24 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had…swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” Genesis 24:1-4 (ESV)
Towards the end of his life, Abraham asked his trusted servant and steward to travel 500 miles (820 km) with a caravan of 10 camels to find a bride for his precious son, Isaac. Isaac was around forty years old by this time, and Abraham was trusting God to make good on all of His generational promises that would be fulfilled through Isaac.
Abraham had waited twenty-five years just for Isaac to be born. There had been many trials and faith challenges throughout his wait. But his journey, like ours, had been truly blessed in all things. Even the most faithful lives are filled with trials, loss, mistakes and pain.
Our childhood years are times of many fun blessings, but we also learn about hard things like fear, unfairness, and mistreatment. Our middle years are also filled with good things, but troubles and difficulties, as well. And in our later years, we can look back to see all of the blessings in our life mingled with times of loss and pain. Along our journey, we may face loneliness, doubt, anxiety, depression or insecurity. It is easy to lose sight of the positive things that surrounded us because of negative situations or experiences that dominate our attention and feelings. Only by the grace of a loving God can our hearts continually turn to Him to experience the peace that comes from His presence in our lives.
God is the Potter of Life, and we are His clay. He decides when and how to bless us. God’s perfect timing does not always meet with our approval. But He is the Sovereign God. As His clay, we do not have sufficient knowledge or wisdom about His purposes or reasons to argue with the potter (although we are allowed to petition and pray to Him about it).
Despite his own difficulties and occasional failures, Abraham continued to have great faith in God. He expressed this faith to his servant when sending him off to find a spouse for his son, Isaac:
7 The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. Genesis 24:7 (ESV)
Abraham was correct, the Lord was leading the way for his servant to find Isaac’s bride and life-mate, Rebekah. By this time, Abraham was well advanced in years, around 140 years old. He would live for another thirty-five years, but his life-mate, Sarah, was at this point deceased for around three years. After his own season of grief, Abraham was now focused on finding the right life-mate for his son. (Abraham would go on to have additional marriages, but little comment is made on these in the scriptures, as they did not contribute to the line of the Jewish people and the genealogy of Jesus Christ).
Abraham’s servant made the trip, and at the end of his journey, God answered the prayer of his heart before he had even finished praying. The servant described what happened when he reached his destination:
42 “I came today to the spring and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you are prospering the way that I go, 43 behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” 44 and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,” let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’
45 “Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder, and she went down to the spring and drew water. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels drink also.’ So, I drank, and she gave the camels drink also…48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. Genesis 24:42-45,46,48 (ESV)
How quickly does the Lord answer our prayers? Sometimes, as on the journey for Isaac’s spouse, very quickly. Other times, as with Isaac’s birth, He answers very slowly. But He always gives us an answer to our prayers. The answer may be “yes”, “no”, “not yet”, or some other answer, but there will ultimately be an answer there for us.
At the end of the servant’s journey, Rebekah and her family recognized that this opportunity originated from God. They all responded positively to it. This would be the family through which God would continue the lineage leading to Jesus Christ. It wasn’t a perfect family by any means, as none are. But it was the chosen one. And though they couldn’t have known where it was headed at the time, they recognized it was a divine calling, and they supported it.
It still required faith for Rebekah to accept and follow the servant back to her betrothed, Isaac. She was not required to go; it was strictly a voluntary journey of faith.
Isaac and Rebekah play an important role in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Abraham’s servant also played a vital role by traveling the 500 miles to seek out the one God had set aside for Isaac. And Rebekah exhibited her faith by leaving her family and homeland behind to come to Canaan, sight unseen, just as Abraham had done many decades earlier.
What happy times can you remember from your early days as a youth? What challenges? How would you characterize your life’s journey so far? Can you see an event in your life that seemed bad at the time but now you see God has used to bring you a blessing?
Just as it took faith for Isaac’s bride, Rebecca, to leave her past and accompany Abraham’s servant to marry Isaac, it takes faith for us to leave our past to join Jesus Christ as part of his bride, the Church. The rewards of faith in both cases are overwhelmingly good. Where are you today on your faith journey?
Perhaps you are ready to pray this prayer:
Lord Jesus, I am ready for You to come into my heart today. After years of Your calling, it is time for me to receive You in to my life. Forgive all of my sins and allow the Holy Spirit to come into my heart. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.