The Bride for Isaac
April 27th, 1958 @ 8:15 AM
A BRIDE FOR ISAAC
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-27-58 8:15 a.m.
Now, this morning’s sermon is an unusual come-to-pass. I do not know whether you remember it or not – been a long time ago – but I was preaching through Genesis – started at the first verse of Genesis – at these 8:15 o’clock morning services. And I was just preaching through the book, chapter after chapter, until I came to the twenty-fourth chapter of the book, Genesis 24.
And I had come across, many times, references to the fact that the story in the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis was a type of the calling out of the bride of Christ from this world to meet our Lord in heaven. I had until then never preached on types, never. And before I started this, I just stopped and began to study types in the Old Testament.
I intended to stop for about two Sundays – now this is last June. I intended to stop for about two Sundays and just study to see whether or not I was going to present the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis as a type. I had never thought of it particularly. Certainly I had never prepared anything concerning it.
Well, I stopped at the end of June and began to look at these types. Bless your heart, July, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, and April I have been studying those types, and we’re not near through yet. I have just come to the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis, that’s all. I’ve just come back.
We’ve got the tabernacle awaiting us. We have all of those things that God gave to Moses awaiting us. But we have finally come, in our preaching of the types, to the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis. And the reason we have come back to it is last Sunday morning I spoke on types of the Holy Spirit, like oil, like the rivers of water, like the cloud of fire at night and the pillar of cloud by day. You remember last Sunday morning. Now, this is a type of the Holy Spirit, the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis.
So let’s turn to it, and you can easily follow the message: Genesis 24. Now the chapter is so long I do not have opportunity to read it. It is the story of Abraham calling his servant and making his servant swear that he will not take a wife to his son Isaac from among the Canaanites, but he will go to his own house, Abraham’s house, back there at Haran, and find the daughter there for Isaac his son. And then this story of how this servant finds Rebekah and brings her back to Isaac. That is the story in this long, long chapter, the twenty-fourth of Genesis.
All right, now let’s begin with the presentation of this morning. In the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis, the father and the son are in Canaan. And the servant is commissioned to go out and away and abroad and to find a bride for the son who is in Canaan. The father and the son are in Canaan, the Promised Land. All our lives we’ve heard of that as a picture, a type, of heaven, the Promised Land:
On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand
And cast a wistful eye,
To Canaan’s fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie.
[from On Jordan’s Stormy Banks, by Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795]
– a type of heaven. The father and the son are in Canaan, in the Promised Land, in heaven, and the servant is commissioned to go out and to find a bride for the Son who is in heaven. And the Lord’s long length of this chapter just shows how much store God places in the wooing and the winning of a bride for His Son. The Father and the Son are in heaven, in the Promised Land, and the servant is the Holy Spirit of God, who is in this earth wooing and winning a bride for God’s Son.
The last time we saw Isaac, he was on the altar in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis. And the father had raised his hand to plunge death into his heart, and God stayed his hand. But in figure Abraham slew his son and received him back – a type of resurrection. That’s what we read this morning in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.
The last time we saw Isaac was in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis, in death and in resurrection. And the Scriptures say that Isaac, the seed of Abraham, is Christ, that is, a type of Christ, a figure of Christ. And in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis the seed of Abraham, which is Christ, has gone through death and resurrection. That’s the last time we’ve seen him, the Christ who has died for our sins and the Christ who was raised for our justification.
The next time you see Isaac is in the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis, and he’s in the Promised Land, waiting for his bride. He’s in heaven, waiting for the final gathering together of His church. And when that last one enters in, then the great day of Christ, the marriage supper of the Lamb, the espousal of the chaste virgin to Jesus, shall come to pass, when the bride, the church, is finally made up.
Now all of that is here in the Book of Genesis and in this story. It isn’t just a story, like you’d read in Herodotus, or like you’d read in Homer, or like you’d read in Aesop’s Fables. But all of these things, as Paul says, has a meaning. They are pictures. They are similitudes. They are figures. They are adumbrations. They are types of great spiritual truths that finally came to pass fully in Jesus our Lord, and will ultimately come to pass in that great final day of Christ.
All right, now let’s take the story and let’s follow it through as the Spirit shall give us utterance. It starts off, Genesis 24:
Abraham was old and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed
Abraham in all things.
And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, the one that
ruled over all that he had – his name was Eliezer – Put, I pray thee, thy
hand under my thigh:
And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God
of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters
of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred – that is, to Haran,
up at the top of the Mesopotamian Valley – and take a wife unto my son
And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be
willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto
the land from whence thou camest?
Abraham said unto him, Beware that thou bring not my son thither
The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and
from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that swear
unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land – an unconditional
promise; He didn’t say, if you obey me, I’ll give you this land – Unto thy
seed will I give this land – that’s Palestine, an unconditional
covenant – Unto thy seed will I give this land; the same Lord God shall
send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from
And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be
clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.
And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and
sware to him concerning that matter.
All right, this is what that is a picture of, a type of. Isaac is in the promised land. The seed of David, the seed of Abraham, is in the promised land. He’s in heaven. And Abraham says, “You are to go – the Holy Spirit, the Servant – and get a bride for my son.” And the servant says, “I will go and I will plead and I will woo and I will do my best, but what if the woman won’t come? Am I to take the son and take him to the bride if she won’t come with me?” And Abraham said, “Under no conditions are you to bring my son thither again. If the woman will not come, thou art free from this thine oath. Only you’re not to bring my son thither again. She must be brought to Isaac, my son.”
God is saying there that the bride of His Son is to be taken out of this world. Jesus is the head of a great band of immigrants, and their faces are toward Canaan. They are strangers and pilgrims in the earth. Our home, and our inheritance, is over there, never in this world; never. We don’t belong in it; we’re not a part of it. We are to be translated out of it. Some day God will take us away; some of us buried in the heart of the earth, some of us alive, when the time comes. But God says His bride is to be taken out of this world. This isn’t our home. We are strangers and pilgrims here. I love the old time song:
I am a stranger here;
Heaven is my home.
Earth is a desert drear;
Heaven is my home.
Sorrows and dangers stand
Round me on every hand.
Heaven is my fatherland.
Heaven is my home.
[Fatherland, by T. R. Taylor, 1872]
The bride is to be taken out and given to the Son.
All right now, we continue. We haven’t time, oh, not the beginning, to take all of this. I’m just pointing out a few things through this beautiful chapter.
So the servant took – now this is the tenth verse – So the servant took ten
camels of the camels of his master, and he laden them with his
master’s goods, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in
his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of
Well, all the goods of the master are in his hands. And he takes of them, going to the land where the bride is to be found. Over here it says in the fifty-third verse of that same chapter that the servant brought forth jewels of silver and jewels of gold and raiment, and gave them unto Rebekah. That is, when the Holy Spirit comes wooing, when He comes winning, when He comes pleading, He doesn’t come empty-handed, for all of the goods of God are in the hands of this Servant.
And He brings with him tokens of our inheritance over there on the other side. He has gifts to bring with Him. They are earnests of the inheritance that we shall enjoy on the other side of the river; things that are wonderful, gifts of the Holy Spirit. Joy and delight and happiness and forgiveness and fullness of life, and so, love of God, gladness in Christ, love of one another, rejoicing in the house of the Lord, oh, and how many things does the Holy Spirit bring us earnests of the wonderful, wonderful things God has in store for those who love Him!
So the servant comes, laden with these beautiful gifts, and he arrives up there in that land in the city of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. He arrives up there, and he prays a little prayer. Now he says:
Lord, I’m here on a mission to find a bride for Isaac. Now Lord, lead me
to the right one. And it shall come to pass, at the time of the day when
the young women come out to draw water, that the girl having a pitcher
on her shoulder to whom I shall say, Give me to drink, and she says,
Drink thou, and I drink, and then, I will go also for the camels: let that be
the one, let that be the one, that God hath chosen for the bride of my
[from Genesis 24:12-14]
What do you think about that? Do you think it’s silly to pray about things like that? What do you think about it?
“Aw, such fanaticism. Aw, such silliness.” Well, bless your heart, they sure prayed like that in the Book. They prayed like that in the Book. I suppose a people of the Book would pray like that too. Don’t be hesitant; ask God. Ask Him for a sign, a fleece to be wet when all of the earth is dry, or a fleece to be dry when all the earth is wet. Ask Him. Ask Him. This servant asked, and such an unusual thing, a simple thing, but that’s what he asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t trouble God with those little old petty things.” Trouble God, nothing! That’s all God’s got to do, God says, is take care of His children and watch over them for good. And He is awake all night long looking after you. And He lives all day long just to attend to the needs of His children. And here we go around hungry when there’s bread to eat, thirsty when there’s water to drink, lost when there’s guidance for the way, burdened when He’s able to carry all of our burdens. I don’t know why God’s children are so impoverished when the riches in the Master’s house belong to nobody but to Jesus and to us. Ask, ask!
Now we must hasten. So when the servant is led by this sign, which is an answer to his prayer, led by this sign to Rebekah, a fair young girl, a virgin, unmarried – when he’s led by her, he says to her, now the twenty-third verse, “Who’s daughter art thou? Tell me, I pray thee, is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?”
She said unto him, “We have both straw and provender enough and room to lodge in.” That is, before the Holy Spirit can tell us all, we’ve got to open our hearts and we have to listen. And if we don’t open our hearts and if we don’t listen, the Spirit of God can’t tell us. He can’t talk to us, nor can He show us the jewels from His Master’s house. We’ve got to listen.
You know what I think? I think the reason people drink so much is to drown their hearts, drown them. They’ve got to drink. The American home typically serves liquor. Why? To drown their hearts. I see them every once in a while as I stay in these hotels preaching at a revival or speaking through a conference. And there they are. “Oh,” I just think, “wouldn’t it be pitiful to have to do that, in order to be glad, to laugh, to smile, to be happy? To have to drown my heart?”
You know what? If you’d just put it out, and the world with it, and all that belongs to it, and just open your heart and let God speak to you, and His Spirit lay before you all the jewels of our Master’s house, you wouldn’t have to drink. You wouldn’t have to enter all of those things of the world. You’d be having such a good time with God, and with God’s people, and in God’s house, and with God’s Book, and walking with the Lord, it just wouldn’t occur to you that you’d have to be entertained, or you’d have to drown your soul. Oh, I don’t know – it is a mark of the impoverishment of life; got to do it.
“Tell me, I pray thee, is there room to lodge in for us?” And she said, “We have straw and provender enough and room to lodge in.” “Come into my heart; come into my life.” And the Holy Spirit comes in. And what does He do? When the Holy Spirit comes into a heart and into a life, and He speaks, what does He do?
Look at this. Look at this. In the thirty-third verse there: “And when the servant was invited in, they set meat before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told mine errand.” The Holy Spirit has one subject, one object, one commission, one purpose, and one great oath to keep. And that is, He is going to speak of His Master’s Son, and that’s all. He doesn’t do anything else, and we’re going to see that all through this story. He doesn’t speak of anything else. He’s just talking about one subject, his master’s son. And he doesn’t delay, and he speaks immediately, “And I’ll not rest until I’ve told my story.”
Now you don’t need to turn to it, but let me read you something. The Lord Jesus said,
Nevertheless, I tell you truth – in John 16:7 and following – It is expedient for you that I go away . . . If I go away, I will send Him – the Servant, the Paraclete – unto you
And when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He will not speak of Himself.
He shall glorify Me: He shall receive of Mine, and show it unto you.
He will not speak of Himself. He’s not going to refer to Himself. He’s not going to talk about Himself. You know, I think of Paul. When a man is filled with the Spirit of God, “we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Preach not ourselves, but Jesus the Lord.
A fellow went to hear Joseph Parker preach, and when he turned away, he said, “Oh, what a glorious preacher.” And the same fellow went to hear Charles Haddon Spurgeon preach, and he turned away and said, “Oh, what a glorious Savior.” Well, that’s not taking away from Joseph Parker. He was a glorious preacher, there’s no doubt about it, one of the most incomparably eloquent men of all time. But oh! Of the two, I would have loved better to have heard Spurgeon.
Oh, what a wonderful Savior! Preaching not ourselves, but Jesus; not glorifying himself, but glorifying Jesus; not referring to himself, but pointing to Jesus; the whole subject of his words, and sentences, and presentation, and everything – talking about his Master’s Son.
Well, we must really hasten now. Now in the fifty-second verse: "And it came to pass, that, the servant, having his prayer answered, having given all of these things to Rebekah," Now the fifty-fifth verse:
And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at least ten; and after that she shall go.
And the servant said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.
And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth.
So they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Will thou go with this man?
And she said, I will go.
Now, that’s what God says. “Today, if you will hear His voice, Harden not your hearts.” In the third chapter of Hebrews that verse quoted from Psalms is applied to the Holy Spirit: “Thus saith the Holy Spirit, Today, if you will hear His voice, Harden not your hearts.” [Hebrews 3:7] And Paul said it like this: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” [2 Corinthians 6:2] “Wilt thou go with this man?” And friends said, “Wait a while. Wait a while.” Neighbors said, “Tarry a while.” And the family said, “At least ten days.”
But they asked Rebekah. When the servant said, “No, we must go now,” they asked Rebekah, “Is it now?” And Rebekah said, “It is now.” Ah, isn’t that fine? Do it now. Not tomorrow, or ten days hence, but today. “Now, I will go.” That’s the call of the Holy Spirit. God never calls for some other time; God calls for now. This is the day of salvation.
All right, to haste again, in the sixty-first verse: “And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and they followed this man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.” Isn’t that a remarkable thing? A spouse to a husband she’s never seen. “Whom having not seen ye love.” She’s going to be married to a master she has never looked upon, but just took the word of the servant that he was. And she’s going to follow the servant through a long journey across a desert, following by faith.
That’s you. We’ve never seen Jesus face to face; we’ve never looked upon Him in the flesh. We just believe that He is, and that over yonder He has such rich treasures for us. And we’re following the Servant, the Holy Spirit, in the pilgrimage across the desert over yonder to the Promised Land.
Now look what’s over there. Over there in the Promised Land Isaac waits: “He went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: . . . and the camels drew near. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, . . . . And she said, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant said,” – and this is the office work of the Holy Spirit, to reveal to us Jesus – “And the servant said, It is my master.” There he is.
The office work of the Holy Spirit is to point out to us Jesus. Didn’t I say that’s all that He talked about? Didn’t I say that’s all that He did? Leading to the Lord; it is the Holy Spirit that reveals to us Jesus. Why a man couldn’t do it; argument can’t do it; logic can’t do it. It is the Spirit that does it.
“Who is this?”
“And the servant said, It is my master.”
And Isaac, who had been waiting for his bride, received her to himself, and the story ends. And she became his wife, and he loved her. Ah, doesn’t the thing mean a thousand times as much now? It’s no longer just a story. Look how much length in God’s holy Word that He gave to it. And the purpose of it was that we might see once again the great, devoted, waiting love the Lord hath for us, who is over there abiding that wonderful and glorious consummation, when we shall see our Lord and be His, world without end.
Now, in the little moment that we sing our song, a stanza, is there someone here this day to give his heart to Jesus? Is there someone to put his life in the church? While we sing the song, on the first note of the first stanza, down these stairwells, or from side to side, to take the Lord as yours, answering the call of the Spirit’s appeal in your heart, or to put your life in the church, as the Lord shall lead the way and the Spirit shall call, would you come while we stand and sing.
A BRIDE FOR ISAAC
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1. Abraham – the Father
2. Isaac – the Son
3. Abraham’s servant (Eliezer) – Holy Spirit
4. Rebekah – bride of Christ, the church
II. Finding Isaac’s bride
1. Charge to Abraham’s servant Genesis 24:2-9
2. Genesis 24:10 – the servant does not go empty handed