Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
— Luke 24:44-45
The only Scriptures which existed at the time were found in the Old Testament. In Jesus’ day all the books of the Old Testament belonged to one of three categories: the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. In other words, Jesus was able to use the entire Old Testament to explain how it was a shadow of an ultimate fulfillment to come in the New Testament. This lesson illustrates how this might be accomplished, because we can find many parallels to the characters and their respective actions in this story to a greater fulfillment of figures and events to come. It also illustrates how every bride in Scripture teaches something about the ultimate Bride of Christ and every good servant teaches something about our own quality of service to Christ our Master.
Read verses 1-9
Q: What do we know from previous events what makes Isaac special?
A: Isaac was God’s possession, offered on the altar and redeemed by God. It was through Isaac that God promised to make a covenant (Gen. 17:21) and through whom Abraham’s “descendants shall be named”. (Gen. 21:12)
Point: Even though Ishmael was actually Abraham’s firstborn through the concubine Hagar at the urging of Sarah, God does not recognize him as such because Isaac is the promised son to come according to God’s will and timing. That born of the Spirit always takes precedence over that born of the flesh.
Q: How does this relate to how Abraham knew that God would supply the need of a wife for Isaac?
A: Abraham trusted the promises of God to provide for the need the same way Abraham trusted God to take care of things when he went to sacrifice Isaac.
Application: How well do we seek to be obedient in accordance with God’s Word in all our life situations, especially the big ones such as marriage, vocation, ministry, etc.? Do we lack God’s direction because we did not actually seek it out to begin with?
Trust in the lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
— Proverbs 3:5-6
Q: What are the three things Abraham made the servant swear to?
He would not select Isaac’s wife from among the Canaanite women. (v.3)
He would choose Isaac’s wife from among Abraham’s relatives. (v.4)
He would not take Isaac back to Abraham’s former home/land. (v.6)
Q: Why do you suppose that Abraham specifically wanted a bride from what we might call “the family of God”?
A: Throughout Scripture is the repeated story of what happens when a marriage takes place with someone dedicated to another god or religion. Abraham does not want to join “the son of promise” to a Canaanite who worships another god or someone representative of the old life from which he was saved out of.
Q: What does Abraham twice command which affirms that this is his intention?
A: In both v.6 & 8 he commands, “[D]o not take my son back there”. Abraham would rather do without than risk returning to the old life he has forsaken for the new in the One True God.
Q: How might this be a picture of what is to come in the New Testament?
A: It represents the heavenly Father choosing a Bride (the Church) for His Son who would not be clinging to the old life but dedicated exclusively and faithfully to Christ the Son alone.
Point: We most often emphasize that the Son is the Father’s love gift to the world (Jn. 3:16), but we forget that His Bride, the Church, is actually the Father’s love gift to His Son. (Jn. 17:2, 6, 9, 11-12, 24)
Application: Abraham is an example of dedication, choosing to live and make every decision in accordance with God’s promises.
All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
— Hebrews 11:13-16
Read verses 10-49
Q: What is probably the really obvious example in this passage we need to apply to our life?
A: The role and attitude of a servant.
Q: We do not know the servant’s name, who remains anonymous, but what is the servant’s favorite name for Abraham which he uses repeatedly?
A: “My master”. A servant lives and serves only to please his master.
Q: What should we learn from the way this servant handled his master’s orders?
A: After receiving his orders he did not change them but eagerly sought to carry them out to the letter. Likewise we should be obedient to the whole of God’s Word already given us, eager to carry out His will according to every letter of His Word. Like this servant who will ultimately give an account to his master of all he did (v.66), so too shall we.
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.
— 1 John 2:28
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
— Romans 14:10-12
Q: How did the servant go about finding the right woman for his master’s son?
A: He acted in faith in the God of Abraham and Isaac. (v.12) In other words, he believed the promise of God and trusted to be directed by Him. (v.27)
Q: What did the servant specifically do?
A: He took time to pray and ask God for help (v.12-14), but he kept his eyes open to see what God might do.
Q: What might be particularly enlightening about the timing of God’s answer to Isaac’s prayer?
A: While the servant was praying, God was already sending the answer to his prayer!
“It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
— Isaiah 65:24
Q: What might we learn from the servant as he observed his prayer being answered?
A: His reaction in v.21 tells us that he was not impulsive, but waited on the Lord to see what He might do.
Q: How would the servant testify to the overall process which brought him success where his master’s will was concerned?
A: “…the Lord has guided me…” (v.27) He was not self-focused but God-focused.
Q: What might speak to the quality of the servant’s devotion to his master’s will?
A: He was so anxious to finish his task that he cared nothing for food. (v.33)
Application: What happens when we put physical things ahead of the spiritual?
The Example of the Servant: He believed in prayer, knew how to wait on the Lord, and was obedient to every word and instruction of his master. He is the ultimate example of devotion.
Q: How is the servant a type, or example, of the Holy Spirit?
The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring the lost to Christ who make up His Bride.
Just as the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to always point to Christ and glorify Him, the servant’s name is not given in avoidance of personal glory.
The Holy Spirit has been sent to represent Christ and to do His will here on earth just as the servant so represented his master’s will and son.
As in the character of the Holy Spirit, the servant did not speak about himself but his master and his riches. (Jn. 15:26; 16:13-14)
The servant carried a portion of his master’s wealth, just as the Holy Spirit “is given as a pledge of our inheritance”. (Eph. 1:14)
Like the Holy Spirit drawing people to Christ, the servant did not argue or bribe but simply bore witness to the greatness of his master. He did not force a marriage but merely gave her the facts and the opportunity to make a decision. (Jn. 16:7-11)
Q: Who is the second most dominant figure in this passage?
A: Rebekah, the bride.
Q: Why might it be significant that it all started with a simple and even menial request for water?
A: Faithfulness in the bigger things in life can only come by first being faithful in the smaller things. Performing a humble task for a stranger proved a faithfulness to the small things which led to becoming a bride of a wealthy man who was in a covenant relationship with God—faithfulness in much bigger things.
Q: What would it mean to water ten camels? What kind of effort would it take?
A: After a long trek, a single camel might drink as much as forty gallons of water, all of which she would have to draw by hand.
Q: Why do you suppose the servant observed her silently? (v.21) What was he probably doing?
A: Firstly, he seems to be waiting to make sure the entire task, and therefore all the conditions, are met. Secondly, most likely he was also observing the qualities which would make for a good wife, seeing that she was kind, pleasant, humble, healthy and a hard worker. She not only met the pedigree set out by his master, but in those times would have stood out as an example of the best things desired in such arranged marriages.
Q: What is the greater lesson behind the servant’s question, “Whose daughter are you?” (v.23)
A: We would apply this to ourselves in answering whether we are a child of God and to whom our allegiance truly belongs. The literal question has a spiritual application for us as well.
The Example of Rebekah: She is also an example of devotion in her attitude, spirit and work ethic, an example of the family that raised her to act appropriately even when away from their presence.
Application: The servant and Rebekah are examples of devotion, adhering to more than the minimum standards in the course of obedience to their masters over them.
Read verses 50-60
Q: So what is the greater spiritual representation of what is taking place between Rebekah and Isaac? How does this foreshadow a greater event in the New Testament to come?
A: It is an Old Testament type—or illustration, of Christ and His Bride.
Q: How does the family’s reluctance to let Rebekah leave right away reflect the obstacles we face in heeding our call to Christ?
A: The world wants us to stay with them as long as possible. (v.55)
Q: What are some of the arguments they could have made to Rebekah?
“You have never actually seen this man”.
“Perhaps the servant is a fraud or con-man”.
“It is a very hard journey—over 500 miles to where Isaac lives”.
“You may never see your family again”.
Application: These are relate to the arguments made by the world and those who would rather not see us make decision for Christ.
Q: Why did Rebekah go? What did she ultimately do?
A: She made a decision of faith based on the evidence and testimony provided by the servant. She believed what she heard about Isaac and acted upon it, wanting to belong to him for the rest of her life after seeing the proof of his greatness, generosity and wealth.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
— 1 Peter 1:6-8
Application: This is how it works for the unsaved today: it is a decision of faith based on the evidence provided by the Holy Spirit through the Word and witness of the Church.
Q: Why was the servant so persistent?
A: Just as the servant would not delay in presenting his testimony (v.33), neither would he delay in completing his mission. (v.56) This is the decision every sinner must make, whether to continue in their present life or to be “married” to Christ and begin the journey to a new home.
Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
— Matthew 4:21-22
Q: How does this account reveal something about the tension between God’s calling and free will?
A: It is clear that God chose Rebekah for Isaac as His leading and guidance is seen in every step of the way, yet Rebekah still had to make her own decision for Isaac.
Point: There is no conflict between God’s plan (His sovereignty) and the exercise of choice and free will (human responsibility). “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me [divine sovereignty], and the one who comes to Me [human responsibility] I will certainly not cast out”. (Jn. 6:37)
Q: What was the ultimate result of Rebekah’s decision?
A: By faith she pursued Isaac, the son of promise, and became an integral part of his plans and dominion. If she had remained where she was, despite being a “good and nice” person, we never would have heard of her again. It’s a picture of the difference between accepting and pursuing Christ versus remaining in the old life. Her ultimate testimony is her response and follow-up action, “I will go”. (v.58)
Application: Rebekah is an example of the crossroads at which every person ultimately finds themselves: decision. Will you proceed by faith or will you remain where you are in sin?
Read verses 61-67
Q: What does Isaac foreshadow in the New Testament?
A: He is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ in his miraculous birth, (Gen. 21) in his willingness to obey his father and give his life, (Gen. 22) and the fact that Scripture omits his return from Mt. Moriah with his father and he next appears here may reflect the ascension of Christ who returned to glory to wait for the time to receive His Bride.
Q: What is the significance of Beer-lahai-roi?
A: It literally means, “the well of the living one who sees me”. It is the name Hagar gave to the place where she came face-to-face with “the angel of the Lord” (an Old Testament Christophany or appearance of Christ in Gen. 16) and was promised that she would bear a son.
Point: Isaac, the son of promise, is coming from the place where God made a promise of a son to come.
Q: What is one of the chief differences between Abraham and Isaac?
A: Abraham, the father, is repeatedly identified with altars, whereas Isaac, the son, is repeatedly identified with wells. It is a picture of the Godhead and the biblical role of the water and the blood.
Q: What can we glean to be the chief differences between Isaac and Rebekah?
A: From v.63 we see that Isaac was a quiet, meditative man who contemplated the things of the Lord in solitude, (Ps. 1:2) whereas Sarah was more active and outgoing.
Q: How might this contribute something to understanding why she covered herself up?
A: It was not just an outward symbol of modesty of that time and culture, but also visible submission to Isaac’s authority.
Q: What might be significant about the time of day when Isaac and Rebekah came together?
A: It was “toward evening”. (v.53) The most prolific biblical references to the Return of Christ for His Bride is always in darkness or at night. (SS 3:1-5; Is. 21:11; Mt. 24:42-44; Mt. 25:1-13; Jn. 9:4; 1 Th. 5:2)
Q: Did the meeting involve only the meeting of the bride and bridegroom?
A: The servant gave an account of himself to his master’s son. (v.66)
Point: When Christ comes for His Church there will not only be a wedding (Rev. 19:1-9), but also a judgment seat (Rom. 14:10-13; 2 Co. 5:9-10) when our works will be examined and rewards given out. (1 Co. 3:13-15; 4:1-5)
Q: How do we see the working of the Holy Spirit overall?
A: Originally Rebekah was given token gifts as a deposit or guarantee of what was to come. Now that she has come together with her bridegroom they are one and she possesses everything he possesses. (Eph. 5:22-33)
Application: Having made the journey by faith, the Bride is welcomed by the Bridegroom and receives all that was promised, forever joined with Him.
If you trust Christ and say, “I will go”, the Holy Spirit will provide a deposit guaranteeing what is to come and guide you by the Word and fellowship with others to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb as His Bride.
If you already belong to Christ, then like the faithful servant we need to share the Gospel with others about the marriage and the wedding feast to come, inviting them to say, “I will go”.