Commemorative Article for our 24th Anniversary Thanksgiving
As we commemorate the 24th Anniversary of our Church, I’ll like us to briefly consider the 24th Chapter of Genesis. This chapter is the longest in Genesis and it contains the longest speech in the whole book. In it, Moses tells us about how a wife was found for Isaac and in the process, we learn something about God’s guidance of His people and God’s faithfulness to them from generation to generation.
The events of this chapter take place about three years after the death of Sarah. Abraham gave his servant the great task of finding a wife for his son Isaac from among his relatives in Mesopotamia. He specifically instructed his servant and even made him swear not to take a wife from among the Canaanites.
Abraham recognised that while marriage was essential for the continuity of the covenant, the wrong kind of marriage could easily destroy their faithfulness to the covenant. All of us, especially our youth and young people, need to bear that in mind and learn this lesson well. The wrong kind of marriage can easily destroy our faithfulness to the covenant.
And so in obedience to Abraham’s instruction, his servant headed off in a northerly direction and arrived in Mesopotamia at the city of Nahor. The first place he went to was the well of water outside the city. Verse 11 tells us that it was evening when he got there, and it was during that cooler time of the day that the women went out to draw water. The servant must have thought to himself, “Perhaps one of the women who came to the well would be a suitable wife for Isaac. But which one?”
And so he prayed fervently, asking the LORD to give him good success that day in his mission, and in so doing, to show His covenant loving-kindness to his master. But the servant didn’t stop there. He went on to ask the LORD to give him a clear sign of his guidance, and then he concluded his prayer by again requesting the Lord to show covenant lovingkindness to Abraham.
It is clear that this servant was a true believer for not only did he pray earnestly to God, he also demonstrated a great regard for God’s covenant. He was greatly desirous that God’s covenant promise to Abraham regarding the seed be fulfilled, and he was happy to be an instrument in God’s hand for its fulfilment.
Well, verse 15 says, “And it came to pass, before he 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.” The words “before he had done speaking…” remind us of Isaiah 65:24, where the Lord says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
The Lord answered the servant’s prayer even before he had finished praying for right there before him was Rebekah, the grandniece of Abraham. The servant, not yet knowing who she was, hurried to meet her, and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” She responded positively, “Drink, my lord,” And she quickly let down her jar and gave him a drink. Then when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”
And while Rebekah was going back and forth bringing water from the well to the camels, Abraham’s servant stood there quietly thinking and wondering if the LORD had indeed made his journey a success. His hopes were raised. The girl was passing the test.
The next thing he needed to find out was whether she was indeed a relative of Abraham. And so after Rebekah had finished watering the camels, which must have taken several hours, he asked her, “Please tell me whose daughter are you…”
She replied, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor…” When the servant heard that, he gave her the golden earrings and bracelets, and then he bowed his head and worshipped the LORD saying in verse 27, “Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”
What wonderful words of praise to the LORD! Earlier, he had prayed that the LORD would show covenant loving kindness to his master and here in verse 27, he praises the LORD for answering his prayer. The LORD had not left Abraham’s house destitute but had been faithful in fulfilling his covenant promise to him to make of him a great nation and a blessing to all the families of the earth.
Then besides praising God for His kindness to the house of Abraham, the servant goes on to acknowledge God’s providence in guiding him to Rebekah. He didn’t take any credit for himself for devising such a clever plan. He didn’t thank his lucky star or attribute his success to his good fortune. Rather, the first thing and indeed the only thing he could think of was God’s gracious providence towards them. “I being in the way, the LORD led me…” All the servant did was just to put himself in the path of obedience and submission to God’s revealed will, and the LORD took care of the rest.
Christians are sometimes very anxious and perplexed about knowing God’s will for their lives. Young people, especially, are concerned about knowing who is the right guy or who is the right girl to enter into a relationship with and later to marry. But regardless of our situation or circumstance in life, Abraham’s servant gives us all a very simple and yet profound principle to follow in regard to knowing God’s will. “I being in the way, the LORD led me…” If you would know God’s leading and guidance, then walk in His revealed way or path and trust Him to guide you. Put yourself in the way of the Lord and He will carry you along.
Solomon puts it this way in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” David says something similar in Psalm 37:4-5, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
The question is not whether we can obtain special insight or knowledge into God’s secret will. Nobody can. The only question is whether we will delight ourselves in the LORD, trust Him with all our heart, and acknowledge him in all our ways. The person who does that will be given the desires of his heart and will have his path made straight by the Lord.
That is the testimony of Abraham’s servant and of all who put themselves in the way of the Lord. No sinful shortcuts to deal with your problems, no trusting in your own resources, no following the wisdom of the world and so on, but plain and simple faithfulness to God’s word. May the Lord enable all of us, whether young or old, increasingly to do that.
Then besides putting ourselves in His way and trusting in His guidance, this chapter reminds us that our God is faithful. Not only is He faithful to us but He will be faithful to our next generation. God promised to make of Abraham a great nation. God miraculously gave Abraham a son, even Isaac, and He graciously provided a wife for him in His good time.
He providentially guided the servant of Abraham to Rebekah. He powerfully worked in the heart of Rebekah’s family and especially in Rebekah herself so that she was willing to follow him back. And finally, he brought Rebekah to Isaac, just like how He brought Eve to Adam in the beginning. Our God is a faithful God and He is concerned about the continuation of His people in this world.
Sometimes as parents, we can be very concerned and even anxious about our children and about the future of the church. The church today is being attacked in so many different ways both from within and without – materialism, secularism, heresies, worldly philosophies of life and practice, the pressure to conform to society, and so on. We wonder if the true church will continue to exist in time to come and if our children and our grandchildren will continue to be faithful and godly members of the church.
This chapter ought to give us great comfort and hope for we are reminded that because our God is faithful, He will provide for the continuation of the seed of the woman from one generation to another until the end of time. No matter how deeply distressing the situation in the church and in the world around us may be, we can put our hope and confidence in Christ, and entrust the continuing existence of His church into the providential care of God.
As He cared for Abraham and Isaac, so will He care for us and our children and our children’s children unto a thousand generations! Amen.