Genesis 2011 - Lesson 24B

Chapter 24:12-27

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  • As a father, Abraham is taking seriously his responsibility to find a wife for his son, Isaac

    • A lot is riding on this union, since Isaac will be the one to continue the seed line of God’s promise

      • From Isaac’s family eventually the Messiah will come into the world

        • And Isaac’s wife must be as acceptable to God as Isaac Himself

      • And equally important, Abraham’s own testimony demands that he seek a daughter-in-law in keeping with his faith in God’s word

    • So Abraham enlists his servant to find the perfect wife for his son

      • Abraham refuses to leave the land God has given him, as a sign of his faith in God’s word

      • And he also refuses to let his son leave either

        • So the marriage will be an arranged marriage

      • Like the young boy who said to his father: Dad I hear in some countries, the man doesn’t know his wife until after he marries her

        • And the dad answered, “Son that happens in every country.”

  • The servant entered the town of Abraham’s family and waited by the well with no idea of how to find the right woman according to God’s desire

    • So he does the only thing he can do…he appeals to God for direction

      • The servant sets up a test that he hopes will give him clarity concerning God’s will

Gen. 24:12 He said, “O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. 
Gen. 24:13 “Behold, I am standing by the  spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; 
Gen. 24:14 now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and  who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’ — may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.” 
Gen. 24:15  Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder. 
Gen. 24:16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. 
Gen. 24:17 Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” 
Gen. 24:18  She said, “Drink, my lord”; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink. 
Gen. 24:19 Now when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.” 
Gen. 24:20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels. 
  • The servant’s test is guaranteed to leave no possibility of a mistake

    • He asks God to send a woman who is willing not only to offer a strange man a drink of water, but she will also water 10 thirsty camels

      • This means spending considerable time drawing and carrying water to the tune of 250 or more gallons of water

      • The odds of finding such a woman were minuscule

      • And if you did find such a woman, you should marry her!

    • Then notice the grace of God at work

      • Even before he finished speaking, Rebecca was walking toward the servant

    • Isn’t God’s faithfulness and love for his children wonderful?

      • The servant was still in the midst of making his appeal to God

        • I wonder if he was focused on how to form his words, to ensure that God was listening

        • Maybe he was closing his eyes extra tight as he prayed

        • Perhaps he was suppressing doubts over whether God would honor his request – or even if God was listening at all

      • And Rebekah was already walking toward the well even as the servant was speaking

    • When did Rebekah start walking to that well I wonder?

      • She might have been on the road for the better part of an hour

        • And even before that, Rebekah was destined to be born on a certain day in a certain place so that she would be here on the day appointed

        • Moreover, she is the one Abraham desired, the granddaughter of his brother

      • So God had been at work bringing her to the servant before the servant even thought to propose his test

    • Let this story be an encouragement to you in your prayer life

      • While we are working hard to find the right words to speak in making our requests before God, He is already at work

      • And as Jesus taught in the Gospels, the Father knows what we need even before we ask

      • So as we get up off our knees, have confidence that God is already at work answering

        • Whether we see that answer in the moment or perhaps in a future day, God is in control

  • As the servant looked up he saw Rebekah approaching the well

    • She was beautiful, and Moses tells us that she had never been with a man

      • This made her the perfect candidate for Isaac

      • Of course, the servant knew nothing more than what his eyes could behold

        • But he didn’t need to know anything about the woman

        • He had prayed to the Lord with a test that would remove any doubt in the process

  • So the servant ran to her to put his test into action

    • He asks her for a drink of water from her jar, as his test required

      • Rebekah then proceeds to grant his request, followed by an offer to water all the camels

      • And the text describes how Rebekah moved with speed and haste, drawing water and rushing to fill the trough of the camels

    • The servant had asked that the right woman be the one willing to do the work of watering 10 camels

      • But as God answered this prayer, He added speed to the picture

      • The text says she ran back and forth from the well and quickly emptied her jar

        • The Hebrew verbs communicate haste in every step

        • It’s as if God went well beyond the requirement to make sure the servant understood the message

      • It reminds me of what Paul said in describing the God we serve

Eph. 3:20  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 
Eph. 3:21  to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. 
  • So what do you suppose the servant expects to happen next?

    • I’m guessing he expected to see many young women walk away without saying a word or just politely refuse

      • Maybe a few would agree to give him water but no more

      • He probably expects to get his fill of water before hoping to find that one woman God has appointed

    • Whatever the servant was expecting, I can tell you what he wasn’t expecting

      • He wasn’t expecting the very first woman he selected to be the one who passed his test

      • Why do I know this? Well, look at his reaction

Gen. 24:21  Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence, to know whether the LORD had made his journey successful or not. 
  • The servant just stood there mesmerized by what he saw

    • The Hebrew word for gaze appears only here in the Bible

      • It means to stare in wonder

    • And the servant says nothing

    • And he watches, wondering if the Lord has indeed made his journey a success

  • I think it’s safe to say that this servant is surprised to see his search come to an end so quickly

    • And it’s obvious God didn’t want him to miss the sign

    • This is the God we serve…a God Who makes sure we know His will, One Who delights to answer prayers of an obedient heart

      • And we will often be caught off guard at how powerfully God will respond to confirm His will

  • If we dig a little deeper, we’ll also find a beautiful picture developing in this story, and it’s time we began to uncover it

    • Remember back in Chapter 22 we saw how the Bible established Isaac as a picture of Christ, and with him Abraham became a picture of God the Father

      • The son of Abraham has become a picture of the Son of God in the story of Genesis

        • The writer of Hebrews confirmed this picture for us

      • And now in this story, the picture is being built further, and new signs are being incorporated

    • So to apply those pictures to this story, we’ve been watching the Father seeking a Bride for His Son

      • And working for the Father we have a servant, seeking the Bride on behalf of the Son

    • Now as the servant comes upon a prospective bride, notice how the relationship develops

      • The servant is bringing an offer to the woman

        • She could have responded positively to the opportunity

        • Or she could have responded negatively

      • The servant waits to learn by her response what the Lord had decided

        • If the Lord decided to make his journey a success

        • Or would this invitation fall on deaf ears

    • When the servant sees her response, the servant knows the Lord has brought him success

Gen. 24:22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels in gold, 
Gen. 24:23 and said, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room for us to lodge in your father’s house?” 
Gen. 24:24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 
Gen. 24:25 Again she said to him, “We have plenty of both straw and feed, and room to lodge in.” 
Gen. 24:26 Then the man bowed low and worshiped the LORD. 
Gen. 24:27 He said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.” 
  • His first response may seem a bit unusual to us, but it was in keeping with custom

    • The servant produces a gold ring and two gold bracelets and gives these gifts to Rebekah

      • At this moment, he has betrothed her in marriage

        • These gifts are symbols of a marriage proposal

        • The servant makes the proposal on behalf of Isaac even before he knows whether Rebekah is related to Abraham

      • Effectively, the woman is married, though there is still the matter of the bride price

        • If the price wasn’t acceptable to the family, then the proposal would be null and void

        • But at this point, the woman is spoken for and it’s only a matter of a little negotiation to bring about the final result

    • Obviously, the servant is operating entirely on faith based on God’s powerful answer to his test

      • This woman did everything he asked in his prayer, so the servant knows she is the right wife

        • He never even asks her name, because her identity is irrelevant

        • In fact, her identity is about to change anyway

        • She is about to become known as Isaac’s wife

    • But there is still the matter of negotiating a marriage price with her family

      • So the servant asks for her name and family identification

      • And he inquires about whether there would be room for him to stay in their home during the negotiations

  • Rebekah responds saying she is the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother and she welcomes the servant into her home

    • At the news, the servant is overwhelmed by God’s grace and power

      • He immediately bows and worships the Lord

      • And he declares his amazement that God directed him to the exact person – the one person in all the world – that Abraham had wanted the servant to find

    • Do you know this feeling?  I do!

      • Those moments when we see the handwriting of God in some circumstance in our lives

        • When we come to that instant recognition that while we were oblivious to God’s work, nevertheless He was working all the while

      • I’ve seen so many of those moments in my life, but they never cease to amaze

      • But when we have one of those ah-ha moments watching God at work, do we remember to stop in our tracks and bow and worship Him?

        • Isn’t that the point whenever God reveals Himself to us? That we acknowledge His work in our life and thank Him for His grace and mercy?

        • If we don’t do it in the moment, we’re unlikely to do it enough

  • So how does this moment fit into our picture of Christ and the Father?

    • Scripture tells us that when the Father in Heaven desires to find a Bride for His Son, He likewise went into the world

      • But notice that the Son is at home with His Father in the Heavenly Throne Room

        • And the Father has determined that His Son will not travel to the Bride’s home to make the proposal in person

        • Instead, the Father relies on His Servant to search and find the Bride

          • The Bride of Christ is the Church of believers living in the world

    • The Father’s Servant travels to the world bringing the offer of a marriage proposal to all who have ears to hear

      • We’re given the opportunity to respond to the invitation

        • And the Servant is watching to see how we’ll respond

      • When a favorable response comes, the Servant interprets our response as an indication that God the Father has appointed us to be the Bride

      • And the Servant then confirms our response by bestowing upon us gifts from the Father as a downpayment on our marriage 

        • These gifts ensure we are set apart from any other relationships and reserved for our Groom

        • The gifts are also a small down payment on the great inheritance we will receive in the new family we’re joining

    • Scripture assures us of all these things

2Cor. 1:21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 
2Cor. 1:22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. 
Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were  sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 
Eph. 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. 
Rom. 12:6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;
  • All this happens without the Son’s direct involvement or presence
    • His Bride is prepared in advance and readied for Him on a future day when they will meet

  • Can you see the picture developing in all its detail and glory?

    • And can you tell who the servant pictures in this story?

      • Interestingly, Abraham’s servant is never named in this story

      • That’s unusual since the servant’s role is so central to this long, detailed story

      • Furthermore, we know his name from an earlier chapter: Eliezer 

      • So why didn’t Moses use his name here, at least once?

    • We’re left to conclude that the servant is remaining unnamed purposely

      • And the absence of a name serves to confirm the Person the servant represents in the story

        • The Servant represents the Spirit of God in His role to bring the message of the Gospel to the hearts of men

        • And as men respond, the Spirit bestows gifts to establish a covenant between His Master and the prospective Bride of Christ

    • Whenever the Spirit is pictured in the Bible, the character is never named

      • We can find a similar pattern in another story that pictures Christ and the Spirit working together

        • When Boaz is introduced to his future wife in the story of Ruth, the introductions are made by a nameless servant of Boaz

      • By keeping the Spirit nameless, His proper place is preserved

        • The Bible describes the Spirit as an Actor behind the scenes, invisible but active

John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
  • As believers, we’ve never seen the face of Christ nor have we encountered the Spirit in a form we can see or touch

    • Nevertheless, we know we have been wedded to our future husband

      • And by grace we were found when we weren’t looking for a Savior

      • The Spirit asked us a question and we agreed before we even knew what we were getting into

      • Because our response came as a result of the Father’s gracious work to bring us into this relationship

    • And we’ve received gifts that we show to each other and to the world that identify us with our future groom

      • And we anxiously await the day we will meet Him face to face