5 comments on “Rebecca and the Bride

  1. Hi Carol:) I’m enjoying reading your blog. I like your comparison of this story as a picture of our relationship with God. I do have a question though, about one statement you made: “Since we know that the servant is a picture of the Ruach Hakodesh, we also know that the Ruach will never force us to follow him against our will.” We only “know” that the servant is a picture of the Holy Spirit because you have said it is. You have not shown in us that Scripture says this as well. I’m not saying you’re wrong—I’m just saying that it is only your observation, not a fact of Scripture. So I’m trying to see if Scripture would agree with your comparison. And that’s where my question comes in. I saw that quote above and thought of Romans 9. You probably know the chapter well. Paul talks about the very stories you are discussing (Abraham, Isaac and Rebekah), but he seems to say something different. Starting with verse 11, “though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she [Rebekah] was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.’ What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (vv 11-16). That last verse is the one that is giving me trouble with what you said. That verse seems to say that we cannot “will” our way to God. But it seems like you are saying that the Holy Spirit needs us to be willing before he can get us to follow him. Maybe I’m missing something, and hopefully you can clarify.
    Thanks Carol! Love your blog and your insight, keep it up:)
    Kyle

  2. There is no verse that says “this was the work of the Holy Spirit” just like there’s no verse that states God orchestrated the events in story of Esther. But we know who the players are because we are thinking and understanding as the Hebrews did – recognizing the work (or actions) of God and the Holy Spirit and not just going by the words which is Western or Greek-type thinking. This Western way of thinking and understanding is how most churches teach today and they miss out on so much because they are not understanding and teaching like the Hebrews did. When you think Hebraically and focus on the actions and recognize who is behind those actions, and look at related themes to get a fuller picture, then you have a deeper, richer understanding of God’s Word.

    As far as being called: Correct. We have no say-so on whom God will call because He decided before we were born who He was going to call. Being “called” is not a guarantee of salvation. It’s simply a call. Think of it like an invitation. He calls but we can decide whether or not we will accept, or if we will follow Him. Again, this is not something we do ourselves in that WE decide IF He will call us. He decides whom He’s going to call, but we have the option to accept or reject that call or invitation. If we didn’t have that option, then that would be force and we know that this is not the will and character of God. Forced love is not love.

    Having said that, I do not pretend to understand the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ in Gods’ decision -making. But I do know that He wishes that none would perish. That there are some people used for His glory be it for honor or dishonor. I don’t think anyone knows why He makes such decisions. But what we do know is that after He calls us, we can either accept or reject that calling to follow Him or not.

    When Yeshua started His ministry and the apostles followed Him, there were some that did not. One of the twelve that He chose was Judas and yet Judas betrayed Him. He was chosen but we know from the story that it didn’t end well. The parable of soils is another example of this – they follow for a time, then fell away which THEY are responsible for. Ruth is another example – she followed Naomi and “her God” (which is Yahweh our God) but she had a choice. She was “called” by God beforehand (before the world began Eph 1:4) and she had a choice whether or not to respond. There are many pictures of us accepting or rejecting salvation. But it is always God who does the calling in the first place. If we “decide” we want to follow Yeshua, then it is God who put that desire in us in the first place because no one seeks God on their own. (Rom 3:11)

    I don’t claim to have all the answers or even to be right. I’m just explaining things according to my understanding. There are many mysteries of God both hidden and revealed and I can only speak on matters that are revealed. We’ll gain greater understanding when Yeshua teaches us from His Holy Mountain! Can’t wait for that!!!!!

    Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. It’s nice to get into a real discussion with someone.

    • Hi Carol:) Thanks for the quick reply. It’s a privilege to be discussing these things with you as well.

      I agree that there is no statement in the book of Esther that says, “This is the work of the Holy Spirit.” And I agree that the book of Esther is a great example of God’s sovereignty in preserving his people. I think we only recognize who is “behind those actions,” because we can compare this story with other areas of Scripture that are similar AND that do say explicitly that God is the way he is. If we didn’t have some anchor in Scripture that tells us who God is than we would just be musing. I think it was in God’s providence that he did reveal himself to us in clear words that we can understand. Maybe we’re saying the same thing:)

      The reason I brought up Romans 9 is not only because it talks about the stories you are discussing, but also because it talks about our relationship with God. The context for Romans 8 is “those who are IN Christ Jesus” (8:1), and the context for Romans 9 is the same, “adoption” (9:4), and “children of God” (9:8). So the context for the passage that I quoted in my first comment was not “calling,” but adopting. The “it” in verse 16 is adoption, not calling. It seems not to say that our calling does not depend on human will, but that our full-fledged adoption does not depend on human will or exertion.

      I feel the same way about what you said about Ruth, that she was “called by God before the foundation of the world,” and the you quoted Ephesians 1:4. But that’s not what that verse says. Ephesians 1:4 says we were “chosen in him before the foundation of the world,” and verse 5 goes on to say that we were “predestined for adoption.” I don’t know where in the Bible it says that Ruth was “called;” it’s not in Ephesians 1:4, nor in the book of Ruth. Ruth was destitute and loyal to Naomi, she would have followed her no matter who Naomi’s god was. This is God’s providence to accept those who seek him, but I would hardly say Ruth was called.

      You also mentioned Judas. I think he was chosen to be a disciple—the disciple who would betray Jesus. That was part of God’s plan, which we know from Zechariah 11:12-13. God knew Judas would betray Jesus before Judas was born. I don’t see how that fits in the same category as the parable of the sower. The seed is the word, and the soils are those who hear the word, not those who are “called” or “chosen.” We can say with certainty that the parable of the sower applies directly to us. But we cannot say with certainty that the story of Judas applies to everyone who hears the word of God and does not follow Jesus. Judas seems to be the exception to the rule, not the norm. This seems similar to me as using the story of God telling Joseph to marry Mary as a rule for how to go about finding a spouse. It’s very rare, and it’s a story. It’s descriptive, not necessarily prescriptive. It must line up with what we see from Scripture that is written to us concerning that topic. As far as I know, Judas is the only example of someone being “chosen” by Jesus and then not following him. And he’s not just anybody; he’s part of the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

      You said that if we “decide” to follow Jesus, then it is God who put that desire in us. I completely agree. But you seem to steer away from that when you say that God does not force us to love him. So are you saying he gave us the desire to love him, but then we must decide if we want to make that our desire?

      God did for us what we could never have done for ourselves—he saved us from our sin by putting his Spirit into our hearts! Romans 10:10 says that it is with our hearts that we believe and are justified. What human heart (or mind) chooses to believe in God on their own? “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). 1 Corinthians 12:3 says that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” Well of course anyone can say the words, “Jesus is Lord,” so it’s not simply talking about saying those words. Paul’s talking about a confession of faith. And the order is clear: Holy Spirit, then confession. And in fact that language is used elsewhere (Romans 5:5; Acts 10:44).

      It’s a mystery that human responsibility and God’s sovereignty can coexist. But I think Scripture makes it clear we accept God’s invitation because he puts his Spirit in our hearts, or we reject God’s invitation because he has not given us his Spirit. The same is true for ALL our actions (Romans 9:19-24). God uses us as he pleases, like a potter uses clay. And I think that includes salvation, as the context of Romans 9 would suggest. God endured with much patience the vessels of wrath (those who do not accept salvation), which he prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of God’s glory for vessels of mercy (those who do accept salvation), which he prepared beforehand for glory. A plain reading of these verses does not seem to put the weight on our response to God’s invitation, but rather on God, who has mercy. “Even us[Gentiles] whom he has called” (there’s that word again), he will say to us, “Those who were not my people, I will call ‘my people.'” And if you know the story of Hosea, it wasn’t because the people did anything right; it was only because of God’s mercy that he chose them as his people.

      I love what you said, “I don’t claim to have all the answers or even to be right. I’m just explaining things according to my understanding.” I am humbled by your humility, and I will respectfully use those same statements of myself. And if any of what I have said sounds as though I am speaking definitively or authoritatively, I am not. Here on earth I will always be searching out matters, and standing in awe of the God who has concealed them (Proverbs 25:2). I am grateful for your willingness to help me grow and learn more about the great God whom we serve, and I wait with wonderful anticipation for the time when we will be face to face with Jesus as well!

      Filled with joy to be conversing with you:)
      In His love,
      Kyle

  3. Wow, what an amazing way to look at this. I love how we can read scripture thousands of times and every time the LORD shows us deeper things. This is awesome ! God bless you (:

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