“Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, ‘Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.’”
We Must Be Servants of God Who Know the Heart of God
Today’s Scripture passage deals with the story of how our forefather of faith Abraham had grown old and how he attempted to have his only son Isaac be married. And in this passage, Abraham instructs his servant who goes to find his future daughter-in-law, saying, “You shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” Yes, he told his oldest servant to go to his country and to his family to find a wife for his son. Then, why did Abraham say this and why did God have this event recorded in this way? You and I will examine this together from this point on.
Abraham instructed his faithful old servant to go and bring him a wife for his son. And he instructed him, “You will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” Dear fellow believers, why do you think Abraham said this? Abraham’s oldest servant mentioned here was a person who knew his master’s heart very well. It is to the point that by only hearing Abraham’s voice the servant was able to know what his master was thinking. Because he had lived in the household of Abraham for a long time, he was a servant that could read all of the thoughts of his master’s heart. And so, Abraham sent none other than this old trusted servant of his back to his country to fetch his son a wife. What does this all mean? This means that the person who does the work of God must be a servant that knows God’s heart well.
Through this Scripture passage, God is speaking to you and me. He is telling us that we must truly live out our lives before God by properly knowing His heart and thoughts. We must not be the kinds of people who run errands for God without knowing His heart’s intentions, but we must be those who know God our Master’s heart and fulfill His will. We must be the people who by our submission satisfy our Master to His heart’s content.
Then what is it that God desires from those of us who are His servants? As it says here, “You shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac”, in the same way, God wants us to establish His Churches on this earth. Dear fellow believers, God has spoken to us through Abraham about faith and the land of Canaan, namely Heaven. And so we must recognize that He is speaking to us through Isaac about His Church.
Yes, this is true indeed. Today’s Scripture passage of how Abraham is trying to have his son Isaac get married represents the will of God that we must plant Churches for the Lord. Then why does Isaac symbolize the Church? When we examine the life of Isaac in the Bible thoroughly, we can see that he lived a life of digging wells. Isaac’s son Jacob also continued to dig wells, and God is speaking to us through Isaac and Jacob regarding establishing churches. Isaac and Jacob dug wells wherever they dwelt. In the Bible, a well or a bride denotes the Church of God. Thus, today’s passage, “Go to my country and take a wife for my son” can be said to mean that we are to establish Churches for Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
However, in terms of God having Isaac get married, or in other words, the Church being established, what does God admonish us to keep in mind? He tells us not to go to another family to take a wife from there, but only to take a wife from Abraham’s family, meaning someone from the lineage of Abraham, that is, from among his own relatives. What does this all mean? To establish Churches for our Lord, in other words, in the marriage between God and His people, there must not be any intermarriage with those who are not truly born again.
God is speaking to you and me that we must establish His Churches for His Son Jesus Christ. But what did God put an emphasis on through Abraham in regards to this matter? Abraham said to his old servant, “You shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” What is truly the work which pleases the Lord? First, it is establishing the Church of God. Having fully understood this, how then must we establish this Church of God? We must be married within the family of Abraham, and thus establish the Church of God. Through a marriage such as this, we can obtain a pure lineage and produce pure descendants for God.
The Book of Hebrews says that although there are many spirits, God the Father has chosen one Spirit, Jesus Christ to obtain His pure children. In other words, the Lord wants to obtain His pure descendants through marriage only with truly born again saints. Of course, children that are born in this manner are also sinners at first. This is because those who are born in the flesh cannot help but be sinners. However, children who are born from born again parents are certain to inherit the proper faith of their parents. This is dependent on whether both their mothers and fathers are true people of the faith or not. In today’s Scripture passage, the Lord is speaking to you and to me about the importance of this pure marriage. Thus, we must bear in mind that even in marriage we must seek what is right for the sake of our Lord God.
The Church of God Exists for the People of God
Even for the Church of God, if we were to think about it, it exists for the people of our Lord. You and I need the Church of God and the Church of God is needed for the Kingdom of God. Why is this so? God is able to do His work through this Church and He can continue to bear His pure children through this Church. God desires to live in Heaven along with numerous of His own children. And, God is saying that these descendants are born through the Church, and in order to continue to bear that pure race or bloodline, a wife of Jesus Christ must be taken only and only from God’s family.
Our Lord truly needs the members of the Church of God. The Lord brings the person who is going to be His wife to Himself through His Church. He only brings those who are properly born again to Himself, and if a person is not born again yet, then He has that person become born again so that they can have a relationship with the Lord. Then, what must we who are already in the Church and serving the Lord do? We must continue to bring wholesome brides-to-be to our Lord. Today’s Scripture passage is all about this.
Abraham was old and he wanted to have his son be married. Why did he not send a young servant instead of an old one to go fetch him a daughter-in-law? Think about this more deeply. Would a young servant not work more quickly and more efficiently? But there is a definite reason why Abraham entrusted this important task to his oldest servant. The reason was that this old servant knew his master’s heart well.
This is the same for you and me. Those who have received the remission of sins before God and are following after the Lord within the Church like this old servant, must gather and lead souls to the Church and proclaim the Word of God to these souls so that this Church will become a Church that the Lord needs. Dear fellow believers, why do we exist? Why do we need the Church after having been born again? The reason that we need the Church after being born again is so that we can live for Jesus Christ. We exist for Jesus Christ and the Church exists for Jesus Christ as well. Today’s Scripture passage instructs us to work for the Son. And, we indeed are working in the Church for Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Why Must You Get Married to a Righteous Person?
Those who are born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must not be married to just anyone in this world. When we look at the Book of Ezra, it teaches us that intermarriage with Gentiles would not allow a pure faith to be maintained. As this Book says, if a person who believes in the gospel of the water and the Spirit marries an unbeliever then their offspring will not inherit the genuine faith of the one born again parent. This is the very reason Abraham gave instructions to fetch a suitable wife from his family for his son. This is the will of God. You and I must know this reason for spiritual marriage with Jesus Christ and the reason for the existence of His Church which is all for the sake of Jesus Christ. If you do not know that your marriage is for the sake of Jesus Christ but rather think that it is just for yourselves, you will then fall into serious problems. Our young people must especially take heed of this. The fact is that if you marry a Gentile man or woman, then your pure faith will not be passed down to your offspring.
God told us clearly, whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, to do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). But if we think that the Church of God exists for the sake of our desires of the flesh, what will happen? The Church of God will then be influenced by the passions of humans rather than the will of God. And so, we must clearly know what the will of God is. The reason that God established the Church was for the sake of the Lord Jesus. God desires that whatever we do, we do it for Him. He desires that we do everything for Him rather than for ourselves, everything including marriage and our everyday lives after being born again.
Do Never Take a Wife from the Daughters of the Canaanites
God has made one important request to us, His Church. He clearly stated as revealed in today’s Scripture passage, “And I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites.” He has requested that we absolutely on no account to take a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites for the sake of His name. Then what is the meaning of this passage? We exist for God, and the Church also exists for God. This means that if we are taught something from the people of this world, choose the flesh, and take possession of worldly things in order to minister to the Church, then that act will tear down the Kingdom of God and at the same time becomes harmful to us as well.
While we are at work or interact in society, there are times that we may become interested in the women or men of this world. The women of this world can appear to be very beautiful, and the men of this world can appear to be very attractive. But there is one thing very important before the Lord, and that is, we must know our Lord’s heart. The Lord says that we should never take a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites. He is telling us not to interact with the women or men of this world or to unite our hearts with them. Marriage is a unification of two people, is it not? That you should not marry off your son to a Canaanite woman means that we should not unite our hearts to the men and women of this world.
Dear fellow believers, today on an invitation I visited the Great Light Presbyterian Church because they are moving their chapel to another venue, but I soon realized once again that they are so different like water and oil in relation to us. But I went there with the sole purpose of sharing the true genuine gospel with them. I looked diligently to see if there were perhaps any sincere souls who were searching for God. I did notice a few souls among the ministry workers who would come back to the side of God. However, the hearts of the church members were all in the wrong place. You and I must never be like that. Even if we are to go out into the world and work and live in society, we must not give our hearts to the world. We must not unite our hearts with the people of this world. We must truly keep our hearts inside this Church for God and must do the things that please Him. This is the message that God is trying to speak to us about through Abraham.
Abraham, as revealed in today’s Scripture reading, desired that those principles that God had set up for the nation of Israel, that is, for the Church of God, would not be broken by the rules and regulations of the Gentile nations. Our forefather of the faith, Abraham, after meeting God, knew that he and his descendants had to follow after the Word of God without fail and so he affirmatively said, “Do not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites.” God spoke to Abraham in this manner: “You must not choose your daughter-in-law from the Canaanites. Your offspring Isaac which you obtained through My Word is a son of God, and therefore you must have him be married to your family and by him doing this you will pass down your faith to your descendants and continue on the lineage of faith.”
To be honest, the family lineage of Abraham that is referred to here was really not a great or well-known family, but it was of the race of Aram and, not only that, they were not native Palestinians either. But despite this, they truly called upon the Lord God. It seems as though there was a certain amount of faith in their hearts. God looked upon this faith of theirs and desired that His lineage of faith be continued on through them. And so, when we take a look at all the passages that speak of Abraham our forefather of the faith, we come to know that both the Church and we as individuals all exist for God and for our Lord. If we live without knowing this fact, we will simply be influenced by the world and our own circumstances.
While living out our lives, we must always think about what the will of God is, what God is pleased with, what a spiritual life is and what it means for our hearts to become whole. There is one thing that God desires of us and it is that our hearts should prosper. God does not particularly desire for our flesh to do well. This is because if our flesh does well our hearts can easily go astray.
What is the next thing that God desires of us? As God spoke to Abraham, we must strive to preserve our descendants in the faith and not become assimilated with the peoples of this world. God is intimately involved with the affairs within the Church and He preserves the Church. God is keeping and preserving us so that we fellowship and marry within His family. If you do not know this will of God properly and take a Gentile woman, then you will for sure fall away from the Church of God.
God Desires That the Lineage of True Faith Continues on
The Church of God exists because of His will and God brings the righteous into the Church for His sake. If one does not follow after the will of God and takes a woman of the world for oneself or departs from the Church because of someone in the world, God will surely cut that branch off. Even though this person is born again, He will definitely cut this person off without remedy. God has told us unequivocally to go to His family and to marry a woman. If we do not keep or guard our faith in the Word serious problems can arise. So, even if you are involved in workplace evangelism, your hearts must not be too united with the people at your work.
Those of you who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are the people of God. The people of God must not unite their hearts with the peoples of this world. Although your body may be there, you are there chiefly to share the gospel and you are there for the sake of Jesus Christ and not just for yourselves. It is the same for you and me who are presently in the Church. The message is that we are all here for the Lord and not for ourselves. Yes, this is correct. Whatever we are thinking or doing—everything in the Church that we should be doing should not be for ourselves but for the Church and for the Lord.
Dear fellow believers, our hearts must not leave for the world outside. We must not try to take women of this world for our wives. If our hearts continue to take the things of the world and the things of the flesh, then we become the people who do not know the heart of God. What is the heart of God like? What Abraham instructed his old servant to do was this: “I want my son as a true man of faith and a righteous person to succeed his family line.” As there was a sincere desire in Abrahams’ heart, our God desires that you and I guard this pure lineage of our faith.
We must live our lives knowing what the will of God is towards us. God has told us to live for our Lord, whether we eat or drink whatever we do to do everything for the Lord. But, if our hearts are inclined to the flesh and not to the Lord what will happen? What I am saying is we need to be aware of what will happen if we become accustomed to living a life of prosperity on this earth. This is the same as taking a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites.
We may not take a Gentile woman as a wife and there may not be any brothers or sisters who will do this, but actually, taking for oneself a Gentile spouse is not the end of the matter. If we desire for our hearts to be prosperous and do well on this earth in regards to the flesh and if our social lives and church activities have the sole purpose of making ourselves more comfortable in the flesh, then all of these things are the same as taking Gentile women as our wives.
Dear fellow believers, keep in mind that our whole lives must be lived solely for Jesus Christ. We exist for His name’s sake in order to expand His Kingdom. Do you understand this principle? After receiving the remission of sins, having a job and doing further studies should not be the focus in order to be well off on this earth. We should rather do everything for His name and expand His kingdom, for this is the reason why we exist now.
The Lives of the Righteous Are Entirely for Jesus Christ
We who are the born again believers do not exist to just live for ourselves. After we have been born again, we become the people who have been placed on this earth temporarily for our Lord. You and I must clearly draw a clear definitive bold line in our hearts in regards to this. If this line is not in our hearts, in other words, if there is no clear standard in our hearts that we are to live for the Lord we will be prone to only look out for ourselves while living on this earth. Think about this seriously. What would happen if we followed after the desires of the flesh on this earth and amassed wealth and became rich? What will constantly be uppermost in our thoughts? Would it not be, “How much money this will become if I save up this money a little longer, and what I will do with this money?” Like this, we will continue to seek after ways to make our lives more comfortable in the flesh.
There are two inclinations of the heart of those of us the born-again Christians. One part of the heart desires to draw near to our Lord, and the other part seeks for the flesh to be comfortable. This Scripture passage is saying that a heart that follows after the comforts or conveniences of the flesh is the same as taking a wife from the Canaanites. Therefore, you and I must be cutting off this inclination of the heart. We exist on this earth solely for the Lord. In today’s Scripture passage, Abraham told his servant that he must not take a Canaanite woman for his son. He said that if a Canaanite woman was chosen then his son would be ruined. He knew if this took place the honor or distinction of his son, the son that was obtained through the Word of God, would be ruined.
I have every confidence that if God allows it, this Church can grow spiritually to an infinite extent. However, what will happen if our hearts are only intent on the Church becoming physically larger and the membership increasing, that is, only on the things that we can see with our eyes? This type of a heart is one that is so ignorant of the intentions of the heart of God as is written in today’s Scripture passage where He said to “bring him a daughter-in-law for his son from his own family.” You and I must have a clear standard in our hearts. A standard that has clear set goals says, “I exist for God and our Church exists for God as well. The purpose for our individual lives is to live for God and for Jesus Christ.” I want to nail this point home today. Do you understand what I am saying?
Turn Your Heart Around So That You Can Live for the Lord
You and I must clearly set a goal in life which indicates that: “My life exists for God and for the expansion of the Lord’s Kingdom.” Our hearts may venture out to the world but our hearts must never be seized by the world, and we must always offer our hearts to the Lord. We must turn our hearts back towards our Lord, seek after the will of God which pleases Him, and work together with the Church to serve Him through our lives.
Dear fellow believers, who do our lives belong to? And who do we exist for? We exist for Jesus Christ. We must set this one goal absolutely clear. Many Christians quit serving the Lord when they prosper in the world. This is because they have not clearly established their goals properly. When we look out on the world, are there not a lot of various mission organizations? At first they really appear to be acting according to God’s will. But, take a look at them again carefully after some time has passed. You will not find one single thread among them that seeks after God’s will. These people will then start revealing that they do not exist for the Lord, but for themselves or for some famous leaders.
You and I must seriously ponder over this matter. We exist only for the Lord God and for His Son and not for ourselves. By us planting Churches, purchasing land and doing works in the Church and running our Mission School are all done for the Son of God. But we are aware that if the Lord is not pleased with this then we must be willing to boldly cast it away, and if the Lord is pleased with it then we must courageously seize or take ownership of it. Like this, our hearts must definitely be standing right before the Lord.
Let’s Incline Our Hearts to Spiritual Things
Are we going to desire the comforts of the flesh, or are we going to seek after what pleases God? Between these two inclinations of the heart, we must clearly incline our hearts towards having a spiritual heart. We must cast away the desires for our flesh that wants to be well off, and rather to lead a spiritual life so that our hearts and souls prosper in line with the desire to glorify God. We must not seek after the prosperity of our flesh. In other words, the Church of God must not purpose itself or pray in order to prosper in the flesh. Dear fellow believers, should we pray that God would make us rich on this earth no matter what? No. We should rather be praying that we would be blessed financially in such a way that we can completely serve the gospel with limited hindrances, so that we can live for His Kingdom. We should not be praying for the prosperity of our flesh in order that we can live comfortably on this earth.
Are we going to live our lives for God, and for the proclamation of the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Or are we going to live for the gospel but also live for our flesh a bit as well? Are we going to live a double life so that we do well and are content in the flesh? We must clearly draw a bold definite line here. God told to us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto us. This means that if we press forward for the expansion of the Kingdom of God and for the works that please God rather than the comforts of our flesh, God will satisfactorily provide everything that we need. If we know that we exist for God and that we live to serve God, then we must not seek after the security of the flesh. We have both a spiritual heart and a fleshly one. Should we be seeking after the prosperity of our hearts or that of the flesh? Although we cannot see our hearts with our eyes, there are clearly things that allow our hearts to do well and to prosper. For our hearts to prosper we must have a proper heart which presses on with faith towards God.
Between following after the things of the flesh and the things of the heart, I believe that we should choose to follow after the things of the heart. I am saying that we must desire to have a proper heart before God and to live according to His will. Dear fellow believers, do you realize this? As we look at today’s Scripture passage, the one thing that we must clearly understand is this: We must not live for the security of the flesh but we must live with an attitude of giving our hearts to God.
Do Not Attach Too Much Importance in Making a Living for the Flesh
When I look at those who have become born again by receiving the remission of sins recently and are attending our Church, almost all of them seem to worry about this world. They worry about “How will I make a living? What will I eat? How can my flesh live more comfortably? How can I lead a secure life?” These types of worries always visit those who have just become born again. But when this happens, they must think deeply again regarding this. Such newly born again saints must think about the following things: “What is God’s will towards me? What is God’s will for saving me? What is the will of God for saving me and placing me in the Church?” Is it the will of God that they have this type of heart? To have these thoughts, “How can my flesh live comfortably and respectably on this earth?” is the thoughts of the flesh. What will happen to them if they continue on in this direction without casting away these desires of the flesh? They will be like Ishmael who went away from God. They leave Abraham. They are driven away.
You and I must be absolutely clear and not press ahead with a heart that desires that our flesh do well or prospers. We must rather press forward having a heart that God is pleased with and do the work that is good for our souls and beneficial to the Son of God. And, we must provide genuine fellowship with those who have recently received the remission of sins. When we look at the hearts of the saints in our Church, we can tell that the things of the flesh have entered into them. Especially those who have been born again recently, they have these desires to be well off in the flesh. They do not know what the older saints think and they do not recognize the meaning of the things that the predecessors of faith say, and therefore their hearts are attracted to the things that appear on the surface and the things of the flesh that they can see with their eyes. We must pray for these people and we must have genuine fellowship with them. Those of us who were saved prior to them must first do the works that God is pleased with and press on to be closer to our God. But beware of this: We must never and never strive for our flesh to be prosperous.
After we are truly born again, it is not important for us to devote ourselves to fasting or to asceticism. But it is more important for us to aim for the prosperity of our souls. We must have a proper heart that is willing to live for the will of God. Our hearts must not be swayed by the desires to be well off in the flesh.
When we to read the next part of today’s Scripture passage, we see Abraham’s older servant bringing back his future daughter-in-law. Just as Abraham had instructed, this servant went to his master’s family and brought back a wife for his son. This trusted servant could have brought any woman from any family and could have deceived Abraham, who was now getting on in years, but this old trusted servant did not do this.
Then who does this old servant of Abraham here represent? He represents you and me. This old servant represents us, we who are in the Church of God. Our Lord is teaching us here just how our hearts must be as we serve Him. As Abraham had instructed his old servant, “Do not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites,” God is likewise instructing us, “You must not take a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites, and do not live your lives on this earth for the flesh which decays away.” Please be aware of this. If we indeed press forward for God by faith, then God will provide everything that we need for our physical bodies.
If Our Hearts Truly Strive for the Salvation of Other Souls, Then the Lord Will Surely Provide Sufficient Things Even for the Flesh
In the Gospel of Matthew the Lord said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). If we do not seek after the things of this world, if our hearts are intent on saving the souls of others rather than our flesh doing well, and if we press forward by faith and follow in the direction that pleases God, then God will provide everything in this world for us. But what will happen if we do not obey His Word and rather follow after this world? We will start losing all the precious things of God. This is why God, in order to give us more of the things of this earth, including much joy and happiness, instructs us to first follow Him. For the sake of Jesus Christ and for our sakes we must follow after the will of God. If we obey the will of God that He has towards us, not only will our hearts and souls prosper but He will also provide contentment for our flesh as well. Dear fellow believers, do you believe this?
To do things for the Lord is really to do things for ourselves. Some of you are the members of our Mission Group for Workplace Evangelism. You are preaching the gospel in your work places. I ask that you really do everything for God and for Jesus Christ. Whether you are at Mission School, at work or in society, I ask that you live the rest of your lives entirely for Jesus Christ. You and I exist for Jesus Christ. It is not enough to just know this in our heads. It is to believe this in our hearts and to actually apply it to our lives, and to guard our precious hearts that God has given to us, and to live according to the will of God by following after that heart. I pray that you take this important lesson to heart and live your lives accordingly.