Part Three: The Bride, Her Election, Chosen
Part Four: The Bride, The Lamb’s Wife, Faithful
Part Three of Four
There are several Old Testament personalities that foreshadow the Bride of Christ. Some examples are Eve, Esther, Ruth, and Abigail and much can be written about each of them. For this study however I am going to focus on Rebekah. The narrative can be found in Genesis 24 where we find Abraham, nearing death, commissioning his highly trusted steward Eliezer to find a wife for his son Isaac. Isaac is a type of Christ. The steward is told that he must not look for a bride among the unbelieving Canaanites, but she is to come from Abraham’s own family who are in a far country. The steward asks for instructions if the bride he finds for Isaac is not willing to leave her family for a bridegroom she has never met, and Abraham tells him the Lord will guide him but that he must only bring back a bride who is completely willing.
In the same way, Christ’s Bride also is being prepared for a bridegroom she has never seen: “…whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory…” (1 Peter 1:8)
Any prospective bride agreeing to become Isaac’s wife would need to be willing to leave everything that was familiar to her including family, culture, and country, not for a while, but permanently. It was by no means certain that Eliezer would be able to find such a bride.
“…..whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple”. Luke 14:33
After quite a long journey, the steward and his company arrive at the city of Nahor and stop to water their camels at the city well. It is evening, the time women draw water, and prayerfully the steward considers the maidens as they arrive to fetch water for their households. He is seeking a young woman who will not only give him some water, but who will of her own choice also water his camels. The steward’s sole desire is to correctly identify the bride God has chosen for Isaac. At this point we should also note that this faithful steward is a type of the Holy Spirit, who is highly involved in the election of Christ’s bridal company (Rev. 22:17) His name Eliezer means ‘God of help” or “helper”.
“And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah…..”.“Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.” So she said, “Drink, my lord.” Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink. And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.” Genesis 24:15a,16-21
Rebekah’s act of drawing water for all the camels was no lightweight courtesy. One camel can drink up to ten gallons and Eliezer had ten camels with him. It is costly for Rebekah to minister to this stranger, but she does so willingly.
After presenting Rebekah with gifts of jewellery, the steward asks to meet her family, and upon finding they are Abraham’s relatives, explains his mission. At first they are favourable to Rebekah leaving them, especially when they are given a bride price of precious jewellery, but by the following morning they are less willing and ask the servant to delay another ten days. There is an impasse as the steward is anxious to take the young bride with him immediately, but the family wish her to stay longer. Displeased, the steward admonishes them, saying:
“Do not hinder me, since the Lord has prospered my way; send me away so that I may go to my master.” Genesis 24:56
The choice is then given entirely to Rebekah:
“So they said, “We will call the young woman and ask her personally.” Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.” Genesis 24:57,58
Throughout the story we notice it is Rebekah’s choices that are crucial to the outcome. Her first choice was to respond to Eliezer’s request for water, when she could easily have ignored him. This was a culture where women rarely spoke with men outside their immediate family. Not only did she do what was requested, by watering his camels she went beyond what had been asked, of her own volition. When the steward asks her to take him to her family, again she is willing. And finally, when confronted with the choice between the unseen bridegroom and her family, she chooses the bridegroom. There is a fervent wholeheartedness and willingness in Rebekah’s nature that also defines Christ’s own Bride.
The story ends like this:
“Now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi (well of the God who sees) for he dwelt in the South. Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel; for she had said to the servant, “Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” Genesis 24:62-67
Again it is evening. Isaac, who represents Christ, is wandering over his property, surveying his domain and all of his inheritance, but there is something missing. He is meditating, perhaps on his loneliness, when he lifts his eyes and beholds Rebekah, His Bride, about to be presented to him by the ever-faithful steward. He is captivated. The name Rebekah means ‘ensnarer”. It reminds us that the Bridegroom will be totally ‘ensnared’ by the beauty of His Bride when He at last beholds her in all her perfection:
“You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace.” (SOS 4:9)
By bringing Rebekah to his mother Sarah’s tent, Isaac is establishing that she now has the full status and authority of a wife.
There is a place for the Bride beyond betrothal, and it is her election. The Bride who is with Christ at the end is called, and chosen and faithful (Rev. 17:14). This elect bridal company are those who ‘follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev. 14:4), and the Lamb will not always lead the Bride into easy places. Between betrothed bride and faithful wife there is a spiritual journey during which many choices are made. That journey is costly for the Bride of Christ. Note here we are not referring to salvation. Salvation is entrance into the Kingdom by grace and can by no means be earned. Brideship, however, can be costly. Many are called, few are chosen (Please see Part One of this series, Overview of Bridal Covenant).
It is certain that the Bride can earn no greater salvation than has already been established through the Blood of Christ. Nothing she can do or suffer can add anything at all to the total sufficiency of His Blood Covenant to redeem her and reconcile her to the Father. We need to understand that the righteousness of the Bride needs no testing because it is already established through the Lamb’s Blood. The Bride’s faithfulness, however, is tested (1 Cor. 4:2, 1 Tim. 2:12,13).
The scriptures tell us that Christ will “see the travail of His soul and be satisfied” (Is. 53:11). The travail of His soul took place in Gethsemane, “in the days of His flesh”, when He “offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death….” (Heb. 5:7). Our natural minds cannot comprehend what that travail cost the Lord as His Blood, His sweat and His tears mingled together on that terrible night. The Father has determined that His Son will see the reward of His Gethsemane travail and be fully satisfied. That reward is the Bride fully reflecting His image and His glory (Rev. 21:9-27). The Bride is the “joy that was set before Him”, for which He endured the Cross (Heb. 12:2). The Bride is destined to be the Lamb’s reward. It’s that simple. She is flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones (Eph. 5:30).
The Bible also tells us that “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” and that through that suffering He was perfected (Heb. 5:8 &9a). When the scriptures speak of being “perfected” they mean “made complete – to the full measure”. If the Bridegroom was made complete by suffering, so shall the Bride who follows Him also be. The good news is that because He has overcome, so is she destined to overcome (Rev. 3:21; Rev. 12:11).
Here are some of the characteristics of this elected Bridal company:
*They value their growing relationship with Christ above all other relationships;
*They are deeply committed to a lifestyle of passionate abandonment to Christ maintained through intimate ongoing communion with Him;
*They seek both to know and be known, meaning they are transparent before God and others, not knowingly hiding any sin or harbouring attitudes incompatible with His Kingdom;
*They have an expectation that the Father will work the Cross into the framework of their lives that they may know Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings;
*They understand that ‘following the Lamb’ is a journey, not an event.
To be continued…..
© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2012 Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.