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The Bride of Christ

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Genesis 24.63-67.

For me, Genesis 24 is one of the loveliest chapters in Scripture; not just on the human level of Abraham sending his servant, Eliezer, to a far country to find a bride for his only son, Isaac, but on the spiritual level of all that the story prefigured and prefigures. For in Abraham we have a picture of the Father; in Isaac we have a picture of Jesus, the Father’s only-begotten Son; and in Eliezer we have a picture of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s work, since the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, has been to do what Eliezer was charged with doing: to “go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac” (Genesis 24.4).

Isaac had gone through a kind of death and resurrection at the hands of his father (Genesis 22.1-14) and now, dwelling with his father, was waiting for Eliezer to bring to him his bride.

Eliezer’s name means “mighty to help” and so too is the Holy Spirit mighty to help accomplish all that the Father wants for his Son. The Holy Spirit has come here to this far country of our world and is at work among us still, seeking out those who will comprise the bride of the risen, ascended, glorified Christ. He comes, as Eliezer did, bringing “all sorts of choice gifts from his master” (Genesis 24.10) and when he finds those who are receptive to him, he betroths them to the Son and adorns them so that they will be altogether beautiful in the Son’s eyes: Eliezer “took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels … And [he] brought out jewellery of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah” (Genesis 24.22, 53).

Rebekah is marked by her willingness to belong to Isaac. “And they called Rebekah and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ She said, ‘I will go'” (Genesis 24.58). While she was still living out her everyday life, unaware of what lay ahead for her, Eliezer was on his way to find her. And even as she responds to Eliezer when she meets him, she is unaware that she has been chosen for Isaac. But once she knows of Isaac and of her being chosen for him, she says, “I will go.”

All that I have spoken of so far has happened or is happening now in the life of the church — in my life — but now we come to this morning’s reading from the end of the story and here we have a wonderful picture of what is yet to take place. It is towards evening when Isaac comes out into the fields — the end times of the day. He sees the camels coming and Rebekah sees him. Although she asks who Isaac is, she knows who he is before she is told, for she has already dismounted her camel in order to meet him. So too will the church know the Lord Jesus when she sees him coming for her. Rebekah takes her veil and covers herself, just as do brides today. She makes ready to meet her Lord. And Isaac takes her; she becomes his wife; and he loves her.

“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5.32). There can hardly be a more amazing picture of the ultimate union between the Lord Jesus and those who love him and belong to him, than the picture of a man and wife made one in marriage. It is the most intimate of all relationships; yet it is the one that Christ has chosen to commit himself to with all those members of the human race who have responded to the Spirit’s call and have committed themselves to him. And in every day, and in every way, through the Spirit, Jesus is making the church ready for the wedding day. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5.25-27).

So will come the day that John the Seer once saw in vision. An angel told him: “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And the angel carried him away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed him “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21.9-11). John saw the church … the city of God, the new Jerusalem … becoming, at the end, united with her betrothed husband, the Lamb, the Lord of Glory, and sharing that glory, being his forever and ever, and loved with an everlasting love. Isaac gets his Rebekah; Jesus gets his church.

Lord, make ready your queen now.
She waits in hope, watching the clouds.
Clouds of rain, washing her clean now;
Soon she’ll be seen, ready to have and to hold.

Stand, new Jerusalem, stand.
Dressed in white linen, take his hand;
Take his hand, you lovely bride.

The bride-to-be is waiting, clothed in purity,
Getting ready for the wedding to begin.
And now she sings her love song, waiting for the Son,
And she knows, yes she knows, he’ll come again.

She hears of wars and famines, as her Love foretold.
She sees the nations rushing to their doom.
But she lifts her head, rejoicing, watching for her sun,
For she knows the world will bow before him soon.

Stand, new Jerusalem, stand.
Dressed in white linen, take his hand;
Take his hand, you lovely bride.

A song by Jamie Owens-Collins that you can listen to by going to “New Jerusalem” under “Crumbs”.

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