Today’s Reading: Genesis 24-25
Yesterday, I wrote about how Jesus meets the outcast woman at a well. In Genesis 21, God met Hagar, a Gentile woman, at a well. He saw her and gave her water to drink. This was a picture of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman, a Gentile, at a well. Jesus saw her and gave her living water, the water of eternal life, to drink.
In Genesis 24, we read another story of a woman being met at well. The story gives us another angle on theme of God meeting women at wells. This time the picture is of Jesus’ bride, the church, being found at a well.
There is some key background from Genesis 22 to seeing Jesus in the story of Genesis 24. In Genesis 22, Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah to offer his only son to God. This whole story is a picture of Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, let’s look at Genesis 24 and see Jesus meeting his bride.
Verses 2-4 say, “And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and 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 will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
Remember, Isaac, as a type of Jesus, was crucified and resurrected in chapter 22. In chapter 24, it is as if Jesus has ascended to the father. So, in this chapter, we see Abraham, as God the Father, sending out his servant to find a bride for Isaac, as Jesus. This helps us to see Abraham’s servant as the Holy Spirit.
The servant has been put in charge of all that Abraham has. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus says in John 16:15, “All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” What the Father has belongs to Jesus. Isaac is Abraham’s heir. All that Abraham has belongs to Isaac. But, the servant has “charge of all.” Just like the servant in the story, the Holy Spirit takes, or is given charge of, all that the Father has given to Jesus.
Also, the servant is told that he should not find a bride for Isaac in the land that Abraham dwells. Rather, the servant should go back to Abraham’s country and kindred to find a bride for Isaac. Abraham’s kindred were not Jews, they were Gentiles. The servant, the Holy Spirit, is sent to find a Gentile bride for Isaac. The church, Jesus’ bride, is largely made up of Gentiles.
In verse 5, the servant asks what he should do if the woman is not willing to follow him back to the land of Canaan. What happens if the woman is not willing to follow the Holy Spirit back to the promised land? The servant asks if he should take Abraham’s son to back to his country to get her.
In response, Abraham says in verse 6, “See to it that you do not take my son back there.” The Holy Spirit is not to physically bring Jesus to his potential bride if she is not willing to follow the Holy Spirit.
Further, in verse 8, Abraham says if the woman is unwilling to follow the servant, the Holy Spirit, then he is free from the oath to find a bride for Jesus, “only you must not take my son back there.”
So, the servant takes ten camels and all sorts of choice gifts from Abraham, his master. The Holy Spirit is sent to bear witness of Jesus. John 15:26 says, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” As the servant was sent by Abraham, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. And, like the servant, the Holy Spirit brings gifts. According to 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone…All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
So, the servant makes the camels bearing the gifts to lie down by the well of water outside the city in the evening, because that’s when women go to draw water. Abraham was a sojourner, a man who lived in tents. So, the servant waits outside the city. And, he waits by a well of water. Will there be a woman who comes out of the city to get water, to quench her thirst? Will there be a woman searching for God?
However, it is the time when women come to draw water. So, there should be lots of women at the well. But, the servant doesn’t want lots of women. He wants just one for a bride for his master’s son. So, the servant says to himself in verse 14, “Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink’ and who shall say, ‘Drink and I will water your camels’ – let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac.”
Doesn’t all of this sound like the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4? Jesus sits at the well waiting for a woman to come to it for water. The woman that comes out is a Samaritan, a Gentile. “Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.'” (John 4:7).
(As an aside, we have to remember that none of the Old Testament pictures are replicated perfectly and exactly in the New Testament. But, we are to connect all the similar stories, in this case women met by God at wells, to see the complete picture of Jesus.)
So, Rebekah comes to the well and does exactly what the servant prayed one of the women coming to draw water would do. She answers the servant’s question by giving him a drink and watering her camels (which, by the way, was a lot of work). Verse 21 says, “The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.” The servant observed Rebekah’s work to see if she was really the right one to be Isaac’s bride. Does not the Holy Spirit silently watch us to see how we work and if the Lord has chosen us to be his? (To be clear, I’m not saying we are saved by works.)
The servant finds out that Rebekah is from his master’s kinsmen. Rebekah goes back to the city, just like the Samaritan woman in John 4, and tells her family about the servant. Eventually, Rebekah’s brother Laban, like the townspeople in John 4, comes to meet the servant.
Then from verses 34-49 the servant recounts the entire story so far to Laban. Note that the servant never talks about himself. He only talks about his master, Abraham. He tells how great and wonderful his master is. Also, we never even learn the name of the servant. This is a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit who only comes to bear witness to Jesus and the Father. The Holy Spirit never draws attention to himself.
After hearing all this, Laban says, “Rebekah is before you, take her and go.” In verse 53, “the servant brought out jewelry of silver and gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah.” The servant has found the bride for Isaac. Rebekah, as the bride of Christ, is adorned with silver, gold, and garments. This speaks to us, as the bride of Christ, being adorned with Christ’s redemption (silver), Christ’s divine nature (gold), and Christ’s righteousness (garments).
In John 4, we subtly see the Samaritan woman at the well become the bride of Jesus. John 4:16-18 says, “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had fives husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.'” The woman had had five husbands. Now, she was living with a sixth man who was not her husband. But, at the well, where a woman goes to get her thirst quenched, the woman meets a seventh man who sees her as she is, a man who offers her living water that in her will become a spring of water welling up into eternal life. The number seven represents perfection and completion in the Bible. The Samaritan woman has met a seventh man, her perfect and complete husband, who gives her drink so that she will never be thirsty again.
Rebekah’s family asks the servant if she can stay with them for 10 more days. But, the servant says he should not be delayed. So, the family asks Rebekah if she will go with this man. Keep in mind that at this time she has never seen Isaac. She has no idea what he looks like. Rebekah has only heard the testimony of the servant. But, she agrees to go. What a wonderful picture of us. We hear the testimony of the Spirit through the gifts that he gives and what he reveals about Jesus and the Father. And, without ever physically laying eyes on Jesus, we agree to leave everything behind and follow the Holy Spirit as he leads us to Jesus.
As she leaves, Rebekah’s family speaks a blessing over her, “Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring posses the gate of those who hate him.” (Genesis 24:60) Jesus, in Matthew 16:18, says, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Instead of the gates of hell prevailing over the church, Jesus’s bride, the church is given the keys of the kingdom of heaven to bind and loose things on earth, in effect a taking possession of what once belonged to the one who hates us.
At last, Rebekah goes with the servant to meet her husband. Isaac is waiting in the field and sees the camels coming. Rebekah lifts up her eyes and sees Isaac. She asks who this man is coming to meet her. And, the servant says, “It is my master.” Throughout the entire story the servant had said that Abraham was his master. But, now, as he brings Rebekah to Isaac, the servant says this is my master. The Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus. We see him at last. And, the Holy Spirit says this is my master, this is God.