Things Written Aforetime: Written for Our Learning

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Some people have mistakenly thought that the Bible is simply a collection of historical material; this is not correct, for there is much history that it passes over entirely, or that it touches but very briefly, while it contains detailed accounts of things which would not rate a line in men's histories. For instance, Alexander the Great and all his mighty exploits are but meagerly mentioned. In Daniel 8, his rise, his conquests, and his decease are covered in about 5 verses; but God often enlarges on some personal, or domestic scene. In Genesis, God takes up the history of a man by the name of Abraham, and devotes almost fourteen chapters to it. Why is this? The answer is to be found in these words: "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." Rom. 15:44For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4). God has some lessons to teach us in this record of Abraham, if we have ears to hear.
Now let us examine some parts of the life of Abraham. In Genesis 22 we find God testing his faith. God had given him a son in his old age, and Abraham loved him dearly—his only son. In this chapter God instructs him to go to a certain place and offer this beloved son as a burnt offering—what a great test of faith and obedience! It must have torn Abraham's heart very much, but he started out in simple obedience to do as he had been told. God, however, stopped him short of actually offering his son, and provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac.
The testing of Abraham is often mentioned by infidels as though God sanctioned the offering of human sacrifices, but this is not true. God stoutly condemned any such act, but He had a lesson to teach us (as well as Abraham) in the trial of Abraham's faith. God wanted to express to us something of the great cost to Himself in the giving of His only begotten Son. God loved poor, guilty, ruined sinners, but His absolute holiness prevented Him from showing mercy until He had a way to do it righteously. This was accomplished when God sent His well-beloved, His only begotten Son into this world, and allowed wicked men to crucify Him; then on the cross in those three hours of darkness God poured out on His sinless head the judgment due to sins, so that He might be able to come out and save guilty sinners, and yet be righteous. Thus we see that Genesis 22 is more than history; it is an unfolding of the heart of God in a type. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).
Then in chapter 24 we find Abraham thinking and acting to procure for that son of his love, the one who had been in the place of death on the altar, a wife, a companion suited to him. This is the longest chapter in Genesis, and one of the longest in the Old Testament; and it is all devoted to a man getting a wife. Now why should God enter into such details of this family scene? simply to tell us that He is interested in His Son having a bride. It reminds us of the parable in Matthew 22, where it says, "A certain king... made a marriage for his son." The chief and central object of the type in Genesis 24, and of the parable in Matthew 22, is to unfold God's purposes that the Son of His love should be honored and be happy in receiving His bride.
That beloved One had to go into death, the death of the cross, before He could have a bride. He was the "corn of wheat" that had to fall into the ground and die before He could bring forth "much fruit," and see of the travail of His soul. After the work of redemption was accomplished through His death and blood-shedding, He ascended up on high and sat down on the right hand of God, and there He is at present. Then the Holy Spirit came down to seek a bride for Him, just as Abraham's servant, following his directions, went into another land to seek a bride for Isaac. Abraham's servant went about his mission with all diligence, and allowed nothing to hinder him from carrying out his instructions. He went to find the bride, and to woo and to win her heart to the one who had been in the place of death, and who had been given all the riches of Abraham. This faithful servant produced gifts which were evidences of the riches of Abraham and of Isaac, and gave them to Rebekah as the token and pledge of the love of one whom she had not yet seen.
After Rebekah heard of all the glories of Isaac, she was pointedly asked, "Wilt thou go with this man?" Her answer was a clear and precise affirmative, "I will go." She did not figure out what it would cost her to go, for her heart was won, and love does not calculate. Immediately she began the long journey through the desert to her beloved bridegroom, the servant conducting her all the way.
Today the Spirit of God is in this world seeking out a bride for Christ, the One who had to die to put her sins away so that He could have her. The Holy Spirit is here to tell of the death, resurrection, and glory of Christ, and to woo and win the hearts of sinners to Him who loved them. And may we ask this question of each one here today, Has your heart been won to the Lord Jesus? What is
He to you? Do you know Him as the One who loved you and died on the cross to save you? Has your heart responded to the loving query, "Wilt thou go with this man?" If you can say, "He died for me," you will also say, "I will go." You cannot know Him without loving Him, and you cannot love Him without a desire to be with Him.
It is strikingly significant that the first time we have Jove mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 22, where it is Abraham's love to Isaac; the second time is in Genesis 24, where it is Isaac's love to his bride—Rebekah. The former faintly pictures to our souls the love of God to His Son, even to Him whom He delivered up for us all; and the latter feebly tells of the great love of Christ to the Church, His bride. For while in the type Isaac was first on the altar in the place of death before he received his bride, it could not be said of him as of our blessed Lord, "Christ... loved the church and gave Himself for it." Eph. 5:2525Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25).
Now let us turn to the last book of the Bible, Revelation 21, where we see a beautiful future scene. The Church, those of this age who are saved and sheltered by the precious blood of Christ, is seen coming down out of heaven "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (v. 2). This brings before us what the Church is to be to Christ. She will be beautiful because He Himself has made her so, and all her beauty is to be for Him, and for Him alone. We always like to see a bride; a bride is beautiful, but here all her adornment is for her husband. It will be her delight to be fully and forever for Him. Fellow Christian, what a glorious time awaits us—to be adorned as He would have us, and all be for Himself. May our hearts leap with joy at the thought of being thus prepared for Him who loves us and gave Himself for us. There will not be a spot or blemish to mar that perfection which is for Him.
Then in the ninth verse of this same chapter we read another prophetic utterance: "Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife." Here the emphasis is on the "Lamb's wife." This is a glory that others may and will see, for she is here displayed "having the glory of God." We shall share in all His glory; and while our beauty will be for Himself, there will also be the public display that we are His.
Just as Rebekah was for Isaac alone, his bride, and the one necessary to his happiness, so we who are saved shall be for Christ, fully in keeping with all He is; and, what is more, we shall be necessary to Him also. "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." Isa. 53:1111He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11). Then as Rebekah was made one with Isaac and so possessed of all his great riches with him, so we shall be "the Lamb's wife," and share all His riches and glory. Rebekah had not been to the altar with Isaac; he was there alone (except for Abraham, who had the fire and the knife, the symbols of judgment), but she was brought to him later to satisfy his heart, and share all his possessions. So the Lord Jesus was there alone on the cross in those three awful hours of darkness, except that God was there in judgment on sin; but we are to be brought to Him as the fruit of His toil and sorrow, to satisfy His affections, and share His glory.
When Rebekah neared the end of her wilderness journey, she "lifted up her eyes" to look for Isaac; he was out watching and looking for her. Then she lighted off the camel—the ship of the desert, which was needed no more. Our wilderness journey is about over; may "we lift our wishful, longing eyes," waiting to see His blessed face.