#MeditationMonday – Out of the abundance of a man’s heart, his mouth speaks.
Welcome, dearly beloved. I pray the mercies of God over you throughout this week. I hope to encourage and build you up in the Lord. As you grow in knowledge and understanding, may you be empowered to share your convictions with others.
This blog post has been written in a verse by verse commentary style. It’s a new method of bible study we’re trying out, which is very different to the usual writing style on our blog. Please let us know how you find it. Enjoy!
Today we’re meditating on Genesis 24. As this is a verse-by-verse study, it is best to read this post with the actual bible text close by. On the other hand, if you are already very familiar with the story of Isaac and Rebekah, feel free to jump straight in!
Abraham sends his “top servant” with an important oath: “go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son” (vs 2-4). This is very symbolic. It means that the bride must not be a foreigner to their values, they must not be unequally yoked. As Isaac is a forerunner of Christ, this is a symbol that the bride of Christ must not be unequally yoked to Him. She must be a church in tune with the values and needs of her Husband. vs.3 – “among who I am living”.
Abraham lived in a heathen land with many possible daughters that could be a wife for Isaac, but he was not of/from them. As Christians who have been born again under a covenant (just like Abraham), we too live in the world with many real options and possibilities but we are not from the world, nor do we abide by its systems or cultures, so we shouldn’t seek them out as options for marriage.
Doing that is saying we want to become one flesh and one mind with them – which is absurd because they do not have the mind of Christ. Remember that when two-or-more people unite with one mind, they can accomplish anything (Genesis 11), this is why there must be unity of values in every marriage.
Abraham’s servant asked a valid question in vs.5. We can apply this to us and say – well what if I can’t find someone from my own people to marry me (i.e. from the church), shall I compromise and settle for an unbeliever? Shall I disobey God?
Abraham’s immediate response: NO! “Do not take my son back there” (vs.8)
Abraham recognises that it is more important to keep his covenant to God and remain in obedience to His will than to find a wife for Isaac. When God has given us an instruction, we must never go against what He has said. Once God has made us a promise, He will surely keep it. There is no need for disobedience. Instead, Abraham tells his servant to have faith, “He will send His angel before you“ (vs.6).
There is no need to worry about not being able to find a spouse amongst your own people, instead just trust God and obey.
Have faith that God is on your side and will provide a spouse that meets His standards, no need to compromise or disobey Him.
The servant leaves loaded with all sorts of good gifts from the master. This is an inference to how the Holy Spirit is loaded with good and perfect gifts from the Father (James 1:17). He prays to God for success in his journey (vs.12). Prayer is very important when setting out to find a wife. Always pray that God will show you kindness and make you successful.
Abraham’s servant asked for a sign (vs. 11 – 14) through a test of character. A good wife or the sign of a good wife is demonstrated through character, a woman willing to go the extra mile. Just like the 5 wise virgins who went the extra mile in their preparation for the bridegroom by preparing extra oil, Rebekah went the extra mile by not only giving the servant water but also by feeding the camels also (vs. 17-20). This was a heavy task for a girl with only one jar and so many camels that drink a lot of water! Rebekah’s actions truly showed the depth of kindness in her character.
Always ask/pray for God to for a sign that reveals the true character of a person you intend to marry!
Before the servant had finished praying… in his heart (vs.15, 45), Rebekah came his way! Once we start the conversation on marriage with God, he begins to prepare an answer for us. Prayer is but a never ending conversation, so we must believe that our answers are already on the way from the moment we made our requests! As long as we remain in conversation with God, we will surely receive an answer on the issue!
Now the servant remarks of Rebekah in vs.16 that she was beautiful (physically attractive), a virgin (a sign of her purity), and no man had slept with her – this is more than in a physical sense, it is also emotional. She had nobody on her mind, she was not lusting after anyone. Her heart was unpolluted and uncorrupted, it had not been “slept with”, she bore no soul-ties to any past lovers. She filled her jar and came up again – a sign of her hardworking nature, she would make a good help-meet for the master’s son.
Rebekah did exactly as the servant prayed for and he watched her closely (vs.17-21). It is important to watch closely. Believers must be alert as we watch and pray. Sometimes things have the appearance of godliness but no form/substance, like a shadow (II Timothy 3:1-9). In order for the devil not to deceive us, discernment is always needed to avoid things which appear like what they are not.
Rebekah could have done just as the servant had prayed for but her identity could have turned out to be something else, maybe a foreigner who lived in Abraham’s homeland, hence the servant asked in vs. 23 – whose daughter are you?. Bearing gifts, the servant sets off to confirm her identity and origins (vs. 22-23). Always check ALL the facts!
Rebekah tells the servant that there is room for him and his camels, (vs. 25). It is interesting that Rebekah is able to make this decision seemingly without consulting any of the men in her household – this is a side note which somewhat speaks of the position and treatment of women in those times.
When the servant confirmed everything and was sure of his success, he gave praise to God (vs. 26-27) – we must never forget to thank/give glory and praise to God when we receive answers to our prayers, even if the answer is not what we were expecting! God knows best and we must honour and rejoice at His will knowing that He does unto us what is for our own good.
Rebekah tells her mother’s household all that had happened (vs.28). As women, any proposal we are approached with should not be kept secret from our household/support system. Don’t assume that you can make the decision all by yourself. Be open with the right people. Pray to God to lead you to those you can be honest with, to guide you with solid wisdom and advice as you make your decision over the proposal.
Although Rebekah told her mother’s household, men were not isolated from the process either as evidenced in the role played by her brother Laban (vs. 29-31). There is always a male in every Christian woman’s life that is responsible for them, no matter how distant and even if it is not a family member but someone in the church who is like a spiritual father. This may not be the case in every situation but where there is a male guardian in a woman’s life, they must not be isolated from her decision, they too should play a role just as Laban did.
Abraham’s servant put the mission first (vs.33). Eating and drinking do not come before the mission. Just as the servant did not eat or drink, do not relax before the work is fully over (vs.49).
The servant tells Rebekah’s family EVERYTHING that happened up to that point (vs.34–49). Honesty before potential/future in-laws is very important. They are people who are about to become your life-long family if all goes well. Be honest with them from the start and reveal everything, so they know exactly what they are getting into.
After the servant tells them everything, he asks whether they will accept or not – “so I may know which way to turn”. This is the same approach men must take, and they must be prepared for whatever outcome (including rejection), just like Abraham’s servant.
Upon hearing the servant’s story, Rebekah’s family immediately realised that the match was from God and they refused to stand in the way of what God was doing, so they released Rebekah (vs.50). Now all families may not see it the same, some may disagree due to personal preferences or cultural/tribal misgivings but eventually, they will have to make way where the match is truly by God’s hand.
On the other hand, sometimes the lack of consent from either family can be a sign that the match is not of God. Now it is imperative to discern between the two situations. As the servant’s story clearly revealed a divine will, so also in this day and age, the backstory will often reveal any red-flags that determine whether there is a divine will for the marriage or not.
Once Rebekah’s family accepted, the servant once again bowed his head and thanked the Lord for favour and success and bestowed gifts upon the family (vs. 52 – 53). Proposals are not without gifts, even if there is no money, do what you can sincerely and hope that the family will appreciate your efforts. There must at least be gifts for any paternal/maternal guardians.
Now that the mission was over, the servant could relax, eat and drink (vs.54). In the morning, Rebekah’s family tried to do something funny. They said, “let her remain with us for 10 days or so” (vs. 55). It appears that Laban’s family have been cunning from day 1, therefore it is no surprise that Jacob (one of Rebekah’s twin sons later born to Isaac) inherits this trait from his mother’s side of the family.
Upon hearing this, the servant does not compromise. He stands firm and deals with them. If they have already agreed, there is no need to delay him any further. Such situations often happen to us too, we find ourselves caught in suspicious situations with our future in-laws.
For example, there are many families who agree to a marriage only to later demand that the bride is pregnant before marriage as evidence of her fertility, as they want to guarantee their son will be able to foster children to continue the family line. While this sounds like a genuine concern, it is against the will of God and as such there would be no reason to agree to this compromise.
In the end, it came down to the consent of Rebekah (vs.57). It is again interesting that they thought to seek her view on the matter. It once again shows that she wasn’t just some property being forcefully sent off by her family, she actually wanted to go. This reinforces the importance of feminism and the well treatment of women.
From a more important and eternal point of view, it speaks to the importance of free will. The Bride of the Master’s Son (The Church, Jesus) must come of her own will. She will not be forced into a relationship with him to serve a “divine purpose”. Like Rebekah, the Church as a bride cannot be forced into a relationship with the Son. We have to want our relationship with Jesus else it is a fruitless endeavour. Love cannot be forced/forceful. If we do not want to be brides of the master, then He is content to let us have our way and remain in our singleness.
Just as there must be a meeting of the minds, to establish a contract, there a meeting of the wills to establish a relationship. The church must be WILLING to enter into a faithful relationship with her husband Jesus. Rebekah’s “I WILL GO” must become our ultimate cry, declaration and response when the Holy Spirit calls us unto the Father.
After everything that had occurred, Rebekah too could not deny the divine purpose over her life and she wisely decides not to resist this calling but to submit in faith to a higher authority.
Upon hearing Rebekah’s consent, her family blessed her as she left, and what a blessing it was indeed! (vs.60). It is important to have the blessing of a family in marriage. This blessing prayed over Rebekah is also a powerful and symbolic prayer for the church as the Bride of Christ to go forth and conquer our enemies and to bear thousands of seeds by planting the gospel even in the cities of our enemies!
Upon arriving, Rebekah covered herself at the sight of Isaac (vs. 62-64). This is to show that although she had been brought as his betrothed wife, blessed and given permission by her family, she was still holding to her purity until she fully became his wife, not just in name alone but in every sense of the word. She did not uncover herself – i.e. make herself vulnerable, emotionally attached to him or engage in lustful thoughts and actions towards him, even though they were engaged.
Once more, the details of what happened were relayed by the servant to the master. (vs. 66). Now Isaac took Rebekah into His mother’s tent (vs. 67). This is very symbolic. Upon marriage, a wife replaces the hold of a mother in the heart of a man. She becomes of higher priority – this is God’s order. Taking her into his mother’s tent was clear evidence of this.
Note that Isaac had previously been mourning the death of His mother Sarah, who loved Him dearly, they had an incomparable relationship but Isaac is able to move forward from the loss of His mother to find comfort in His wife. Instead of clinging to his mother, he chooses to love his wife instead and allows her to comfort him.
Men are created to be one man women – they too pass from mother to wife, just as women pass from father to husband (in terms of guardianship or emotional attachment).
This is something that is not really taught today in Christian circles. We hammer that a woman leaves her old family and enforce this by changing her last name, but what about the men? Do they prioritise their wives in a way befitting the change to name?
Remember Christ and the Church. Once we change our names as we wed our husband Jesus, it serves as the ultimate recognition that we now belong to one another. As we take on His name and conform to His image, He loves and protects us above anything else.
Finally, Rebekah and Isaac comforting each other is symbolic of Christ and the Church comforting each other. Jesus is there to comfort us – He overcame the world to bring us a lasting peace and remove all our worries. In return, our faithfulness brings Him joy, He is comforted in knowing that we are the prize for His sufferings, a part of the glory that lay ahead and the ultimate gift from the father.
The story so far has revealed a divine process: The Father sends out His Holy Spirit to look for a worthy bride for His son. This order should be followed in Christian marriages as it properly reflects the will of God the father for Christ and the Church.
Men, let the Holy Spirit lead you to a worthy woman to serve as your wife and help-meet. Women, once the Holy Spirit begins to draw you to a well where you can serve and be found, submit and do not resist the will of the Father.