James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.Genesis 24:1-25:18
ISAAC’S MARRIAGE, ABRAHAM’S DEATH
In Abraham’s time, communications between families separated by long distances were few and far between. But he seems to have gotten news from his brother’s home sometime after the birth of Isaac, as recorded at the close of chapter 22, linking that chapter to the one we are now considering.
SELECTING THE BRIDE (Genesis 24:1-52)
Notice the preparation made by Abraham for Isaac’s marriage (Genesis 24:1-9), the oath he administers to his servant, the condition he exacts, the prohibition he places upon him, the assurances he gives him, the exemption he grants.
It may not at first appear why Abraham is so solicitous that Isaac’s wife shall be taken from his own people rather than the Canaanites, since both were idolaters. But the evil traits of the Canaanites, which afterwards caused them to be driven out of the land, must have been apparent to Abraham even then; moreover there may have been something in this people on the other side of the Euphrates making them more amenable to the purposes of God with reference to the coming Seed, in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed. But it is always to be kept in mind that Abraham was under the guidance of God, and that there was more than man’s wisdom or foresight in this transaction.
Notice the preparation made by the servant for his journey (Genesis 24:10-14), and observe that the gifts were a dowry for the expected bride, to be paid, however, in accordance with oriental custom, not to her but to her father. How does the servant show his knowledge of the true God? How does his prayer illustrate Proverbs 3:5-6? And yet there is another side to the matter, for it is ill-advised to leave the decisions of life to the arbitrament of signs, and grievous errors have arisen from accrediting God with the outcome of them. When we have the Word of God, the Spirit of God and providences of God for our guides, and the throne of grace open to our appeals, it is expected and doubtless salutary that we bear the responsibility of our own decisions in difficult places. Indeed, we are likely to show more reverence for and confidence in God’s guidance in this way than in the other.
Notice the facts about Rebekah in Genesis 24:15-28.
Notice the servant’s faithfulness in Genesis 24:29-52. Do we get a touch of Laban’s character in Genesis 24:30-31? How does it impress you? How does the servant testify to Abraham and his son in Genesis 24:35-36? What is the result of the embassy so far as the father and brother of Rebekah are concerned? Which of the two seems to assume the more importance?
ACCEPTING THE HUSBAND (Genesis 24:53-61)
Notice the additional gifts now presented to Rebekah. But who else are also remembered? What objection is interposed, by whom, and why? Who settles the question, and how? What blessing is pronounced upon her? Do you think it has been, or will be, fulfilled?
THE MARRIAGE RITE (Genesis 24:62-67)
Notice how Isaac is represented in Genesis 24:63. Was he thinking about his bride? Notice the action of Rebekah, which was an indication of the inferiority to men with which women were then regarded. It would have been improper for Rebekah to have approached her future husband either unveiled or riding, instead of walking. What title did the servant give to Isaac, and what report did he make to him? In what did the wedding ceremony consist? What must have been the significance to the whole camp in this act of Isaac in bringing Rebekah “into his mother Sarah’s tent?” Did it now show that she had now come into that place of importance and authority theretofore occupied by Sarah, and belonging by right to her, who was the recognized wife of the head of the clan?
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE TRANSACTION
We have, in this beautiful story, a striking type of the union between Christ and His bride, the Church:
(1) Abraham arranged the marriage for Isaac, and so the Father has made the marriage for Christ (Matthew 22:1-2); The servant selected the bride, and so the Holy Spirit calls out the Church (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13); The plan of the servant was simply to tell who his master was, and how he had honored his son, and so the Holy Spirit takes the things of Christ and shows them unto us (John 15:26; John 16:13-15).
See further the free agency of the bride in accepting Isaac, and the expression of her purpose in the words “I will go”; also, the separation from loved ones, but the compensation for all in anticipation.
Observe, as well, Isaac’s coming out to meet her in the eventide, with its suggestion of Christ’s return for His Church at the close of the present age (John 14:1-3); and even his leading Rebekah into his mother’s tent, how it foreshadows the place of authority and glory the Church shall have when she reigns with Christ over the millennial earth (Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Colossians 3:4; Revelation 20:4-6).
THE DEATH OF ABRAHAM (Genesis 25:1-10)
It is presumable that Abraham’s relationship to Keturah was entered into sometime before the marriage of Isaac, and indeed it may have been before his birth. This seems probable, since Genesis 25:6, as well as 1 Chronicles 1:32, speaks of her as his concubine, and not his wife. The occasion for the allusion to the matter is suggested by the servant’s remark in the preceding chapter concerning the possessions of Isaac (compare Genesis 24:36 with Genesis 25:5). In other words, the gifts to the offspring of Keturah and the settlement of the latter in the east were matters that had been attended to before the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah.
Note the age of Abraham (Genesis 25:7), and the way in which his departure from this life is designated (Genesis 25:8), affording an intimation of the conscious and sentient condition of the dead while awaiting the resurrection of their bodies.
1. What connection do you see between chapters 22 and 24?
2. Can you give any reasons for Abraham’s solicitude about the wife of Isaac?
3. Can you quote from memory Proverbs 3:5-6?
4. Can you name four or five features in which the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah symbolizes the union of Christ and His Church?
5. Recall three or four features in which Abraham’s life-story illustrates Romans 4:20, last clause.