Genesis 24: From One Generation to the Next
January 9, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
A beautiful story, but what are we to learn from it? Abraham makes his servant promise to find a wife for his son from a member of his own tribe and clan (24:1-9). Immediately, we sense the significance with which Abraham attaches to keeping the promises of God going from generation to generation. In the New Testament Paul tells the Corinthians that they are free to marry whomever they wish as long as she/he is “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39). A union with an unbeliever can certainly be redeemed by the Lord—God is gracious and merciful—but it is not to be planned; instead, we are to seek to find someone who is a good fit and who is a fellow passionate seeker after God, a real regenerate Christian.
The story unfolds in dramatic fashion. The servant prays a “fleece” prayer, asking God to show him his will by means of a particular sign, but this prayer is also a prayer to mark out a suitable woman by her willingness to serve (24:10-14). She would water the servant and also his camel! Camels are not known for their minimal requirements when it comes to liquid; watering a camel could be an arduous task.
Rebekah is humble, gentle, willing to help, hospitable, and she comes from the right clan (24:15-28). Her brother Laban, who appears later in the story of Genesis to be less generous with giving away his daughter than he was with his sister (Genesis 29), entertains the servant (24:29-33), listens to the story (24:34-49), and discerns that the event (and the marriage to come) is “from the Lord” (24:50-51). Marriage is not to be entered lightly, but carefully, after sober reflection, prayer, counsel from wise fellow Christians, and with a desire to honor Jesus through all. This marriage was “from the Lord.”
Rebekah returns (24:52-61), her name synonymous at this point in the account with beauty, humility, and gentility. She notices Isaac, inquires who he is, and after discovering he is her husband-to-be, covers herself, and in meekness becomes his wife. Isaac takes her into the tent of Sarah, and is comforted after the death of his mother by God’s provision of a wife (24:62-67).
A beautiful story, albeit with a preponderance of assumptions regarding the appropriateness of arranged marriages which might make some in the West uncomfortable. Note that no one is forced to marry. It is Rebekah’s choice, and Isaac’s, but the older generation help them along the way to discover each other. Matchmaking is not wrong, as long as it is not needlessly interfering, and as long as the couple involved in the end make their own choice to make a covenant with each other.
God here sovereignly preserves the “seed” through which will come the Savior, the serpent-crusher. He has the power to provide, to save, so let us then pray, trust, and seek to follow the Lord from one generation to the next.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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