Search for the Bride
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Time of the Search
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, "Please, put your hand under my thigh,
and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell;
but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac." (Genesis 24:1-4).
There are five chapters in the book of Genesis which form an overall type, comprised of a number of individual types — chapters twenty-one through twenty-five. These five chapters, in the antitype, present a chronological, dispensational sequence of events carrying one from the birth of Christ to the Messianic Kingdom. Events in these chapters point to a period covering slightly over 2,000 years within man’s 6,000-year day. This period begins very near the end of the Jewish dispensation, covers all of the Christian dispensation, and leads into the Messianic Era.
And this is exactly the same period of time covered by revelation in the New Testament. The New Testament begins with events surrounding the birth of Christ (near the end of the Jewish dispensation) and concludes with events surrounding the Messianic Kingdom (cf. Matthew 1:18-25; Revelation 20:1-6; 22:7-21).
Thus, in this respect, these five chapters in Genesis form a foundational, dispensational, skeletal framework upon which the whole of New Testament revelation can be seen to rest. And the New Testament, in turn, dealing with exactly the same subject matter in an expanded manner, forms a commentary on that set forth in these five chapters. The New Testament forms the sinews and flesh that attach themselves to and clothe this skeletal framework (cf. Ezekiel 37:1-10).
This same type relationship between two sections of Scripture is something common to the book of Genesis. Note that the book opens in this manner, with the whole of Scripture brought into view. Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Creation, Ruin, Restoration, and Rest) forms the foundational framework upon which all subsequent Scripture rests. All Scripture beyond Genesis 2:3 simply forms a commentary on that set forth in the foundational framework. The skeletal framework is set forth at the beginning, and the remainder of Scripture forms the sinews and flesh that attach themselves to and clothe this skeletal framework.
And with Scripture structured after the preceding fashion, one thing should be very evident. Commentary presupposes a knowledge of that with which the commentary deals. Sinews and flesh presuppose bones upon which they are to be attached and which are to hold them in place.
All Scripture subsequent to the foundational material set forth at the beginning has been written in a manner that presupposes a familiarity with this foundational material. This subsequent Scripture has been given in a manner that presupposes that it is going to be read and studied in conjunction with a previously laid foundation. And when this isn’t done, one finds himself dealing with commentary upon a subject apart from a basic knowledge of that subject. Or, one finds himself attempting to deal with sinews and flesh apart from a skeletal framework to which they are to be attached and which is to hold them in place.
Thus, the importance of understanding foundational sections of Scripture that God has set forth in His Word cannot be overemphasized. The structure of Scripture following the foundational passages, relating back to these passages, presupposes an understanding of these passages. And, apart from an understanding of these foundational passages, subsequent Scripture relating back to these passages cannot possibly be properly understood.
In the Genesis account, “Abraham” is a type of God the Father and “Isaac” a type of God the Son. This becomes unquestionably clear in chapter twenty-two where Abraham offers his son upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah, pointing to God offering His Son upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah 2,000 years later.
God was very specific in His instructions to Abraham concerning the place where Isaac was to be offered — “on one of the mountains [in ‘the land of Moriah’] of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2). And the reason is obvious. Events surrounding Abraham offering his son form an unchangeable type of events surrounding the Father one day offering His Son.
God’s Son was apparently offered upon this same mount — in “the mount of the Lord” — that Abraham called, “Jehovah-jireh [‘the Lord will provide’]” (Genesis 22:14). God provided a substitute in this place two different times. He provided a substitute in this place during Abraham’s day, and He provided a Substitute in this same place 2,000 years later.
With “Abraham” typifying God the Father, it would only follow that “Sarah,” his wife, would typify Israel, the wife of Jehovah. And this fits perfectly within the typical structure of these chapters in Genesis and that seen in the New Testament commentary.
Sarah was barren; and because she was barren, Abraham and Sarah sought to bring God’s promise concerning a seed to pass through Hagar and their own efforts. But God always rejects man’s efforts. Man’s best efforts, in God’s eyes, are no different than his worst efforts. All emanate from the same source — the man of flesh, which God has rejected (Genesis 16:1-4; 17:18, 19; cf. Isaiah 64:6).
God alone does His work in His time. After Sarah was physically incapable of childbirth, because of her age, God performed a supernatural work in her life, resulting in Isaac’s birth (Genesis 17:17-19; 21:1ff).
Israel later appeared in the same barren condition (Matthew 21:18, 19). And God did something quite similar on the other end of the spectrum in the antitype. He took a Jewish maiden — a woman who had not known a man and would, thus, through natural means, be incapable of childbirth — and performed a supernatural work in her life, resulting in the birth of the One Whom Isaac typified. Though Israel was barren (as Sarah had been barren), the nation, through a supernatural work, brought forth (as Sarah had brought forth through the same supernatural means [Matthew 1:18-25]).
Thus, in chapter twenty-one, the supernatural birth of Isaac typifies the supernatural birth of Christ. In chapter twenty-two, the offering of Isaac typifies the offering of Christ. Then, the next event in the dispensation scheme of matters as presented in these chapters is seen through the death of Sarah in chapter twenty-three.
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, died following the offering of Isaac. And this is exactly what is seen in the antitype. Israel, the wife of Jehovah, died following the offering of Christ. Israel was set aside for a dispensation and is looked upon during this time as being in the place of death.
This can be seen, for example, in a corresponding type (Jonah dying in the belly of the fish [Jonah 1, 2]) or in the seventh sign in John’s gospel (Lazarus’ death [John 11]). But in both the type and the sign, Jonah and Lazarus were raised from the dead, as Israel will one day be raised out of the place of death. And Jonah and Lazarus were both raised on the same day — the third day (Jonah 1:17-2:10 [cf. Matthew 12:39, 40; 16:21]; John 11:6, 7, 43, 44) — pointing to Israel being raised on the third day as well.
The third day is seen in Genesis 22:4. Events on the mount occurred on the third day, which would involve Abraham receiving his son “in a figurative sense [Gk. parabole, ‘parable’]” (Hebrews 11:19).
The offering of Abraham’s son is looked upon in two senses in Scripture — parabolic and typical. And though the type is evident, attention is called to the parabolic aspect of the matter in the book of Hebrews.
A parable (a transliterated form of the compound Greek word parabole [from para, “alongside”; and bole, “to cast”]) is simply a subsequent truth placed alongside a previous truth to shed light upon and help explain the previous truth.
A type, on the other hand, points to biblical truth in a reverse sense to that of a parable. A type appears first and points to a corresponding antitype out ahead (rather than, as a parable, appearing last and pointing to corresponding, previously revealed truth). But both types and parables are given for the same basic purpose — to shed light upon and help explain that to which they relate.
Abraham offered his son upon the mount of the Lord’s choosing, though death itself occurred in a substitute (a ram caught in the thicket died in Isaac’s stead [Genesis 22:9ff; Hebrews 11:17-19]). Isaac died “in a substitute,” and Abraham received his son from the dead in a parable (reflecting back on previously revealed truth [e.g., events in Genesis 3, 4, where teachings pertaining to death and shed blood are introduced in Scripture]). And events surrounding the offering of Isaac, as well, form a type (pointing forward to the antitype, where teachings pertaining to death and shed blood are climaxed in Scripture [Matthew 27:35ff]).
The third day points not only to the resurrection of Isaac “in the type,” or Christ “in the antitype,” but it also points to that time when all of God’s firstborn Sons will be raised. All of God’s firstborn Sons (Jesus, Israel, and the Church [following the adoption]) are to be raised (elevated to positions of power and authority) on the third day — the third 1,000-year period dating from the crucifixion, the antitype of that seen in Abraham receiving his son in a parable in Genesis chapter twenty-two (receiving his son from the dead, with death being effected vicariously).
God will restore Israel, one of His firstborn Sons, on the third day. And this is dealt with through events in Genesis chapter twenty-five, where Abraham marries Keturah following the death of Sarah (chapter 23) and following the bride being procured for Isaac (chapter 24). “Abraham’s remarriage” points to Israel’s restoration, which will occur only following events surrounding the present dispensation (seen through events in chapter 24).
Abraham, following his eldest servant procuring a bride for his son (chapter 24), then married Keturah (chapter 25), who was fruitful where Sarah had been barren. Keturah bore Abraham six sons, where Sarah, apart from divine intervention, had not borne him any sons. And this points to Israel’s fruitfulness in that coming day following the nation’s restoration.
Thus, Genesis chapter twenty-five moves matters into the Messianic Era, pointing to Israel’s future restoration following the events seen in chapter twenty-four. And the events in chapter twenty-four can only point to events of the present dispensation, which occur between two points in time — between Israel being set aside (chapter 23) and Israel being restored (chapter 25). Events in this chapter, in the antitype, occur during that time when Israel lies in the place of death (for two days, for 2,000 years), typified by Jonah and seen in the sign of Lazarus.
In the type, the events seen in chapter twenty-four have to do with Abraham sending his eldest servant into Mesopotamia to procure a bride for His son, Isaac. And in the antitype these events can only point to one thing. They can only point to God sending the Holy Spirit into the world to procure a bride for His Son, Jesus. The whole of chapter twenty-four has to do with God’s purpose for the present dispensation — the search for and procurement of a bride for His Son.
Thus, the events of Genesis chapters twenty-one through twenty-five can easily be seen to form one overall type comprised of five individual types, carrying one, in the antitype, from the birth of Christ to the Messianic Kingdom.
And an understanding of the sequence of events through these five chapters will allow a person to place events during the present dispensation in their proper perspective. As previously stated, events during the present dispensation occur between two points in time (Israel being set aside [chapter 23], and Israel being restored [chapter 25]), and they have to do with God sending His Spirit into the world for a singular purpose — to procure a bride for His Son.
Thus, an understanding of events in God’s dealings with mankind occurring during the present dispensation, from a biblical standpoint, is inseparably linked with an understanding of that which occurred almost 4,000 years ago in Genesis chapter twenty-four.
Much of New Testament revelation surrounding the existence of the Church in the world and the ministry of the Holy Spirit during the present dispensation offers little background explanation per se. That revealed in Scripture surrounding both, as previously shown, has been given in a manner that presupposes a familiarity with previous, related revelation.
And the preceding is exactly the way in which anyone familiar with the Old Testament types would expect to find all New Testament revelation. All of the preliminary, foundational material surrounding the existence of the Church and the work of the Holy Spirit during the present dispensation was previously revealed in the Old Testament types.
In this respect, a person could only expect to find New Testament revelation given in a manner that presupposes a familiarity with the basics surrounding that with which this revelation deals — basics revealed in the Old Testament.
Supernatural Birth and Subsequent
Offering of Isaac (Genesis 21, 22)
The supernatural birth of God’s Son actually takes up little more space in the gospel accounts than it does in that which is stated about Isaac’s supernatural birth in Genesis (cf. Genesis 17:15-19; 18:9-14; 21:1-5; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35; 2:1-7). The matter is only briefly dealt with in both type and antitype.
Comparing the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the New Testament begins with events surrounding the birth of two individuals — Jesus, and John the Baptist.
Matthew deals only with events surrounding the birth of Jesus, with John not mentioned until about thirty years later when he appeared in the wilderness of Judaea with the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand” (Matthew 1:1-3:12).
Mark doesn’t deal with events surrounding the birth of either Jesus or John but begins his account some thirty years later with John’s ministry.
And Luke begins his account by providing detail concerning events surrounding the birth of both Jesus and John (Luke 1:1ff).
John the Baptist was born about six months prior to the time Jesus was born. And from the time of his birth, nothing is recorded about John until the day he, as the forerunner of the Messiah, began his ministry in the wilderness of Judaea “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (cf. Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 11:13, 14; Luke 1:17).
In a similar fashion, except for one brief incident (Luke 2:41-52), nothing is recorded about Christ from events surrounding His birth until that time when He began His earthly ministry. Jesus began His ministry following the time John began his ministry; and after John had been imprisoned, Jesus took up the same message that John had previously been proclaiming (cf. Matthew 4:17ff; John 3:22ff).
Thus, very little information is given in the gospel accounts concerning events preceding John’s and Christ’s ministries. And, once John had been imprisoned, the gospel accounts deal almost exclusively with events surrounding Christ’s ministry. These events lead up to Israel’s rejection of the message and the Messenger, along with the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of the Messenger.
In this respect, the gospel accounts can easily be seen to cover that period foreshadowed by events previously seen in Genesis chapters twenty-one and twenty-two (though first seen in Genesis 3, 4). The gospel accounts provide the commentary for these two chapters, the sinews and flesh that attach themselves to and clothe the skeletal framework.
Death of Sarah (Genesis 23)
That typified by the death of Sarah, in the antitype, would have to follow the Son’s crucifixion (Genesis 22) but precede God sending the Holy Spirit into the world to procure a bride for His Son (Genesis 24). God, at the time of Christ’s death, would have had to still be dealing with Israel as a nation. Christ was the Paschal Lamb, and Israel alone could slay this Lamb (Exodus 12:1ff).
However, once this had been done, followed by Christ’s resurrection on the third day (also seen in Genesis 22), the events foreshadowed by Sarah’s death in Genesis chapter twenty-three could then come to pass. At any time following Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, Israel, in accord with the Old Testament type, could be set aside.
And this had to be effected sometime during the fifty days between Christ’s resurrection and God sending His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, for that which occurred in Acts chapter two began the fulfillment of that foreshadowed by events in Genesis chapter twenty-four.
1) The Nation Set Aside
Within the gospel narratives, the matter of Israel being set aside in the antitype of Sarah’s death in Genesis chapter twenty-three is dealt with more fully during Christ’s earthly ministry but not carried out until following His death, burial, and resurrection. Material extending from the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in Matthew 12:22ff to Christ’s announcement in Matthew 21:43 detail the chronology of events that lead up to Israel being set aside following Christ’s resurrection.
In Matthew 12:22ff, the Pharisees accused Christ of using Satanic power to cast a demon out of a man. Christ though was casting out demons through the power of the Spirit. And because Israel’s religious leaders were associating this power with Satanic power, Christ announced to them,
Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31, 32).
This act by Israel’s religious leaders in Matthew chapter twelve, followed by Christ’s announcement to them, marked the major turning point in Christ’s ministry. It was shortly after this, on the same day, that Christ (because of that which had occurred) went out of the house, sat by the seaside, and began to speak in parables. The “house” had to do with the house of Israel, the “seaside” had to do with the Gentiles, and the reason He spoke in “parables” was revealed to be twofold:
Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [Israel’s unbelieving religious leaders, and extending to those whom they had misled] it has not been given.
For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.'
But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear (Matthew 13:11b-16).
Parables relate back to previously revealed truth; and in order to understand a parable, one must have an understanding of that to which the parable relates. The parable is dependent upon the previously revealed truth.
The disciples had accepted and understood the previously revealed truth to which the parables related. Thus, they would be in a position to understand the parables that Christ gave. However, this was not the case with Israel’s religious leaders. They had rejected this previously revealed truth and were in no position to understand the parables. The parables would, thus, be meaningless to them.
Christ gave four parables outside the house, and He then reentered the house where He gave three additional parables. The last three parables, though still connected with the Gentiles, had to do with Israel as well. Thus, Christ had to reenter the house before giving these parables.
However, Christ reentering the house was not an act that signaled a return to conditions as they had existed before He left the house. Rather, conditions relative to Israel had unalterably changed immediately preceding the time Christ left the house; and though God was still dealing with Israel as a nation, things were taking a sharp turn toward that which was about to occur — Israel being set aside, while God removed from the Gentiles “a people for His name” (Acts 15:14).
God’s future dealing with the Gentiles once again came into view in Matthew 15:21ff through the account of the Syrophenician woman’s daughter being healed. Then in Matthew 16:18ff, Christ, for the first time, mentioned the Church (which would be comprised mainly of those taken from the Gentiles).
It was following Christ calling attention to the Church that He instructed His disciples to tell no man that He was the Christ (because of events beginning in Matthew 12:22ff [v. 20]). Then, for the first time in His ministry the Cross came into full view:
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (Matthew 16:21; cf. 17:22, 23; 20:17-19; 21:18, 19, 38, 39).
Though, for all practical purposes, the kingdom was taken from Israel at the time of the events in Matthew 12:22ff, the announcement was not made until shortly before Christ was crucified:
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:43).
Then God continued to deal with Israel until following the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Only after these things, according to the typology of Genesis chapters twenty-two and twenty-three, could God discontinue His dealings with Israel. And, according to the typology of Genesis chapter twenty-four, God must discontinue His dealings with Israel prior to the Holy Spirit being sent into the world to procure a bride for His Son — an event seen to begin in Acts chapter two.
Israel being set aside can be seen in the gospel accounts after one fashion and in the book of Acts after another fashion.
In Luke 24:13-31, the entire nation is typified by the two disciples on the Emmaus road. They had been blinded for two days, dating from the crucifixion; and their sight was restored on the third day through Christ personally revealing Himself to them (vv. 20, 21, 25-31).
This event deals with time during the present dispensation and points to Israel’s present blindness, which will last for two days — 2,000 years. Israel’s sight will be restored on the third day, the third 1,000-year period dating from the crucifixion; and the nation’s sight will be restored through Christ personally revealing Himself to them (Hosea 5:15-6:2; Zechariah 12:10-14; 13:6; cf. Genesis 45:1ff).
Then in the book of Acts, at the end of a forty-day period during which Christ instructed His disciples in “things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (1:3), they asked Him if the kingdom would be restored to Israel at this time (v. 6). But Christ directed their thoughts in another direction — to that which would occur ten days hence, when the Holy Spirit would be sent (1:6-8; cf. 2:1ff).
Israel at this point in time had apparently been set aside, in complete accord with Genesis chapter twenty-three. And in complete accord with Genesis chapter twenty-four, the Holy Spirit would be sent into the world, with a view to another being called forth to bear fruit for the kingdom.
2) Another Called to Bear Fruit
In Matthew 21:43, attention is called to that which was about to be taken from Israel — “the kingdom of God” (that part of the kingdom which had been offered, the kingdom of the heavens) — with a view to this kingdom subsequently being offered to “a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” This is the “nation” referred to in 1 Peter 2:9, 10, called into existence on the day of Pentecost, 30 A.D.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9, 10)
The kingdom was taken from Israel, and an entirely new entity, which was neither Jew nor Gentile but a new creation “in Christ” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:11-15), was called into existence to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected. And this new entity, seen in type through events in Genesis chapter twenty-four, could only have come into existence through that which occurred on the day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. (Acts 2:1ff).
The Spirit could not be sent, in the antitype of that seen in Genesis chapter twenty-four until Christ had been “glorified” (John 7:38, 39). And this event, contrary to common belief, did not occur at the time of Christ’s resurrection. Christ was not raised in a glorified body. He was raised in the same body of flesh and bones that had previously been placed in the tomb (cf. Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:39). And this body, as prior to the crucifixion, lacked the covering of Glory at the time of His resurrection. This body was not enswathed in Glory until forty days later, when He was “received up into glory” (cf. Acts 1:9; 1Timothy 3:16).
(Note the difference in Christ’s resurrection body without, and later with, this covering of Glory. The two disciples on the Emmaus road [et al] were able to gaze on this body and not see recognizable differences between this body and that of any other body [cf. Luke 24:15-39; John 20:14-18, 26-28].
But this was not the case at all after Christ’s body was enswathed in the Glory of God. Paul, for example, was blinded by Christ’s appearance on the road to Damascus, by a brightness above that of the noonday sun [Acts 9:3-5, 9; 26:12-15]; and note the description of the One upon Whom Christians will one day gaze [Revelation 1:16].)
The day of Pentecost in 30 A.D., occurring ten days following Christ’s ascension, is the only time that can possibly be considered as the antitype of Abraham sending his eldest servant into Mesopotamia to procure a bride for his son. The timing of this event was in exact accord with the type, along with the fact this was the only time when an event of this nature occurred in the New Testament.
And, though God was dealing with a new entity during a new dispensation, with Israel set aside, there was still a reoffer of the kingdom to Israel during about the first three decades of the new dispensation. This offer was made by the new creation “in Christ,” now in possession of that which had been taken from Israel. And since Israel was still in view in the preceding respect, signs, wonders, and miracles (as before) accompanied the proclamation of this message.
The book of Acts details this reoffer of the kingdom to Israel. This reoffer began on the day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. and extended to the third and last time Paul, in the Gentile world, announced to Israel’s religious leaders, “…the salvation of God [deliverance pertaining to the kingdom] is sent unto the Gentiles…” (Acts 28:28).
Israel, though set aside, held priority in the proclamation of this message throughout that time seen in the book of Acts. But, unlike the preceding time extending from the preaching of John to the events surrounding Calvary, the Gentiles were now also included.
From the sending of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. until Paul’s statement to the Jewish religious leaders in Rome, recorded in Acts 28:28 (abt. 62 A.D.), the message was “to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (cf. Romans 1:16; 2:9, 10). However, following Paul’s statement in Acts 28:28, Israel no longer held priority, and the message beyond this point in time was proclaimed to one group of individuals alone.
Beyond Paul’s statement in Acts 28:28, the one new man “in Christ” alone is in view. This one new man, because his origin (mainly from the Gentiles), is often associated with the Gentiles, or the uncircumcision (as in Romans 1:16; 2:9, 10; Galatians 2:2, 7). But his true identity is separate from either Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:26-29). He is one new man “in Christ,” brought into existence to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected and to bring forth fruit where Israel had failed.