Genesis 24:1-6, 10 – This is one of the nicest pictures we have in all the Bible of the gospel story. It is a story that has several characters and each plays a very vital part. The first character is the father and that is a type of God in heaven. The second character is his son and that is a type of Jesus. The third character is the servant and that is a type of the New Testament ministry and the fourth character is the bride and that is a type of God’s people, who will one day be united forever with Jesus, the Bridegroom of their soul.
Some other characters play a very important part and I would like to focus on them tonight: the 10 camels. How do they fit into the story? What is the part they play? What is their importance? You children, maybe, know quite a bit about camels. Camels are pretty miserable characters. They bite and they kick and they spit and those who have been close to them say they stink. The camel is known as “the ship of the desert,” because it walks differently than other 4-legged animals. A cow or dog walks by basically, moving diagonally opposite legs. When a camel walks, it throws its whole body over and moves both legs on the one side at the same time and it has this rocking action as it walks along swaying. Some people, when they ride on camels, get seasick!
How do the camels fit into the story? Camels are a type of the repulsive side of the gospel of Christ, a type of the repulsive side of the teachings of Jesus. In the verses we read, when the story begins, we read about the servant taking 10 camels of the camels of his master, just a small portion of the number his master possessed, just enough to get the job done. A number of camels stayed behind with the father. Maybe, the first thing we can consider in connection with the repulsive side of the gospel is the repulsive side from heaven’s standpoint. I was reading through some samples of the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 and there are some awfully repulsive things to this flesh of mine that has to do with the gospel of Christ in these teachings of Jesus. The second thought was, what about the repulsive side of this to the God of heaven? The thing the father said to the servant, he underlined it crystal clear: “bring not my son down again.”
We have heard it already at this convention. We have had it very clearly portrayed, the cost to heaven to give Jesus to us. But there was something about the very method by which God would give salvation to men and women that to the God of heaven, it was not easy. It would have gone against all that was in the nature and heart and love of that hallowed being in heaven. To think of taking His Son from home. He had had fellowship in all eternity in the courts of heaven and heaven would be emptied of that blessed presence for an extended period of time and God would be alone in the courts of heaven without the fellowship of His dear Son. That must have been repulsive to the heart of God, like the camels yet in the presence of the Father. The repulsion in the heart of God, coming to terms with this plan. “It has got to be my Son, no one else can pay the price, He’s got to go.” Not only that separation, but God watching those years and how that Son was treated and mistreated, rejected by most, God watching from heaven, that innocent boy of His was nailed with cruel intent, to the cross of Calvary. What a repulsive thing to the heart of God – a lot more repulsion as far as what God had to deal with than ever we would be asked to face. If, in connection with the gospel of Jesus, you feel repulsion, your flesh rejects Jesus, we absolutely must think of what it must have been to the Father in heaven. “Don’t bring down my Son again -once is enough, I couldn’t handle it again.”
So the servant took the 10 camels and began to make a journey of step after step after step, many kilometres out across that barren stretch to where the bride would be waiting. The first thing to remember in connection with the repulsive side of the teachings of Jesus and the gospel, of course, is that first of all the ministry has to develop a close relationship with that repulsive teaching. That is why the harvest is great and the labourers few, because human flesh shuns that repulsive teaching. There are a lot of preachers not going like Jesus sent, not backed by heaven, 2 and 2 and in faith, without guaranteed support. Just having confidence in God and His leading is repulsive to the flesh. It must be that the ministry has a close association with the repulsive side of the gospel of Christ. Step after step, that servant crossed that desert, took steps day after day after day, a close relationship with those camels, stinking, kicking, swaying brutes, but first of all the ministry must be connected with that side.
Verse II: Miles have been traveled. The ground has been covered and now he is in the presence of the potential bride. He made his camels kneel down by the well outside the city, the time that women go out to draw water and then he prayed. What his prayer basically was: “I am going to ask one of the women that come here to give me a drink and if that woman I ask gives me a drink and then says: ‘Let me water the camels also,’ then I will know that this is the one heaven has chosen.” The woman came to the well. The servant asked for a drink and she gave him one and then, without any prompting on his part, an answer to his prayer, because of what was in her, she said: “I will water your camels also.” Thirsty camels can drink a lot of water 20 gallons or say, 80 litres, a lot of water for one camel. These camels had just journeyed a long, long way across the desert and this woman said: “I will water your camels” and there seemed to be no hesitation in her action. She has watered one, then another. To water 10 thirsty camels, a bucketful at a time, she raced back and forth to water those camels. There are times of the year when a camel doesn’t drink any water, it lives off the water in the vegetation itself, maybe in more lush times of the year.
One characteristic of a camel is it only drinks as much water as it needs. We might think: what a big job to ask of this woman, to water the camels, but in connection with the side of the teaching of Jesus that might be repulsive to our flesh, that teaching doesn’t ask of us one bit more than is absolutely necessary to get the job done. If it’s thirsty, the camel drinks it, but if not, it doesn’t. These teachings of Jesus that go against my grain are only asking as much as is necessary to get the job done. This woman, without any hesitation watered those 10 thirsty camels.
We read about the brother of the woman chosen. (Verse 29-30) Thank God that in the world today, there is still a ministry that is “standing by the camels.” Of all the corruption that is taking place today, especially the corruption of God’s Word. Ignoring it, there is a ministry in the world today that still stands by the camels, being closely associated with something that is so repulsive to so many there is still in the world today, a ministry that stands firmly by the teaching of Jesus. Verse 31: In this ministry, we are such debtors. We can scarcely put into words what debtors we are. Since coming to these grounds, I personally, individually, have been waited on hand and foot by brother workers, sister workers and you folk. If we need a cup of tea, a drink of water, every bit of it has been supplied. We are debtors. We, in this ministry, so much appreciate your kindness and your care and hospitality and you know what matters more than that? It is whether or not you are making room for the camels. It is one thing to give us a place. It’s another thing yet to give room to the camels. They take more space than we do and are more important than we are, the precious teachings of Jesus, willing for the conditions – it means more to us and to the heart of God in heaven than your care expressed to us in this ministry.
Verse 32: There was some provision given. There was straw and provender. The straw had to do with comfort, some being for the camels and the provender for the camels to feed on. The teachings of Jesus are looking for room and for something to feed on and they get that only from the hearts of men and women.
John 4: The disciples went to get food and Jesus had a special visit with this woman. Jesus said “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” What was it that was feeding the heart of Jesus? It was that wonderful response to His teaching, to His Spirit, even the repulsive side of it. It was the wonderful response in that woman that fed Him. That is what is provender for the camels.
Verse 32: “ungirded”.. They were carrying a burden, a load. Speaking in the last meeting of convention isn’t something anyone would choose, because you can’t get rid of your load until the last meeting. Could you consider the load in the teaching Jesus brought, something pure, straight, and true, from heaven. When it was delivered, the burden was removed. When Jesus got the job finished and bowed His head, gave up the ghost, what a cost to bring the load, but the load was removed, because it had been delivered to the ones who would receive it.
Verse 61: Rebekah had made her choice. She said 3 words: “I will go.” Rebekah arose, Rebekah and her damsels got up on these camels. Those camels were going to take her into the presence of her bridegroom, one repulsive step at a time. A woman – those kinds of beasts, maybe she was seasick, across the desert, but the servant was there. He had already made that journey alone and now he was making the return journey. Every step she was taking she submitted, every step we take in surrender to the repulsive side of the gospel of Jesus is a step closer to the bridegroom.
The end of the story. Isaac went out (Verse 63), that wasn’t the rust time the bridegroom was out there looking, I can just picture that man, evening after evening looking off where the beasts would be coming. He would be saying: “I wonder if there is one who would be willing to be associated with the repulsive side of the gospel of Jesus?” This evening he could see way off in the distance, the swaying camels. Finally, they would draw closer and you can picture the wonderful joy: “Yes, there is one!” Jesus is waiting for the return of what to many is so repulsive. Is there one? Are there some who are going to be willing for these conditions, a boy or girl, a man or woman.
The very last part of the story (Verse 64). That is the last we read of the camels. There is coming a day when those who have been associated closely with the repulsive side of the gospel of Jesus, will be forever in the presence of the bridegroom and on that day, the camels will be set aside forever. The thing that makes Jesus’ teaching cost us, this gospel repulsive to me and to you is selfish human flesh. There is coming a day, if we have submitted ourselves to that teaching, when selfish flesh will be put aside there forever. We want to be there.