This morning, much of life varies from one's perspective. Two people can look at an identical object (like a painting) and walk away with completely different ideas of what they saw and how to describe it. Sometimes, the description or report of what they experienced do not contradict one another but focus on a particular aspect that stood out to them. However, even though the complexity of people's personalities can lead to varied perspectives, there are some subjects that do not allow for variance of perspective. This intolerance of perspective on subjects stems from the fact that God has uttered "His perspective" if you will. For instance, debate today rages over issues like homosexuality, divorce, abortion, and other modern social "questions." Yet, God has plainly stated that these subjects are not a matter of perspective. Rather, He calls homosexuality an abomination (Leviticus 18:22), states His hatred for divorce (Malachi 2:16), and declares the sanctity of life beginning in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 51:5). These social debates should not be considered a matter of perspective. They are a matter of moral purity, and God has clearly laid the commandments forth for us to follow.
Our study verse sits in the midst of one of the richest Old Testament chapters for types, shadows, and pictures. The story of Genesis 24 is Abraham sending his eldest servant to the "old home country" to find a wife for his son Isaac. This servant eventually finds Rebekah at the well, meets her brother Laban and the rest of the family, presents Rebekah with gifts, and delivers her back to Canaan. The end of the chapter is a beautiful scene of Isaac and Rebekah being joined together as man and wife and the beginning of what the Bible describes as a very loving marriage. While there are many rich pictures set within this chapter, for the sake of time, we will briefly mention the overarching them and move into the application of our verse. The overarching theme of this story is the purpose, direction, and providence of the Lord in sending out His gospel servants to search for the bride. Unlike the story, the bride of Christ is already His and will be with Him without the aid of the gospel minister, but the minister's burden is to seek her out to invite her to come unto her Husband in Canaan's Land to visit with Him, abide with Him, and rest with Him.
One of the greatest challenges of the gospel minister in his functions is to answer the question, "Am I going the right way?" We may ask that question about what we are to preach from week to week, where we are to go when invited, or even where we should be labouring in a pastoral way. Every duty that a minister has, there can be that nagging question, "Am I doing it right? Is this the right course?" Many times, we petition the Lord, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" We ask in prayer for guidance for the sermon to preach, the people to preach to, and the right way to go about it.
The servant on this occasion asks Abraham a question about the task before him. He is being charged with one of the gravest responsibilities that a servant could have (finding the master's son's wife), and he wants to fully know how far his responsibility lies. The question is, "What if she won't come? Do I bring Isaac to her?" Abraham's response is the verse before us. The short version is unequivocally "no, that is not an option." Under no circumstances was Isaac to be taken out of Canaan to Ur of the Chaldees or the region of Mesopotamia. It is that thought that should charge the minister today in his duties before his Master in heaven.
Notice that Abraham's response includes the word "again" in it. He tells the servant not to bring Isaac there "again." That statement says that Isaac has been there before but is not to be there anymore. Under no circumstances was the servant given liberty to affect such a thing. Later in verse 8, Abraham clearly states that the woman's unwillingness to go with him cleared him in the matter, and he reiterates the point of not bringing Isaac to that place again. So, the servant's request elicits a strong warning from his master, and the repeated warning shows us the gravity by which Abraham prohibited this action. What is the point today? How should such a warning effect the gospel minister in his actions and decisions today?
In the story, Isaac is symbolic and representative of Christ, and the Father (Abraham) has strictly forbidden the ministry from bringing Christ down to the people. Rather, the minister is to seek to encourage the people up to Christ (in a fellowship way). He is searching for Rebekah to tell her about the husband that she does not yet know about. He desires to adorn her with earrings and bracelets from the Husband that she has not yet seen. Furthermore, he desires leadership by the Spirit to find the woman that is willing to give extra time and service by not only giving him water but also willing to "go the extra mile" (hungering and thirsting after righteousness).
In today's culture, unfortunately, we see far too often the reverse mindset. Instead of encouraging people to go where their Husband is (Canaan's Land – the church), they are catering Christ to where the people are. Instead of proclaiming the finished work of Christ with Him triumphantly sitting upon His throne in heaven, they bring Him back down in their preaching – crucifying Him afresh – by declaring an unfinished work of salvation that Christ did not accomplish. Furthermore, they conform the church's look to however it best pleases the people. If something will help "draw them in," then they will unflinchingly do it in the name of Christ. Such behaviour is bringing Christ back down rather than encouraging people up the mountain and through the strait gate to visit with Christ where He is.
So, the perspective by many today is that the doctrine, practice, and order of the church should cater to the people rather than the people honour and obey the dictates of Christ. Some will even proudly say that they have a "better perspective" on what real Christianity is all about. Their new way of "the living and fluid church" has finally overtaken that outdated manner of worship that is so dry and dead. Such behaviour and way of thinking flies contrary to what Abraham told his servant and what the Lord requires of His servants today. The encouragement of the Lord's people to visit with Christ should be done honestly, fervently, and prayerfully. However, there is a line that cannot be crossed. We cannot bring Christ there. We must go up to Him. The church – and what she believes and stands for – cannot be handled in "any way that we wish." We can only obey the command of the Master to search out the wife and bring her to His Son.
Since so often today people are catered to rather than encouraged to obey the Saviour, what would one expect the end product to be? What happens when parents cater to their children rather than commanding their children to obey them and follow the rules of the house? The end result is spoiled children that expect their parents to do what they say. The end result of our scenario is spoiled Christians that expect the church and her ways to revolve around them. One of the great contagions of our day is that people's schedules are catered to far too often. People do not bat an eye anymore when a vacation takes them away from the house of God. People mind less than they did before when matters of life (that do not pertain to health issues and things of that nature) take the place of regular worship in the schedule of life. Our lives should revolve around our service to God, and since public worship is a must (John 4:22-24), then we must have our lives revolve around church. Yet, too many have church revolving around their lives.
Abraham considered it unconscionable to bring Isaac to Mesopotamia, and we should consider it unconscionable today to do things that dishonour Christ. By dishonouring Him, we bring Him down (symbolically) by what we do and say. Our doctrine should extol the position that He occupies. Our practice should properly adorn our doctrine and further beautify the position of Christ. Our order and conduct should show forth that we appreciate His gifts and desire to meet with Him. Lose any of those things, and we act like a woman that would not have followed the servant back to Isaac. However, by doing these things, we act honourably like Rebekah and enjoy sweet times with our Husband Jesus in the land of rest. Contrary to modern man’s thinking, spiritual matters such as these are not a matter of perspective. God requires them. May we go to where He is in fellowship, and may every moment with Him be the sweetest times of our lives.