Summary: Let’s take a look at the right way to surrender important life choices to God and to be as certain as possible that we are in God’s will.
Well, folks today we’re going to talk about how Abraham let God choose a spouse for his son Isaac, but this young man’s idea was probably not quite what God had in mind. Let’s take a look at the right way to surrender important life choices to God and to be as certain as possible that we are in God’s will. First we see:
I. The Importance of an Oath (vv 1-9)
An oath is a promise, and from the beginning of humanity until today God has made promises to us that are dependable. As we have travelled through the book of Genesis we‘ve seen many oaths, covenants, agreements, whatever you want to call them. Today we see another between Abraham and the servant he trusted more than any other person in the world.
The text says that Abraham had put his oldest servant in charge of all that he had. Now that’s trust because Abraham had a lot. Then we see this rather odd ritual of the time, which goes way beyond shaking hands. Abraham says put your hand under my thigh and swear by the Lord that you will find my son a wife from my own people in my homeland.
Abraham trusts this guy so much he’s willing to let him choose the woman who would become the mother of this multitude of offspring through the promised son Isaac. When he says she must be from my own people, he’s basically saying that this woman must be a follower of God, not a Canaanite woman. The Old Testament forbid marrying non-believing spouses and the New Testament also discourages it in first and second Corinthians.
The servant makes sure he clarifies all the possibilities and details because he wants to make sure he does it right. Abraham tells him if she doesn’t come with you, you’re off the hook, and whatever you do, don’t take Isaac with you.
Not only does Abraham not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite idol worshipper and be lured away from worshipping God, he also wants to ensure that Isaac stays in Canaan, the Promised Land. If he were to go, he might want to stay where the wife lived to make it easier on her. As it turns out, Isaac never leaves Canaan for his entire lifetime.
The servant knew how important this assignment was, the entire future of God’s people was potentially at stake by this choice, and the servant demonstrates:
II. The Importance of Surrender (vv 10-14)
He goes immediately with ten camels, lots of gifts, and probably a few other trustworthy servants, to the town of Nahor. This is where his brother’s family that was listed at the end of chapter 22 lives, and Abraham knew there was a granddaughter there named Rebekah. I have a feeling Abraham may have had a revelation from God about her when he heard about his brother’s family a couple chapters ago. I’m not sure.
Not only is this servant completely surrendered to Abraham’s will, we see here that he’s also surrendered to God. Remember Abraham said God would send his angel before you, and so great was the servant’s faith that he literally believed this.
Notice Abraham doesn’t say angels, but angel. This is probably Christ, the one Abraham met as Melchizedech and again just before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Chances are this old servant had also seen on of these Christophonies at one of those times so he knew what Abraham meant.
The servant arrives at the well in Nahor and the first thing he does is ... pray. He travels over 500 miles on foot and camel, and the first thing he does when he gets there isn’t run to the well to get a drink and splash water on his head, but he prays.
He’s a smart guy and knows by tradition that the women of the city will come at a certain time to draw water. Then he asks very specifically for guidance in terms of who he should choose.
Now why did he ask for such a specific request? First of all he knew that he needed a woman who was strong and had the endurance to make the three week journey back through the desert to Isaac, not to mention she would be mothering a lot of children. Drawing water for ten camels who drank a lot, would have been something that probably few of us men today could have done.
You had to walk down steps to draw the water by hand into a large bucket, carry it back up, dump it, and return to do it over and over again. Rebekah said she would water them until they have finished drinking, and it says she ran again to the well.
Any girl would have given him a drink out of politeness, but to voluntarily offer to water all these camels would have been very improbable. This is up to 40 gallons of water per camel. I think that’s why later the servant gazed in silent amazement as he watched Rebekah voluntarily fulfill his prayer, probably empowered supernaturally.