Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Bride of the Lamb by Hamilton Smith (Chapter 3, Part 2)

Genesis 24 opens with Abraham giving his directions to his servant (vv. 1-9). Then the main portion of the chapter is occupied with the servant and his mission (vv. 10-61). Finally it closes with Isaac and his love for Rebekah (vv. 62-67). Thus in type we have in the first section the Father and His purpose; in the second the Holy Spirit and His work; and in the last, Christ and His affection. Hence in picture we have every Divine Person engaged in securing the Bride.

First we learn that the thought of a bride for Isaac originates with Abraham. He it is that commences the story of Genesis 24. He discloses his mind as to the bride for Isaac; he instructs his servant, and sends him on his way. Thus we learn that the thought of a Bride for Christ originates in the purpose of the Father's heart. It is, too, the Father who sends the Spirit to bring the Bride to Christ (John 14:26).

The second verse brings before us the one whose activities form the prominent part in the story — "the eldest servant" of Abraham's house. Very fittingly his name is not mentioned, for is he not a type of the Holy Spirit who has come, not to speak of Himself, but, to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us?

The activities of the Holy Spirit in this world are many and varied, but in this chapter the Holy Spirit is presented in picture as bringing the Bride to light, awakening affection in the Bride by unfolding the glories of Christ, and then satisfying those affections by leading her to Christ.

Very significant are the directions that the servant receives from Abraham and rich with instructions for our souls.

1. The bride for Isaac must be suited for Isaac and hence must not be taken from the daughters of the Canaanites (v. 3). Such were devoted to judgment and therefore wholly unsuited to Isaac. This would show that the dealings with Rebekah are not exactly a picture of the grace of God bringing salvation to sinners, but rather of the love of Christ appealing to saints. Were it a question of setting forth the grace of God that reaches the vilest sinners then surely the daughters of the Canaanites would have been the very people to whom the servant would have been sent as in the gospel story, in which God takes up a Syrophenician woman — a daughter of Canaan — to show forth His grace.

2. It follows that if the bride is to be suited to Isaac she must be of Isaac's kindred. So the direction to the servant is, "Thou shalt go unto my country and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac" (v. 4). We have already noticed that the one who was suited to be the bride of Adam had to be "his like," and to obtain one "his like" Adam had to pass through the "deep sleep." Isaac, too, must in type go through death — must be offered up on Mount Moriah — before he could secure a bride from Mesopotamia. So Christ, the great Anti-type, the precious corn of wheat, must fall into the ground and die or for ever remain alone. When His soul is made an offering for sin then we read, "He shall see his seed." Death which cuts a man off from all hope of a seed, becomes the very way by which Christ secures His seed. And His seed is His like, His kindred, as is the heavenly One so also are the heavenly ones. Thus we see the Bride of Christ is composed of those who are suited in origin through a divine work for them, and stand in relation to Christ as His kindred through a divine work in them, producing faith in Christ. On earth the Lord could say, "My mother, and my brethren are those which hear the word of God and do it" (Luke 8:21).

3. Abraham solemnly warns the servant twice over that he is not to bring Isaac again to Mesopotamia (vv. 6 and 8). Isaac in this chapter sets forth a heavenly Christ and hence after the offering up of Isaac in Genesis 22, his name is not even mentioned until the end of Genesis 24. As Isaac was not again to be linked with Mesopotamia, so there is to be no link with Christ and the world while Christ is on high and the Holy Spirit is here calling out the Bride for the heavenly Christ. Alas! so thoroughly has Christendom lost all true thought of Christianity that its one great effort is to link Christ with the world that has cast Him out. Ignoring the fact that Christ is the Stone rejected by the builders of this world, they seek to make Christ the chief corner stone, as it were, of their great earthly religious systems. His Name is attached to their great religious buildings, their schemes of reformation, their works of philanthropy, and their forms of government. In a word the great effort is to bring Christ back to the world and attach His Name to unsaved and unconverted men of the world with the hope of reforming men, and making the world in which they live a brighter and better place. It is hardly possible to conceive anything more characteristic of the ingenuity of the devil than for the world to attempt to cover its wickedness with a veneer of respectability, by attaching to itself the Name of the One that it has rejected and nailed to the Cross.

However the instructed believer knows by New Testament teaching, as well as Old Testament type, that the Holy Spirit is here, not to bring Christ back to the world, but to take the Bride out of the world to Christ. So we read, "God . . . did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name" (Acts 15:14).

4. Finally Abraham says, "The Lord God of heaven . . . shall send his angel before thee" (v. 7). The angel would providentially clear the way before the servant, but the servant was personally to deal with the bride, "Thou shalt take a wife unto my son." Both the servant and the angel were wholly occupied in securing a bride for Isaac. In a day to come we know what a large part the angels will take in executing judgment in the world, but to-day they are "sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." As in the picture, so in fact, we see the difference maintained between the providential work of angels and the personal work of the Spirit. The angel of the Lord guides Philip on his way to the desert of Gaza, but the Spirit guides Philip in his personal dealing with the Eunuch (Acts 8:26, 29).

Clearly then in the directions given by Abraham to his servant, we learn the great mission of the Holy Spirit in this world. He is not here to prosper the Christian in business, or to make us wealthy men in this world, or to make the world a comfortable place for us. He is not here to remove the curse, or hush creation's groan. He is not here to make the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose. He is not here to remove pain, and death, and sorrow, and tears. All this Christ will do in a day yet to come. Nor is He here to convert the world as some think. He is here to bring to light a people who are suited to Christ for the joy and satisfaction of His heart.

Thus in accordance with these instructions we find that in the course of the story the servant does not interfere with the conditions that prevailed in Mesopotamia. He did not attempt to alter its religion, or improve its social conditions, or interfere with its government. His one business was to secure the bride for Isaac. How much disappointment the people of God would escape if once they realized God's great purpose at the present time, and the special mission of the Holy Spirit in this world.

Believers are oft-times disappointed with themselves. Desiring to do some great work for the Lord, they find they are left to do some quiet work in a hidden corner, and are disappointed. Again they may get sadly disappointed with the local company of saints with whom they walk. They had hoped that God would convert great numbers and bring their little company into prominence as a centre of blessing with the Lord's public approval and instead they find weakness and failure, and are disappointed. Again we may be disappointed with the people of God generally. We perhaps had visions of getting the scattered fragments of God's people together to walk in unity and love, and behold we find only discord and further disintegration and we grow disappointed.

Again the people of God may entertain great hopes from the mission field. With thousands of missionaries working in all parts of the world they had hoped that the strongholds of heathendom, Buddhism and Mohammedanism would be broken down before the light of Christianity, and yet they find these false systems are hardly touched, and they are disappointed.

Others again have entertained the thought that after nineteen centuries of the light of Christianity the world would be morally better, and instead they have to admit that never was society more corrupt, lawlessness so prevalent, and unrest so general, hence they are disappointed.

If, however, we abandon our own thoughts and rise up to God's thoughts we shall not be disappointed. Our expectations are oftentimes too limited, our outlook too circumscribed. We think of the present moment and look only at things seen. Let us, however, "look beyond the long dark night and hail the coming day." Let us see to what great end God is working, so that, out of the wreck and ruin of this world, He shall secure a Bride that will be suited for the love of Christ. What a thought, that the Spirit of God is here to form bridal affections in the hearts of believers in view of the day — the great day — the day of the marriage of the Lamb!

To this end the Father sent the Spirit. To this end the Spirit is working on earth. To this end Christ is waiting in heaven. And will the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit fail in this great end? Will Divine Persons be disappointed? Impossible! Every purpose of God will have its glorious fulfilment. Nor shall we be disappointed if we think God's thoughts with God, and keep in view God's great purpose — the marriage of the Lamb.

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