Search for the Bride
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man? ” And she said, “I will go. ”
So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men.
And they blessed Rebekah and said to her: “Our sister, may you become The mother of thousands of ten thousands; And may your descendants possess The gates of those who hate them. ”
Then Rebekah and her maids arose, and they rode on the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed. (Genesis 24:58-61).
Abraham had sent his eldest servant into Mesopotamia to procure a bride for his son, Isaac. The servant had been given specific instructions that the bride was to come from Abraham’s family. And, in order to properly carry out his mission, all of Abraham’s goods had been placed in his possession (Genesis 24:1-10).
Abraham’s servant then took ten of his master’s camels, and the clear inference from the text is that the servant was to use these camels to carry his master’s goods into Mesopotamia. In the text (v. 10), the number of camels is specifically connected with the amount of Abraham’s goods in the servant’s possession. “Ten” is a complete number; it shows ordinal completion. And the servant, singling out ten camels, showed, in a numerical respect, that “all his master's goods were in his hand.”
Once in Mesopotamia, the servant found the prospective bride by a well of water. And through a series of events, which revealed to the servant that Rebekah was indeed the one whom he sought, he began to take things from his master’s goods and give them to her.
Through this means, the servant began to open up and reveal things to Rebekah surrounding that belonging to the father, which would one day belong to the son. And it was only after this had occurred that the prospective bride was confronted with the question: “Will you go with this man?”
That which had been revealed to her had to do with one thing alone. It had to do with the purpose for the servant’s mission into Mesopotamia and that which lay in the future once this purpose had been realized. And, in order to bring about the fulfillment of this purpose, the servant, after he had found the prospective bride, used one means alone.
The servant, after he had found the prospective bride and made known the purpose for his journey, began to take certain things from the goods belonging to his master and give them to Rebekah. The servant did not speak of himself. Rather, he spoke of his master and his master’s son. And, through taking certain things from the goods belonging to his master, he began to progressively reveal to Rebekah that which would one day belong to and be controlled by the Son.
And the son’s wife, completing the son, would inherit with him. The son and his wife together, as one complete person, would exercise control over all these goods at that future time.
Set within the type, the work of Abraham’s servant occurred among those from Abraham’s family (vv. 3, 4, 9, 15), following the offering of Abraham’s son (chapter 22), following the death of Abraham’s wife (chapter 23), but preceding Abraham’s remarriage (chapter 25). That which occurred in chapter twenty-two — death, with the son being received from the place of the dead on the third day (vv. 4, 5; cf. Hebrews 11:17-19) — made it all possible. Then, events throughout the subsequent three chapters, dealing with “wives,” occur in a manner that brings the entire matter to the desired goal.
The death of the father’s wife, following the things surrounding the offering of the son, allowed attention to be turned to matters surrounding a wife for the son (chapters 22, 23). And that is what is seen in chapter twenty-four. Then, the whole of that which is in view is brought to a climax through the son’s marriage at the end of the chapter and the father’s remarriage at the beginning of chapter twenty-five.
Everything moves toward that seen at the end of chapter twenty-four and the beginning of chapter twenty-five — the son possessing a wife who would inherit with him; and the father again possessing a wife, who, unlike his former wife, would be very fruitful. In this respect, the servant’s search for the bride in Genesis chapter twenty-four has to do with the continuation of a sequence of events from previous chapters, which would be brought to a climactic goal at the end of chapter twenty-four and the beginning of chapter twenty-five.
Accordingly, that end was not something that could be brought to pass while the servant was in Mesopotamia seeking the bride for his master’s son. The servant was to remain in Mesopotamia only until he had procured the bride. Once this had been accomplished, he was to leave with the bride in order to present the bride to the son, bringing about a full completion to his mission. This, in turn, would allow matters seen at the beginning of chapter twenty-five to occur, bringing a full end to the whole of that which is in view.
Everything that the servant revealed while in Mesopotamia had to do with the goal out ahead. Rebekah’s family understood these things; and Rebekah, as well, understood these things. And the reason why they understood these things is very simple. The servant revealed these things to them, and they believed the testimony of the servant.
That is the type, and exactly the same thing must be seen in the antitype.
That seen in the antitype of Genesis chapter twenty-two — the death and resurrection of the Son — makes it all possible. Toward the end of chapter twenty-two, following that revealed about the death and resurrection of the Son, mention is made of the heavenly seed and earthly seed of Abraham possessing the gate of the enemy. Then wives occupy the prominent place in the next three chapters. Abraham’s wife dies (chapter 23), a wife is procured for the son (chapter 24), and Abraham again takes a wife (chapter 25).
What is this about? It’s very simple. The whole of the type is dealing with man one day occupying the position for which he was created in the beginning. Salvation has been provided for this purpose (chapter 22a), and possessing the gate of the enemy (chapter 22b) has to do with this purpose. Then the remainder of the overall type has to do with bringing this purpose to pass.
(“The gate” of a city was the place where legal matters were transacted on behalf of those in the city [e.g., Ruth 4:1ff]; and possessing the gate would be an Eastern way of stating that the person exercised control over that particular city, which, in relation to the ultimate destiny of the seed of Abraham — both heavenly and earthly — would be governmental control over the earth from both heavenly and earthly spheres.
Note that this same expression was used by members of Rebekah’s family relative to Rebekah’s seed when they sent her away in Genesis 24:60, carrying the same thought from chapter 22 [vv. 17, 18] into the relationship in which Rebekah was about to enter.)
But why such an emphasis on wives in chapters twenty-three through twenty-five, following that revealed in chapter twenty-two? There is an emphasis of this nature at this point in the overall type simply because of that which previously had been revealed surrounding the first man, the first Adam, who had been created to rule in Genesis chapters one and two. Man cannot rule alone. He must have a wife to rule with him — he as king, and she as consort queen.
(Note that revelation in Scripture is progressive in this respect. One does not begin a study of Scripture in Genesis 23-25 apart from understanding things revealed prior to these chapters. Otherwise, he will be unable to properly understand that being revealed in these chapters.
And this same principle holds true at any point in Scripture. Later revelation is built on prior revelation. If an individual would properly understand the New Testament, he must first possess an understanding of that revealed prior to New Testament revelation, that revealed in the Old Testament. This is why, when studying the New Testament, a person continually finds himself going back to Moses and the Prophets. He is studying commentary in the New Testament, and he needs to understand that to which the commentary pertains if he is to properly understand the commentary.)
For man to rule, he must rule as a complete being; and only through a union with a woman — a husband-wife relationship — is the man seen as complete in this respect.
The picture is derived from Eve being formed from a part of Adam’s body, then presented back to Adam as a helpmate. Eve, a part of Adam’s very being — bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh — completed Adam. The woman, being presented back to the man, made him one complete person (Genesis 2:21-24).
And God said of the man and woman together, “…let them have dominion” (Genesis 1:26-28). The man could rule only as a complete being, which necessitated the woman ruling as consort queen with him.
This whole matter set forth in these opening two chapters cannot change at a later point in Scripture. The exercise of regality in the human realm must be through a husband-wife relationship. Neither the man nor the woman can rule alone. They must rule together as one complete person, with the man occupying the headship.
This is why wives occupy the forefront in three chapters following that which is stated in chapter twenty-two. The means of salvation is seen in the first part of chapter twenty-two, and the purpose for salvation is seen in the latter part of the chapter. And this purpose is then realized at the conclusion of that which follows, i.e., at the conclusion of that which is stated about wives in these three subsequent chapters.
(This is the reason why God, in the Old Testament theocracy, could not rule alone in “the kingdom of men.” He had to have a wife to rule with Him. If He hadn’t had a wife, He would have violated that which He Himself established when He created man.
And the same must hold true for God’s Son. He cannot rule alone. He must have a wife to rule with Him for exactly the same reasons as seen in the husband-wife relationship between God and Israel in the Old Testament theocracy, which goes back to the principle set forth in Genesis chapters one and two.
All of this is seen in the marriage relationship today, which is the basis for not only properly understanding Ephesians 5:22-32 but the entire marriage relationship [note that this section in Ephesians 5 cannot be properly understood apart from that revealed in Genesis 1, 2]. The wife completes the husband. They rule in the house together, as one complete person — he as king, and she as consort queen. He exercises the headship, but she rules as co-heir with him. That which belongs to him belongs to her.
The husband and wife rule the house together after this fashion, looking out ahead to the same relationship that they can one day exercise with Christ, ruling as co-heir with Him over His house. And, as seen in Isaiah 2:1-4, this has to do with a rulership over the entire earth.)
Matters surrounding all of this will be realized through that foreshadowed by events at the end of chapter twenty-four and the beginning of chapter twenty-five — the Son taking a wife, and God restoring His wife to her rightful place. Apart from this, there can be no future theocracy.
Events at the end of chapter twenty-four and the beginning of chapter twenty-five foreshadow events that will exist during the Messianic Era, when Abraham’s seed — both heavenly and earthly — will possess the gate of the enemy. This is the climactic point to which events beginning in chapter twenty-one (the birth of Isaac) lead.
“I Will Go”
From Genesis chapters twenty-two through twenty-four, six distinct steps, carried out in a progressive manner, can be seen in an individual’s life in relation to the complete work of the Spirit during the present dispensation. And this complete work of the Spirit covers the whole panorama of the Christian life — from the time of the birth from above to that time when the bride appears in Christ’s presence, properly attired in a wedding garment.
These six steps seen in these three chapters would be thus:
1) Beginning Work of the Spirit
The birth from above has to be the beginning point in any of God’s dealings with man. Fallen man is spiritually dead, and life must be imparted before God can deal with man in relation to the reason for his creation. God is spirit, He deals with man on a spiritual plane, and fallen man must be made alive spiritually in order to bring this to pass.
The Spirit breathes life into the one having no life, on the basis of the finished work of Christ at Calvary. Only then — when the one “dead in trespasses and sins” possesses spiritual life — can God deal with man on the necessary spiritual plane.
But, in what way does God deal with man once he has been born from above? From a Scriptural standpoint, it is always the same way. As in the life of Abraham in Genesis, or in the death of the firstborn in Exodus chapter twelve, God deals with man relative to separating himself from this world and the things of this world, with a view to realizing an inheritance in another land, removed from this world; and this is in complete keeping with the reason for man’s creation in the beginning (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; 15:5-21; Exodus 12:29, 40, 41; 15:17, 18; 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 6:23).
As previously noted, exactly the same thing is seen in Genesis chapter twenty two; and it is brought to fruition at the end of chapter twenty-four and the beginning of chapter twenty-five.
In chapter twenty-two, immediately following that portion of the chapter which foreshadows the death and resurrection of God’s Son, “the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time” (v. 15). The first time had to do with matters surrounding bringing salvation to pass (vv. 1-14), and the second time had to do with the purpose for salvation (vv. 16-18).
And this purpose is not, as often expressed by Christians — so one can be saved from Hell and spend eternity with God in Heaven. Rather, this purpose has to do with regality and this earth (which will be realized during the Messianic Era); and following the Messianic Era, God’s purpose for man’s salvation will have to do with regality and the universe at large (which will be realized during the subsequent eternal ages, from the new earth).
Thus, man has been saved — he has “passed from death unto life” through the Spirit breathing life into the one previously having no life — in order to ultimately bring man back into the position for which he was created in the beginning. This is what is seen at any point in Scripture where the subject is dealt with, beginning in the opening verses of Scripture, where God set forth a foundational or skeletal framework for the remainder of His Word (Genesis 1:1-2:3). And all subsequent Scripture simply forms commentary on that revealed in these first thirty-four verses of the book of Genesis. All subsequent Scripture forms the sinews and flesh that clothe the skeletal framework (cf. Ezekiel 37:1-10), providing all the necessary details, allowing man to be able to understand that which God has revealed about His plans and purposes.
Within the skeletal framework in Genesis 1:1-2:3, a septenary structure is seen, and matters within this septenary structure move through six days into a seventh day, a Sabbath day of rest. And this is the progressive pattern seen throughout the whole of subsequent Scripture.
As God took six days to restore a former ruined creation — establishing an unchangeable pattern concerning how God restores a ruined creation — He is presently taking six days (6,000 years [2 Peter 3:8]) to restore two ruined creations (both man and the material creation once again). And, as God rested a Sabbath day in the former restoration, He is going to rest a Sabbath day (1,000 years, the seventh millennium dating from Adam, the Messianic Era, the Sabbath rest awaiting the people of God) in the latter restoration (Hebrews 4:1-9).
When one arrives at Genesis chapter twenty-two, where the means for man’s salvation are dealt with, he would expect to find matters exactly as that previously revealed concerning man’s salvation and destiny in Genesis 1:1-2:3. And this is exactly what he does find.
As previously pointed out, immediately following revelation surrounding the death and resurrection of the Son (vv. 1-14), God appeared a second time and promised Abraham that both his heavenly seed and his earthly seed would one day possess the gate of the enemy (vv. 15-18). Then the three subsequent chapters, dealing with wives, not only provide additional details but lead into the matter mentioned toward the end of chapter twenty-two — the time when that which God promised to Abraham, relative to his seed, would be realized.
Thus, the widespread thought in Christendom that man has been saved to escape Hell, with Heaven now being his eternal home, is not what Scripture has to say about the matter at all. This type teaching is nothing short of a corruption of biblical truth that has led myriads of Christians down a wrong path in biblical studies.
And once Christians have this erroneous thought ingrained within their minds, it is next to impossible to ever get them to see the truth of the matter. Once they have been misled after this fashion, it is next to impossible to ever get them to see the true nature of the work of the Spirit during the present dispensation. But this is the way matters presently exist almost universally throughout Christendom, resulting from the working of the leaven (Matthew 13:33) over almost two millennia of time.
2) Continuing Work of the Spirit
The second of the six distinctly progressive steps in the work of the Spirit in an individual’s life during the present dispensation, seen in Genesis chapters twenty-two through twenty-four, has to do with the beginning work of the Spirit among the saved — a work peculiar to the present dispensation. This is a beginning work performed subsequent to the birth from above (chapter 22), among a different people of God (a new nation, the Church [chapter 24]), following that time when Israel was set aside (chapter 23), but preceding that time when Israel will be restored (chapter 25).
The Spirit of God is in the world to reveal to Christians — individuals who possess spiritual life and are, thus, capable of understanding spiritual truth — all the various things surrounding the seed of Abraham (both heavenly and earthly ) one day possessing the gate of the enemy. And the Spirit of God reveals these things in exactly the same manner seen by Abraham’s servant revealing the purpose for his mission in Genesis chapter twenty-four. He does this through taking certain things from the goods belonging to the Father, which will one day belong to the Son, and giving them to Christians.
All these goods of the Father can be seen in God’s revealed Word. And the Spirit takes this Word — which He Himself moved men to pen in past time — and leads Christians “into all truth.” He, through the Word, in this respect, reveals to Christians “things to come.” And these “things to come” will be manifested for all to see when the Father, in that coming day to which the Spirit calls attention, gives all that He has unto His Son (Genesis 25:5; John 16:12-15).
And the Spirit revealing these things to Christians is with a view to the third of the five progressive steps of the Spirit’s work in an individuals life, seen in the overall type in Genesis chapters twenty-two through twenty-four. The Spirit’s work in the previously discussed second progressive step is designed to bring an individual to the third step, where he can be confronted with the issues surrounding the question seen in Genesis 24:58: “Will you go with this man?”
And, being confronted with the issue at hand after this fashion has been designed to bring a person to the fourth progressive step. The person must, himself, personally, respond. He must, himself, personally, choose to either to go or not go with the Spirit beyond this point. There is no middle position for him to choose (cf. Luke 11:23). Exactly as in the type (Rebekah being made fully aware of the issue at hand), the Christian is made fully aware of the issue at hand. Then, exactly as in the type (Rebekah being confronted with the issue at this point), the Christian is confronted with the issue at this point. Then, exactly as in the type (Rebekah responding), the Christian must respond. And then, exactly as in the type (where only a positive response is seen, though a negative response would have been possible), the ministry of the Spirit can continue in the individual’s life.
The manner in which the Spirit leads is with a view to bringing about the desired goal. It is leadership directed solely toward completing His mission — acquiring a bride for God’s Son.
And the Christian who dares to call attention to the truth of the matter in this Laodicean period of Church history will, in all likelihood, find himself faced with ridicule and rejection at the hands of his fellow Christians. And he may, like Paul, end up with all of them turned against him (2 Timothy 1:15; 4:10, 11, 14-16).
But note Who not only stood with Paul when all the others had turned away but would deliver him “from every evil work” as well (2 Timothy 4:17, 18). And this would be the experience of any Christian throughout the dispensation who followed the pattern set by Paul (cf. 1 Timothy 1:15, 16; Revelation 3:18-20).
3) Concluding Work of the Spirit
The matter surrounding the work of the Spirit is not brought to a complete end during the present dispensation. That comes only after the Spirit has removed Christians from the earth, after decisions and determinations have been made at the judgment seat (based on the Christian’s reaction to the Spirit’s work during the previous dispensation), and after the procured bride is in a position to be revealed for all to behold.
That will be the day when the purpose for salvation, set forth in the latter part of Genesis chapter twenty-two, is finally realized. That will be a day of glory for numerous Christians. But for the vast majority of Christians, it will be anything but a day of glory. Rather, it will be a day of shame and humiliation, followed by deep regret for something that can never become a reality for them — not having a place among those forming the bride and, thus, being unable to rule as co-heir with the “King of kings, and Lord of lords” during that future time toward which all things have been moving since the creation of Adam.
The Spirit’s way, seen in the type through the servant’s way in Genesis chapter twenty-four, begins following death and resurrection.
The birth from above restores a spiritual relationship between God and man, but that brought into existence at the time of the fall — the man of flesh — present at the time of the birth from above, must remain under the sentence of death. The spiritual birth effects no change in the man of flesh. He remains untouched, unchanged; and he remains in the same place where he has always existed — under the sentence of death.
The man of flesh can have nothing to do with things surrounding the purpose for the birth from above — to one day be found among those forming the Son’s wife and realizing an inheritance, as co-heir with Him. These things are reserved for the man of spirit alone. Ishmael could not inherit with Isaac. The bondwoman and her son were to be cast out (Genesis 17:18, 19; 21:9-12).
This is why, in the type, the Red Sea passage was the first thing confronting the Israelites under Moses on their march from Egypt to Canaan. “The Sea” is the place of death. The firstborn had just died; and now he must be buried, not to rise again.
The Israelites had to pass through the Sea. They had to go down into the place of death; and, in the sense of that taught in the type, this is where the old man is to remain. The person now possesses spiritual life (having to do with the birth from above), and the old man (having to do with the first birth), with his deeds, is to be put off. The old man is to be reckoned as dead, and the new man alone is to be in view beyond that foreshadowed by the Red Sea passage (cf. Romans 6:4-12).
The leadership of the Spirit — from the eastern banks of the Red Sea to Sinai, and then to the land of Canaan — was for the man of spirit alone. He alone was in view in this respect, having passed through the place of death and having been removed from that place, picturing resurrection.
The man of flesh had no inheritance in the land set before the nation. This fact should have been well known to any Israelite under Moses, for God had previously made this very clear, in no uncertain terms, to the father of the nation of Israel. Ishmael could not inherit with Isaac (cf. Romans 4:1-4, 13).
Following the birth from above (John 3:3), matters immediately turn to the reason for this spiritual birth — entrance into the kingdom, not eternal life. Then, if the one having been born from above is to enter the kingdom (v. 5), he must be born out of both water and Spirit. And the complete picture becomes clear if set within the framework of the Old Testament type of the Israelites under Moses (ref. chapter 6).
Being born out of water (the old man left in the place of death, with the new man alone in view) and Spirit (with the new man then following the leadership of the Spirit, as progression is made toward another land) is the way matters are set forth in the Word of God. This is what God Himself, in the person of His Son, had to say about the matter at His first coming; this is what Scripture reveals at any other place where the matter is dealt with; and this is that to which man must adhere if he would one day enter into the proffered kingdom and inherit with the Son.
There is no power in the outward, physical act of baptism per se, just as there was no power in the outward, physical act of the Israelites passing through the Sea under Moses (though it took divine power to make this possible, as it took/takes divine power to make that seen in baptism possible today [Christ’s past work at Calvary, and the Spirit’s present work in the world]). The power lies in that set forth through the spiritual truths surrounding the Red Sea passage in the type, or baptism in the antitype.
The Spirit’s leadership, having to do with the man of spirit alone, must be viewed in the light of the type in Genesis chapter twenty-four. Once Rebekah had determined to follow the man (which had to do with one goal alone — becoming the wife of Isaac and inheriting with him), she went “his way.”
Rebekah arose, rode upon the camels (which carried the goods belonging to the father, which would one day belong to the son), and followed the servant. And “his way” had to do with the servant’s leadership while they were still in Mesopotamia (Genesis 24:61).
The direction of travel was singular (toward another land, to fulfill the servant’s mission), that with which Rebekah found herself associated was singular (she rode upon the camels, which carried all the goods belonging to the father, which would one day belong to the son), and that which Rebekah gave herself over to was singular (following the servant, going “his way”).
The matter, as it is outlined in this part of Genesis chapter twenty-four — in a type-antitype structure — is so clear that there should be no need to even call attention to the antitype. Suffice it to say, beginning with death and resurrection, this entire Scriptural presentation of the matter is why Paul was so desirous that death in relation to him became conformable to death in relation to Christ. He wanted “to know” Christ, “the power of His resurrection [the power of His rising from the place of death], and the fellowship of His sufferings [the order is post-resurrection sufferings, during the present time of His rejection, as those following Him in this same manner will be rejected during this time as well]” (Philippians 3:10).
Paul wanted to understand all of this to the extent that it could be manifested in his life in such a way that he would be found among those one day being able to attain “to the resurrection [‘out-resurrection’] of the dead.” And, attaining to this out-resurrection, he would attain to “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:11-14).