Summary: Are marriages made in heaven?
The German philosopher and scholar, Moses Mendelssohn (1729-86), was born a hunchback. Despite this deformity, which could have soured him on life forever, Mendelssohn was known as a wise and humble man.
While on a trip to Hamburg as a young man, Mendelssohn met a rich merchant who had a beautiful, young daughter, Frumtje. The young man fell hopelessly in love with her. She too was mature beyond her years, and despite his obvious physical defect, she was attracted to his gentleness, his charm, and his brilliant mind.
Mendelssohn stayed several weeks in Hamburg, spending much of his time with this lovely girl he had fallen in love with at first sight. When it finally came time to leave, he worked up enough nerve to speak to her father. It was either that or lose her forever.
The rich and powerful merchant hesitated for a long time. Mendelssohn finally asked him to speak his thoughts frankly.
"Well," said the older man, "you are known throughout Germany as a most brilliant young man. And yet... I must tell you my child was a bit frightened when she first saw you."
"Because I am a hunchback?"
Sadly, the merchant nodded.
Downcast, but not defeated, Mendelssohn asked only one last favor - the privilege of seeing her once more before he left. Admitted to her room, he found her busy with needlework. He spoke at first of various matters, then carefully and gradually, he led the conversation to the subject that was nearest to his heart. "Do you believe, that marriages are made in heaven?”
"Yes," she said, "for that is our faith."
"And it is true," he said gently. "Now let me tell you about something strange that happened when I was born. As you know, at a child’s birth, according to our tradition, they call out in heaven that the birth has occurred. And when it is a boy, they announce, ’Such and such boy will have this or that girl for a wife.’
"Well, there I was, just born, and I heard the name of my future wife announced. At the same time, I heard the great far off voice say, ’Unfortunately, the poor little girl, Frumtje, will have a terrible hump on her back.’ Quick as a flash, I cried out, ’O Lord God, if a girl is hunchbacked, she will grow up bitter and hard. Please give her hump to me and let her develop into a well-formed lovely, and charming young lady.’"
She married him and they lived a long and fruitful life together.
APPLY: Now that is one romantic story, and a true story - BUT… Are marriages really made in heaven? Is there someone out there who is picked out for each of us from our birth? In 1995, 85% of young adults age 18 to 24 said they believe every person has a perfect match. In other words, they were saying they believed that their potential for a happy marriage had been pre-arranged.
BUT is that a Biblical teaching? Is that what Scripture tells us… Not as far as I can tell. The idea that marriages are made in heaven sounds romantic, it sounds comforting and it’s obviously very appealing to people, but with the exception of Adam & Eve there is little evidence that God has ever “made” one person for another.
However - as this story of Isaac & Rebekah illustrates – while marriages aren’t “made in heaven,” under the right circumstances God CAN and WILL help us pick out the right person for us or our children – the perfect match.
But what kind of circumstances would cause God to seek out this right one for us or our children?
I. The most obvious: God was at the center of this story.
ABRAHAM made his decision to send his servant back to Aram Naharaim because of a promise God had made years before:
"The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’— he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.” (Genesis 24:7)
In other words, God had promised that Isaac would have children… SO, Isaac needed a wife. But the women of Canaan were not Godly women. That left Abraham with the belief that the best place to look seemed to be back in the land from which he came.
And then THE SERVANT counts on God to help him find this potential bride. He prays a very trusting and well thought out prayer:
"O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’— let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master." (Vss. 12-14)