The events of Genesis occured centuries before the events recorded in the New Testament. While the historical record of Genesis was not necessarily made contemporaneously, the history was still written hundreds of years before Christ. The Bible truly is divinely provided and preserved.
We reach chapter 24 of Genesis and there we find another tremendous portrayal of the fundamental spiritual truth revealed in the New Testament.
Abraham commissions his most trusted servant and steward, to go back to the land of Abraham’s youth to find a wife for his son, Isaac. [You will remember that this was the son who was to be slain as a sacrifice on mount Moriah, but was spared by God’s provision of an animal – the amazing picture considered last time about the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross at God the Father’s behest]. The servant finds Rebekah, returns with her, and she marries Isaac, becoming the mother of the people of Israel.
The story has a remarkable parallel with the spiritual facts of the Christian life. God the Father sends out the Holy Spirit to find a bride for the Son, Jesus Christ.
Rebekah represents God’s chosen people, the church. So let us just notice one or two key truths which the story teaches us about God and the church.
Firstly, the initiative is with God. The Holy Spirit approaches the person to be called to Christ, and the Holy Spirit does so in strict accordance with the plan and purpose of God the Father. The choosing and the timing are in God’s hands, not ours !
Secondly, when the Holy Spirit finds God’s chosen and they accept their destiny, the Holy Spirit endows that person with gifts from God. Those gifts are of course very precious and they are to be used for God’s plan and purpose.
Thirdly it is by God’s Holy Spirit that we are led to God the Son to be with him forever. It is not by our own clever ideas or religious practices; nor by our own human effort trying to bring about our own human agenda. No, it is God’s agenda and God’s timing, and God’s enabling. Everything – yes everything – depends upon God, and not us.
Fourthly, let’s observe that Abraham’s servant always acts with respect and grace. He does not force the issue either with Rebekah or with her family. He explains the situation and the outcome desired, and he leaves the decision to allow Rebekah to return with him both to Rebekah and to her family.
God’s Spirit is gracious and respectful. Anyone who claims to be acting for God yet displays any form of violence or disrespect is a liar and an imposter !
These are critical comments from the story in chapter 24 of Genesis regarding God, and especially the ministry of the Holy Spirit. But what about Rebekah, here portraying the qualities required in the church, and in the individual believer ?
Firstly, Rebekah serves, not counting the cost. She offers to water the camels also. That would have involved considerable work and time: imagine hauling the water from the well sufficient to satisfy a camel train ! A willing servant; a woman deeply respectful of her people’s customs of hospitality.
Secondly, she is willing to go. She is willing to leave all that she knows, all that is familiar to her, and go to a life which she knows nothing about, to give her life to a man she has never met before. She is prepared to leave her comfort zone and strike out on the spiritual adventure, trusting that all with be well. She left, believing that her new husband would provide all.
So too must the individual believer and the church. Once having surrendered to God’s call on our lives, we must be prepared to forsake all, trusting him. Primarily that will mean leaving our spiritual home in the places of darkness which live by the values of this world. We embark on a new life with new aims and new values. That life may or may not require a physical change of location. But it will certainly involve a change of spiritual citizenship – leaving the domain of darkness to live instead in the Kingdom of God.
PS please note the call is to be, with and to follow, Christ. It is not for the church to become just another organisation in this world with wealth, positions, titles and political machinations. While formal organisation may have its legitimate place, it is never to become the purpose.