A Bride For Christ
January 4th, 1989 @ 7:30 PM
A BRIDE FOR CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-4-89 7:30 p.m.
Once again we welcome the great throngs of you who share this hour on radio. You are now a part of our wonderful and precious communion, the First Baptist Church in Dallas; and this is the pastor bringing a message entitled A Bride for Christ. In our preaching through the first book of Holy Scripture, the Book of Genesis, we are in chapter 24. This is one of the beautiful, beautiful stories to be found in all the Word of the Lord. It describes a servant named Eliezer who is sent to find a bride for Isaac. And God must have thought much of the process of the programming of it, because it is one of the largest, longest chapters to be found in this part of the Bible, and is certainly one of the most moving and interesting [Genesis 24:1-67]. A bride for Christ: there are four brides named in the Book of Genesis, and each one is a figure of another bride, the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we are going to look at each one of those four, and see in it a marvelously interesting, moving type of the bride of our blessed Savior, which is His church. Each one of them was one or connected with suffering. So let us begin.
The first will be Adam and his bride, his wife Eve. In Genesis 2:21, God placed a deep sleep upon Adam. That is a type and a figure of the deeper sleep that came upon our Savior, the Lord Christ, when He was laid in the tomb [Matthew 27:57-60]. Then in the next verse, verse 22, Genesis 2:22, it says that the Lord God made a woman, made her for Adam. He placed Adam into a deep sleep, and while Adam was in that sleep God took from his body—why under high heaven they wanted to put a rib there I have no idea, the Bible doesn’t say anything about a rib, doesn’t even approach a rib; it was somebody’s idea to put a rib there, and so for all the centuries and millennia since, why, a wife has been called a rib. That’s crazy! Here’s what the Bible says, and I want you to look at that: it says that when Adam was in that deep sleep God took from his body and [banah], He built a woman. Now I think that’s eloquent. Did you ever hear it said, “Boy, is she built?” Well, instead of looking upon that as being something facetious or extraneous, that’s biblical; that’s quoting the Word of God. “Man, is she built!” That’s exactly what the Bible says. God banah, He built a woman out of the body of Adam [Genesis 2:21-22].
Now that is a common word, “build.” For example in 1 Kings 16:24 it says Omri, who was the leader of those, the king of those northern ten tribes, he bought a hill, and he built a city on it and called it Samaria. Just a common word, banah, “built.” God built a woman, and brought her to Adam [Genesis 2:22].
Now in the passage that you just read out of the Book of Ephesians, Paul describes that scene back there when God took out of the body of Adam and built a woman and brought her to him; and Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” [Genesis 2:23]. So the apostle Paul in the passage, beautiful passage you just read, the apostle Paul says that this is a picture and a type of the Lord’s church: we are taken out of His body; we are part of Him, of His flesh and of His bones [Ephesians 5:29-30].
Then he says, “This is a great mustērion” [Ephesians 5:32]. Mustērion, you take that word and spell it out in English, and we pronounce it “mystery,” mustērion. Now a mustērion, a mystery, to us is an unfathomable riddle, a mystery, you know. It has no connotation like that in the Bible. A mustērion is a secret that a man could never know of himself; it is a secret that God kept in His heart until the day that He presented it, and elucidated it, and named it, and made it known to the man of the human family. So, this Paul says, is one of the mysteries of God, how that the Lord out of the body of our Savior created the church! [Ephesians 5:32]. Who would ever have thought in ten thousand lifetimes, who would ever have thought that out of the tragedy of the crucifixion of the Savior, out of His sufferings [Matthew 27:32-50], that out of that would come our redemption, our salvation [1 Peter 1:18-19]—the bride of Christ that was brought together in the love and grace poured out upon us through the sufferings of our Savior [John 15:13; Romans 5:7-8]. No one would ever in this earth have thought of such a thing. It was a mustērion, it was a secret God kept in His heart until it became revealed to us, known to us in God’s providential grace [Ephesians 3:1-12].
It’s a wonderful thing. Every one of you here in divine presence, every one of you is a trophy of God’s love and grace [Ephesians 2:8], taken out of His love and sufferings on the cross [Matthew 27:26-50]. We wouldn’t be here without that cross. And we wouldn’t be saved without those sufferings. It was a beautiful thing that God hath done for us in giving us Jesus as an atonement for our sins [Romans 5:11]. Well, that’s the first bride: Eve, who was taken out of the body of Adam [Genesis 2:21-23], as we are taken out of the body of our Lord when He poured forth His blood and His life for us [Ephesians 5:30].
Now the second bride is Jacob and his Rachel. In Genesis 29:18-30, it says that Jacob worked seven years for Rachel [Genesis 29:18]. Then when he went to the bride’s bed that night, and woke up the next morning, he didn’t have Rachel, he had Leah [Genesis 29:22-25]. Now that’s the beatenest thing I ever heard of in my life. Can you imagine going to the marriage bed and spending a whole night with a woman thinking she’s somebody else, and not know it until the daylight came and he looked on her face, and there she was, Leah and not Rachel? I think the guy was overly responsive or emotional or something; he was overtaken in some kind of a responsive mood. I don’t know; he was swept away by something. Anyway, when he woke up the next morning, he had another woman in bed with him. So he went to Laban, the father of the two girls, and said, “What have you done?” [Genesis 29:25]. And then he gave the lame excuse, did Laban, he gave the lame excuse, “Now in our country and in our custom you can’t have a younger daughter until the older daughter is married, so you’ve got the older daughter, you’ve got Leah” [Genesis 29:26]. So Jacob said, “I will work seven more years for Rachel” [Genesis 29:27]. And he worked seven years and got Leah [Genesis 29:20]; he worked seven more years and got Rachel [Genesis 29:27].
Now I say that is a picture of Christ waiting until the time appointed of the Father. Jacob works fourteen years for the girl that he loved, for Rachel. And this, I say, is a type and a figure of the Lord waiting for the years and the years until the consummation of His marriage with the bride, His church. And that is described in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation: “The bride hath made herself ready; she is adorned for her husband” [Revelation 19:7-8]. And in the next verse they sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:9]. And that’s where we’re going to be one day. Oh, I cannot think it!
Lord, could it be, could it be that these dull eyes and this frame made out of dust will be resurrected and changed and glorified, and I’ll be seated with You at the marriage supper of the Lamb, when we’re joined together to be with Him forever and ever? [Revelation 19:7-9]. O God, no wonder Paul exclaimed, “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, nor has it even entered the heart of man, those wonderful things God hath prepared for those who love Him” [1 Corinthians 2:9]. And that’s one of them: when we are there at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:9].
Now the third bride is Joseph and his wife Asenath. In Genesis 41:45, Pharaoh gives to Joseph, Asenath. And in Genesis 41:51-52, she is described as the mother of Manasseh and Ephraim, two of the leading tribes of Israel. Now as you know—and every syllable of this is a type of what is happening to us today—Joseph was the best loved of his father [Genesis 37:3], and he was sent by his father Jacob, Israel, to his brethren with a loving message; Joseph, the delighted son, the beloved son, the favorite son of the father. He’s sent with a message of love and grace to his brethren. But he was despised by them [Genesis 37:4], and he was sold to and turned over to the Gentiles [Genesis 37:12-28]. Now the Bible speaks of that in John 1:11: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” The loving Father sent His Son that He loved so greatly to His brethren, and the brethren refused Him and despised Him, rejected Him [John 1:11].
Now in that continuing story in Egypt, Joseph became a prisoner of the Gentiles. And with him in prison were two malefactors: one was saved and the other was lost [Genesis 40:1-23]. Now in the third year, a type of the third day of our Lord, Joseph stands before the king and receives a Gentile bride, a Gentile bride [Genesis 41:45].
There is a famine in the whole world [Genesis 41:54-57]. That’s a picture of the great tribulation [Matthew 24:21-22]. The whole world is plunged into agony and need. And it forces the brothers of Joseph into Egypt [Genesis 42:1-3]. In that great tribulation, the brothers of our Lord are forced into His presence. And in Egypt they stand in the presence of their rejected brother [Genesis 42:6], with his Gentile bride [Genesis 41:45], on the throne: a picture of what is going to happen in the great tribulation. Our Lord is there at its consummation, with His Gentile bride, and His brethren, the Jews, Israel, comes, and there He reigns [Revelation 19:7-9]. And they’re going to be converted [Jeremiah 31:1], and they’re going to be a nation born in a day, one day [Isaiah 66:8]. They are going to look upon Him whom they pierced and whom they rejected, and they are going to weep for Him, and they are going to turn and receive their Lord and be saved [Zechariah 12:10-11]. But the brother, Joseph, a type of Christ, is going to be there on his throne, and his Gentile bride by his side [2 Timothy 2:12]. That’s one of the most amazing things: that in the goodness of God, as wonderful as it was to have been a child of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we are going to be by the side of our Lord, even though we are Gentiles, and not of the seed of Israel.
Now one other, the fourth bride in this Book of Genesis is this one here in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis: Isaac and Rebekah. Abraham sends Eliezer to his family in Mesopotamia, up there in Haran. And he is sent there to get a bride for his son Isaac [Genesis 24:1-10]. Now in Genesis chapter 22, you have the offering up of Isaac [Genesis 22:2,9-10], which Hebrews 11:19 says is a type of the death and the resurrection of Jesus our Lord [Matthew 27:32-28:7]. When Abraham raised that knife to plunge it into the heart of his son Isaac, God stayed it [Genesis 22:10-12], and gave him a ram caught in a thicket as a substitute [Genesis 22:13]; there was no substitute for our Lord, it was a picture of the death of our Savior [Genesis 22: 1-14].
Now in the next chapter—chapter 22 describing the offering up of Isaac on Mt. Moriah, type of the death and resurrection of our Lord as Hebrews 11 says—in chapter 23, you have the death and the burial of Sarah, Isaac’s mother. And she represents Israel. Isaac’s mother, Sarah, is dead and is buried [Genesis 23:1-2, 19], and she represents Israel in the setting aside, in the putting away of the relationship of the flesh to make room for the calling of the bride. Sarah is put aside, Sarah is buried; the old relationship of the flesh is set aside, and there is a new relationship making way for a Gentile bride.
So in Genesis chapter 24, you have that story of the wooing of the bride. The servant represents the Holy Spirit, sent by the father to bring a bride for Isaac [Genesis 24:1-4]. Now it begins in Genesis 24, verses 5 and 8, when Eliezer says, “If the woman be not willing to come, what shall I do?” And Abraham replies, “If the woman is not willing, you are free from this assignment” [Genesis 24:5-8]. The Holy Spirit never coerces, never forces; we make an appeal, we invite, but whether that somebody you comes or not depends upon your free choice. “If she be not willing, you are free of this assignment” [Genesis 5:8].
But, O Lord, that she be willing and eager!
So in verses 11 and 13 of Genesis 24, Eliezer is by the well of water, and he prays [Genesis 24:11-14]. That’s a picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the Word, through the Word. Now let me tell you something. One of the strangest things I have ever witnessed in all of my life is simply this: you can take the poorest preacher in the world, and if he’ll preach the Word of God, the Lord will give him souls. But you can take the most brilliant preacher that was ever educated in our finest seminaries, and he can stand in that pulpit all of his life and preach all of those high philosophical approaches of the truths of God, or the truths of the world, or the truths of history, or whatever it is, and there won’t be anybody saved. That’s the strangest thing in this earth.
I wonder if I could be bold enough to give you a brilliant illustration of that. I don’t suppose there is a more imposing church in this earth than the one on the Hudson River called the Riverside, used to be, the Riverside Baptist Church. If you’ve ever been in New York City and ever been around, you couldn’t help but be impressed by that church. It is by Grant’s tomb. The tower is twenty stories high, just the tower. And the tower is so made that it has twenty stories of educational space in it. And of course, the sanctuary is beautiful, as only the millions and millions and millions of the Rockefeller’s could make it. Well, I went to church there, and I imagine many of you have. I went to church there. They’ve had a liberal pulpit there for the years and the years and the years and the years. Is anybody saved? No! Is the church dead? Yes! Does it have any attendance? No! Is it empty? Yes! Are they looking for somebody now? Yes! It is a picture of destitution and drought and death. Why? Because it has no gospel to preach, none at all. And you can, you’re going to hear Sunday night, you’re going to hear a black man who’s a graduate of our school across the street, you’re going to hear him, and you’re going to be thrilled, and you’re going to be blessed. He’ll preach the gospel. He’ll preach this Book. That’s one of the strangest things in this earth: the Riverside church has had the most brilliantly educated men in the world there in those pulpits, to no effect. Great God!
So this servant is by the well, and he’s praying there [Genesis 24:12-14]: the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the Word; God uses His Word. And when he sees Rebekah, when he sees Rebekah, in verse 53, he gives her gifts of silver [Genesis 24:53]. That’s ransom money; that’s redemption money. And he gives her gifts of gold: thus does God enrich His bride. We are the richest people in the world, whether we’ve got a dime or not, doesn’t make any difference. Our hearts and our souls are laden with God’s richest and heavenly gifts. And he gives her a gift of raiment [Genesis 24:53]. In Isaiah 61:10, that’s one of the prettiest verses you’ll find in the Bible: Isaiah 61:10, “God clothes us with the garments of glory.”
So—now I don’t think this is far-fetched or out of the way—talking about the garments that we are clothed with in the grace of God [Isaiah 61:10]; did you ever think, did you ever think, when the Lord was crucified, He had four pieces of garment? Here, some kind of a turban, a girdle, an outer garment, and an inner garment. Sometimes when you think through that, they took off His garments and gambled, you know, to see which one would have which. And one of those men went away from the cross clothed with that seamless robe [John 19:23-24]. Dear me, think of that: going away from the cross wearing the seamless robe of our Savior! Well, my sweet people, that is a picture of all of us, every one of us: clothed with the garments of our Lord, the seamless robe of Jesus [John 19:23]. He died that we might be thus clothed.
And the chapter ends, of course, with Isaac waiting patiently for the bride brought to him by Eliezer, the Holy Spirit; and thereafter joined, and it says, “and he loved her” [Genesis 24:67], beautiful story and a type of our relationship with our marvelous Savior.
I tell you, it’s wonderful to love Jesus. It is glorious to be a member of His church, to be a part of the bones and flesh and body of our Lord Jesus [Ephesians 5:30]. God bless us as we love Him the more with each passing day.
Now we want to stand and sing us a song. And while we sing the hymn I’ll be standing right here. If there’s a family present, if there’s a couple, if there is one somebody you to whom the Lord in Spirit makes appeal tonight, welcome. Beautiful thing to give your heart to the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], or to be numbered with the family of God; while we sing this song, you come, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.
A BRIDE FOR CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Four brides in the Bible
1. Adam and Eve;
Genesis 2:21-24, picture of Christ and the church
2. Jacob and
Rachel; Genesis 29:18-20; picture of Christ waiting until the time appointed by
3. Joseph and Asenath;
Genesis 41:39-46 – best loved by his father, despised by his brothers; given a
4. Isaac and
Rebekah – Genesis 22 – death and resurrection of the son, Abraham’s servant is
a picture of the Holy Spirit
1. Abraham; the
2. Isaac; the Son
3. Eliezer; Holy
Spirit, soul winner