The account in Genesis 24 is indeed a great story pregnant with spiritual truth. We shall look at some aspects of it briefly, especially as they relate to the way of spiritual rest.
The first thing that comes out is the fact that it was Abraham and not Isaac who was preoccupied with the matter of a wife for Isaac. Abraham saw the need for Isaac to have a wife. He saw the need for him to be comforted after his mother’s death. Isaac was pre-occupied with meditation. He was preoccupied with the things from above. He was preoccupied with the Lord and His glory, and the Lord got someone to be occupied with his own needs. He bothered about God and someone else bothered about him. The Bible says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matthew 6:31-33). Those who have entered into the rest of God and are continuing in that rest have decided to be preoccupied with the Lord
- His holiness,
- His Kingdom,
- His will,
- His service.
They have decided to seek first the Kingdom of God, and they trust the Lord to add all these other things to them, including a wife.
The second thing is the fact that Abraham’s servant was not labouring to have a great name for himself. Before Abraham had any son, that servant was the heir to all that Abraham had. When Isaac came, the heirship passed from him to Isaac. However, he was not jealous. He did not desire that which was not his from above. John the baptist had the same spirit. He said, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:27-30). The servant advertised the greatness of Abraham and his son Isaac. He said nothing about his own importance. His importance lay in serving. He was content to serve. He was content to have Abraham and Isaac have all the honour. Those who are anxious to serve the Lord and to serve others in the Lord’s name and have no other desire whatsoever, have entered into the rest of God. If God’s will is done, they will rejoice without bothering who will have the honour from man. Their joy is full that the Lord’s name is being advanced!
The root of much restlessness lies in the desire to be
Those who desire to be seen, heard, honoured, praised, consulted, etc, are still governed by the “self-life”. There will always be something or someone who will prevent them from being seen, heard, honoured, praised, or consulted as they would like. That person or that circumstance stands in the way of their self-love being fully expressed, and causes them to react. That reaction causes restlessness. Each person is at rest to the extent to which he has allowed the cross to deal with the self in him. Such are preoccupied with the glory of the Lord and only with the glory of God. They know that the Lord’s Kingdom is for ever and that it cannot be overthrown. Because God watches over His Kingdom to establish it, nothing can really cause them to be anxious. They simply leave all things in the hands of Him who is well able to take care of His honour and His glory. They are at rest about the work, because it is the Lord’s and not theirs. They are at rest about the workers, because it is the Lord and the Lord alone who sends labourers into His harvest, and no purpose of His can be thwarted. They are at rest twenty-four hours a day because God is awake and at work twenty-four hours a day, and He controls all and ensures that all His sovereign purposes are accomplished. All who are at rest know that nothing can happen without the Lord’s permission, and that the Lord is able to control and transform all that He allows to happen for the good of those who love Him, regardless of what anyone else may intend.
The third thing is that those who are at rest believe that God is able and, thereby, cease from carnal wrestling. Abraham believed that God was able to choose a wife for his son Isaac and, therefore, it was not necessary for him or for Isaac to go along. Isaac also believed the same and they both stayed behind and were at rest while Abraham’s servant went in search of her. The servant also believed that God was able to do it. Those who believe God cease from carnal activity. The Bible says, “For whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labours as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10).
The fourth thing is that those who are at rest do not only believe that the Lord is able to do what He has promised. They believe that the Lord will do that which He has promised. Because the Lord has promised, they believe Him and consider it done. The servant of Abraham prayed, saying, “Let her be the one whom thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac” (Genesis 24:14). He knew that God had actually appointed a certain girl to be the wife of Isaac. His problem was to know which one it was. He also knew that God was committed to guiding him about the matter. Those who are at rest do not only know that God is able. They know that the God who is able will do it. They also know that since He will do it, they can consider it done and, therefore, dwell in perfect peace as they wait for that which He has done to become manifest. The Bible says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is the evidence of things not yet seen. When a person has evidence of what he has not yet seen, he believes God. The Bible, again, says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). Faith always comes before sight. Abraham said, “The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your descendants I will give this land, he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there’ ” (Genesis 24:7). Abraham was sure of what would happen. Because he was sure, he said, “He will send... you shall take.” To him, it was certain. It was settled. It was as good as done. He was at rest about the matter. On what was his assurance based ? It was not based on his feelings,
It was not based on what he had read somewhere or on what someone had told him. His assurance was based on a personal word spoken to him by the Lord. It was not based on the general word of God addressed to all the people of the world of which he was a part. It was based on God’s subjective word to him, a word that stemmed out of personal history with God. He said that the Lord had
taken him from his father’s house and country of birth.
spoken to him and
sworn to him.
So his assurance was based on a subjective word and a subjective dealing with God and by God. He could not prove it to anyone. He had no physical evidence to show to anyone who demanded it. Nevertheless, he had encountered the Lord, heard His word and received His oath. He was, therefore, prepared to stake all of his future on those transactions with God.
It was not enough for him to have said, “I heard God,” good as that might have been. It was necessary that there be God’s dealings with him and God’s oath to him. It is necessary that we each
seek the Lord,
hear His voice,
receive dealings from Him and, if need be,
receive oaths from Him.
To just go ahead and do things because one reads from the Bible that another person did that, is folly. We cannot build our future on what God said to another person. In times of need we will have to be sure that God has indeed spoken to us.
If we look at the much activity that is carried out in the name of the Lord and the little evidence of lasting fruit, we need to ask ourselves where the problem is. If week after week, month after month and year after year, people in a certain local assembly pray for
- the lame,
- blind and
and none of these is ever miraculously healed, should the elders not stop and ask what has happened? Why should they continue to carry out this ritual in the name of the Lord?
Is it not time to be honest and say that things are not what they should be? Is it not time for the leaders to stop such play-acting in God’s name, withdraw and seek God ? If they do, I believe that God will speak to them as He spoke to Abraham. He will deal with them as He dealt with him and He will swear to them as he swore to him. They will then come out, and things will never be the same.
What we need at this crisis hour is perhaps not another sermon of the type we have been hearing preached all these years with no real results. We do not need another song or another book or another ministry of the same kind. What we need is people to whom God has spoken, people who have truly heard God; people who have indeed “seen” the Lord and have received a message from Him, that has transformed their lives. Such people will have power from God to cause other lives to be transformed. They will not struggle much to draw the attention of man. Men will seek them!
The fifth thing is that Rebekah was willing to come. Her relatives knew that the thing was of the Lord and, therefore, they refused to say anything for or against it. They yielded to that which they knew was the will of God. Hearts that are sensitive to God know that full surrender to the will of God is the only thing that can be done for His glory and the blessing of man. They surrender and they see God act. We must learn to do the same.
WHAT TYPE OF WIFE DID ISAAC HAVE?
As we have seen, Isaac was preoccupied with God. He was preoccupied with his meditation. He sought God and thus allowed God to choose his wife for him. Did he lose out? What type of wife did he have?
Rebekah possessed seven sterling qualities which are a combination that is rare to find. These are:
She was physically beautiful. The Bible says, “The maiden was very fair to look upon.”
She was a virgin. The Bible says, “A virgin, whom no man had known.”
She was respectful. She said to Abraham’s servant whom she hardly knew, “Drink, my lord.”
She possessed a sense of timing. She was not sluggish. The Bible says, “She quickly let down her jar upon her hand, and gave him a drink. She quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw.”
She was helpful. She said, “Drink, my lord... I will draw for your camels also, until they have done drinking.”
She was generous and hospitable. She said, “We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.”
She was honest. When she knew that she had to go, she did not pretend. She said, “I will go.” She was not dishonest to say, “Let me say, ‘No’, so that my family will know that I love them.” Love and lying cannot go together. She loved her family. She also knew that it was God’s time for her to go, and she said so.
So Isaac, without labouring, received a priceless wife from the Lord. How unlike his son Jacob who was moved by what he saw to choose Rachel and, in a sense, labour for her for fourteen years and was deceived and cheated!
We must decide whether or not we are going to let the Lord handle our affairs for us or we are going to handle them ourselves. If we choose to let God act on our behalf, we must leave everything to Him, and then enter into full rest. If, on the other hand, we want to take our affairs into our own hands, we should take them completely and face the restlessness that comes with it.
The way of rest is to be caught up and preoccupied with the Lord and to let Him take care of our affairs. To do that we will have to trust Him and believe that He loves us more than we love ourselves, and that His plans for us are better than any that we could ever work out for ourselves. We will have to acknowledge that all worrying, manipulations and scheming are sin. Repent of them and surrender absolutely to the Lord. We will have to say, like Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return ; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). And “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). This is the way of rest! This is rest!!