The Arranged Marriage of Christ and His Church
In the quest for a wife for his forty-year-old son, Abraham employed Eliezer of Damascus, his long-trusted servant (Gen 15:2). Isaac was the heir of the covenant promise (Heb 11:17); and the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15) must come through him by the predetermined plan and prophecy of God.
Father Abraham had been blessed by God in his sojourn upon the earth (Gen 24:1). He had been chosen by God (Gen 12), and justified by faith in the covenant God had made with him (Gen 15:6). The seed of the woman, who is also Abraham’s seed, would defeat Satan and be a blessing to the nations. He was to come through Isaac, not Ishmael (Gal 4:21–31). Isaac needed a wife.
Canaan was the Promised Land and Abram had a tent there, but there were still promises to be fulfilled (Gen 18:17). A wife for Isaac could not come from the Canaanite women, for they were women of the world. Eliezer accepted Abraham’s required oath to not take a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites (Gen 24:3, 9).
Abraham’s instruction was to go to his relatives in Mesopotamia to secure a wife. Eliezer mused the scenario and anticipated the difficult task set before him. He began to work through some contingencies for which he needed further instruction. For instance, if he failed to find a woman who was willing to leave the fertile crescent society, in favor of cursed Canaanite lands, then should he take Isaac back to Mesopotamia (Gen 24:5)? Straight outta Canaan was not an option for Abraham’s heir.
Abraham lived by faith in God’s providence for him and his family in Canaan. It was uncivilized there, in comparison to the cities of his brothers Nahor and Haran. Still, this was where God had called him, “To your descendants I will give this land (Gen 24:7b). “ To his credit, Abraham remembered God’s covenant when he made decisions on how to solve problems. Therefore, his stern response to the inquiry of Isaac’s relocation was negative, “Beware lest you take my son back there (Gen 24:6)!”
Next, Abraham recognized the faith required by Eliezer to undertake the noble task. He relieved his servant of responsibility for the results of his endeavor. Eliezer must simply be faithful to go, stay within the set boundaries, and search for her. God promises to be with His people (Gen 21:22). The promise of an angel from God, going before Eliezer, would encourage him to believe success would come if he was faithful to go and complete the task (24:7). God gives the increase. Abraham’s warning was reiterated for emphasis. Isaac must not go back to Mesopotamia (24:8). The oath was made and the task was engaged (24:9).
Isaac is a type of Christ, and the servants of God are like Eliezer, the servant of Father Abraham. Rebekah serves as a type for the church, who will receive the seed from the heir of promise. She is depicted as holy and blameless, a beautiful virgin (24:16). Abraham had prepared a great inheritance for his son (Gen 25:5–6). Eliezer must find the right woman for marriage because of the ramifications of inheritance.
The promises and the blessings must not be given to a whorish Canaanite. The children of the heir of God’s covenant and promises are also heirs, and they must be raised in admonition of Yahweh. Idolatry is the way of the worldling, and Abraham knew this was an unacceptable option. He knew there was a woman out there who feared Yahweh, and God must be the one to bring them together. Children of God must not be unequally yoked with the children of the devil (2 Cor 6:14; 1 Jn 3:10).
God the Father has arranged for His Son, Jesus Christ, to be married. His bride must fear God and have faith at the voice of the messenger. Who is like this? Where can she be found? This is the daunting task of missionary evangelists, like Eliezer of Damascus. He was carrying glad tiding and tokens of love with him. His message was one of engagement and betrothal. His reconnaissance mission would lead him to a crepuscular setting, near a watering hole in the far north. What hope of success did he have in securing the right bride for his master’s son? What hope does the missionary evangelist have in finding the people of God’s own choosing?
In the arranged marriage of Christ, God has already chosen a bride for the heir of all things (Eph 1:4–5). The servants of God are the servants of Christ. We travel to the place of our Master’s choosing in a mysterious venture of joy, danger, while suffering the fear of failure. Our Master’s Son, the sacrificial One, who was dead on the altar of sacrifice, but who is alive forevermore remains unwed. He is noble, rich, handsome, and worthy of the finest beauty the world must give up. She must be as alluring as Esther was to King Ahasuerus. She must have the heart of Ruth for Boaz and his people. She must be as diplomatic as Abigail before David. We might search for a book called, “Great Wives of the Bible” to help identify this fair maiden. The task is monumental, and we tremble along with Eliezer at the prospect set before us. We must engage in our Master’s business of reconnaissance wife hunting without becoming pimps for Jesus. What exactly does this mean?
There are a number of lessons to learn in drawing an analogy for Christ and the church from the divinely initiated betrothal of Isaac and Rebekah.
First, there must be a next generation of heirs. The promise of salvation is to all generations of God’s chosen people. God’s blessing is not limited to one generation, but the riches of Christ belong to all of the heirs of promise. The bride of Christ must be built up like a holy temple of God (Eph 2:11–22). Living stones must be found in every nation, tribe, and tongue (Rev 5:9), even to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). God has chosen a people for Himself (1 Pet 1:16), and the missionary evangelist must suffer to find these elect ones (2 Tim 2:10). Inferior Canaanite materials will be rejected (24:3). We need no help from Samaritans in this project, either (Neh 2). Nicolaitans will only reproduce themselves as twice the children of hell. No, we are in search of true virgins bearing the seal of royal heirs (2 Cor 5:5).
Second, there must be a mission to find the next generation of heirs. The Christian missionary evangelist is eager to go. Our ambition is to please Him (2 Cor 5:9). God is with us, and His chosen ones are out there in the world, even as the elect were in Corinth waiting for the apostle Paul to preach (Acts 18:9–10). We have a commission to go and find them and teach them the way of our Master (Mt 28:19–20). Those who believe our message of Christ’s glories were appointed for this marriage (Acts 13:48; Rev 19:7–10), and it is the Spirit of the Lord who goes before us, to prepare their hearts to be opened to the marriage proposition (Acts 16:14). We must go and call them in to His wedding feast (Mt 22).
Third, there are boundaries for finding and recognizing the next generation of heirs. Canaanite women are unacceptable brides for Christ. Cursed is Canaan. Christ cannot be yoked with unbelievers. Shall we arrange a meeting between our noble Master’s glorious Son and a prostitute? That would make us pimps for Jesus. Do our methods betray us for being just that?
Eliezer asked whether he should take Isaac back into the world of Mesopotamia from which Abraham had come out. This is the travesty of lessening the majesty of Christ, to attract unbelievers who will never value the exalted Son of God. They want a whoremonger Christ, who will let them be no better than Hosea’s wife. They want a worldly church to frolic between idols and true devotion. They are no better than Solomon, a child of immorality, and the notorious mingler of sexual/idolatrous perversion with true religion.
When a church makes little of Christ, they drag His holiness into pagan carnaval. Abraham made Eliezer swear by oath not to do such a thing with his beloved son. A cheap Christ attracts a cheap church member. It is a case of mistaken identity on both fronts. The wrong Christ presented attracts the wrong beloved. Here is the building of the synagogue of Satan, where the spirit of Jezebel promotes the gospel of licentious grace. Woe to the churches (Rev 2–3) who drag Christ into the blue light festival grounds of Mesopotamia, for it will soon be dark there.
These churches boast of their sins. Look at our sins! Look at how awful we are! We are Christians and look at how “real” and “relevant” and “raw” we are in our boastful cacophony of addictions! We are “a hospital for Jesus” where no perfect people are allowed…including Jesus. Their clever slogans never occur as ironic to them. No one ever gets well in such a place of debauchery. Christ is on the holy throne of God in heaven, and sinners must come to Him on his terms. Eliezer, the servant is sent, but the Son must remain in the Promised Land until His bride has been brought near to Him.
Eliezer was not fully convinced that his reconnaissance mission would be successful. After all, his master’s son was not visible to the target audience. Blessed are they who have not seen, yet believed (Jn 20:29). Eliezer carried no photographs of the campus at First Church of Isaacville, nor did he present icons of the son. Cheap enticements are for circus masters. Eliezer traveled light, as servants of God must travel, as pilgrims on a mission. Only small tokens, symbols promising love and commitment from a distant land, was the order of that day (24:22). Stewards of the Gospel mystery tell the same tale as Eliezer of Damascus. The love of Christ awaits unwitting sinners, and we offer no grandiose allures. A Word from our Master, and His Spirit as a pledge, is all we have in our possession. You must believe our message and return with us to the Promised Land.
Fourth, there must be a faithful servant who will go out by faith on the mission of reconnaissance. Leave the plush pews of the Promised Land and go surprise the unknowing Promised ones. What a shocker for Rebekah to hear the words of the missionary! Bride magazine has nothing on the Bible! To hell with the dress, just say “Yes” to the address. What a surprise for sinners to hear of Christ’s love for them. Surely, Rebekah’s countenance illumined at the words of proposition. God’s people are made willing on the day of His power (Ps 110:3), and indeed, His Word has power (1 Cor 1:18). Hope springs to life with a Word of love from a far country.
Fifth, God will give the faithful servant success in a supernatural way that brings glory to God and joy to His servant (24:26–27). The angel of the Lord was Eliezer’s invisible helper in this story of God’s providence. God assures His servants that He is with them and will go before them to give them success. Joshua was only required to be courageous in the face of his task (Jos 1:8–9). Jonah, the foil, suffered for his deviant re-direction (Jon 2). David slew Goliath because He believed the battle belongs to the Lord (1 Sam 17:47), and with God all things are possible (Mt 19:26). When God reassured Paul of a number of unwitting elect residing in Corinth, the apostle continued in the hope of his calling (Acts 18:9–11).
We have a simple task before us. God has asked us to go and be matchmakers. We entertain endless questions in the field of doubt, but the boundaries are simple, too. Do not lessen Christ for anyone, by lowering his standards to those of Mesopotamia. He must remain separate, and sinners must come to Him in His sanctuary of holiness, by faith in His promises of forever love. Do not receive unbelievers (Canaanites) into church membership.
Churches without membership are only churches in name. They seek for goats and sheep in attendance to bolster the numbers of their flocks. Labanites like their numbers, but co-heirs with Christ cannot live in Laban’s Mesopotamia. On the Day of Judgment, Christ will separate the goats from the sheep (Mt 25:32–33), and one’s work will then be tested by fire to see how much one labored in vain (Zech 13:19; 1 Pet 1:7). Vanity labors are unacceptable and will be burned up, although some workers will be saved through the fire (1 Cor 13:5).
There is another worker, who will not be saved. His query on the day of the Lord will be, “Lord, lord, did we not do this and that in your name (Mt 7:22)?” The Lord is not fooled, nor amused, “You have filled my church with Canaanite whores. You are guilty of using my Name in copyright vain. You have dragged my glory through the mire of Mesopotamia. Depart from me, I never franchised you nor your deplorable methods.”
God’s missionary evangelists must remember the oath we have made to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2; Col 1:28; 2 Tim 4:2). We must forsake our games, carnivals, rock concerts, movie nights, sports leagues, and everything else that has the world’s approval on it. We have failed in the faith when we prostitute Christ for mere prostitutes looking for cheap thrills and entertainment. We must not soil Christ to accommodate the filthy.
Faithful messengers must also be freed from performance anxiety, for we have a Helper (Jn 14:26), who has promised to find and keep every named saint in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8; 17:8). Our task is to do what our Master has commanded (Mt 28:19–20). Go into all the world. Preach and teach Christ. Give them the word of the Cross, the symbol of His sacrificial love. Pray that God would bless you with success in matchmaking for His glory (24:12).
The One who walks in the fields of heaven waits for His bride to come to Him, and when He sees her approaching in the twilight of history, He will come to meet her, and He will love her, forever (24:61–66). He is the Isaac of God, and she is His Rebecca…a match made in heaven, even Christ and His bride. Mazeltov!
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 28, 2021