They had cast off every opportunity of God’s being able to rule over them. After all, that’s why Christ came, wasn’t it? He came to be their King, and was presented as their King, but they continued to reject Him and finally, actually, put Him to death.
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.”
They can never outdo God! God is going to have the last word. The word derision is best summed up as “total confusion.”