Rebekah & The Camel

Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on November 7, 1976
      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.
      Genesis 24:61
      Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now
      for a season, if need be, ye are in
      heaviness through manifold temptations:
      That the trial of your faith, being much
      more precious than of gold that perisheth,
      though it be tried with fire, might be
      found unto praise and honour and glory at
      the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having
      not seen, ye love.
      1 Peter 1:6-8
      HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED how many times in the Bible God describes the relationship between the church and His Son as a love affair culminating in marriage? One of the most beautiful books in the Bible is the book of Ruth. It is a beautiful picture of our Kinsman Redeemer and it is particularly beautiful to us Gentiles. Boaz is a type of Jesus, and Ruth is joined with Boaz in marriage. It is a love story that shows how Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer, was kinned with us. He had to be one near of kin to redeem us; He had to have the means to do it; He had to be willing to redeem us; and He had to actually do it.
      In the last book of the Bible, while all the terrible things described are happening on this Earth below, you find the church described as a bride in the marriage supper of the Lamb, a meeting with the Lord. The Song of Solomon is a love story at first glance, but it is again a picture of heartfelt relationships between Jesus and the church that He loves. For marriage counselors there is no greater passage, and for those who are married there is no source of guidance more rich, than the message in the Ephesian letter where husbands and wives are instructed how to meet one another’s needs and how to relate to one another. As Christ loved the church, so the husband is to love the wife, and what Christ receives from the church, so should the husband receive from the wife. Throughout God’s book this marriage analogy is found.
      The message in Genesis 24 is another one of those beautiful pictures. It’s an old familiar story, but I do not want the history to stand by itself without the meaning God intended for us today. It is the story of Abraham sending his servant Eliezer to find a bride for his son Isaac. You will not find Eliezer named early in this chapter but it is, in fact, Eliezer, the chief servant in Abraham’s house.
      These Old Testament saints were God’s oracle when they would obey Him, and sometimes God would control them or intrude into their life despite what they wanted. But particularly when they would let God control their life, God was able, in the drama of their life, to write into history eternal truths. Theologians call these “types and shadows.” They do not become a basis for doctrine; they become illustrative of the doctrines that are unfolded as this book finishes its course. The Old Testament is unfolded in the New, but the New Testament is enfolded in the Old. God uses these Bible stories to speak as an oracle as well as to reveal specific things, as He did to Moses on a mountain. God is speaking to us through the history of the Old Testament saints.
      Let’s set the stage. In Genesis 22 is that familiar story of Abraham offering up Isaac. In that case, as he raised the knife to offer his son, God stopped him and provided a ram. And that name of God, Jehovah-jireh, has as its first application the Lord’s provision of a sacrifice. No knife pierced Isaac, though he was brought to the brink, for the type and the shadow never perfectly carry out the antitype or the fulfillment; but it is a picture in shadow form of the Son of God sacrificed. The antitype, Jesus Christ, actually died on that hill. Keep that antitype in mind as we read these passages.
      In Genesis 24 a bride is needed for the son and Abraham said to his servant, “Go unto my country . . . and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” He sends Eliezer off into Mesopotamia to find this bride.
      In response to the servant’s question in verse 5, “What if the woman will not be willing to follow me when I go after her?” Abraham said to him, “Beware thou that thou bring not my son, thither again.” Notice the word again. Isaac had never been to that land, but as God weaves their history, He paints these shadow strokes that are lifted about the history. The Son of God would come to die only once, and we are past that state now. The type of Jesus’ death occurred back in chapter 22, when God spared Isaac from the knife. Isaac had never been to the land his father sent Eliezer into. That word again tells me to look for meanings higher than the history. “if the woman doesn’t come . . . “ “No, you’re not going to take my son again. She is going to say yes or no here and now.” Genesis 24:8 says, “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.” Now, the story moves to its essence.
     “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. And he made his camels to kneel down . . .” Notice who is in control of these camels. Circle that word he. “The camels were of his master . . . And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.”
     Have you ever seen a camel drink? Man, they are thirsty! When they drink, they drink. The last thing in the world I want to give a drink to is a camel, unless I want to stay all day. Smelly, irritable, guzzling animals!
      And Eliezer said, “Now God, let it be that when the women come out, and I ask for a drink, the one who says, ‘let me draw water for your camels,’ she is the one.” “it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out . . . she was fair to look upon . . . she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.” Note that this wasn’t a modern well, like you might have seen in Sunday school pictures. This verse says, “She went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.” There was a lot of climbing up and down.
     “And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said, Drink my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.” That word hasted has a corresponding word in the New Testament meaning “laboring to rest.” “And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also . . .” and this is the key line: “until they have done drinking.”
     Look at this: “She hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well . . . and drew for all his camels. And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not,” because that was the test: would she quench the thirst of those camels? “And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold.” He said, “Whose daughter are you?” When she told him, he said, “Let’s go to your home; I am going to talk to your father.” Eliezer went to her home and told her father what he had come to do and said that God had enabled Rebekah to meet the whole test.
      After he had explained everything to the family and said that he felt that she was the one, “the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment.” Circle those words, silver, gold and raiment. And he “gave them to Rebekah.”
      “Her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.” Ten is always the number of human responsibility. Our best friends always have good ideas for us. These family members were willing for her to go, but wanted to delay it. “The servant said unto them,” and underline this, “Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.” The family said, “We will call the damsel and inquire at her mouth. And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said . . .” Circle all three words, “I will go.”
      “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 . . .” Underline arose. “And her damsels, and they rode upon the camels and followed the man . . .” Underline they rode upon the camels. “And the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.” Circle those three words.
      Do you know how far that was? Look at a Bible map. All the way from Mesopotamia, they traveled across deserts and rivers, on and on and on, rocking on those uncomfortable camels.
     “And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; 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 . . .” underline these words, “when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.” Glory to God, she got off of that animal eventually!
      What is this story about? Abraham is the type of God our Father; Isaac the son, the type of Jesus; Eliezer, the type of the Holy Spirit sent by the Father to search out a bride for the Son. Let me pull out its meaning. Notice that the initiative starts with Abraham. In theology, this is called “prevenient grace.” It is not predestination; there is a subtle difference. The thought is driven home again and again all through God’s book. In this act the initiative in the saving of men begins with God. God seeks out man, the one who is lost and dying. This is confirmed in Jesus’ mission in Luke 19:10: the Son of man came to seek and to save that which is lost. In this picture of the work of the Holy Spirit, after the type of Calvary is behind, the initiative in that seeking action begins in the heart of God.
      John 6:44 records Jesus saying, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” You can’t just decide to come to God when you want to. It is never an accident when God places His call on your life. It looked very insignificant to Rebekah. She came to the same well every day, but suddenly one day that ordinary task changed. These camels were brought by Abraham’s servant, and God had laid His hand on her life; she could never be the same again. I don’t understand the mystery of God’s dealing with men, but I understand this: the initiative starts with Him.
      The servant came to Rebekah where she was, and, in the most ordinary kind of life experience, God was drawing her. That is the way God relates to us. There was a covenant in that day that took a particular form. She had to respond a certain way to the Spirit’s intrusion into her life. She had to go down to the water and come back up again and keep going until those camels were finished drinking. God makes it easier today: “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10) You might say, “Do you mean that God on His throne with everything at His disposal would make life and death eternally depend upon a single little thing of me: believing with my heart and confessing with my mouth?” Yes!
      This servant of Abraham, makes going down to that well and coming up enough times to quench the thirst of those camels the key that unlocks the door. And not until the camels were through drinking did he take a golden earring and two bracelets and ten shekels of gold and begin to give the gifts.
      Remember that I asked you to circle in verse 53 the words silver, gold and raiment. Silver always symbolizes redemption throughout the Old Testament. It is the price paid to redeem a lost inheritance or to remove the penalty of death or to release from slavery and bondage. God always symbolizes divinity. New raiment symbolizes being clothed with His righteousness. All those gifts came after she went through that which the covenant asked for: making all those trips to the well until all those camels had had enough.
      When the Spirit intrudes in your life today, the lines have been drawn just as strictly. Romans 10 tells us we’re not to think we have to ascend up to Heaven to bring Him down, or descend into the depths to bring Him up; the Word is already nigh you; it’s in your mouth; speak it forth. “For with the heart man believeth; with the mouth confession is made.” And, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Whether Rebekah had been a princess or a slave, she could do what either could do, that simple, equalizing, uniform act: go down to the water and up again and fill those camels with water. All you have to do is “confess your sins.” When you do it, the gifts of the Spirit symbolized by silver, gold, and raiment all are yours! But, that just gets it started.
      Next, Rebekah had to make a decision: “I will go.” She took off on those camels. The camels were her mode of locomotion: irritating, miserable, cranky, contrary, fighting, snorting, smelly camels. Day in and day out, in sun, in rain, the bride of the bridegroom rode a camel. John Wright Follette wrote that those camels are the method, the mode of transportation to carry the bride to the Bridegroom, typified by Isaac. So, settle it!
      If we could just end the story at the gold and the silver and the raiment, and then some flying carpet zooms us off to the Prince, wouldn’t Christianity be glorious? That’s not God’s way. There is redemption. There is a divine infusion of the Spirit of God and His Presence. Eliezer is with you every step of the journey, but it is still a camel ride. That is what Christianity is about and why I say it is not difficult to understand; it is just tough!
      You may say, “That’s Old Testament.” Let me give it to you in the New Testament, from the toughest camel rider of them all: Paul. He states in Romans 5, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace where we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” That is the feast, figuratively, at the house where the jewels, the silver, the gold, and the raiment are provided. How do we have access? The literal Greek paints a picture of moving from one sphere to another. The illustration that says it better than any I can find comes from Star Trek. You who have watched Star Trek know how they start in one place and then they dematerialize and come out in another place. Our access into the sphere of grace is like that. You move from one sphere into another sphere.
      When you hang your body on the promises of God, when you, figuratively, go down and dip water for the camels, when you hang your body in faith and confess your sins and by faith believe God’s Word, in that moment you move into a sphere of grace: unmerited favor, charisma. You don’t deserve it; you just are the recipient. You have moved under grace, and you stand there by faith. In another illustration, Paul says, “By faith you are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus” and “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Not only am I received as I am, I’m going to be changed into His image.
      Paul goes on to say, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also.” (Romans 5:3) The word is a cognate of the Latin word tribulum which is the stick that was used to beat the wheat from the chaff, a constant beating. I have access by faith into this unmerited favor, and I rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, I actually rejoice in the tribulum; the bumping and rocking of the camels in our Old Testament analogy.
      We should recognize when the devil is working, and stand on God’s promises, “Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world,” and “We fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers,” but I don’t want to assign to the devil any more kingdom than he has. The devil is not causing all of your trials! Once in a while, God gets in on the act, and God sends the camels! God’s hand is on the tribulum rod. He is beating the wheat from the chaff. I am to glory in that, also knowing that “tribulum worketh patience.” Write in the margin of your Bible what the literal meaning of patience is: endurance. Better yet, since I like to make words up: endured-ness.
      We glory in the tribulum: “knowing that tribulation worketh endurance; And endurance, experience.” Write in the margin the literal meaning of that word: tried-ness. Not only does the experience produce the awareness of enduring capacity, the having “undergone-ness” of it tells you that you did last it out. You thought it would kill you but it didn’t And the endurance produced tried-ness. You look back and say, “I made it!” And tried-ness, “hope.” I made it! That means I may keep on making it. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost” (there’s Eliezer) “which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)
      Christianity is like a camel ride. And in the process, things happen, and you have a choice. You might choose to curse and throw rocks at that camel. I’ve kicked more figurative camels in my day than any of you. But I am learning there is only one way to ride a camel, and that is to roll with the punch. If you resist the rocking, you are going to land in the dirt. You learn to move with the camel. “And she rode him all the way.” That is what Paul is saying.
      Peter is another tough camel rider. I suspect that he got bucked off of camels every time he got on. That hardhead wanted it to go his way and he could never move with the punch. But, finally he learned. Listen to the man who preached on the day of Pentecost: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away . . .” Where? “. . . reserved in heaven for you,” back in Abraham’s house! “Who are kept by the power of God . . .” that is us, “through faith unto salvation. . . Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations . . .” much camel riding. “That the trial of your faith . . .” the misery of the ride, “being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom . . .” look at Rebekah! “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice.” Where? In the midst of that trial, on your camel, “you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” He talks about prophets seeking this and angels bending down low to understand it.
     “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind,” gather your garments about you and get on that hump and just keep riding! “Be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you.” When? “At the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3-13)
      God’s book always says the same thing in many different ways, so if you stay with it, you can’t miss it! Are you going to curse your camels today? Or are you going to ride them home? Maybe you haven’t even drawn the water yet. Notice that the camels were there from the start. That is precisely what Romans 8:28 is saying: “God entereth into all things; God worketh good.” God has the camels on the scene when He calls you. God has a plan for your life, and camels are in that plan. But one day, and I love this beautiful picture: “Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes,” and he saw Rebekah. And he saw, “and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac . . .” There were no more camels. (Genesis 24:63-64)
      Are your camels getting you down? Don’t think this is a message for somebody else. What in your experience have you been swearing at, figuratively, wanting to curse if you didn’t, sure it would kill you, fighting against, and thinking that God doesn’t care about you? The marriage supper of the Lamb is coming and “God will wipe away all tears from our eyes,” but in between it is a camel ride.
      As Eliezer sought out Rebekah, you are being sought today. You have to make a step. It is as simple as saying, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13) When we confess our sins . . . it’s as simple as that, He makes it easy enough that all can do it. Your well is in front of you and so are the camels. Will you hear the message and quit fighting the camels? Just ride them on home!
      Notice what stands out about Rebekah: “She lifted up her eyes, and saw Isaac.” Some people would have their eyes so much on the camel they wouldn’t see him until they ran him down. She knew where she was going and it was worth the trip. The world is looking at us as we ride our camels; all they get is bucked around. We are going somewhere; that’s the difference. Let the world see it!
      From The Pulpit, Volume 2.
      Re-printed and published with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott.

Prayer Requests for June, 2014
For Rodney Bracken (Mount Sterling, IL), who has numerous health issues.
For Frederick Gray & his family (Oklahoma) , for health
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), that he will be granted clemency from the governor.
For Joe Bruno’s Father (Arizona) who has been given 6 months to live.
For Robin Harris’ Dad (Oklahoma) who needs a kidney transplant; and also for his aunt Rose (Muskogee, OK) who recently suffered two strokes.
For Ponnell Buchanan (Illinois).
For Paul Jones (Menard, Illinois), that he gets to visit with his mother.
For Michael Small’s Mom, Suzanne (Illinois).
For Willie Harper (Joliet, Illinois) & family, & Ella Watson.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). His new trial has been set for July.
For Anthony Grayson (Elmira, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Robinson, Illinois), to stay “cancer free.”
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence in his case will be tested.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.

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