Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďTHE ROMANCE OF REDEMPTIONĒ

 

Since today is Valentineís Day, that celebration of all things romantic in the United States that generates revenue for florists, candy-makers, and restaurateurs, I thought it would be appropriate for me to attempt to salvage the day for the cause of Christ. Why donít we talk about things romantic for just a bit?

There is no doubt that the most famous and most widely read romantic literature in existence anywhere in the world is the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament. It is also the most obscure book of the Old Testament, and whatever principle of interpretation one may adopt, there always remains a number of inexplicable passages.[1] I recommend the Song of Solomon for married couples, but would advise couples who are interested in each other not to play with matches around gasoline by reading it until you are married. It was a Jewish saying, as both Origen and Jerome mention, that the Song should not be studied by any one until he was thirty years of age. The Jews were of the persuasion this love poem is a spiritual picture of the history of Israel from the Exodus to the coming of the Messiah. Early Christians saw represented in this Song the mutual love of Christ and His Church.[2] However it is to be interpreted, it is a portion of scripture that is quite steamy and difficult for a preacher to deal with when youngsters are present.

You may be aware that there are passages in the Old Testament, which liken Israel to the wife of Jehovah.[3] As well, there are passages in the New Testament that show the church to be the bride of Christ.[4] The point that I seek to make is that the relationship that exists between God and one of His children is in a number of ways comparable to, or analogous to, the relationship that exists between a husband and his wife, or the relationship that is anticipated by a betrothed and his fiancť.

Turn to Genesis chapter two, where we see the foundation for the relationship that exists between a husband and his wife in the unfallen state, before sin entered in. In verse 24, we read, ďTherefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.Ē Though we know that a woman should leave her home when she marries, I think it is also implied by this verse that a man should do the same when he marries, so that at the very least when a married son and his parents live together, it is they who should live with him rather than he who should live with them. I think that distinction is very significant to observe. Additionally, please do not make the mistake of thinking that Genesis 2.24 speaks only to the existence of a physical relationship between a man and wife in the sinless state. Recognize that before falling into sin, Adam and Eve already enjoyed perfect spiritual and emotional harmony, with their physical union being the culmination of the multifaceted relationship God had created them to enjoy. Therefore, I believe that it is a great crime against humanity that efforts are made to reduce individuals to the level of animals, and for the relationships that exist between people to be portrayed as being limited to the merely physical and emotional, with no regard for the spiritual. Of course, those efforts succeed so easily because people who are dead in trespasses and sins, having no spiritual life and being severely stunted in their emotional capacities, are quite easily persuaded that physical attraction is the be all and the end all of a relationship. However, I would point to the ďbeautiful peopleĒ of Hollywood as perfect illustrations of the folly of this kind of thinking.

Marriage, the way God intended it to be, is the communion of a man and a woman, two souls occupying physical bodies, with those souls capable of spiritual communion, emotional communion, and of course physical communion. Though the human race is now a fallen race, that kind of exalted communion is still possible when the husband and the wife know life in Christ, by means of the aid and comfort of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. It is one thing to speak of marriage in the unfallen state, but we recognize that it is quite another to consider marriage in the fallen state. Even more problematic is the consideration of the way single men and women prepare for and enter into marriage in the fallen state, with passion overruling a principled approach to selecting and securing a mate for life.

Imagine some fellow who is spiritually dead and emotionally disabled by sin risking his happiness for the next fifty years by seeking out and selecting to marry some gal (the future mother of his children, for crying out loud), without the slightest concern for the consequences of marriage and baby making with someone who is as dead to God as he is. Incredible. Yet people do that very thing every day.

Moving on, we already know what the Bible shows about who should be seeking whom to marry, the propriety of a man seeking a wife. The question is, how does a man go about it? By what means does he convince the woman he desires to marry him? Setting aside what we already know about courtship and seeking a fatherís permission to court his daughter, what additional insights might we add to our reservoir of knowledge about a guy persuading a woman to marry him? In a single word, it is romance. Romance is a loaded word, conjuring up all kinds of mental images, with many of them being very bad these days. However, romance is neither a bad word nor a bad concept, when it is rightly understood. Allow me to illustrate what can happen when romance is not rightly understood.

I know a man who was, and perhaps still is, very awkward around women. Of course, such uptight fright is related to pride, and also of course, that bonehead was stubborn in his refusal to seek his pastorís help. His stubbornness was yet another manifestation of his pride, further guaranteeing his clumsiness with members of the opposite sex. However, you cannot force a guy. When he met an extremely attractive young woman who had visited his church, he set out to woo her. Wanting to do right in a clumsy sort of way, but having sought no counsel from anyone, and ignoring the benefits of spending time in the company of others with a young lady, he arranged to pick her up and take her to a restaurant. When they arrived at their destination, he actually handed her a sheet of paper on which he had printed out a list of requirements he expected her to abide by. This was before they had ever enjoyed a single conversation with each other. Needless to say, their dinner was not a pleasant one, and to avoid him she never set foot in his church again. If that clumsy ox had any sense at all he would have realized a few things: First, he should have sought counsel about courting a woman. After all, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Second, success in wooing that woman required that she be willing, something he had no appreciation for, thinking only about what he selfishly wanted. Thirdly, he had no sense of what is called romance, probably because he had never seen romance in his parentís marriage or taken note of romance in the Bible.

This brings me to romance as a topic. Ever contemplate what romance is? It is a subtle process of persuasion, whereby a man seeks to so argue his case by various means with a woman that he persuades her to surrender her will to his own in marriage. Romance in the case of a Christian is not at all sinful, and is properly conducted well within the boundaries of propriety and holiness. Here is another thought: Romance has its counterpart in the spiritual realm.

On this Valentineís Day, now that we have considered things related to the wooing and winning of a fair maidenís hand in marriage, I would like to speak to you about the romance of redemption, that process whereby a sinner is wooed to the place of surrendering his will to the Savior. One of the places where this is best pictured is in the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter twenty-four to be precise.

As you find that portion of scripture, consider the concept in Godís Word of a type and its antitype. A type is really a specialized form of prophecy, whereby truth is unfolded in the Biblical narrative in such a way that striking similarities and parallels are later found in the completed revelation of Godís Word in what is called the antitype. Looking back into the Old Testament, one quickly realizes that a type is no accident or coincidence, but God providentially ordering history in such a way as to shed led light on important truths more fully revealed at a later time. For example: The sacrifices detailed in Exodus and Leviticus are now clearly seen to be types that find their antitype in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. The Tabernacle described in those same books of the Bible is also an astonishingly revealing type that finds its antitype in the person of Jesus Christ. There are many more types, such as Enochís translation being a type of the Rapture, Melchizedek being a type of Christ, Joseph being yet another type of Christ, and many more.

This morning you will see the type of a bride being secured for Abrahamís beloved son, Isaac, being fulfilled in the antitype of a sinner being wooed to join by faith to the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Two parts in this message, the first part dealing with the type, and the second part dealing with the antitype:

 

First, THE TYPE IN THIS ROMANCE OF REDEMPTION

 

We have four significant characters in the narrative we are about to read, Abraham, Isaac, the unnamed servant, and Rebekah. It is the desire of the father, Abraham, to secure a bride for his beloved son, Isaac. You will notice as we read that instead of sending Isaac to secure a bride for himself, his father dispatches a trusted but unnamed servant to seek out from among the Gentiles a bride for his masterís son.

I begin reading from Genesis 24.1:

 

1      And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.

2      And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

3      And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:

4      But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

5      And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?

6      And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.

7      The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my fatherís house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.

8      And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.

9      And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.

10     And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.

11     And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.

12     And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.

13     Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:

14     And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.

 

In verses 15-27, the unnamed servant arrives at his destination, learns the identity of the maiden he has encountered, and identifies himself. At this point, the young maiden, whose name is Rebekah, deflects the encounter to her household, verse 28: ďAnd the damsel ran, and told them of her motherís house these things.Ē Very wise, this Rebekah. She lets her family do the heavy lifting so she can maintain enough of an emotional distance to think clearly about her future.

We havenít the time to read everything in this chapter. However, I want you to take note of several things that are recorded in the exchange that leads to Rebekahís decision to marry the son of the unnamed servantís master: First, notice that the unnamed servant first speaks very highly of his master and his masterís bounty, verses 34-35, and makes some very bold claims:

 

34     And he said, I am Abrahamís servant.

35     And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.

 

Next, the unnamed servant speaks of his masterís son, the prospective groom, and his great inheritance, verse 36: ďAnd Sarah my masterís wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath.Ē Third, as you read through the chapter, you will see the unnamed servantís allusion to the providence of God in bringing about this encounter. Finally, as you consider this entire account, let me point out what you will not find. There will be no time spent by the unnamed servant describing himself, since he seeks to woo the maiden to his masterís son, not to himself.

After Abrahamís servant has spoken to the maidenís brother, who seems to be the head of the household she is living in, her brother grants his permission for the unnamed servant to take her to his masterís son to be his wife. This all takes place the same day as their initial encounter. The next day, Abrahamís servant expressed his desire to depart immediately and return to Abraham, so Rebekahís brother defers to her for a final decision about her future as Isaacís wife. Verses 55-59:

 

55     And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.

56     And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.

57     And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth.

58     And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.

59     And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abrahamís servant, and his men.

 

Notice, first, the urgency of the unnamed servant. Though he had traveled over rough terrain for many days by caravan, faithfulness to his master demanded that he expedite his mission. As well, notice the response of Rebekah. Though her window of opportunity to respond is brief, less than twenty-four hours, the testimony of the servant, the tokens of his truthfulness about Abraham and Isaacís inheritance in the form of jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment that he gave to Rebekah, along with the gifts he gave to her brother and mother, was the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen that he had spoken the truth. Her response, donít you see, was the response of faith. Based upon what the unnamed servant had both told her and shown her about his master and his masterís son, she willingly trusted not only the servantís testimony, but she trusted Abraham and Isaac as well. She had been wooed and she freely responded.

 

WE NOW CONSIDER THE ANTITYPE OF THIS ROMANCE OF REDEMPTION

 

In the Biblical narrative we have four characters, Abraham, Isaac, the unnamed servant, and Rebekah. Abraham corresponds to God the Father. Isaac is a type of God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The unnamed servant is a type of the precious Holy Spirit, Who conducts His important ministry without direct reference to Himself. Rebekah, of course, the maiden who was wooed by the servant on behalf of the father and his son, is a type of the sinner.

Please recognize that no type in the Bible is a full and complete picture of the antitype. Thus, while Isaac is a type of Christ in some respects, in that he was offered up by his father, Abraham, he did not actually die and he was not raised from the dead, as was our Lord Jesus. As well, though Abraham is a type of God the Father, we recognize that in his own personal conduct he falls far short of being a perfect representation of God the Father. However, the picture that we find in Genesis twenty-four is striking in its representation of the romance of redemption.

My friend, God the Father has sought you out for His Son, the precious Lord Jesus Christ. In order to woo you to the place where you will want Jesus as your Savior, the Holy Spirit of God has been dispatched to this far away place. He has come all the way here from heaven, to this foreign outpost in Godís universe. Like the unnamed servant of Abraham, the Holy Spirit makes use of various means to extol the virtues of the One Who sent Him, as well as the Son of the One Who sent Him. As Abrahamís servant spoke of his masterís greatness, so the Holy Spirit speaks through the Word of God and the gospel ministry to magnify and show the greatness of our God. Is He not the great God Almighty, Who is holy and exalted? And as that servant spoke of the inheritance of his masterís son, so too the Spirit of God uses the Word of God and gospel preachers to declare that Jesus is heir of all things. To Jesus has been given all power in heaven and earth. And in Him we obtain an inheritance, Ephesians chapter one.

When the servant arrived at Rebekahís household he gave gifts to her, to her brother, and to her mother. In like manner, the Spirit of God blesses and improves the lives of those His wooing ministry is directed to. A man being wooed by gospel preaching and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit improves, oftentimes becoming a better husband, father, and worker even before he becomes a Christian, much as Abrahamís servant gave jewels and gold and silver to Rebekah, her brother, and her mother.

 

The Bible tells us that a sinner is born in trouble, with a sin debt that will drag you into perdition unless Godís remedy is applied. That remedy is redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, made possible when He paid your debt on the cross of Calvary.

One of the ways in which God pictures the wooing of a sinner to Jesus is by showing its similarity to the way a young man romances a young woman he is seeking to persuade to marry him. Ah, it is a wonderful thing to behold. Proverbs tells us,

 

ďThere be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.Ē[5]

 

Have you ever taken note of the way of a man with a maid? In our culture, with all the feminism and the backwards approach of women who seek after a husband instead of a man properly seeking a wife, we lose much in our understanding of what happens of that picture of a sinner being persuaded to yield to Christ.

It begins with God the Father loving you, loving you before you were ever born, loving you despite your wickedness and depravity. As Rebekah was far from Abraham and Isaac geographically, so are you far from God spiritually. Yet, God still loves you so much that He can think of nothing better for you than you being joined to His Son, Jesus. Your sins will then be forgiven, you will experience the great love of God in Christ Jesus, and you will become a joint heir with Christ of all the Father has given Him.

So, what does the Father do to please His Son, much as Abraham did? He dispatches His Spirit into this world to seek you out, to make initial contact with you by various means, and to begin the process of showing you the claims He makes about God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

You think you already know about God, and about Jesus. However, you really know nothing at all so long as you doubt God is a great, a good, and an awesome God, and unless you are convinced Jesus is the Pearl of great price, the Lily of the valley, the bright and morning Star, that He is the precious Rose of Sharon, and that you simply must have Him as your own.

By means of the Word of God (which means little to you until the Holy Spirit begins to use it to affect you), and by means of circumstances and Christians and preaching and such things as that, the Holy Spirit woos you, and speaks to your heart, and seeks to persuade you to think differently about God and His Son, to think correctly about God and His Son, and to want God and His Son for your own.

As you are being spiritually romanced, the Spirit of God sometimes improves you in certain ways. Your attitudes can change, your speech can improve, and you can even begin to behave better. However, be mindful that you are still as lost as lost can be. Even when you reach the place where you actually want to be a Christian, you are still as distant from Christ as Rebekah was from Isaac.

What must happen when you have been convinced of your need of Christ, when you are persuaded that you want Him and must have Him as your own, is that you must be joined to Him by faith. You must actually come to Jesus, as the servant brought Rebekah to Isaac. Then and only then have you fully and truly experienced the romance of redemption.

Of course, for all the romancing of the Holy Spirit to woo you to reconsider Jesus, nothing will happen so long as you are close-minded, so long as you are hostile to the gospel, so long as you cultivate your offended spirit. It is only when your anger subsides, when your hostility to the truth wanes, when you see yourself as impoverished without Jesus, as Rebekah saw her own poverty without Isaac when the Holy Spirit gave her jewels and gold and silver, that you will consent to His overtures and will actually and really come to Him.

Are you lost, this morning? Then it is likely that you do not really understand the romance of redemption. However, those of us who know the Savior can look back from our vantage point of faith and see the steps taken by the Holy Spirit to get our attention, to overcome our prejudices, and to win our hearts to Jesus.

After you have trusted Him as your own personal Savior, you will see that He is trustworthy. You will also, in time, come to see how the Spirit of God sought you out and convinced you to come to Jesus.

My friend, come to Jesus today. But keep in mind, it is needful for you to respond quickly, before the Holy Spirit passes you by.



[1] C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT, Vol 6, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996), page 497.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Isaiah 54.1, 6; Jeremiah 3.1, 20

[4] John 3.29; Second Corinthians 11.2; Ephesians 5.22-32

[5] Proverbs 30.18-19



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org