A Blind Date


A Blind Date

December 21st, 1988 @ 7:30 PM

Genesis 24

And 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, that ruled over all that he had, 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, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 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? And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. 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 sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 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. And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And 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 drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not. And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in? And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. And the man bowed down his head, and worshiped the LORD. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren. And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things. And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well. And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels. And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him. And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on. And he said, I am Abraham's servant. And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath. And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son. And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. And he said unto me, The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house: Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath. And I came this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink; And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the LORD hath appointed out for my master's son. And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee. And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also. And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands. And I bowed down my head, and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter unto his son. And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left. Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken. And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshiped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things. And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master. And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. And he 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 enquire at her mouth. And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men. And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. 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. And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 24

12-21-88    7:30 p.m.



And once again, welcome to the throngs of you who share this hour on radio.  This is the pastor bringing the message from one of the most beautiful of all of the chapters in the Bible: Genesis, chapter 24.  I have entitled it A Blind Date.  It concerns the seeking of a bride for the son of Abraham, for Isaac.

Courtship is always interesting.  No matter who you are, or how old you are, or where you are, or the kind of somebody you are, it’s always interesting how young people or older people go about cementing a relationship that involves the building of a home.

There was a nervous suitor who couldn’t get up enough strength to ask the girl of his choice to marry him.  So he decided to propose to her on the telephone.  So he called her and asked her to be his wife.  "Will you?"  She said, "Yes, indeed.  Who are you speaking to me?"

A fellow was asked, "How did you meet your wife?"  And he replied, "I did not meet her.  She overtook me."

There were two old maids who were talking, and one said to the other, "Dear, will one large stocking hold all you want for Christmas?"  And the other old maid replied, "No, but two little short socks would."

Nothing is more interesting than the courtship that ends in a marriage.  This is the story that you have in Genesis 24.  It is possibly as beautiful a type as you will ever find in all the Word of God.  And to spend these few moments with you in looking at that typology, the spiritual overtone of the glorious message is a blessing to my heart in preparing it, and I pray it will be an encouragement to you in your Christian pilgrimage.

For the first thing, I want you to look at the length of the chapter.  It is a long, long chapter; and when you compare it with the other chapters around it, it’s about two or three times as long as any other chapter in this part of the Bible.  God occupies Himself with the story, and He is absorbed with the way that the servant represents the Holy Spirit of God in our lives and in our world wooing us.

The characters in the story are, for the most part, to begin with, three.  There is Abraham, the father.  There is Isaac, the son; and there is Eliezer, the servant, representing the Holy Spirit and its mission in seeking a bride for the Son.  So Abraham calls Eliezer.  In this chapter, he’s never named, and we’re going to see a reason for that in a moment; but in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Genesis, he is called "Eliezer of Damascus" [Genesis 15:2].   He is the steward.  He is the head of the household of Abraham.  And Abraham calls Eliezer, his servant, and sends him to Haran [Genesis 24:1-4, 9-10].  Haran is in the northern part of Mesopotamia on the other side of the Euphrates River; and there in Haran lived Nahor, the brother of Abraham, and his son Bethuel, and his two children, Laban and Rebekah [Genesis 22:20-24, 24:15, 29].

So he is sent on a mission to Haran, up there in the northern part of the Mesopotamian Valley on the other side of the Euphrates River, to seek a bride for his son Isaac.  The last time we have seen Isaac is in chapter 15 of the Book of Genesis where – I mean chapter 22 in the Book of Genesis [Genesis 22:1-19] – where he is offered as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah and is marvelously preserved and raised: a type, in Hebrews 11:19, of the resurrection of the dead.  So Isaac is a type raised from the dead after having been offered on the altar of Mount Moriah [Genesis 22:1-19]; and now Isaac reappears waiting for his bride: a beautiful type of the sacrifice of our Lord on the altar of expiation, His resurrection from the dead, and now His seeking a bride – His church.  "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it" [Ephesians 5:25].

So we follow the story here in Genesis 24.  Number one:  Verses 2 to 9, there is a charge to the servant, Eliezer.  The bride is to be brought out of the land.  And in Genesis 24, verse 5: If she will not come, is Isaac to go there?  No.  The bride is to be brought out of the land and presented to Isaac, her husband – a beautiful type of us in our mission and ministry in the world.  We are not to go to the world to be identified with the world.  We’re to come out of the world [Romans 12:2; 2 Peter 2:20; 1 John 2:15-17].  We’re to be separated from the world, and we are to be joined unto Christ.  And if one will not do that – if there is someone called and he refuses, if she refuses, to answer the call and to separate from the world – then there is no union.  Christ demands of us that we come out of the world and be joined to Him [Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5:22-27; 2 Peter 1:4].

So the charge to the servant Eliezer: "You’re to bring the bride out of Mesopotamia, and out of Haran, and out of her father’s house, and she is to be brought to the promised land; and if she will not come, then there is no union.  Isaac is not to be brought back to the land that Abraham forsook in order to go to a land he should afterward receive for an inheritance [Genesis 24:4-8].

Now, look at verse 10 in this twenty-fourth chapter: the servant does not go empty-handed.  He has ten camels loaded with all kinds of marvelous and precious gifts – ten camels loaded with every good thing that the master could place upon those beasts of burden.  That is a picture and a type: when the Holy Spirit comes for us, He brings with Him wonderful gifts, good gifts, loaded down, unbelievable, precious and dear – love, joy, gladness [Romans 12:6-8; Galatians 5:22; Acts 2:38].  The camels are burdened with the good things the Holy Spirit has for us if we will but receive His invitation.

Now I am not saying, and you yourself know in experience that does not mean that there are not tears in the pilgrim way and there are not frustrations and despairs that come into the life of the Christian.  There are many disappointments that we share with our Lord when we give our hearts and lives to Him [Matthew 10:24-25; John 15:20, 16:33;].   But, but these things are as nothing compared to the gladness and the overflowing, abounding, gracious goodnesses of God when we open our hearts heavenward and Christward [2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17]. And these gifts of the Holy Spirit that we enjoy now are but harbingers, and earnests, and promises of the greater gifts that we are yet to receive [Ephesians 1:13-14]..

Now, I want you to look at verse 14, and I am going to speak of something that is dear to my heart and has been for the years and the years.  I’m going to speak now of confirming signs.  When this Eliezer comes, he says to the Lord God, "Dear God, I am here in a strange city, and in a strange country, among people I’ve never seen before and whom I do not know; and yet, I am sent on a mission to bring out of this place a bride for my master’s son.  Lord, how shall I know?  I ask you, God, for a confirming sign.  I pray Thee, send me good speed, show kindness to my master, Abraham."   Then he says it.  "I’m going to stand here by the well of water where the daughters of the city come to draw, and 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 drink also,’ let the same be she that Thou hast appointed to be the bride of Thy servant Isaac.  And thereby shall I know that Thou hast showed kindness unto my master" [Genesis 24:12-14].

A confirming sign: do you believe in that?  With all of my soul and with all of my heart.  Gideon said to the Lord, "How shall I know that You’ll go with me as I face these bitter, hasty Midianites?"  And the sign: "I’m going to put out a fleece, and let it be that the dew is on the fleece and all the earth around is dry" [Judges 6:36-38].  Then the next night, "Dear God, let it be that the fleece is dry and the whole earth around is wet with dew" [Judges 6:39-40].  A confirming sign.

Or again, when Hezekiah in Isaiah 38 says to the Lord God, "If You are to be with me as I face Sennacherib and the Assyrian Army, Lord, let the sign be that the shadow on the dial of Ahaz goes back ten degrees" [2 Kings 20:1-11; Isaiah 38:1-8].  Great God in heaven, how could you ask even of the Lord Creator a sign like that – let the sun go back ten degrees and its shadow cast on the sundial of Ahaz?  But Hezekiah asked it of God, and God confirmed His promise to Hezekiah:  "I’ll be with you."  And that sundial went back ten degrees [2 Kings 20:11; Isaiah 38:8].

I believe in confirming signs.  You heard me say that so many times for now forty-five years.  I believe in confirming signs.  Out of my life and out of a multitude, I’m going to select two.  One concerns this organ you see in front of you that Rick Land plays on Sunday and Dr. Hansen here plays on Wednesday – the organ.  There came a man out of the blue of the sky to me by the name of Morrison from Toronto, Canada; and he said to me, "I can place in your hands here, an organ, $1,400,000.00 – $1,400,000.00.  I can place in your hands here, for your church, an organ that costs $1,400,000.00; but you can have it, I will get it for you, for $400,000.00.  Save you a million dollars, and you tell me what your answer is."

Well, I don’t have $400,000.00.  So I asked the Lord, "Dear God, it’d be wonderful if our church could have a marvelous instrument like that to glorify Thee, and, dear Lord," I said, "I’m going to ask three men to help me with that $400,000.00; and if those three men reply ‘yes,’ and they give me a gracious gift, I’m going to take it as a confirming sign from heaven that You’re pleased that I try to raise that $400,000.00 and we get this $1,400,000.00 organ in our church."

So I started.  I asked the first man, and he graciously responded with a generous gift.  I asked the second man, and he no less preciously replied; and I asked the third man, and he did the same.  It was my confirming sign from heaven that God intended us to have this beautiful organ in the sanctuary of God’s First Baptist Church.  And, sweet people, I raised that $400,000.00 so simply and so easily that I doubt whether there is a one here in divine presence who can even remember that I did it.  A confirming sign from heaven: God is in it, and God will bless you, and He did.

Now, may I take one other leaf out of my life?  A confirming sign from heaven.  In these years past, I began my ministry in the deepest Depression, and my first full-time church was among a people that desperately felt the lack and the want of a sustaining income – poverty-stricken.  Down there at the white wagon yard were families and families and families who lived on nothing.  The Depression.  These youngsters who are born today have no idea what it’s like when you don’t have anything – you don’t have any clothes, you don’t have any food, you don’t have any house, you don’t have anything.  That was my first full-time pastorate.

So I organized what I called my "Good Shepherd Department," my "Good Shepherd Division" of the church, and we ministered to those poor people.  Did it every day.  Did it every night.  Did it through the cold days of the wintertime.  We fed them.  We took care of them.  I would have programs at the church, and they would bring white Christmas packages that went clear to the ceiling.  The church clear to the ceiling – those white Christmas packages filled with food and clothing for the poor.

Well, when I came to Dallas, these things are a part of my heart and my ministry – my giving to God what the Lord has put on my soul and in my heart.  Well, this church had never even thought of anything like that – never approached anything like that; and in a quandary here, as the pastor of this congregation, I did not quite know what to do or where to turn.  Yet there was brought to me appeals from the Baptist Association, the Dallas Baptist Association, that I take a responsibility in helping those poor people, and they referred to West Dallas.

Well, the confirming sign.  What happened?  As I prayed before the Lord and asked God, "What should we do?"  I never come down to the church in a morning hour – never ever.  I study in the morning.  My study is at the parsonage.  I study every morning.  Now that I’m older and don’t get up as early as I used to, I study at night, make up for it at night.  I study in the morning; and I don’t like to get out of the house, and I don’t like to be called for anything in the morning.  I study in the morning.  I prepare my sermons in the morning, and I talk to God, and read the Bible, and pray, and ask the Lord to bless us.  I do that in the morning.  In the afternoon, I’ll do anything that blesses the church.  In the evening, I’ll go to any kind of a meeting; but in the morning, I want to be left alone with God.  I don’t leave the house in the morning.

Well, this morning I was down here at the church.  I can’t remember what or why, but I was down here at the church.  I came down Patterson Street, and when I did, I saw a large crowd at that front door – big crowd.  They were gathered around the front door of our First Baptist Church here in Dallas, right there.  Well, I elbowed my way through the crowd, and when I got to the steps of our First Baptist Church Ervay Street entrance right there, I saw a man dressed in blue overalls and a workingman’s shirt open at the collar.  He was lying on his back on those steps, and his hands were reaching up toward the door of our church – like that.  And when I had come through the crowd to where I could bend over him, he breathed his last, and he died there with his hands outstretched toward the front door of our church.

Well, the police came, and they picked him up and put him in the back seat of their police car and drove away, and the crowd separated and forgot it.  But not I.  Dear people, I remember that as vividly today as I did when it happened over forty years ago.  And I turned, and I thought in my heart, "Who was that man?  What was his name?  Where did he come from?  Why was he on the steps of our dear church?  And of all things, to die with his hands outstretched toward our front door." 

The rest of it you know.  We have twenty-nine chapels in our church.  We have twenty-nine missions in our church.  And out of all of the things that we do in this dear congregation, there’s not anything that brings joy to my heart like the knowledge that with Lanny Elmore over there and the ministers with him, every day, every night, every Sunday, we’re ministering to the poor of the city of Dallas; and I think in God’s gracious goodness, we’re going to have an even greater open door to minister to those who need our blessed Savior.  A confirming sign.  If it’s in the will of God, God will do something, and you’ll know that this is His affirmation from heaven.

I must hasten.  In the twenty-third verse of this chapter 24 [Genesis 24:23], he asked to be invited into the house; and had he not been invited, the mission from heaven would never have materialized.  If you don’t invite the Holy Spirit into your heart, you will never know the blessings of God’s heaven.

Now invited in, Eliezer says not one word about himself.  Not one.  You carefully read this beautiful chapter.  Not one word does he say about himself [Genesis 24:29-].  He’s speaking about his master, about his master, and that’s the way with the Holy Spirit.  "He shall not speak of Himself, He shall take the things of Me and show them unto thee" [John 16:13-14].  And it’s a great, wonderful thing when a preacher’s like that. 

I one time heard of the two great preachers in London in the last century.  One was named Joseph Parker, and one was named Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The people would go hear Joseph Parker, and I have many of his books in my library – a brilliant, brilliant theologian and a glorious orator.  People would go hear Joseph Parker and turn and say, "What a great preacher.  What a great preacher!"  And people would go hear Charles Haddon Spurgeon and turn away and say, "What a great Savior.  What a great Savior!"

That’s the way all of us ought to be: not calling attention to ourselves but pointing to Him, speaking about Him.  Ten thousand things may be derelict in me, nothing wrong with Him, pointing to Jesus.  Eliezer never saying a word about himself, speaking of his master.

So in verse 58, he asks, "Rebekah, will you go?"   And she says, "Yes" [Genesis 24:58]. The Spirit never forces an unwilling response.  Out of the deep of your heart, "Yes, God, yes."  When friends and relatives would have detained her: "No, I’m on my way."  In verse 61, it is 600-mile desert journey to that promised land.  She turned her back forever on the old life, and the old home, and the old friends and turned her face to the promised land [Genesis 24:61]; and in verses 62 to 67, she meets Isaac, and they are married [Genesis 24:62-67].

And that is a picture of Revelation 19 in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb when we sit down with our blessed Lord, and we are joined to Him forever and ever and ever [Revelation 19:7-10].  No more sickness.  No more death.  No more sorrow.  No more crying.  We’re at home with our Lord in His place, in His beautiful city, in a New Jerusalem, in a mansion prepared for those who love Him [John 14:2; 1 Corinthians 15:42-57; Revelation 21:1-5, 27] – beautiful, beautiful chapter and beautiful promise to our hearts.

Now, Fred, I want us to stand and sing us a song.  And while we sing the song, I’ll be standing here; and if God has spoken to you tonight to come in to the fellowship of our dear church, or to give your heart to Jesus, or to answer the call of the Spirit, you come and stand by me as you open your heart Godward.  If there is some decision tonight to which the Holy Spirit calls you, make it "yes" and "here I am," and God bless you in your coming, while we stand and while we sing.


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 24:1-67



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]