If It Be So, Why Am I Thus?
Genesis 25:22 — “And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”
Our opening Scripture deals with Rebekah, who, 20 years earlier, was miraculously chosen by the Holy Spirit as the bride for Isaac.
A servant, Eliezer (and a type of the Holy Spirit), was sent by Abraham to find a wife for his son. Eliezer understood the importance of his task and so prayed to the Lord for help and guidance.
“And it came to pass, before he [Eliezer] had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up” (Gen. 24:15-16).
The Bible describes Rebekah as beautiful, chaste, and hardworking. And, when her family asked her this pivotal question: “Will you go with this man?” she immediately answered, “I will go”— a reply that gives us an added glimpse into Rebekah’s heart.
We find that her commitment was even greater than that of Isaac’s, as mentioned in my husband’s book, Great Women Of The Bible, Old Testament. While Isaac would be able to remain with his family to the end of his days, Rebekah would have to leave her family back in Haran would actually never see them again. So her decision was to leave all for a man she’d never seen.1
Her combination of attributes were—both physically and spiritually—so beautiful that the bride Rebekah has been compared to the church—the bride of Christ:
“This is a picture of what the Lord expects the church to be. In His eyes, the church is beautiful. As well, the Lord expects the church to follow Him exclusively and not depend on self or other people, which He will always look at as “spiritual adultery” (Rom. 7:1-4).”2
Clearly Rebekah and her family believed that her engagement to Isaac was of God, but it still must have been a tearful goodbye as she parted—permanently—from her loved ones.
The Bible says, “And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men. And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, You are our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let your seed possess the gate of those which hate them” (Gen. 24:60).
About this phrase, “thousands of millions,” Ellicott’s Commentary says, “A million was a number which at this early period the Hebrews had no means of expressing.”3
On this same phrase, The Expositor’s Study Bible says: “Little did they [Rebekah’s family] realize the staggering numbers they presented would in fact come to pass. Every single person who has ever come to Christ is a part of these “thousands of millions.” As well, her ‘Seed,’ the Lord Jesus Christ, has “possessed the gate” of all enemies, signifying total victory in every capacity.”
So, whether she fully realized it or not, Rebekah had an important role in God’s covenant promise to Abraham:
“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Gen. 17:6).
God’s promise was true, but after nearly 20 years of marriage to Isaac, she still had no children. Rebekah was barren. Why?
As my husband has said, God wanted Isaac to continue to believe Him, to not give up, and to not lose heart. In other words, this was a test of faith, as all things, as it pertains to believers, are tests of faith. And the Lord’s reasoning behind the barrenness of Rebekah? Among other things, it was to show that the children of promise were to be not simply the fruit of nature, but the gift of grace.
“And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren:” (Gen. 25:21).
Bible scholars tell us that Isaac’s prayers, over the course of these 20 years, were fervent, frequent, and continual. There is also indication that Isaac prayed in the presence of his wife, or even prayed with her, as you could imagine they would, as so much was at stake.
Matthew Henry says, “Isaac and Rebekah kept in view the promise of all nations being blessed in their posterity, therefore were not only desirous of children, but anxious concerning every thing which seemed to mark their future character. In all our doubts we should inquire of the Lord by prayer.”3
“…and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Gen. 25:21)
You can imagine how, after 20 long years of waiting, the indescribable joy and thankfulness to God that Isaac and Rebekah must have experienced!
And yet, some time into this pregnancy, things take a turn. Rebekah’s curiosity, physical discomforts, and possible fears, push her to ask the question, “If it be so, why am I thus?”
To her comment, The Expositor’s Study Bible says, “[Rebekah’s question] could be paraphrased, ‘If, in answer to prayer, God is about to give me the joy of being a mother, why am I so physically oppressed that I am in danger of death?’ It must indeed have appeared perplexing to her that such an answer to prayer should be accompanied by such mysterious suffering.”
“And she went to enquire of the LORD …” (Gen. 25:23).
Now think about the magnitude of this situation leading up to this moment. My husband summarizes it this way:
“Twenty years is a long time. But Isaac didn’t give up. During this time, he kept entreating the Lord to heal Rebekah, that she might be able to conceive and to bear children. As well, even through he and his wife naturally wanted children, and wanted them very much, the real reason was far more important. The birth of a son to this union was just as important as Isaac’s birth had been as it regarded his father and mother, Abraham and Sarah. For the plan of God to be brought forth, which pertains to the redemption of all mankind, Isaac and Rebekah would have to have a son.”4
And so we find Rebekah, standing on the timeline of God’s redemption plan for all of mankind, asking the Lord a question that children of God still ask: “If it be so, why am I thus?”
Like Rebekah, every Christian was sought after by the Holy Spirit and made beautiful and pure by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And, when asked, Will you go with Him? believers make that heartfelt decision to leave everything behind and begin the bridal trek toward Christ and His promises. But not long into the journey, things take a turn, and the test of faith begins.
“And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in your womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people Lord); and the elder shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23).
My husband likens her twins to two energies—the one believing and the other unbelieving—struggled within her and were present even before they were born. He said, “It’s like the two natures—the sin nature and the divine nature—within the believer. So, as we had in the union of Abraham and Sarah the beginning of the divine plan, we have with Isaac and Rebekah the opposition to that divine plan.”5
If Rebekah is a type of the church, then as Christians, we, too, stand on the timeline of God’s redemption plan for winning souls to Christ. Many, if not most, will laugh and mock, but some will accept, and all who do accept the Lord will prove to be a light in the darkness.
ACCEPTANCE OF THE LORD
I want to close this article with the following words from my husband’s newest book, Hezekiah, which tie in so nicely here:
“Why do some accept and some reject? Why will some few have a heart toward God if given the opportunity, while others given the same opportunity will reject? Why did Jacob love the Lord and Esau rebel against the Lord, considering they were brothers—even twins? No one has the answers to those questions. One thing we do know: God does not force the issue. He will deal with man, speak to man, and move upon man, but He will not force man to do anything. Man is a free moral agent. He has the capacity to say yes or to say no, at least as it regards the acceptance or rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”6
1 Great Women Of The Bible Old Testament, pg. 135.
2 Great Women Of The Bible Old Testament, pg. 116.
3 Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, Genesis, 24:60.
4 Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Genesis 25:21.
5 Jimmy Swaggart Bible Commentary, Genesis, pg. 405.
6 Swaggart, Jimmy. Hezekiah.