The most important question we ever will answer in our lives is this: “Will you go with this man?” The question may take many forms, but the fundamental question in all of life is whether we willfully choose to go with this man, Jesus Christ, and begin our journey into eternal life.
The story of Genesis 24 is the story of Abraham’s search for a bride for his son, Isaac. Finding a wife was very important because God had promised that Abraham’s family would outnumber the stars in the sky and that his descendants would become a mighty nation living in the land of Canaan that would bless the nations of the earth.
Abraham’s own ability to have children and continue in the promise had been doubtful for a time, until God stepped in and provided Abraham and Sarah with a single son. And now Abraham was seeking out a wife for Isaac.
Abraham would not settle for a wife from among the Canaanites. The Canaanites, after all, were a cursed people (Genesis 9:20-27). And so Abraham would seek a bride for Isaac from among Abraham’s own people.
There is much to be gleaned from this chapter theologically. Abraham did not want to send his son Isaac back to his homeland. Abraham was called out of that particular place. The promise of God was for the land where Abraham was living – not for the land where Abraham once lived. The future was not in the old land. Rather, it was in the Promised Land. But the pull of old land could be strong, and Abraham did not his son Isaac to face that temptation. There was no place for Isaac there.
And so Abraham would send his servant into the old land. The servant would swear an oath of obedience to Abraham. The servant would go to Mesopotamia. And God would bring to the servant the bride who would be joined to the son.
Ancient commentators were quick to see, in this long chapter, the gospel story. This is why it is important to read the Bible – and to read the book of Genesis – as Christians. When we do, we begin to see God constantly is telling us the good news. In the Bible, he tells the story in a multitude of ways, from the Old Testament and the New.
In Genesis 24, the faithful servant went on his mission, looking for a bride for the son. It was a long journey, and it required faithful persistence on the part of the servant.
But the servant found the young woman. She emerged out of nowhere and offered him hospitality. She gave him water and then watered his ten camels. This was no small task, and it demonstrated Rebekah’ heart. Perhaps it was in her heart to be a person of God even before she knew what it meant to be a person of God. The people of God, after all, give water to strangers (Matthew 10:42).
This does not mean Rebekah was perfect. But, like Abraham, this woman had been chosen. That is to say, she had been chosen to enter into the family of God.
Now in those days, marriage was a family affair. Two families were joining into one. In this case, the families of Abraham and Rebekah’s father, Bethuel, already were linked by blood. But households still negotiated with one another. Rebekah’s brother, Laban, did most of the talking. He served as the head of the household.
And the two sides – Abraham’s servant and Laban – worked out a deal. Rebekah would go.
The story takes a little twist on the morning of their departure. The servant was ready. He wanted to complete his mission. “Send me away to my master” (Genesis 24:54).
But the old world wants to cling to its own. “Perhaps another ten days, maybe longer,” it seems to say. “Stay here for a while.”
But this calling of ours is an individual calling. We don’t enter into the faith by way of our parents or our pastors or our friends. We enter into the faith of Jesus Christ. God called and made promises to Abraham, and Abraham had to choose (Genesis 12:4; 15:6).
So, too, did Rebekah have to choose. “Let us call the young woman and ask her” (Genesis 24:57).
And so most important question we ever will answer in our lives is the question Laban asked his sister: “Will you go with this man?” (Genesis 24:58). Rebekah knew it to be an invitation to enter into marriage with Isaac, the only son of Abraham and Sarah.
But we know this question is for us, too. The servant has come for us. His name is Jesus Christ, the servant who suffered.
The disciple Peter stood in Solomon’s Portico at the temple in Jerusalem. A crippled beggar had just been healed. And Peter had good news for the Jews gathered there. “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:26).
And so the people there needed to answer the question, “Will you go with this man, Jesus?”
Rebekah answered the question for herself, and she proved to have the heart of faith God is seeking. She did what Abraham did. “I will go” (Genesis 24:58).
And when we answer as Rebekah did, we grab hold of eternal life. Or, rather, eternal life grabs hold of us.
You see, Jesus is both the servant of the Father and the Father’s only Son. When we accept the invitation to go, we are brought out of our old land and our old ways – the way of sin and death – and brought into the land of the promise, the land of eternal life and blessing.
We skip from the beginning of the Bible to the end, and we read in the book of Revelation, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8).
In the long story of Genesis 24, we see the gospel. You and I are being called. The servant has come to us. God has chosen us to enter into his family. But we must leave behind the old things, the things of the world that so easily entangle us (Hebrews 12:1). Those old things and those familiar people in our lives will ask us to stay – maybe ten days, maybe longer. “Don’t go,” they say.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We run the race by following Jesus Christ. Jesus left his seat alongside the Father, came to a dirty old world, looking for the Bride. And he took on the shame of the cross. Those new bridal garments come with a cost. Jesus died the death of sin for us. He did it for joy, of course – the joy of living in obedience to his Father and, I hope, the joy of knowing you and me.
Obviously, there is more to the story of the gospel than Genesis 24 can lay out for us. In the story of Abraham’s servant and Rebekah’s response, we don’t see the servant suffer as we saw Christ suffer. And Isaac doesn’t make a strong picture of Jesus Christ. But these early events do give us parts and pieces of the gospel story, preparing us for what is to come.
In particular, Genesis 24 puts the question starkly before us, and it cannot be avoided. Today, God may be asking you, “Will you go with this man, Jesus Christ?” This may not be the first time you’ve been asked that question. You may have said, “No,” in times past. But you can say, “Yes,” today.
God has a marriage supper planned. His bride – that’s his church – is on its way there right now. You’ve been invited.