Sunday, February 17, 2008

Love is a Wonderful Thing

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.
Genesis 24:1-9

Before I start this message let me share a story about Valentine’s day:

Valentine, the priest who Valentine’s Day is named for, was martyred for the great and godly institution of marriage. The emperor of Rome at the time, Claudius, passed a law banning marriages. His reason was simple. Men would not volunteer to join his Roman army with wives and girlfriends to leave behind. Valentine knew that God instituted the family and His will included great marriages. So, he kept on performing marriage ceremonies – but secretly. He would whisper the words of the ceremony, while listening for soldiers on the steps outside.
One night, he did hear footsteps. The couple he was marrying escaped, but he was caught. He was thrown in jail and sentenced to death.

Valentine tried to stay cheerful while imprisoned, and many young people came to the jail to visit him—actually performing ceremonies while imprisoned. The jailer’s daughter would often visit Valentine in his cell, and they sat and talked for hours. She believed he did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and performing marriage ceremonies.

On the day, Valentine was to die, he left her a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it, "Love from your Valentine." That note started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. It was written on the day he died, February 14, 269 A.D.

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 worshipped 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. Genesis 24:51-67

Abraham was dying. Before he did, he wanted to find a bride for his son Isaac. He sent a servant to his homeland to find this bride. The servant did what he was sent to do, and God demonstrated to the servant that Rebekah was the one. For Rebekah, her encounter with Abraham’s servant came down to one important question, "Wilt thou go with this man?" She said, "I will go," and this response changed her life forever!

From our spiritual viewpoint, everything boils down to the very same question.

In this story:

  • Abraham is a picture of God the Father.
  • The Servant represents the Holy Spirit.
  • Rebekah represents the church, or those saved by grace.
  • Isaac is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God the Father has sent His Holy Spirit into this world to call out a bride for Jesus Christ. Like Abraham’s servant, the Holy Spirit does not promote Himself, but He talks about Jesus and calls lost people to come to Him for salvation.

When a man falls under conviction and the Holy Spirit reveals Christ in his heart, he is brought face to face with the greatest question man will ever encounter! "Wilt thou go with this man?" How you answer that question determines where you spend your eternity.

The story is an earthly picture with a heavenly meaning. Abraham (God the Father) sent Eliezer (the Holy Spirit) to get Rebekah (the church) as a bride for his only begotten son Isaac (Christ). She must leave her attachment to her brother Laban’s home (the world) to go to Isaac.

Rebekah compared to the Church (the Christians)

  1. Both are Gentile brides.
  2. Both are called by the servant (the Holy Spirit).
  3. Both received gifts from the servant (salvation).
  4. Both had to decide to leave and go.

Laban compared the world and Satan

  1. A bride is called from both.
  2. Both try to detain the bride.
  3. Both are concerned with the material not spiritual.
  4. The bride must leave both to go to a husband. "Leave all to gain all."

Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. Rebekah had to give up home, family and friends to gain all the riches of Isaac.

Isaac compared to Christ

  1. 1. Both had a supernatural birth.
  2. 2. Both were the objects of their father’s love.
  3. 3. Both were rich in their inheritance.
  4. 4. Both were Hebrews married to Gentile brides.

The servant compared to the Holy Spirit

  1. Both are sent.
  2. Both give gifts to the bride.
  3. Both teach about the son.
  4. Both call the bride to go to the husband.

Some matters were clear to Rebekah as they made the trip to the bridegroom:

  • Isaac is a man of mystery. The name of this man is not even revealed to Rebekah, but for over 500 miles the servant talked about him, and Rebekah learned about him. The Spirit of God will teach us all about Him as we journey toward home. The Spirit is in the teaching business. John 16:13-14: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
  • Isaac is a man of means. Everything Abraham owns is in the hand of the son. He is well able to care for his bride!
  • Isaac is a man of matrimony. The whole purpose of the journey was to find Isaac a bride! He was not teasing her… leading her on… playing hard to get. He wanted it known from the beginning that he was looking to marry! God is not interested in an on-again-off-again relationship. He’ll not participate in a one-night stand. He does not get involved in meaningless courtships. He’s made his intentions known from the beginning: He's looking for a bride!

Some matters were concealed from Rebekah:

  • The unknown about the trip was concealed from her. She did not know what lay between where she was and where he was. There are many unknowns along the way, but the servant has all the necessary resources to make the journey successful. She probably had many questions about the journey, about the destination, about the man Isaac. She might have even wondered along the way if the roughness of the journey was worth it.
  • The unknown about her reception was concealed from her. She may have wondered, "When he sees me, what will he think of me? Will I be accepted? Will I be loved? If he is all that I have been told, he may not be too impressed with me!" All her fears were in vain! "And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her." You need not wonder whether Jesus will have you or not. If you will come to Him, He will never turn you away. If you are already saved, you need not fear His rejection at the end of the journey.
  • The unknown about her reward was concealed. What was in it for Rebekah? Was this offer for real? Rebekah got a new father, a new family, a new faith, a new fortune, and a new future. But above all she got a husband that would love her always! Rebekah got more than she could have ever imagined when she got Isaac. The world, the flesh, and the devil will try to tell the believer that there is no payoff in serving God, but the rewards for coming to Jesus are without number and without limit! I Corinthians 2:9: "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." We may not know very much about a relationship with Jesus but if we accept Him by faith we will receive more than we can think.

Rebekah had to be willing...

  • She was willing to choose. Even though she did not know all there was to know about Isaac, she knew that she wanted to be with him. She didn’t have all the information, but she had enough to choose her husband by faith. He sounded just like the man she wanted to be married to. Salvation boils down to you wanting Him more than you want anything else in life. Being saved means coming to a place where you are willing to choose Jesus over your sins, Heaven over Hell, God over Satan. Salvation is about you reaching a place where you want to be free more than you want to be bound! Salvation is faith in Jesus Christ alone. Rebekah determined, "I want him more than anything I have here. I will go!" Salvation comes down to you being willing to make Him your choice, after He has made you His choice. Don’t allow anything to stand between you and your soul’s salvation! Nothing you can name in this world or in the world to come is more valuable than being saved!
  • She was willing to change. Rebekah esteemed Isaac as being more valuable than anything else in her life. She was willing to turn her back on everything to go be with him. She was willing to live in a new place, in a new way, under new management. This is the essence of salvation. It is a total life change, because it is a new life. You cannot change yourself, but until you are willing to let God change you, you can never be saved! II Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
  • She was willing to commit. Rebekah was willing to commit the rest of her life to being Isaac’s wife. She was willing to give her all to him!

Salvation is not about mere profession; it is about total commitment! Salvation is a radical commitment to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of your life, with no reservations. Salvation comes when a lost sinner is convicted of his sins and is drawn to Christ. Belief is a total commitment to a new life.

Rebekah made her decision to go to Isaac. As a result, she was loved, blessed and lived a happy, joyous life. It all happened because she said, "I will go!" when she heard the question, "Will you go with this man?"

What about you? In your heart, you are hearing that same question asked today, "Wilt thou go with this man?" Will you? Will you go with Jesus? If you will come to Jesus, He will save you and change your life forever. You and you alone can decide what you will do with Jesus!

Jesus is standing at your heart’s door.
Standing and knocking, He’s knocked before;
This is the question we face once more:
What will you do with Jesus?

At your sad heart He is knocking still,
Longing to enter your soul to thrill;
You must accept or reject His will:
What will you do with Jesus?

Oh, will you leave Him alone outside?
Or, will you choose Him whate’er betide?
This is the question you must decide:
What will you do with Jesus?

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Someday your heart will be asking:
What will He do with me?
(Author Unknown)

Charles Wesley wrote the words that I think sum up how we should feel about Jesus:

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n, to earth come down!
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion;
Pure, unbounded love thou art.
Visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.

Why would you not want to go with Him?

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