A Wife for Isaac
“Abraham said to his servant… ‘Go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.’”-Genesis 24:1–4
Matthew 13:24–30 records the parable of the wheat and tares that Jesus gave during His teaching ministry. In this story, Christ tells us the seed of the serpent, in some ways, advances alongside His holy people. This wheat will finally win out over the tares, but until judgment day, the Devil’s seed will also be growing.
The parallel growth of the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of heaven is depicted in Genesis, where we resume our study today. One notable example of the simultaneous progression of the wheat and tares can be found by comparing the lives of Ishmael and Isaac. Both of these men were rescued by an angel when at death’s door (Gen. 21:1–19; 22:1–14). Ishmael and Isaac are both promised many descendants (21:18; 22:15–18). Hagar’s son then marries, guaranteeing the promise for Ishmael will come to pass (21:21).
This development makes us expect Isaac to marry and bear descendants who will finally overcome Satan’s realm. In today’s passage, God, who never fails to keep His word, begins moving to bring a wife into Isaac’s household. It all starts near the end of Abraham’s life when Moses, for the first time, adds his editorial comment that the patriarch has indeed been blessed (Gen. 24:1). But this blessing cannot continue without offspring through Isaac; thus, Abraham implores his servant to place his hand under the patriarch’s thigh and swear an oath to find a wife for Isaac among his clan (vv. 2–4). It was customary in the ancient Near East to swear oaths by touching something sacred, and this is what happens here. The servant touched Abraham, which symbolized the Lord’s holy promise to bring many descendants from the patriarch (17:6).
Abraham is resolved to procure Isaac’s wife from his kindred — not from the Canaanites (24:3–4). The Israelites were forbidden from marrying pagans (Deut. 7:1–4), and so the fathers of this great people also had to look for women who were not bound to the false deities of Canaan lest they be led astray. Of course, this rule applies to the new covenant as well — Christians are not to seek out spouses from those who do not love Jesus (2 Cor. 6:14a).
John Chrysostom comments, “The patriarch acted in this from concern for the soul’s virtue and abhorrence of the wickedness of the [Canaanite] inhabitants” (Homilies on Genesis, 48.8–9). Abraham’s chief concern was for Isaac to marry a covenant member. If you are single and looking for a spouse, this concern must be yours as well. If you have relatives or friends who want to marry, pray for them to find a believer and advise them to look for a Christian spouse. For further study:
Passages for Further Study
- Exodus 34:11–16
- 1 Kings 11
- Matthew 23:16–22
- 1 Corinthians 7:12–16
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