Showing posts with label Genesis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genesis. Show all posts

Monday, December 24, 2018


I read it all
Every jot and tittle
It's all or nothing
So I'm told
In the beginning
Adam took notes
Named every creature
Even his wife
Begat in perfect tens
Two sevenths from him were also special
One proclaims the need for justice
The other walks with gods
Who play an important role
Three days of forming
Three days of filling
It was evening
It was morning
Then seventh day had no end
The story prefigures a promised rest
Adam falls like Israel
Failing to enter that rest
Exiled east of the temple
But his children were still welcome to draw near 
Jachin and Boaz with two flaming swords
The younger son draws near according to the Law
The firstborn destroys his brother
Is exiled east of Eden
He receives a city of refuge as his mark 
The deluge parallels the fire of Sodom
And the brimstone of Gomorrah
Offspring of gods are produced
Babelic empires are dispersed
A temple on water is built for rest
War-bows are made to be seen by the Most High
Patriarchs are viewed as princes by all
Giving away their sisters
Not once, but twice
The Canaanite friendly wife takes a look back
As a perpetual witness to a covenant of salt
The seed of Adam remains special and protected
A covenant remains secured
Even the king of peace receives tithes
Eve's daughter grows old and bears a son
The slavegirl and her son are cast out though
Only the freeborn son remains
Only the freeborn is sacrificed on a mountain
Where the temple would be built
To be raised from death
Or receive a lamb to pioneer for him
I read all of this
Every jot and tittle
Must be true
So I'm told
But what if every jot was beside the point
What if each tittle need not be precisely true
But merely to be faithful
To a promise
To a tradition
To a word of God
To a word from God
Who spoke through the prophets
Who prescribed and proscribed how to draw near
And how to be raised from the dead ones
And when that tradition became an empire
Of tribal allegiance with heavy burdens and no rest
Exiled east of the Garden
East of the temple
East of the promised rest
Scribes scrambled to collate and redact
To prescribe and proscribe their tribalism
Yet according to promise
Through a living tradition
When god became vellum
The word became flesh
And tabernacled among them
To rival their gods
And to raise their dead ones
Because the word of God is inspired
The word of God is infallible
The word of God is inerrant
The word of God read it all, too
And his apostles took notes

Monday, February 29, 2016

God Tests Everyone (A Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Lent, Year C)

Third Sunday in Lent
Year C
Epistle Reading: I Cor. 10:1-13

In a school setting there are different kinds of tests which teachers give their students. Some are written tests were you can answer one of multiple choices, while others are completed in the form of an essay or summary. Tests can also be in the form of activities, like in gym class where you're tested to perform the drills over and over again. In all of these examples, the purpose and goal is not (or shouldn't be, anyway) merely to evaluate who is getting the highest test scores, or even building up the most stamina. Rather, those tests are (or should be) for the maturity and development of the student body.

In the passage today from Paul's letter to the Corinthians, we are reminded that God tests us. Paul says that "We must not put Christ to the test (ἐκπειράζωμεν), as some of them did test (ἐπείρασαν)", and also, "These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us." In other words, the previous examples of God testing Israel are on our exams too, so we would be wise to keep them in mind when we are being tested. 

Paul continues: "So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing (πειρασθῆναι) has overtaken you that is not common to everyone."

God tests everyone. Testing is common to everyone, according to Paul. But this isn't a unique idea of Paul's. It is an overwhelming theme of the Bible. In the wilderness God tested his people:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test (πειράσω) them, whether they will walk in my law or not. (Exodus 20:20 LXX) 
Moses said to the people, "Do not fear, for God has come to test (πειράσαι) you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin." (Exodus 16:4 LXX) 
And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested (ἐπείρασεν) them (Exodus 15:24-25 LXX) 
Take care lest you forget the LORD your God ...when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them,and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, ...who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness... and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test (ἐκπειράσῃ) you, to do you good in the end. (Deuteronomy 8:11-18 LXX)

God even tests his people individually: In Eden God tested Adam. He tested Cain and Abel and others too. One of the most memorable tests of Scripture which God ever gave was to Abraham:
After these things God tested (ἐπείραζεν) Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." The Lord said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." (Genesis 22:1-2 LXX)

How would you like that to be your test?

Even toward the end of Israel’s history as a nation, in second Chronicles 32:30-31 (LXX), we see another test, and that test also alludes back to the principles we just learned in Deuteronomy 8:11-18 (above) about tests through times of prosperity:
And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. And so in the matter of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test (πειράσαι) him and to know all that was in his heart.

There are numerous other passages I could reference, but I think these few illustrate my point. God tests us, and yet, interestingly, in the background of all those passages, God isn't the only one testing us. God's adversary, the devil, and our earthly adversaries take advantage of God's tests, to test us also. Writing to the Bishop of the church in Smyrna, Jesus offers these promises:
I know your tribulation and your poverty and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested (πειρασθῆτε), and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:9-10)

Whenever we examine Scripture’s examples of testing, whether those examples are about God testing us or being tested by evil, we are always tested in one common aspect of our lives: our loyalty to God.

I find it interesting that in our lectionary reading from Corinthians, not only are we taught to expect tests, but in all of the examples Paul gives us about how not to respond to those tests, he mentions the people putting God to the test. In other words, when Paul teaches us about the tests of life, he wants to know what our response will be: Will our response be loyal love toward God, or will we side with evil against God? Will we put Him to the test?

One of the most striking examples of testing in the New Testament is with Jesus right after his baptism, where he goes into the wilderness and is confronted by Satan. There, at the very heart of Satan’s test, Jesus is challenged to question his loyalty to God. As we know, Jesus passed the devil's test. However, at the very beginning of that story we are told that it is the Spirit who lead Jesus into the wilderness for testing (Matt. 4:1). Not only did the adversary test Jesus, but God tested His own Son too, according to that story. God tests us and our adversaries test us. It is very possible for God’s adversaries and ours to take advantage of those circumstances—those tests from God--to test our loyalty to God.

And as we were reminded by Paul, there is no testing of man which is uncommonTesting is common to us all. If you think your situation of testing is unique, think again. Even Jesus “had been tested (πεπειρασμένον) in every respect as we are”, yet he endured it all without sin (Hebrews 4:15). It is for that very reason we ought to follow the example of Jesus and pray as He instructed us: "Heavenly Father, lead us not into testing (πειρασμόν) but deliver us from the evil one (τοῦ πονηροῦ)." (Matt. 6:13)

After studying the Lord’s Prayer in detail years ago, and offering some thoughts about it, I concluded that the best translation for Matt. 6:13 was “testing,” not “temptation.” The reasons being, first, that by implication, the phrase “Lead us not into temptation” carries the baggage of God tempting us—even tempting us with evil--which He never does, for He can never be tempted to do evil Himself (James 1:13). Secondarily, and as I have already noted, God does lead us into testing, and because the same word for “temptation” (πειρασμός) used in Matt. 6:13 more often means “testing” throughout Scripture, and also is not a contradiction with James 1:13, that seems to be the only reasonable translation. And with that translation of "testing" comes an important lesson about Christian maturity and development, as any loving teacher should want a student to receive. If translated as “testing,” it turns out that Matt. 6:13 is not about deliverance from God ever testing us to mature and develop in life. It's not a request for God to cancel our tests altogether. Rather, the petition, "Lead us not into testing, but deliver us from the evil one" is a description of abandonment—to not be abandoned to go our own way or to fall by evil. Even the surrounding context of the Lord’s Prayer sheds light on that meaning. 

Immediately before the Lord’s Prayer on the Mount, where do we find Jesus being tested in his loyalty to God? In the wilderness (Matt. 4:1). The geographical description could not be more obvious for those familiar with the exodus typology utilized throughout Scripture. It is in the wilderness with God that the evil one tested Israel. He tested Jesus also; and it is there where the evil one tests us too. The Lord's prayer is for the new Israel, the Church, who desperately needs deliverance from the evil one if left to our own ways in the wilderness of life.

Therefore, when we pray as Jesus taught us to pray, that portion about God not leading us into testing is not a request to never be tested, but an acknowledgment of our vulnerability before Him in the wilderness of life. We are the ones who, when tested, are free to side with evil and even respond by testing Him back, by grumbling, complaining, and by not seeking deliverance from Him. So Paul says, don't do that! Instead, pray to your Heavenly Father who alone can give us courage through trials and also will deliver us when we turn to Him. The Lord's Prayer is for God's mercy to spare us from testing that we cannot handle. "For to Him belongs the kingdom and the power and the glory, now and forever."

To Him belongs the power and glory…so seek Him while He is near.

Paul tells us that God is faithful through every test we endure, and He will not let you be tested beyond your ability. With the testing he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. That’s God’s promise to you. God never puts you in a situation where you must sin. He always gives you the freedom to side with Him. So remain loyal to Him through all the tests of life.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

* * * * * * *

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Taking God Down With Us

Commenting on Genesis 3, Farrar Capon writes:
Eve is not just "the woman" to Adam now; he tells the LORD that she's the woman "YOU gave me." Once the blame game has started, you see, it will stoop to anything to avoid a time out --- even if it might give us a respite from battling God's offensive line-up. On and on we've gone, complaining but never letting up. "Why does God allow terrorists to fly planes into buildings?" "What sort of God would let my innocent baby die of leukemia?" "If God is just, why do the wicked prosper?" "Why did he give me a wife who can't tell north from south?" We will take even God himself down with us, if that will assuage our indignation at a deity we ourselves invented.1

1.  Robert Farrar Capon, Genesis The Movie [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 2003], p. 305

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Truths are like puppies

Truths are like puppies. There's no point in arguing over whose truth is the best, any more than there is in quarreling about whose puppy is the cuddliest. Truths or puppies, we care about them because we find them delightful, not because we understand them. They appeal more to our sense of humor than to our sense of importance. So if there's even a grain of veritas in that vinous comparison, the most any of us can say is, "I like my truth-doggy better than yours." Anything more pretentious, and we forget that we can keep truth only as a pet. It's fun to have around, even if it wets our floors and chews up our slippers; but we really know very little about the beast. Only God knows the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We just pat its head, pull its tail, and hope for the best. Only the Father, who holds Truth Itself in his beloved Son, actually owns it.1 

1.  Robert Farrar Capon, Genesis The Movie [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 2003], p. 297

Saturday, September 13, 2014

You Shall Surely Die? (John Day's "Creation to Babel")

In Creation to Babel: Studies in Genesis 1-11, John Day discusses the subject of the death penalty pronounced upon Adam and Eve in the Garden. Below is an excerpt from Day's book (including his original footnotes, for further reference):

God states that on the day that Adam and Eve eat of the tree of knowledge, they will surely die (Gen. 2:17). But as the serpent predicts (Gen. 3:4–5), they do not die that day (though they do later). How are we to explain this? 
(1)       Some interpret death as metaphorical, referring to the alienation from God implied by the expulsion from the garden (e.g. G.J. Wenham, R.W.L. Moberly, R.P. Gordon),49 but this view is unconvincing since it is not the most natural way of taking what is said. As James Barr pointed out,50 there are about forty other instances in the Hebrew Bible where we read that someone will surely die, and these all imply imminent literal death. 
(2)       It has occasionally been proposed that môt tāmût means ‘you will surely become mortal’. This view is found, for example, already in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (‘you shall incur the death penalty’), Symmachus (thnētos) and in Jerome (mortalis), who followed him,51 as well as by many subsequent Christian interpreters, and in modern times it has been followed by a few scholars.52 However, although providing a seemingly simple solution to the problem, this view is unlikely, since this meaning is nowhere else attested for this verb, and in addition it would appear that the first humans are already mortal, since Gen. 3:22 implies that they have not eaten of the tree of life (even though they had not originally been forbidden from doing so). 
(3)       Should we see God as a liar and the serpent as telling the truth? This provocative view has been held by several scholars recently, including John Gibson and James Charlesworth.53 This seems unlikely, however, since it is natural to suppose that the reader is meant to identify with God over against the serpent, the latter being cursed in the end. Moreover, we should observe that the serpent is telling only a half-truth in stating that their eyes will be opened but they will not die. For death is clearly depicted as the ultimate result of their disobedience, since the couple no longer have the possibility of accessing the tree of life following their expulsion from the garden (cf. Gen. 3:19, 22, 24). Although death does not happen immediately, the couple’s fate is sealed from the moment they disobey God. 
(4)       It has occasionally been pointed out that beyôm can mean not only literally ‘on the day that’ but also more broadly ‘when’, so that one might render ‘for when you eat of it you will surely die’.54 For example, Jer. 7:23; 11:4, 7 refer to things God is supposed to have said when he led the Israelites out of Egypt, but the subject matter concerns God’s commandments to the Israelites to obey, which sounds more to do with the Sinai covenant than anything happening on the literal day of deliverance from Egypt. There is also other evidence that yôm could sometimes mean ‘time’ rather than a specific day, though the latter is most frequently intended. Indeed, a specific day does appear to be intended in Genesis 2–3, since the serpent takes up the expression beyôm in Gen. 3:5, saying to the first humans, ‘You will not die; for God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods,55 knowing good and evil’, and as we see from Gen. 3:6–7, this happened immediately on the very same day. 
(5)       Finally, it has sometimes been claimed that Adam and Eve did not die immediately because of God’s grace and mercy (so, e.g., Hermann Gunkel, John Skinner, Gerhard von Rad, David Clines, James Barr and Johnson Lim), a view already implied in Milton’s Paradise Lost.56 By a process of elimination of other views noted above, none of which seem to be likely, I find this view the most plausible. It fits well with the theme of divine grace operating alongside judgment that we find throughout the early chapters of Genesis, though it has to be admitted that in this instance it is not specifically drawn attention to as an act of grace.1

49 G.J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15 (WBC, 1; Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987), p. 90; R.W.L. Moberly, ‘Did the Serpent Get it Right?’, JTS 39 (1988), pp. 1–27 (16–18); idem, ‘Did the Interpreters Get it Right?’, JTS 59 (2008), pp. 22–40 (34–37); R.P. Gordon, ‘The Ethics of Eden: Truth-Telling in Genesis 2–3’, in K.J. Dell (ed.), Ethical and Unethical in the Old Testament: God and Humans in Dialogue (LHBOTS, 528; London: T&T Clark International, 2010), pp. 11–33 (22).
50 J. Barr, ‘Is God a Liar? (Genesis 2–3)—and Related Matters’, JTS 57 (2006), pp. 1–22 (12).
51 A. Salvesen, Symmachus in the Pentateuch (JSSMS, 15; Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991), pp. 9–10; Jerome, gloss on Gen. 2:17 in Liber Hebraicarum Quaestionum in Genesim 308 (PL 23, col. 941).
52 Cf. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, I, pp. 124–25; Speiser, Genesis, pp. 15, 17; D. Jobling. ‘The Myth Semantics of Genesis 2.4b–3.24’, Semeia 18 (1980), pp. 41–49 (47); A. LaCocque, The Trial of Innocence: Adam, Eve, and the Yahwist (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books [Wipf & Stock], 2006), pp. 99, 101, translates ‘deserve to die’.
53 E.g. J.C.L. Gibson, Genesis (2 vols.; Daily Study Bible; Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1991–92 [1991]), I, pp. 113–14; Charlesworth, The Good and Evil Serpent, pp. 275–324.
54 So niv; similarly God’s Word translation.
55 The Hebrew kēʾlōhîm is ambiguous, but on balance the translation ‘like gods’ seems preferable to ‘like God’, since in Gen. 3:22 God states that the humans have come to know good and evil ‘like one of us’, including both God and his heavenly court. The translation ‘like gods’ is also supported by the lxx, the oldest translation we have (in addition to the Vulgate). It is also sometimes argued in favour of the plural ‘gods’ that the verb in the immediately following expression yōdeʿê ṭôb wārāʿ, ‘knowing good and evil’, is in the plural. Since, however, the ‘you’ being addressed here is also in the plural it is difficult to feel totally confident about this particular argument.
56 H. Gunkel, Genesis (HKAT, 1.1; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 3rd edn, 1910), p. 10, et Genesis (trans. M.E. Biddle; Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997), p. 10; J. Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1910), p. 67; von Rad, Das erste Buch Mose, p. 77, et Genesis, p. 92; D.J.A. Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch (JSOTSup, 10; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 2nd edn, 1997), p. 70; Barr, ‘Is God a Liar?’, p. 22; J.T.K. Lim, ‘Did the Scholar(s) Get it Right?’, in R. Boer, M. Carden and J. Kelso (eds.), The One Who Reads May Run: Essays in Honour of Edgar W. Conrad (LHBOTS, 553; London: T&T Clark International, 2012), pp. 69–79. Cf. J. Milton, Paradise Lost III.38–42 (cited in Gordon, ‘The Ethics of Eden’, p. 20).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1.  Day, J. (2013). From Creation to Babel:Studies in Genesis 1–11 (pp. 38–41). London; New Delhi; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Romance of Redemption (Warren Gage's latest book)

Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”
(Genesis 24:58)
Reading: Genesis 24
Rebekah’s Story
It was not at all what she expected. The sun was setting already. Rebekah watched as the old man began to gather wood for a campfire. Rushing to help him, she quickly gathered even more than he did. As the old man, Abraham’s servant, kindled the fire to take away the nighttime chill, the travellers settled down to rest. It had been a long day.
“What have I done?” asked the girl quietly to herself. Rebekah sat on the ground watching the sparks from the campfire fly into the sky only to fall back to earth again. The sparks seemed to imitate the shooting stars in the heavens. “I have left my country and family. I have left my father’s house and all I have known to set out with this stranger to a far country. And now I am betrothed to his master’s son, a man I have never even met. Did I really agree to do all this?”
Just yesterday she had gone to the city well to bring water back to her family. When she arrived, she noticed the old man there, sitting by the well and seeming to be so helpless. He asked her for a drink, and she gladly gave him one. But while he was drinking, she noticed that he had come with ten thirsty camels. Ten camels. Ten to twenty gallons each, she quickly calculated. To draw water for them would take several hours of hard work. Still the Lord delights in gracious hospitality to strangers, she remembered. So she offered to draw water for the old man’s camels, too.
The man accepted. He watched in wonder as Rebekah drew water and went back and forth to fill the trough as the camels slowly quenched their thirst after so long a journey. As the hours went by, the old man said nothing, watching Rebekah draw bucket after bucket, not stopping until the work was done.
At last Rebekah finished, and all the camels were content. As she went to retrieve her own jar of water to take home, the man stopped her and asked, “Whose daughter are you?” Turning to face him she saw that he had golden rings and bracelets in his hands. As he handed these rich treasures to her, she said, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Nahor and brother of Abraham, sons of Terah.” Upon hearing and recognizing the family names of Abraham’s brother, the man fell to his knees and lifted up his hands to give thanks to the Lord. Rebekah ran from the well to tell her family that a stranger had come who was a servant of Abraham. Her brother Laban ran to the well to welcome the stranger and to offer lodging for the night. As the servant entered the home, the family set before him a hastily prepared feast. But the old man would take nothing, he said, until he had related his purpose for coming. What an amazing story the old man would tell!
His master Abraham had sent him on this journey to Haran to seek a bride for his son and heir, Isaac. Having arrived at Haran, the old man had prayed to the Lord asking God to identify the bride He intended for the son of his master. As Rebekah listened, the old man told her family that he had asked the Lord to reveal the chosen bride by the sign of her generosity to a stranger—specifically, that she would offer a drink to the old man and then offer to draw for his camels, too. Rebekah trembled as she listened to him, for she knew that the old man was saying that the Lord God had chosen her to be the wife of Isaac, son of Abraham! The old man and all of her family looked at Rebekah to see her response. Would she agree? Would she consent to go with this man to a country she had never visited? Would she leave her home and loved ones for a man she had never even met? No one but the Lord could have arranged all of this, she thought. Every eye was upon her. What would she say? To the surprise of everyone, Rebekah spoke the simple words, “I will go.”
The servant, according to the custom, gave the bride’s family a great gift for her release. Among the gifts were treasures of gold and silver along with beautiful garments. And so, with hardly a moment to consider what she was doing, Rebekah had said her farewell and was off.
Now, as she sat upon the ground by this campfire, she knew she should try to rest, but sleep eluded her. “What will Isaac be like?” she pondered to herself. “Is he a kind man? His name means ‘laughter,’ ” she thought. “But what does that mean?” Strangely, she felt confidence in her decision. Still, she wondered about her new husband and what he was like. How odd, she thought, that not even having seen this man she loved him already! She was astonished that the Lord had chosen her for him, and that He had sent this stranger to call her to be Isaac’s wife.
The servant settled down at last by the fire, seemingly lost in his thoughts. Without wanting to disturb him, but unable to restrain herself any longer, Rebekah broke the silence of the wilderness and said, “Please tell me about the man I am to marry.”
The old man was looking away into the distance. But then turning to Rebekah, he began to speak.
“My daughter,” he smiled, “you have become part of a grand story far greater than you can imagine. It is the story of my master Abraham and God’s love for his Seed. Long ago God promised to give the world a Seed who would bring salvation to the earth. He promised that chosen Seed to Adam and Eve in the beginning, and now God has promised that this chosen Seed, so long expected, will come through the family of my master Abraham. You are highly favored, Rebekah, for God is with you and has chosen you to be the wife of Isaac and to be one of the mothers who will bring the Redeemer into the world!”
“How can this be?” asked Rebekah.
“Let me begin with the wonderful story of Isaac’s birth, announced by an angel to his mother and father before he was born. The Lord appeared to Abraham and promised him a son. Now the child’s conception was to be a miracle, for his mother was both barren and well beyond the age of child bearing. But the fulfillment of all God’s promises depended upon the birth of this son. God said that Abraham’s seed would number with the stars of the heavens and the sand of the seashore. God promised him that he would prevail over the gates of his enemies.
“Now in the fullness of time, Sarah gave birth to a son for Abraham, just as the Lord God had said. Isaac brought great joy to his father in his old age, and his father was well pleased with him.
“But as Isaac grew in wisdom and stature, one terrible day, God told Abraham to take his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved, and bring him to a mountain and offer him there upon an altar of sacrifice upon one of the hills as a whole burnt offering!” Rebekah’s heart began to race as the old man related the story.
“Abraham obeyed and prepared the wood. He also took the knife and the fire and brought his son to the mountain of Moriah, which God had appointed as the place of sacrifice. They arrived on the third day after God decreed Isaac’s death.
“When they came to the mountain God had chosen, Abraham placed the wood of the sacrifice upon the back of his son. Then they went on alone, Isaac carrying the burden of the wood of the sacrifice on his own back up the hill. As they went, Isaac noticed that Abraham had not provided a lamb for the sacrifice. Isaac asked Abraham, “Where is the lamb my father?” Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice, my son.” But when they came to the place, Abraham told Isaac that he was the sacrifice God required that day. Isaac hesitated. Would he permit his father to bind him and lay him down upon the wood to receive the piercing of the knife? Would he willingly submit his own will to the will of his father?
“Isaac chose to submit. He extended his hands to be bound and he lay down upon the wood of sacrifice to be pierced by the knife upon the altar. But as Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice his son, the angel of the Lord stopped him, and Isaac was spared. God revealed that He intended to provide another Lamb as the sacrifice. So on the third day, Isaac was released from the decree of death and restored to his father Abraham!”
“And so Rebekah,” the man continued tenderly, “to bring the joy of his son after he was delivered from death to completion, Abraham, knowing it is not good for a man to be alone, sent me to seek and find a bride worthy of his beloved son. And you, precious daughter, are that chosen one! You will be great Abraham’s daughter, and heir with Isaac of all of God’s covenant promises and blessings upon this family! Your Seed by this man will redeem the world, and He will triumph over the gates of all His enemies!”
Rebekah was unable to speak. She stared into the distance in utter silence. She lay back on her blanket and closed her eyes. All God’s promises were now hers. God, who had worked so mightily in Isaac’s life, had now begun a good work in her as well. And she knew the Lord would accomplish all His good pleasure through her. She was on her way to a far country. She would be the bride of a son of great blessing. She would share his inheritance and destiny. And her Seed by Abraham’s son would bring blessing to all the families of the earth, according to Abraham’s covenant promise!
Your Story
One of the most striking features of Genesis is that the longest narrative in the entire book is the story of Rebekah’s engagement to Isaac. Chapter 24 of Genesis accounts for no less than 67 verses in the English Bible. This fascinating story is filled with intricate detail. In fact, Moses devotes twice as much space to his report of this romance as he did to the immensely important account of the creation of the world. Why would he do this? Why would Moses dedicate so much space to the narrative of the engagement of Rebekah? Why give so much elaborate attention to the story of a romance?
There is a deep truth expressed in this remarkable allocation of a significant portion of the biblical text to a romantic tale. Creation, for all its magnificence, is merely the work of God’s “fingers” (Psa 8:3). Redemption, however, is the labor of God’s arm, and the travail of His soul (Isa 53:1, 11). The great picture of redemption in the Bible is the romance of an earthly bride chosen for the Son of heaven (Eph 5:23; Rev 21:2). The lives of Isaac and Rebekah are windows into this wondrous story.
As the servant recounted to Rebekah, Isaac was the beloved son of his father whose coming birth was announced by an angel of the Lord (Gen 18:1–15). His birth to a woman unable to conceive was truly miraculous (Gen 18:11). He was the son of promise, the one who would inherit the blessing of God given to his father’s family. But Isaac’s destiny to carry forward God’s covenant blessing on his family appeared to be in jeopardy when the Lord called upon Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice (Gen 22). Nevertheless, Isaac humbly submitted—even to the point of carrying the wood of his own sacrifice up Mount Moriah (which was later to be the Temple Mount in Jerusalem). As the Scripture declares, Isaac was delivered from death on the third day (Gen 22:4).
Must God not have ordained the events of Isaac’s life to point us to the coming Christ, who also was the beloved son of His Father and who was also called the Lamb of God? Jesus’ miraculous birth from a virgin’s womb was foretold before His conception by an angel, and He was the son of promise who would fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants. And yet one day this only Son, like Isaac, was called upon to give His life as a sacrifice. He humbly submitted to His Father’s will, carrying the wood of His own sacrifice up the hill of Calvary. But on the third day, He was delivered from death.
If Isaac is a type of Jesus, then certainly Rebekah is a type of the church, the bride of Christ. How did this romance come to be, and might we learn about our own calling from the providence that directed Rebekah to give herself in love to a man she had never seen? What might we learn about our destiny from a bride who was promised to a groom in a far country, and for whom she would have to leave everything?
First, we must recognize that the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah does not begin with the love of the couple, but with the father’s decision to secure a bride for his beloved son (Gen 24:3–4). Trusting in the providence of God’s covenant faithfulness, Abraham sent his servant away to a far country to secure a bride for Isaac. Once the servant had identified the chosen bride, a great price was paid to her family for her release (Gen 24:53). Although there was an overwhelming providence in the divine destiny that selected her, Rebekah was not deprived of the dignity of giving her consent (Gen 24:5–8, 55–58). She then left all her family to undertake a long pilgrimage to go to be with her betrothed in a land she would share with him as an inheritance (Gen 24:61). Such was the marriage custom in the ancient Near East, and so is the pattern of the gospel of grace. For our betrothal began with the sovereign choice of God the Father to secure a bride for His beloved Son. Once we were chosen, a great price was paid for our redemption. And we, like Rebekah, have been divinely called to leave everything behind in order to persevere through the pilgrimage of this life to our own wedding celebration in a promised country, which is to be our new inheritance and home forever.
We, as Christians, can surely understand the difficulty of Rebekah’s painful decision. When we are first confronted with the gospel message of salvation in Christ, we too can hesitate at the prospect. It seems madness to leave the life with which we have become comfortable and follow after One whom we have never met, who asks us to abandon all for Him! Yet like Rebekah, a peace settles over our souls, and we find that we long to give ourselves to this Man, knowing little about what our life with Him will be like. Jesus is the one Peter speaks of when he says, “whom having not seen you love” (1 Pet 1:8). But like Rebekah, we can rest in the providence of our God who sought us out and called us to His side. We can find comfort in the assurance that He will be faithful to complete the good work He has begun in us (Phil 1:6). We remember the promise of Jesus: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matt 19:29). His peace guards our hearts.
We, like Rebekah, are to marry the beloved Son of promise, and we are welcomed not only into His royal family, but to share His destiny to bless the nations. It is a glorious story, the eternal love story, of God’s love for His people and His desire to spread that love to all the families of the earth. He will have descendants, spiritual sons and daughters, who outnumber the sands of the sea and the stars of the sky, and we are part of this great multitude.
The same gospel question first spoken to Rebekah is asked of each of us: “Will you go with this man?” Like Rebekah, let us freely abandon all we have known to give our lives in love to the One for whom God has chosen us! For nothing in this world can compare to the glorious future that awaits those invited to the wedding of Christ and His bride. “Will you go with this man?” Freely, faithfully, with a heart fixed on absolute devotion to the One who has given His life for you, let your answer be Rebekah’s: “I will go!”[1]

[1] Gage, W. A. (2014). The Romance of Redemption: Biblical Types of the Bride of Christ (pp. 9–14). Fort Lauderdale: St. Andrews House.