Genesis 24: Marriage

Before Abraham died, one purpose lay heavy on his heart: A bride had to be found for Isaac. And so, Abraham called his most trusted servant and committed to him the task of finding a bride from Abraham’s Mesopotamian homeland. Upon reaching his journey’s destination, this faithful servant (who we believe was Eliezer) proposes a sign which would place God in charge of the selection process. He asks that the chosen young woman would be the one who was not only willing to offer him a drink but who would also volunteer to perform the hefty chore of watering all of the caravan’s camels! Eliezer was not looking for outward appearances; he was looking for a woman of character and inner strength. Amazingly enough, before Eliezer even finishes his prayer, the beautiful Rebekah shows up on the scene. She didn’t yet realize it, but God had chosen her to fulfill one of the most important roles in sacred history.

Skipping forward a bit, Eliezer meets Rebekah’s family and tells them of his mission. They agree to let Rebekah go with him and put the final choice to Rebekah to refuse or accept. Rebekah’s words are ones of tremendous faith: “I will go.” She was willing to leave everything known behind to embark on a new life! Clearly Rebekah had faith that the God she worshipped was leading the way. Genesis 24 happily ends like a romantic love story: “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her.”

Actually, Rebekah and Isaac’s story provides a profound reminder of Christ’s marriage covenant to us. You see, in the ancient Hebrew culture, here’s how a marriage took place: When it was time for a young man to marry, the father would commit his most trusted servant with the task of searching out a bride. In our story, it seems that Eliezer was sent. Fascinatingly enough, the name Eliezer means “God of help” or “Helper,” reflecting the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives! (See John 14:16.)

Once a potential bride was identified – and, assuming she was willing to go through with the engagement – the son would go to the bride’s family and a special betrothal ceremony would take place. In this ceremony, the bridegroom would present a special marriage contract called a Ketubah. In the Ketubah, the bridegroom listed all of his promises to care for and love the bride. The marriage covenant was then sealed with a cup of wine and the bridegroom left for his father’s house to build the wedding chamber. In the long months of preparation, the bride and the bridegroom would not see each other. The bridegroom’s best man acted as the liaison between the bride and the groom, often delivering gifts from the bridegroom. The bride would also cherish her Ketubah, reading over the groom’s promises to her. When the marriage chamber was finally complete, the groom would come and surprise the bride (often around midnight) with a loud and joyful wedding procession!

Christ has committed Himself to be our bridegroom. He sealed His marriage promise to us with the cup of the New Covenant. And He promises that He will come back for us: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3, ESV). As we wait for His return, we have a link to our Bridegroom through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We also have our Ketubah to cherish – His Holy Word, filled to the brim with His extravagant promises to us!

You see, the beautiful story of Rebekah and Isaac reminds us of what God’s marriage covenant to us is really all about. It’s not a two-way contract where both parties have equal responsibilities to fulfill. The bride’s role was simply to accept the groom’s covenantal pledge to her and then to faithfully wait for his return! And that’s our part too.

May God bless!