Written by :   Zac Poonen
WFTW Body: 
The first mention of love in Genesis 22:2 is where Isaac is called Abraham's only son whom he loves. The offering of Isaac on the altar that follows later on in the chapter is a clear picture of Calvary where God the Father gave His only Son as an offering for our sins. Accordingly the love referred to in verse 2 is a picture of God the Father's love for Christ. The second mention of the word "love" in the Bible is in Genesis 24:67 which tells of Isaac's love for Rebekah - a husband's love for his wife. Here we have a clear picture, as the rest of the chapter also beautifully shows, of the love of Christ for His church. In the New Testament these two concepts are brought together by the Lord in John 15:9 - “As the Father hath loved me (with the love of a father for a son depicted in Genesis 22:2) so have I loved you" (with the love of Christ for the sinner that finds its parallel in the love of a bridegroom for a bride illustrated in Genesis 24:67). Thus, even in the typology in the Old Testament, this thought of God's intense love for man is reflected.

Let us therefore look at Genesis 24 and, in this faint picture provided by the relationship between Isaac and Rebekah, see some of the characteristics of the Lord's great love for us. When God seeks to show us how greatly He loves us, it is very significant that He uses the husband-wife relationship as an example. The union between husband and wife is the most intimate of all earthly relationships. While it would be unwise to carry the parallel too far, the Divine choice of this illustration, confirmed as it is by such New Testament passages as Ephesians 5:21-23, serves clearly to underline the very personal intimacy that the Lord desires to have with each one of us, and that He desires that we should have with Him. In Genesis 24, we may see a kind of allegory of the Divine search for such a relationship with man. There Abraham may be seen as a figure or type of God the Father, Abraham's servant as a type of the Holy Spirit and Isaac as a type of God the Son, while Rebekah takes her place as a type of alien, unredeemed man in the far country who the Holy Spirit seeks to win to Christ. In the attitude of Abraham's servant (who on this mission was representing both Abraham and Isaac) and the attitude of Isaac towards Rebekah, we may discern characteristics of the love of Christ for us.

First of all, we see in Genesis 24 verses 22 and 53 that Abraham's servant gives gifts to Rebekah out of the riches of his master. This gives us an insight into the heart of God. When He comes to us, He does not come demanding, but giving. As a good husband will want to share all he has with his wife, so does the Lord desire to share all He has with us. Many of us have the idea that if we surrender ourselves fully to the Lord, He will make so many demands upon us that our lives will become miserable. Even though we may not say so in as many words, yet this is the reason why we shrink from an unconditional surrender to the Lord. Yet Jesus has clearly told us that the real thief who comes to take away what we have is the devil (John 10:10). But how few believe this! If we really believed that the Lord Jesus has come to give us all that He has, there would be no reserve at all in the surrender of our lives to Him.

A story is told of a pastor who once went to visit a poor old lady in order to bring her a gift with which to pay her rent. He went to her house and knocked at the door, and waited, and knocked again. But there was no response, and so at length he went away. A few days later he met her on the street. "I called on you the other day with a present," he told her, "but found the door bolted and could get no answer." "Oh," said the old lady, "I am sorry. I was inside, but I thought it was the landlord who had come to collect the rent. So I didn't open the door." Brothers and sisters, the Lord Jesus has not come to collect the rent! He has come to give us all that He possesses. He wants to bring us wealth unimaginable. How foolish it is not to open the door to Him. How foolish it is not to surrender our lives to Him utterly.

Look again at Abraham's servant. Another feature of the story is that, even knowing she was God's choice for Isaac, this man did not compel Rebekah to go with him. He respected her free will, and only when she herself was willing did he take her (verses 54-59). That too is characteristic of the love of Christ for us, as we saw briefly at the outset of this chapter. God respects man's freedom of choice. The love of God is without compulsion. He will never force you to do anything. Men in the world - yes, and even Christian leaders - may exert pressure upon you to do many things against your will, but God - never. (And in passing, may I say that any man who seeks to be like God will follow Him in this.) The Lord will never force you to read your Bible, or to pray, or to witness for Him. God never forces any sinner to turn to Him, neither will he force any believer to obey Him. In His instructions to Moses about the Tabernacle, God told him to receive offerings only from those who gave them willingly (Exod. 25:2), and this principle recurs in the New Testament (2 Cor. 9:7). Indeed it runs through the entire Bible. God does command obedience to Him, but He never forces anyone to obey. He will always respect the free will that He Himself has given to man. What need is there, then, for you and me to be afraid of a love like this?