Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Finding Rebekah for Isaac
“At that time, Jesus spoke to the chief priests and the Pharisees in parables, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a king who made a marriage feast for his son. And he sent his servants to call in those invited to the marriage feast for his son. And he sent his servants to call in those invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come. Again he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatlings are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ But they made light of it, and went off, one to his farm, and another to his business; and the rest laid hold of his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. But when the king heard of it, he was angry; and he sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The marriage feast indeed is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy; go therefore to the crossroads, and invite to the marriage feast whomever you shall find.’ And his servants went out into the roads, and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; and the marriage feast was filled with guests. Now the king went in to see the guests, and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet and cast him forth into the darkness outside, where there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Before Abraham finished his life, we read in Genesis 24 of his concern for his son. He sent his servant to go and find a bride for his son. There are many marriages mentioned in Scripture, but only two marriages that we see clearly as being God-ordained. Not that others were not, but in these two cases they clearly were marriages that God willed. One was Adam's. Eve was definitely God's choice. The other was Isaac's marriage. Rebekah was God's choice too. People ask me, "Do you believe in arranged marriages?" "Yes," I tell them, "I believe in marriages arranged by God!" God arranged it through one's parents (as in Isaac's case)
When a man senses God leading him to pursue marriage with a particular woman, he should seek counsel from God-given authorities. In most cases, he will consult his parents, but in some situations, such as in the absence of parents due to death, other Godly mentors such as a pastor may fill this role of counselor.
As God’s direction to pursue courtship is confirmed through the man’s authorities, through insights from God’s Word, and through prayer, he should contact the woman’s father to request permission to initiate the courtship. Only when the woman’s father has given the man his blessing to enter into a courtship relationship with his daughter is the man free to focus on winning her affections. The thing that matters is that it must be arranged by God. And God will work through the parents to do this.
If you are a godly father, you will have a concern for your children's marriages. If you as a young man are fortunate enough to have a godly father, I would say that you should take his advice very seriously. If such a godly father says "No," to the one you want to marry, wait. God may be testing you there. Your father's "No" may only be for a time. After God sees that you are willing to respect your godly father's advice, He will give you the wife He has chosen.
Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac is a picture of God the Father sending His Holy Spirit to earth to pick a bride for His Son Jesus Christ. That is what is happening in the world today as the gospel is preached. Read that chapter, and you will find some beautiful analogies.
One of the tests that the servant applied in finding Isaac a helpmate was to find out whether the girl would be willing to offer water to his camels. You know that camels drink a lot of water. What Abraham's servant wanted to find out was whether the girl was a gracious, hard-working girl. And Rebekah was such a girl. She was also a modest girl, for it is clear from Genesis 24:16,that she had no interest in gazing at strangers, like Abraham's servant who was at that well. She had filled her jar with water and was about to go home, when Abraham's servant made his request. That is the type of wife you need.
And that is the type of bride for Christ that the Father looks for on earth as well. God led Abraham's servant sovereignly to the right person - Rebekah. The servant then took Rebekah on that long and dangerous journey of 500 miles (that probably took a month) all the way back from Mesopotamia to Canaan-a picture of our journey in this world as the bride of Christ.
What do you think the servant talked to Rebekah about, during that long journey? I am sure it was about Isaac. What do you think the Holy Spirit wants to talk to us about on our long journey? About Jesus. And I am also sure Rebekah herself was keen to hear about Isaac.
I want to know more and more about my wonderful Savior, from the Holy Spirit on this long journey, until the day I see Him face to face (like Rebekah saw Isaac). And then one day, like Rebekah, I too shall enter the tent of my Lord and be His wife. We, the Church, will no longer be in that betrothal period, (a kind of courtship only with a contract involved), we will actually be the bride, the wife, of God! Do you have that longing?