Rebekah: What Can Happen from a Blind Date
August 14th, 1983 @ 7:30 PM
REBEKAH: WHAT CAN HAPPEN FROM A BLIND DATE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-14-83 7:30 p.m.
And welcome, the tremendous throngs of you that are sharing this hour on radio and in many places on television. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor delivering the sermon entitled Rebekah, What Can Happen From a Blind Date. This is the second in our series on the “Bible’s Amazing Women.” Next Sunday next, it will be, Rachel, Can Your Gods Be Stolen? But tonight on Rebekah, What Can Happen From A Blind Date.
Yesterday afternoon I was in a little group of men, and they were talking about the advertisement of this sermon subject tonight, What Can Happen From A Blind Date. And one of the men said, “My wife I married from a blind date.” And I do not know why, but this little story came to my mind when he said that, “I married from a blind date.”
The story is this fellow was very nervous as he contemplated asking Miss Jones to marry him. So he decided to ask her over the telephone. So he calls on the telephone.
And he says, “Is this Miss Jones?”
And she says, “Yes.”
And he says, “Could I talk to you?”
And she says, “Yes.”
And he says, “I want to ask you a question, may I?”
And she said, “Yes.”
And he says, “Miss Jones, would you marry me?”
And she says, “Yes. Who is this?”
I thought of our Young Married division that has what they call “Harvest Couples Dinners,” and they bring young couples and I talk to them. And they were talking about, you know, how they married; they are just married. How did you get married? And one of those fellows said, “Well, I didn’t meet my wife. She overtook me.” And I suspect a lot of men think that. But that’s not so. What we’re going to do is [see] Rebekah, being escorted to a man she is going to marry, whom she has never seen.
This is the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis. And you can follow it if you will turn to Genesis 24, the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis. In the Bible are what we call “types.” They are historical figures or they are historical incidences that portray a great revelation, a great truth, a great intervention, a great grace of God that is yet to come. And the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis is one of the most beautiful types in the world, and in human literature, and in all of the Word of God.
In the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis, we see Isaac, that’s the last time he appears before chapter 24. And in chapter 22, he is being offered on an altar of sacrifice [Genesis 22:1-10]. And the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the nineteenth verse says that Abraham offered his only begotten son, believing that God could raise him from the dead. And in that figure he received him [Hebrews 11:17-19]; Jesus, raised from the dead and in heaven [Romans 8:34].
The next time that we see Isaac is in chapter 24, and he is waiting for his bride [Genesis 24:62-67]. So, the type; Abraham is the father, our Father in heaven [Genesis 24:1]. Isaac is the son in the Land of Promise, in the land of Canaan, in heaven [Genesis 24:4]. And Eliezer, the servant is the Holy Spirit who is being sent to Haran to Padan Aram, at the head of the Mesopotamian Valley, there to find and to bring to Canaan the bride of Isaac, the son [Genesis 24:2-4, 15:2]. So the type: God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to woo and to win and to bring to his son, Isaac, the Lord Jesus Christ who is in heaven, and the bride is to be brought to Him.
Now let’s follow the type through the beautiful, beautiful story. It begins with,
Abraham was old, and well stricken in age . . . and Abraham said unto his eldest servant, Eliezer, Put I pray thee thy hand under my thigh:
And I will make thee swear by the Lord God of heaven . . . that thou wilt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites . . .
But go into my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
And if the woman be not willing to follow me into the land, what shall I do;
asked Eliezer? . . . And Abraham says, You are free from the oath if the woman will not come. But do not bring my son thither again. Do not take him to Haran.
So the servant swares before Abraham the father that he will go to Haran and find a bride for his son, Isaac, and if the woman will not come—she must be willing [Genesis 24:9]. God doesn’t force anyone, if she be not willing, the story—the oath is ended. But the son is not to be taken out of the Land of Promise. That’s the first story. That’s the first portion of the type [Genesis 24:1-9].
Now the second one begins at verse 10: “And Eliezer took ten camels and departed; for all of the goods of his master were in his hand” [Genesis 24:10]. The Holy Spirit, typified by this servant when he goes to seek a wife for Isaac, the Holy Spirit is rich in gifts. We don’t have to wait to get to heaven to find the riches of all of the wonderful things that the Holy Spirit has in store for us. These things that we experience now in the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, gladness, happiness, the fullness of heart, the fellowship with God, all of these things are but earnest of what the Holy Spirit has for us when He brings us to our wonderful Lord in heaven.
So he’s rich. The servant Eliezer takes ten camels, a beautiful caravan laden with goods and all of the riches of his grace. In verse 22, before he even asks who the damsel is to whom he is speaking, he gives her a golden earring of half a shekel of weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold [Genesis 24:22]. And over here in the fifty-third verse, “And Eliezer brought forth goods of silver”—that represents ransom money, redemption money, and jewels of gold, that’s the glory of God. the cherubim were made of solid gold—”and raiment” [Genesis 24:53].
I think one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is Isaiah 61:10. We shall be clothed like this. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.”
Thus, the servant Eliezer, the type of the Holy Spirit, sent to seek a bride for Christ, to win souls for Jesus, He comes to us laden with every rich gift. Listen to the voice of the Spirit, heed His call and every heavenly benedictory gift that only God is able to bestow is ours, bestowed upon us.
All right, the third beautiful part of the type, beginning at verse 12, his prayer, Eliezer’s prayer. Genesis 24:12, Eliezer said, “O Lord God of my master, I pray Thee, send me good speed this day . . . Behold, I stand here by the well of water.” Standing by the well of water; the well of water is a figure and a type of the abounding blessings of God through His Word. “I stand here by the well of water…Let it come to pass…” [Genesis 24:13-14]. And he asked for a confirming sign:
Let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink:
and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels to drink also: let the same be she that hath been appointed for Thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that Thou hast showed kindness unto my master.
Listen, pray about anything and everything. Philippians 4 says, “Do not be hesitant; but in everything with prayer, let your requests be known unto God” [Philippians 4:6]. And Eliezer by the well, of the Word of God, the living water, prays to God and asks for a confirming sign [Genesis 24:13-14].
Now if you’ve ever been here to church very much, you know that I believe in confirming signs. I seek them again and again and again; confirming signs. Lord show me by a sign what God would have me to do; a confirming sign.
In the sixth chapter of the Book of Judges [Judges 6:11-35] when God had called Gideon to deliver His people from the Midianites; what an assignment, for the people were in dens and caves and the Midianites were like the sands of the sea [Judges 7:12], the Bible says. And yet calls Gideon to defeat Israel and to deliver from those Midianites.
And Gideon asks God for a confirming sign that God will be with him [Judges 6:36-40]. “I will put out this fleece,” he said, “in the nighttime. And it shall be if the next morning the fleece is covered with dew, and the world is dry, God do it if You have called me.” And the next morning, the fleece was so filled with dew he could wring the water out of it, and the world was dry. And then Gideon prayed once again, “Lord, let the fleece be dry and the whole world wet with dew.” And the next morning, the fleece was dry and the whole world was wet with dew; a confirming sign.
In the thirty-eighth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, when the prophet is sent to King Hezekiah to announce to him, “Set your house in order: for thou shalt surely die,” Hezekiah wept and prayed [Isaiah 38:1-3]. And God turned Isaiah around and sent him back to the king and said the Lord says, “I have seen your tears, and I have heard your prayers; and I have added to your life, fifteen years” [Isaiah 38:4-5].
And [Hezekiah] said, “How shall I know?” And now the confirming sign. The Lord God said to Hezekiah through Isaiah, “I will turn the dial, the sundial of Ahaz, back ten degrees.” And the sundial of Ahaz turned back ten degrees from whence it had gone down [Isaiah 38:6-8]; a confirming sign.
Now what do you mean by that in your life, pastor? Well, I live in that kind of a world all of the time. I ask God for confirming signs.
Let’s take this one. Do you see these pipes here, this organ that’s being placed here in this great sanctuary that we are going to dedicate Thursday and Friday—Thursday and Friday week. Do you see this organ?
There came down to me a word from a family in Toronto, Canada. And they said, the family sent me word, “We have $1,300,000 organ that we want to give to the First Baptist Church in Dallas.” The matriarch in the home had heard me preach in Toronto and wanted the organ placed here. Asked us for the installation costs and they would give us the organ. Well, it was unbelievable to me such a thing as that. So we sent three men up there to Toronto, to find out if such a thing could be.
And they came back and said, “Pastor, the half hasn’t been told. It’s a great organ, one of the greatest in North America, and they’re giving it to us! And we have found that the costs of its installation will be $488,800. Now if we will install it, that family will give us the great organ.”
So I took it to the Lord. Lord, is that what You want us to do, to pay $488,800 for the installation of that great instrument in our sanctuary? Is that what You want us to do? So I said, “Lord, the confirming sign; I’m going to ask three men for one-tenth of it, $488,800. And if those one, two, three men that I ask, respond yes, that will be God’s confirming sign we’re to do it.”
So the first one I called, one of the heads of one of the young families in our church, I told him, and I said, “Would you like to do it?”
He said, “Yes, I would be delighted to do it.” And he sent the money immediately.
The second one that I asked was a boy. It is unthinkable! He had just joined the church! He’s a young fellow. He’s unmarried. He just joined the church. I asked him. And he said, “Yes, I’ll give you one-tenth of it; $488,800.” And he sent in the money. And the third one that I asked, said, “Yes, I’d be delighted to do it”: my confirming sign from heaven! So I brought it to the people, and if we are not willing with $150,000 to begin with, if the rest of us by the thousands aren’t willing to pay the rest of that for the installation, we ought to bow our heads in shame; a confirming sign. This will glorify God and it pleases Him that it’s here in the church to magnify our wonderful Lord. I believe in confirming signs.
When I came here to Dallas, now thirty-nine years ago, when I came to Dallas, I came from a former pastorate where I had a mission ministry. I started out my pastoral work in the days of the deep Depression; hunger, need, suffering everywhere and particularly in the county seat town where I lived, and I had a mission ministry.
When I came here to this city, I became sensitive to the thousands of people that are pressed against this downtown city. They live all around us. They’re everywhere. You can’t walk anywhere and not see them. And I took it to the Lord. Lord, what shall I do? There are, there are so many, many, many people who need Christ, and they need our loving remembrance and our helping feeding, clothing hands. We just are placed in the midst of an abounding need.
Lord, shall I seek such a ministry as that here in this church? The church had never done anything like that, and it had been years and years since the church had any kind of a mission. Shall I seek it? I asked God: the confirming sign. I never come down to the church in the morning, never! My study, the church built a wing to the parsonage, and my library is there, and I study there every morning. I never come down to the church in the morning.
I came to the church that morning. And when I did, I saw a crowd at the front door of our church. And I wondered why they were there. And I walked and pressed my way, pushed my way through the throng to see what it was they were looking at. And there on the front steps of our church was a man in blue overalls and a blue shirt, open at the collar, a working man, and he was lying there on our church steps. And as I looked down in his face, he gasped his last breath and died there on the front steps of our church.
The police with their siren came, put him in the car, took him away. The crowd dissolved and forgot about it. But it stayed on my mind. When that man died, he died with his arms outstretched toward the front door of our church. He was lying there with both arms reaching for our front door. Who was he? I don’t know. What was his name? I don’t know. Was he saved? I don’t know; my confirming sign from heaven.
And immediately I began to work here in the church of establishing, first the Good Shepherd Chapel, then these other chapels until we have nineteen now. And we’re adding to them year by year, ministering to the needy, and the lost, and the hungry, and the sick of this city. And a part of everything you give to the church goes for those many faceted ministries; a confirming sign from heaven; I believe in a confirming sign.
Ask God. Pray God and ask God for a confirming sign. That’s what this Eliezer did, “Lord, Lord, I am going to stand by the well of water, by the word of God, and it shall be,” and then the sign, “the woman, the maiden who comes and with her pitchers gives me water to drink and then says, `May I draw water also for your camels?’ that will be the sign that this is she” [Genesis 24:13-14].
And Rebekah—Abraham’s brother lived in Haran where the servant is, Eliezer, and Nahor has a son, Bethuel. And Bethuel has two children, Laban and Rebekah [Genesis 24:15]—and at the eventide when the women come to draw from the well, this beautiful daughter, Rebekah, about twenty years of age, comes to draw water. And he, seeing her, beautiful and fair, he asks her for a drink [Genesis 24:15-17]. And in an unstudied kindness, she not only lowers her pitcher to give water to Eliezer to drink, but says—the confirming sign— “Let me draw water also for your camels” [Genesis 24:18-19], ten thirsty camels.
What an effort that took on the part of that girl! [Genesis 24:20]. And before he even asked her, he gave her those beautiful jewels [Genesis 24:22]. Then said, “Whose daughter art thou?” [Genesis 24:23]. And she replies. God has answered prayer [Genesis 24:14]. The Holy Spirit has been sent to the right one. And he asks, now, this is the [third] part of the beautiful type; “Is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?” [Genesis 24:23]. The Spirit never has opportunity to speak to us, or to show us Christ, or to win us to Jesus unless we invite Him in. We must listen to His voice. “Is there room in thy father’s house for us?” And she says, “Yes” [Genesis 24:23, 25]. And he comes to the house [Genesis 24:32]. The Holy Spirit comes to the heart. There He has opportunity to speak to us, to talk to us [John 16:13].
Now, the fourth part; the fourth part of the beautiful type. What does he speak about? What does he witness to and testify to? Verse 33, he says, “I will not eat, until I have told mine errand” [Genesis 24:33]. What he does is, he talks about his master. Isn’t that what Jesus says the Holy Spirit will do? “He will not speak of Himself; but He will glorify Me, He will take of Mine and show it unto thee” [John 16:13-14].
Isn’t that right? The Holy Spirit magnifies the Lord. He does not magnify Himself. He points to Jesus. It’s like Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ [2 Corinthians 4:5], and Him crucified” [1 Corinthians 2:2]. So Eliezer the servant in this long passage that follows after, never speaks of himself, but he speaks about and glorifies his master in the land of Canaan, in the Promised Land [Genesis 24:33-49].
Now, the fifth part of it. And he asks Rebekah, “Will you go with me to my master and be his bride?” And she says, “I will go. I will go” [Genesis 24:51, 58]. And her brother, verse 55, and her mother said, “Let the damsel abide a few days, at least ten; and then let her go” [Genesis 24:55]. And she says, “No. It is now” [Genesis 24:56-59].
Isn’t that what God says? “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” [2 Corinthians 6:2]. Isn’t that what the Book of Hebrews says? “If today thou hear His voice, harden not thy heart” [Hebrews 3:7-8]. Do it now. Do it now. Accept Him now. Go to the Lord now.
Now the sixth part, verse 61, “And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way” [Genesis 24:61]. They crossed the Euphrates River and then into the sun-bleached and burning desert for six hundred miles! That is a type of this world; our pilgrimage through the desert of this world, journeying toward the Promised Land to our Savior in heaven.
Now the seventh and the last, “And Isaac went out,” in verse 63, “to meditate: and he lifted up his eyes, and behold, he saw them coming” [Genesis 24:63]. Now verse 67, “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” [Genesis 24:67].
That is the first monogamous marriage after Eden [Genesis 2:24]; the beautiful marriage of Isaac and Rebekah [Genesis 24:67]; a type of our presentation, the bride of Christ, to our wonderful Lord who waits for us in glory [Acts 3:20-21]. That’s God—and how He ministers to us, and how He loves us, and how He woos us, and invites us, wins us [John 6:44], and someday receives us to Himself in glory [John 14:3]. And we shall sit down some final consummating, marvelous day at the marriage supper of the Lamb; He and we [Revelation 19:6-9].
O my sweet family, don’t miss it. Wonderful children, don’t miss it. Father and mother, don’t miss it. Today, hear the voice of the Spirit of God who bids you come. May we stand in the prayer?
Our Savior, who writes these things through the Holy Spirit in this precious Book, oh, how full and rich and meaningful; Jesus loves us, bids us come. We belong to Him. And our Lord, if we know our hearts, we say, “Yes, we’re coming, Lord. We’re on the way.”
And in this moment that our people pray and wait, when we sing our hymn of people, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, “Pastor, God has spoken to me, and I’m on the way,” a thousand times welcome, in the balcony round, down a stairway, on this lower floor, down one of these aisles.
And our Lord, thank Thee for the sweet and precious harvest You give us tonight. Souls, trophies of grace to lay at the feet of Jesus, the bride of Christ who someday will be welcomed into the Promised Land, into heaven itself [John 14:3]. O Lord, what wonderful things God has in store for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9]. And may tonight be a night of rejoicing and salvation and commitment, in Thy dear and wonderful name, amen. While we sing our appeal, come. Welcome.
REBEKAH: WHAT CAN HAPPEN FROM A BLIND DATE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Genesis 24:2-9; Abraham’s servant to bring Rebekah out of her land
Servant does not go empty handed [24:10]
Approached prayerfully [24:11, 13]
Testimony of the servant [24:23]
Rebekah’s response [24:58]
Desert journey [24:61]
Isaac sees his bride [24:63]