Theme: Faith (Part 17 – Faith helps us to see that our growth towards spiritual maturity in His Christ is the work of God IN us to form His character IN us)
(Key verses: Gen 24:1-10)
The faith of Christ is a foundational truth of the doctrine of Christ, but faith also abides now and is in the end an essential part of the mature fruit of the spirit, if we are to please God (Heb 11:6):
Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.
1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and [keep] the faith of Jesus.
The work of Christ in us is compared to a plant, a building and a human body, among others, in the scriptures. There is something that is a common denominator in all of these:
1Co 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
1Co 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
1Co 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
This common denominator is growth or increase (Heb 6:3). A foundation is to a building as roots are to a plant – it is the basis of growth and maturing, and without a sound basis proper growth cannot take place. Growth also is essential to maturing, even as Christ is both the foundation and the finisher of all aspects of His doctrine, including faith (1Co 3:11). This growth is also compared to a race or a battle – not against others who compare themselves with others, but more within ourselves – the old man Adam in us versus to the new man or the last Adam – Christ in us (2Co 10:12; Eph 4:22-24):
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
When faith stays at its foundation level, it is called stagnation (being idle) or spiritual immaturity. That type of faith cannot see beyond the physical application of the Word of God. It is indeed with boldness which God supplies that anyone will be empowered to go beyond the veil of the flesh and to enter into the higher heavens of understanding truth:
Heb 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.
The apostle Peter describes this growth and maturing in faith and all that should be added to faith, as follows:
2Pe 1:5 (MKJV) But also in this very thing, bringing in all diligence, filling out your faith with virtue, and with virtue, knowledge;
2Pe 1:6 and with knowledge self-control, and with self-control, patience, and with patience, godliness,
2Pe 1:7 and with godliness, brotherly kindness, and with brotherly kindness, love.
2Pe 1:8 For if these things are in you and abound [Greek: pleonazō = grow / increase], they make you to be neither idle nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the life of Abraham this growth in his faith toward God is given to us as this type of becoming mature through the works which come through the faith of Christ in us (Rom 4:3; Rom 4:12; Rom 4:16; Gal 3:14; Heb 11:8-10; Heb 11:17; Jas 2:21). In Genesis chapter 24 we find another important stage in Abraham’s life in relation to his growth in faith. This is the longest chapter in the book of Genesis which will be divided in four segments for the purpose of this discussion:
- Verses 1 to 10: Abraham gives specific instructions to his servant about a wife for Isaac;
- Verses 11 to 28: the servant of Abraham went to find this wife and meet Rebekah;
- Verses 29 to 61: the servant of Abraham meets the family of Rebekah;
- Verses 62 to 68: Isaac meets Rebekah and takes her as his wife.
We will only deal today with the first section (verses 1 to 10) where Abraham, as a loving father to Isaac, commissioned his servant to find a wife for Isaac. This also links to our heavenly Father who sends His servants throughout the history of the church to bring the bride to Christ and invite and prepare that bride for the big wedding feast (Mat 22:1-3; Rev 19:7; Rev 20:4-6).
2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The focus is mainly on this servant in this section. Abraham is said to be of a high age when this servant was given these instructions:
Gen 24:1 And Abraham was old [Hebrew: “zâqên” = aged / an elder in wisdom], and well stricken [Hebrew: “bô” = advancing] in age [Hebrew: “yôm”]: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.
The concept of age is repeated in that one verse which helps us to see that this is not merely talking of physical age only, but more to Abraham’s maturity in terms of his growth in his relationship to God being blessed “in all things”. Abraham started to act like God because that is the sign of maturity (Rom 12:2; 1Jn 4:17). Another reference to age is also found in the next verse which also links to this concept of maturity:
Gen 24:2 And Abraham said unto his eldest [Hebrew: “zâqên” = an elder in wisdom] servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
Gen 24:3 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:
This servant is not mentioned by name although some speculate that this could be Eliezer of Damascus which was mentioned in Genesis 15 (Gen 15:1-2). But the point of this servant is to show us that he was a mature servant in the household of Abraham, and God only commissions His mature servants to do certain tasks (Luk 22:32; Acts 1Co 12:28-31; 1Co 13:11-13; Eph 4:11-12; Tit 1:5; Tit 2:3-5; 1Pe 5:1; Heb 5:14). Mature servants listen to all of their master’s instructions and diligently do them. In our time of service to God in His household of faith, we are maturing in the spirit, and God’s spirit also enables us to recognize the true bride of Christ which is His true church. God’s spirit also empowers us to serve the church of Christ in whatever capacity is needed. All of these combine within this symbol of a servant in this story in Genesis 24 as this servant also had to make a vow to Abraham:
Gen 24:2…put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:
Gen 24:3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth…
This is the first time the symbol of a thigh appears in scripture. This manner of making a vow also appears when Joseph had to swear to Jacob about the specifics of the place of his burial (Gen 47:29). The thigh relates to power as the thigh is the most powerful part of the body to bring action forth (Rom 1:20; Gen 32:25; Eze 24:4). The thigh also contains the strongest, longest and heaviest bone in the body, called the femur. It is interesting to note that the thigh is also the place where a sword was attached in the scriptures, also relating to the aspects of might, glory and majesty in power (Son 3:8):
Psa 45:3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
Rev 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
When we put all the meanings of this symbol of a thigh together it becomes clear that Abraham is giving this servant the legal right (power of attorney in a sense) to find this wife for Isaac. This relates to us as God’s servants who are given this faith of Christ through His powerful Word to unite us to His spiritual bride and to be confident in our work within His church and in the world, even under the worst oppression and tribulations (Rom 10:17; 2Co 10:2; Eph 3:11-13; Eph 6:17; Heb 3:6):
Act 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house [while in captivity in Rome], and received all that came in unto him,
Act 28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
1Co 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
It is this powerful Word who is sent by the Father and given to His servants to draw the bride to Christ (Joh 6:65):
Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
All God’s true servants use only the Word of God to draw people to Christ because they know the mighty spiritual power in those words through their own experience (Rom 5:1-6). They keep within the safe parameters of what is written and stay far away from the wisdom of man which only puffs up according to human pride and lusts (Joh 2:16):
1Co 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
Abraham wants this servant to make this vow to him and to be diligent in following his specific instructions of getting a wife for Isaac. The first instruction concerns our perspective of the bride of Christ:
…that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell.
All the inhabitants of Canaan are representing our uncircumcised flesh, and those who are in the promised land but never endured the trials, tribulations and rejection needed to crush the old man in us (Gen 9:25; Jos 3:10; Jos 5:1-2; Jos 17:18; Zep 2:5). Canaan is the symbol of our first birth and time of enjoying the flesh which is the land of spiritual immaturity of milk and honey (Heb 5:12-13):
Eze 16:3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.
Exo 3:17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
Abraham’s second instruction to his servant is also significant:
Gen 24:4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
Abraham came from Ur in the land of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia and here we see a very important pattern being set (Act 7:2). This land of the Chaldees is spiritually also very significant in our path to spiritual growth and also to those with whom we associate spiritually (Php 3:17; 2Jn 1:9-11):
Psa 37:37 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
We must be careful to mark whether those with whom we spiritually connect were taken “out of” the land of birth by God:
Gen 15:7 And he [God] said unto him [Abraham], I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
The land of the Chaldees is also known in the scriptures as part of the region of Babylon (Isa 48:14; Dan 2:1-2; Dan 5:30; Dan 3:8-12):
Isa 13:19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
Isa 47:1 Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.
The wives of Abraham, Isaac and also later Jacob, were all from the land of Babylon where Abraham heard the voice of God for the first time. This spiritually links to the time we heard the call of God on our lives and when we found our first love for Christ in His foundational principles of His doctrine – our first spiritual wound (Heb 6:1-2; Rev 13:3a). This also links to the time after physical Israel applied the blood on the doorpost in the land of slavery and sin (symbolized by Egypt) and after they were “baptized” in the Red Sea. This is also the time when the first spiritual wound is healed, and we are amazed with the physical healings and miracles God performs (Rev 13:3b-17). This relates to the “fathers” of physical Israel who experienced all these things and yet could not enter the promised land:
1Co 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
1Co 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
It is to this land of the Chaldees where the elder servant of Abraham was sent to look for a bride for Isaac. It is only the “few” who have been enabled by God to come out of the “many” in spiritual Babylon who are given the will to come to Christ to be His true bride. But the servant of Abraham highlights another important aspect with his question to Abraham:
Gen 24:5 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?
Like this servant of Abraham we also at a certain stage will be more focused on our abilities and qualifications to bring the bride to Christ, and we cannot see clearly that God works all things if we obey Him in doing what he told us to do (Eph 1:11; Php 2:12-13). We always need to be reminded that it is a work of God from start to finish and that He will build His church and nothing and no one can stop Him to fulfill that to the minutest detail. But in our growth in the faith of Christ we will receive the revelation of the Father that He is the One who rules and controls everything. He binds or loosens first in heaven and then that is applied on earth – this is the true chain of command:
Mat 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19 (CLV) I will be giving you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatsoever you should be binding on the earth shall be those things having been bound in the heavens, and whatsoever you should be loosing on the earth, shall be those having been loosed in the heavens.”
Mat 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Abraham’s third instruction to his servant links to this position of Christ as revealed by the Father and seen in Abraham’s words concerning Isaac as a type of Christ:
Gen 24:6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
Nothing is initiated on the earth and nothing on the earth can limit, change or derail God’s work in any way. As the rain comes from heaven and waters the earth to bring forth all things, so is God’s will the only free will ruling supremely over all of His creation (Isa 55:8-11). This is the line of authority as God will also send His angel ahead of this servant to prepare the hearts of those who must receive His truth as indicated by Abraham also (Psa 10:17; Psa 139:16; Pro 16:1; Mat 13:11-17;Eph 1:11; Rev 21:2):
Gen 24:6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
Gen 24:7 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.
Abraham wanted the wife of Isaac not to respond according to sight, even as the bride of Christ will only respond to faith and live by faith to endure till the end (Joh 20:29; Rom 1:17; Rom 8:24; 2Co 5:7; Heb 10:38; Heb 11:1). Although we all start off by serving Christ after the flesh while we are in spiritual Babylon, we mature to worship Him in spirit and truth and regard Him no more in physical terms (2Co 5:16). We must fulfill that physical part of our walk in faith first before we are given the humility to see that we are indeed nothing of ourselves as we are called to “come out of her”, even as the wife of Isaac was to take a long journey from the land of the Chaldees to be with Isaac (Mat 4:17; 1Co 10:11-12; 1Pe 5:5-6):
Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come [this verb “exerchomai” is in the Greek Aorist tense meaning it is an ongoing process] out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
There is no pressure on this servant of Abraham as the choice of a wife for Isaac is not his and Abraham also supplied him with everything:
Gen 24:8 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.
Gen 24:9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
Gen 24:10 And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.
God supplies all His strength and His ability even in our task to be the bride of Christ and to supply for those we must bring into this body of believers in this age (Php 4:13). Jesus said that all spiritual authority was given to Him by the Father and this spiritual authority is given to His servants to fulfil the job He has given them to do:
Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Joh 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
Joh 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Joh 20:23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
In our next study we will continue (God willing) with the other segments of this beautiful work of faith in our lives, as also described in Genesis 24.