The Great Commission Revealed
Genesis chapter 24, a bride for Isaac is one of the first callings to the Great Commission. Many may say, “What is she talking about, the great commission came during the New Testament with the disciples of Christ?” That is also true, it did, but God tells us that we can know the end from the beginning. What does that mean? What does it look like? Well, let’s delve into chapter 24 to get a peek at what that just might look like.
Chapter 24 begins by telling us that Abraham was old. Well, we already knew that…after all, he was 100 years old when Isaac was born. So, what deeper meaning can this hold? Abraham was wise. He had lived his life as a righteous man, which was no easy task. It required work and welcoming God’s presence into his tent. He had shown faith, hope, and love to all around him; thus he gained knowledge and wisdom.
Go Out Unto the Lands of My Father
Abraham called Eliezer, his right hand man, second in command to him; the man who was in charge of all that he owned; and he told him to Go Out. Before sending Eliezer out, he had him make an oath with him. Why was this necessary? Didn’t he trust Eliezer? He did trust Eliezer. He knew that Eliezer was also a righteous man, but Abraham also knew that no two people see things the same way. We all have a different perspective of things, so he had him enter this oath, that even if something “looked” right to him, he would abide by the oath and get the wife God desired for Isaac.
He did not just have Eliezer swear to the God in heaven, but also the God on Earth. He was bringing God from heaven to earth. He was reminding Eliezer that God is God of both realms. The almighty, the creator, the Father of all. Seeing heaven and earth mentioned here also reminds me of two witnesses. Think back to Cain and Abel. God told Cain that the earth had also witnessed against him for shedding Abel’s blood. When someone tries to teach you a new concept, there should be two witnesses in Scripture. This concept won’t be limited to one chapter or one book; if it is found in Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible), it will also be found in at least two other places such as the prophets and the New Testament. This helps us not be deceived.
Why was it necessary for Eliezer to “Go Out?” Why couldn’t he find a wife for Isaac among the Canaanite women in the land that they lived? The sages teach that Eliezer could not get a Canaanite wife for Isaac because:
8 The accursed cannot unite with the blessed: As we have seen, Eliezer was a righteous man, being Abraham’s loyal servant and most prized disciple who helped him disseminate his teachings. Nevertheless, Eliezer was descended from Canaan, whose offspring had been cursed to be slaves. The essence of this curse was that Canaan’s descendants would forever lack the mentality of self-determination, always feeling like victims of forces beyond their control, slaves of fate or circumstance.
This attitude is diametrically opposed to the Torah’s insistence that humanity is free and unbound by any type of moral predetermination. Someone who does not feel that he is free to act as he pleases—and therefore responsible for his actions—cannot be part of the people whose Divine mission is to bring the Torah’s message of hope and moral freedom to humanity.
And more importantly, the insidious specter of victimization and predetermination breeds depression; someone who considers himself a helpless and hopeless victim cannot evince the joy in life that must serve as the basis of our relationship to God.
So, Canaanites self-image was not what it should be because they had been cursed to be slaves. They were not just physical servants, they had a slave mentality which held them down. Their freedom to choose, so to speak, had been stripped away from them. Isaac was a unique groom. He wasn’t a common guy. He had lived with holy parents, the presence of God rested over their tent the whole time his mother was alive. He needed a bride who would compliment him and not give way to the slave mentality.
Eliezer Accepts the Call
Eliezer entered into this oath with Abraham. He accepted the call to go out, and just as God helps us with our concerns, Abraham provided Eliezer an escape route if the bride didn’t agree to come. See, Eliezer recognized that the bride chosen for Isaac would have a choice to make on whether or not to come with him. So he asked Abraham, “What if she refuses to come. What if her choice is no?” Abraham told him that he was released from the oath if the bride chose to stay with her family.
When we share the love of God with others, those who do not have a relationship with Him, we need to remember that they have a choice. They can choose to enter a relationship with Him or not. We cannot force them into a relationship with God. He doesn’t want us to force them or manipulate them into a relationship, His desire is for them to choose to come into a relationship with Him.
The only stipulation was that Eliezer could not take Isaac out of Canaan. He could not take Isaac to the bride, he had to bring the bride to Isaac. Many times we try to bring Jesus to the bride instead of the bride to Jesus. Maybe we are getting things out-of-order here. Through our loving kindness and compassion to others, we can bring the bride from her place, the ungodly country with idol worship, to Jesus, in the holy land. We do not take him to the profane, but rescue them from the profane and place them in the presence of God.
A Father’s Love
Isaac was a grown man now. He was no longer a young man walking behind his father, placing his small feet in his father’s footprints. Abraham knew this, but he still loved his son and understood that even though his son was now a grown man, his role as parent was not over.
There is no age limit to the parent-child bond. Of course, there comes a point where our children must take responsibility for their own lives. But even then, as parents, we remain obligated to be involved in their lives, guiding and helping them in whatever ways possible. – The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Abraham was willing to relinquish his entire fortune to ensure the success of Eliezer’s mission of facilitating the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. So, too, God is willing to give up “all His bounty” to help each and every one of us fulfill our mission of bringing about the “marriage” of the physical and the spiritual dimensions of reality by transforming the world into God’s home through our good deeds. We are called to bring God down to the earth, and to through loving kindness help others come into a relationship with Christ. God will help us with all that He has. It’s that simple!
Genesis 24:12-14 He said, “O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show loving kindness to my master Abraham. 13. Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; 14. now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’ – may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown loving kindness to my master.”
Here we see that Eliezer prayed for God to make his journey successful, for God to show loving kindness to Abraham, and that He would have the appointed girl, whom the LORD had chosen, offer water to the camels also, so that he would “know that You have shown loving kindness to my master.” He was specific in his prayer. He was not just praying for himself, but for Abraham, and praying for a compassionate wife for Isaac. Why would I say he is praying for a compassionate wife, one who will show loving kindness? I say that because he asked for a woman who would also water the camels. If she will be kind to the animals, how much more so will she be kind to people?
Generosity is the primary way in which God relates to the world, and generosity is the natural hallmark of people who feel closely connected to God. – The Lubavitcher Rebbe
God quickly answered Eliezer’s prayer…even before he had finished speaking. The sages teach:
15 He had not yet finished speaking when Rebecca came out: When we do not receive the answers to our prayers immediately, it is because we have overly “distanced” ourselves from God. God may have in fact already answered our prayers, but because of our self-imposed “distance” from Him, His answer may have to undergo a lengthy process before reaching us. Those who have “distanced” themselves from God less can receive the answers to their prayers more quickly, and those who have so fully attuned their lives to God’s will and presence that they have eliminated all distance between themselves and Him can be answered immediately. When two separate entities join, they can communicate instantaneously, but when they fuse into one, their communication is intrinsic and need not even be articulated.100
Likewise, the extent to which our prayers express our desire for unity with God also affects how quickly we can receive God’s answer to them. Thus, the Torah relates three instances in which God answered a prayer instantaneously:101 Eliezer’s prayer to find a match for Isaac, Moses’ prayer to be vindicated before Korach’s assembly,102 and Solomon’s prayer that God rest His presence upon the Temple.103 The object of each of these prayers was the revelation of God’s unity with creation:
- The descent of heavenly fire in the Temple would demonstrate how Divinity can unite with the physical world. The Temple would thus be able to inspire us to unite our lives and our portion of the world with God, making them in to His true home.
- Moses’ vindication against Korach’s accusations would demonstrate how Divinity can unite with a human being, transforming him into a prophet.
- The marriage of Isaac and Rebecca would be the prelude to the Giving of the Torah, our guidebook and tool for uniting the world with God.104
Isaac and Rebecca’s marriage brought together two opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum: Isaac represented the height of spirituality (especially inasmuch as he had been sanctified as an ascent-offering when he was bound on the altar105), while Rebecca (although herself totally righteous) came from a family of idolaters and a place of hedonistic materialism. Similarly, the Torah and its commandments enable us to redeem the spiritual potential latent within materiality and to sanctify the physical world.
Eliezer’s prayer gave voice to his realization that he could not rely on his own capabilities to perform this mission. As soon as he declared his self-effacement to God, he earned the privilege of witnessing the miracles that God would perform for Abraham. We, too, as Abraham’s heirs, can be assured that, no matter how dark the exile, God is prepared to respond to our every need—even before it is fully verbalized.
Isaac Marries Rebekah
Genesis 24:63 Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold camels were coming.
Isaac was out in the field for the evening prayers. He was in a place that he could commune with God one on one. “He lifted his eyes,” and then we see in verse 64 that “Rebekah lifted her eyes…” they have eyes to see:
Ayin = 70 (as in 74):
“The word “ayin” means – eye; to see, and by extension, to understand and obey. It also means “Divine Providence”. The ayin is described as having 2 eyes – the choice of using good or evil to perceive things – optimism or pessimism. Ayin is a silent letter. (No translation of it in English) It sees, but does not speak; representing humility. The name ayin can also mean “eye” or “fountain”, a fountain of wisdom and the ability to perceive wisdom.
Dalet = 4 (as in 74)
Dalet is the picture of a hanging tent door. The door, dalet, also can mean the movement of one coming from or going into the tent. As is the case with every word, we can interpret negatively or positively. During dalet, one will either move (1) out of or (2) back into their tent. In order to step outside of the tent, one must bow to clear the low-hanging door. To come out of limitation and confinement, dalet will require us to humble ourselves in a curious way. When bowing, one has a particular view of his feet, hands, arms and body in general. On our way out of the tent, we must look at our feet (symbolic of our journey), our hands (symbolic of our accomplishments), our arms (symbolic of our strengths), and our body (symbolic of our health and wholeness). Possessing our destiny will necessitate a time of introspection and honest assessment. In preparation for ayin dalet, may I encourage you to honestly evaluate your life in these four critical areas. – Prayer Communication with God
He in the field, she on a camel heading his way, lift their eyes. Coming out of the tent door, our eyes are lowered, once we are outside of that door, we can look up and see where we are going and what is coming to us.
Upon being told that Isaac was to be her husband Rebekah “took her veil and covered herself.” It’s not that she was attempting to hide herself from Isaac. And yes, modesty could have come into play, but here, I believe Rebekah was letting the world know that she was off-limits. She was betrothed to Isaac. She was accepting outwardly her holy space as his wife.
The sages teach that when Sarah died, the spirit of the LORD left her tent. He had dwelled there with her daily throughout her life, but left when she died. He did not re-enter the tent until Isaac and Rebekah married. “… thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” The return of God to the tent brought Isaac comfort. He knew he had the bride that God had chosen for him and she was a godly woman, just as his mother had been, because God returned to the tent.
Oh that we will be so acceptable of a bride that God will come dwell within our tent! May others see His divine presence in us!
Father, thank you for sending Eliezer to find a bride for Isaac. Thank you for using this re-telling to show us that we too are called to “Go Out and return with a bride,” not for Isaac, but return with the Bride of Christ. Thank you, Lord, that we are chosen for this most honorable task. We ask you to abide in our tents with us Lord, that others may see you in us. For your word says, “Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory.” Colossians 1:27. Lord, I do not seek glory for myself for in myself I can do nothing, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! May all glory and praise go to you Father! You are worthy of all praise and glory. Lord, may we walk in the realization that our divine mission is To Proclaim Your Message! Just as you amazingly answered Paul’s prayers, you answered Eliezer’s before him! Thank you for showing us that this great commission is so important that it is found in Torah as well as in the New Testament! Father, use us in a mighty way to be changers of the world, to prepare a holy space for you to dwell with us. In Jesus name. Amen!