Well the reason I started with that St. Patrick’s Day greeting is because you should know something about this day. It actually was a holy day before it became a holiday. It was celebrating a very spiritual person. In fact, originally on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland all the pubs were closed by law. They weren’t open; it wasn’t about drinking a Guinness or turning the river green. The pubs were closed, people went to church not to the pub, and they spent the day with their family and their friends and, like Thanksgiving, their family and friends had a meal together in one of the relative’s homes as they celebrated together Patrick, who in the 5th Century was a missionary from Britain to the Druids in what is today called Ireland. A missionary. A missionary who according to the stories would teach people the gospel and biblical doctrine through very simple means like taking a clover, the three leaves of the clover, and pointing out the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, yet being One, three distinct parts. Well over time, St. Patrick’s Day became secularized, like Valentine’s Day and Christmas and every other holiday. The world get a hold of it and the world ruined it. Spiritual roots changed to a secular meaning. Everything sort of does that, you notice. It is that way when it comes to dating. We’ll find out in Genesis 24, though it’s a long chapter, it’s all about finding a wife for Isaac. And we find out that in those days, 4,000 years ago, the dating process was not left up to the individual. It was a family exercise; it was a spiritual exercise.
Now I’ll warn you about something in Genesis 24. As we read through it, it seems strange to us. 4,000 years have passed and the way Americans find husbands and wives is a far cry from how the ancient peoples in the patriarchal era found husbands and wives. And we’re going to read through this and it just, it’s so different from what we’re used to. We don’t quite get it, hard to wrap our brains around it. The idea of marriages being arranged, first of all. That the parents chose the mate for the child and then one of the servants goes out and he is responsible for fulfilling the father’s wish and bringing the bride back. The whole concept that commitment came before love or the feeling, the emotion, of love, that there was first of all the commitment, the will came before the romance. It’s reversed today. Today it’s you feel feelings of romance, you’re interested, you take the gal out for a few times and then you, after the awkward stage, start communicating about, I’d like to hang out with you a little bit more than we have been, trying to get a read on, does that girl or does that guy like me like I like him? Or I really don’t like him, how do I let him know that he’s just really an idiot and I don’t want to be with him at all, without hurting his feelings? All of that stuff was bypassed in ancient times. However, it’s foreign to us. So I’m just warning you of that in advance.
Also there was the payment of a dowry. Now a dowry in those days was sort of like alimony in advance. It was paid by the groom’s family to the bride’s family. The father of the bride received the mohar, the dowry, and he could only collect the interest on the dowry and use that for himself, but the dowry itself was kept intact. Just in case that man, that husband, divorced that woman and she would then have to go back home, she would have something to live on. Or if her husband died, she would have something to live on. Also, the dowry was in part a payment to the family because they lost a good worker, a laborer, and you’ll see something in this text that girls in those days did the bulk of the physical labor. So when you remove a good work hand from the ranch, one who could pull in the necessary income, when you remove that income, you have to supplement that income with something. We see that as well, something that is not done today.
Now if you think about it, Adam had it made. Because the Bible says God made the woman and brought the woman to the man. Wouldn’t that be nice? If it were only that simple today. God just fashions out of one part of you someone who’s perfect for you and then brings that woman to the man. Knock on the door, there’s your wife, ‘Special order from God!’ But today it’s far different. We’re involved in the process. And even here we find that Isaac and the servant is involved in the process. Now that process we call a dating or courtship, whatever term you want to spin on it, we’re involved at a human level in the process. But of course God should always be involved and we’re the ones that should include Him. One of the biggest challenges in life is to find the right person that is suitable for another right person. And I found a little article in Psychology Today about a dating experience; it probably would be filed under world’s worst dates. Here’s the article I found: “Mike Driggs picked up Pam Sears for he what he thought would be an enjoyable dinner date. After getting completely lost for the out-of-town restaurant as they were looking for it, Mike’s car ran out of gas—not on purpose. Walking almost two miles to a service station, the couple borrowed a gas can and hitched a ride back down the road with the tow-truck driver. Upon returning to the spot where they left the car, they discovered it had been stolen. Back at the service station they waited 45 minutes for the police to arrive and another two hours for the completion of the police report. A $20 cab ride got the couple to an airport car-rental agency. Seemingly undaunted, Mike insisted on taking her out to dinner. When they came out of the restaurant, Mike was informed that the parking valet had backed the rental car into a guard rail. To make matters worse, on the way to Pam’s house they got ticketed for not having brake lights. Once they arrived at Pam’s house, Pam invited Mike to come inside. Mike opened the front door only to be greeted by a bite on the arm from Pam’s German shepherd. The bite required eight stitches which he received in the emergency room at one o’clock in the morning.” That’s a bad date. Now the outcome of this fiasco is that Pam started dating the intern in the hospital.
When I was in India several years ago, and I met with ministry leaders in India, I was, I was shocked; I was amazed to discover that in many parts of that country still, in Christian homes, marriages are arranged by parents much like we read here with Abraham and his son, Isaac. They’re arranged by the parents. My jaw dropped and I went, “uh-uh…” because it was so archaic to me in this modern culture, this computer culture. And so as we started having the conversation, the ministry leader said, “However you argue the point, I will tell you that our divorce rate is very, very small. How about yours?” And as he explained it to me, certain things began to make sense. What made sense is you have a culture where relationships are based upon decision, will, and commitment before emotions and romance enter the picture. So that societally, the stability of that relationship is far better than otherwise. They just are raised and go into it understanding, I’m going to make a commitment. I’m going to exercise my will regardless of who that person is. And in the Christian home, trusting that the Lord is behind it all. Again, I know that sounds really wild and foreign to us and you’re thinking, note to self: never move to India. But let’s get into our study and see some of these elements tonight.
It says “Abraham was old, well advanced in age.” So we’re told the same thing twice and he was probably 137-140, that would fit that description. “And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh.” Again now, we go, that’s weird. That’s something I wasn’t expecting to read. C’mere, dude. Put your hand right here under my thigh. We think, uh, not going to happen. See in those days, when oaths were made, when promises were made, they didn’t have a Bible so they couldn’t say, place your hand on the Bible and do you swear to tell the truth. They didn’t have Bibles. And by the way I don’t know that putting your hand on a Bible and swearing to tell the whole truth is necessarily the best idea because if you’re a liar, you’ll lie whether you put your hand on the Bible or not, it really is irrelevant. But in those days to make an oath, the idea of the thigh was this is the strongest muscle. And you are swearing with my strength, you and I are making a covenant together. You and I are entering into a covenant and since a child was said to come from the thigh, or the loins, both of those were interchangeable terms, and this was a servant being dispatched to find a wife for the son so that more children could be born. This was a very common practice. The hand on the thigh, the muscle of great strength.
“And I will make you swear,” verse three, “By the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell.” If you have a son or a daughter of marriageable age, pray that they won’t take a wife or a husband from among the Canaanites—unbelievers. Those who don’t know the Lord. That was Abraham’s huge issue here. He did not want his son intermarrying with the population of the land in which he was a stranger in, the land of promise, because they did not have the same worldview and value system that he had come to have since he left Ur of the Chaldeans and God revealed Himself to him. He wanted to make sure that they were members of his own family, even though he had left Ur, his servant was to go back there and get someone that was closer, not from the Canaanites. “But you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
The servant in this passage, you’ll read about the servant, the servant, the servant, the servant, all the way through but he’s not named at all. He’s the unnamed servant of this chapter. However he does have a name. We find his name a few chapters before in Genesis chapter 15 verse 2, the servant’s name is Eliezer. It’s interesting to note that the term Eliezer means “my God the helper” or it means “comforter”. So don’t you find it interesting that a father, in finding a wife for his son, dispatches the unnamed servant named helper or comforter? And you’re going to find a typology here in this chapter—a type of the Holy Spirit who Jesus said is our Helper, our Comforter. Who was sent into the world to draw people to the need of Christ, to draw out of the world a people for Himself, a bride for the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, a Gentile bride is sought for. And so he is dispatched. “The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman,” verse five, “will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?”
Now I’ve got a question. Here is a servant; the son isn’t even involved. Isaac isn’t consulted. Abraham doesn’t go, son, come in here. Let me tell you what’s up. Now is this ok with you? He’s not even in the picture! Here’s Dad talking to the eldest servant, Eliezer, head of the household, guy in charge, saying look, my son needs a wife. You’re going to find her. You’re going to be the matchmaker. Would you entrust your marital future to someone else? Be careful how you answer that because it’s leading somewhere. Here’s the answer I would give you. It depends who that other person is. In fact, I would submit to you that the real key to a strong, enduring, eternal marital relationship is to entrust your marital future to a third party. And even as Isaac had to trust the servant and ultimately trust his father for this decision, so we too should be willing to trust God as our heavenly Father in finding the right one. There’s a beautiful passage of Scripture in Ecclesiastes. I like to read it at weddings—it’s about friendship. Ecclesiastes chapter four, right around verses 9 through 12, it says this, Solomon says, ‘Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will help up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls; he has no one to help him up. Again if two lie down together, they will stay warm. But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, yet two can withstand him.’ And this is how it ends: ‘But a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.’ Here’s the meaning essentially. He’s speaking of friendship. Two is better than one, you got strength, you’ve got accountability, you’ve got warmth, you’ve got encouragement. If you fall down, you’ve got somebody to pick the other person up. Two’s better than one. Every couple getting married believes that two is better than one. Otherwise they’d stay single. They’d say, one is better than two. But the fact that they’re getting married shows that they believe that two is better than one. These two together are better than either of us on our own. Two’s better than one but essentially Solomon says three is better than two. Now how does that apply to marriage? Well as you are committing yourself to another person in a marriage relationship, if you had the strength of God that would wind Himself around the commitment that you make, your strength is infinite. A three-fold cord, or a rope of three strands, is not quickly broken. It’s a beautiful analogy.
If you took a single string and you hung a weight from it and then you put a little more weight on, a little more weight on, eventually it’s going to have a breaking point—it’s going to snap. If you double the weight and you take two pieces of string and wrap them together and you hang a weight on it, and then more weight and more weight it’s going to withstand more. But if you add another strand exponentially the strength of that strand goes up. So if it’s a husband and a wife and they look dreamy-eyed and they say, I love you, I’ll always love you, you can count on me, till death do us part, often it’s not till death do us part. It’s like until death do us part but I’m going to kill you by the end of the week. Or it’s till debt do us part. Or it’s till you get ugly and I get ugly and we find somebody better-looking do us part. But imagine if a young man and a young woman had the strength of God Himself wrapped around that relationship and entrusted their future to the God who would bring them together, how different it would be. So here’s the father finding a wife for his son, Isaac, entrusting the unnamed servant to go get one. And you’ll see it’s the perfect one. She’s beautiful, she wants to go, and it’s a marriage that will last.
So look at verse five again: “The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?” But Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there.” He didn’t want his son going back. His son had been here in Canaan. This is the land God wanted him to remain in. He had already left a couple times, remember? He learned the lesson. I don’t want my son leaving this land—he’s staying here. He might just decide to hang back at home. Oh, this is kind of a cool place, I didn’t know about this place, I’m just going to be here. Don’t even bring him back. You know there are certain places God just doesn’t want you or I to go. Don’t bring him back. Just go on this mission but don’t bring him back. Verse seven: “The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my family, and who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, “To your descendants I give this land,” He will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.”
Now there’s a principal I want you to notice before we go on in this story and that is another principal of a long-lasting relationship. It’s the principal of separation. Abraham does not want his son marrying a pagan Canaanite without the same worldview and belief in God that he has. Now there’s a principal in the New Testament that goes beautifully with this. You know it well and probably some of you knew I would be going there, I’m going to read it to you. It’s out of 2 Corinthians chapter 6. Let me read it to you: ‘O Corinthians, we have spoken openly to you. Our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same I speak to you, children you also be open.’ Just so you know in context, Paul is going to say, you guys need to be very careful the relationships you have because some of the people around you are false prophets, false teachers. And they’re ruining the fabric of truth within the church. But listen to what he says and the way he puts it: ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness and what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial or what part has a believer with an unbeliever and what agreement has the temple of God with idols, for you are the temple of the living God.’ It’s a very powerful analogy. It’s a farming analogy. A farmer would be wise, when he wants to work a field, to pick two animals that will be yoked together with the same size, the same temperament. Not a clean and an unclean, not an ox and a goat. He wants to get two animals, same species, same size, same temperament, because they need to plow in the same direction, they need to go in the same direction. The unequal yoke.
Another translation puts it this way: ‘Don’t be mis-mated with unbelievers.’ So now put it in a relational context. A marriage context. If you’re a believer and if in your heart you truly want to go God’s way and do God’s work and fulfill God’s will for your life, that’s the direction you’re going in, do you really think an unbeliever wants to serve the Lord and work for the Lord and go in God’s direction? No! So when you get married essentially you and her or you and he, if you’re a girl and I’m speaking to both men and women, if you go under the yoke because you’re going to be tied together in marriage, you’ll be going in opposite directions. Can you imagine two animals trying to plow a field that are trying to work in opposite directions? No work will get done. So don’t be mis-mated or don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. There was a survey that was done among Christian teenagers that revealed 40% of the Christian teenagers said that they would date a non-Christian. And 25% said that they would be willing to consider it. Now I’ve heard the reasons, I’ve heard, I was going to say the excuses, really, that’s what they are. Well, I haven’t found a guy around the church or that’s a Christian that is suitable to me, but somebody else that I know that is an unbeliever is suitable to me. Or, there’s just no good Christian guys left or there’s no really great Christian gals left. It’s a lame excuse. Because what happens is after the infatuation wears off, at some point, that believer’s going to start getting serious again with serving the Lord. And find that other one that he or she is tied to saying, uh, not so fast and not so much. Don’t want to go there. And so you find yourself in a lifelong tug-of-war. That is why, and I’ll give you another Scripture that goes along sort of with that, is 1 Corinthians chapter 7 as Paul is talking about marriage and divorce among believers. He says, ‘A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives. But if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes only in the Lord.’ Did you get that little last part? Only in the Lord. So if a husband dies and you want to get remarried—great! Go get remarried, says Paul. But just make sure it’s in the Lord, that they love the Lord, that they’re believers, going in the same direction, pulling the plow, you’re yoked with that person in the same direction so it’s not a tug-of-war.
So we find that, in its nascent form, back in chapter 24 of Genesis, as he commissions his servant to go out. I love verse seven. You know what it shows me? It shows me that Abraham is a man of faith now, all the way through to the end. From here on out. This is quite a statement of faith. Just go. The God who gave me the promise is going to send His Angel. Just go. He’s a man of faith. Because after all, did not God promise that he would have a son and after all the years of wrangling and disbelief, they had a son? And did not God spare his son by the Angel withholding his hand in chapter 22 when he was going to plunge a knife into him? So here’s his son, he knows that God, if He’s provided this son and He’s kept him alive all this time, certainly God wants him to have a wife and children because, after all, the promise is ‘in your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed.’ For that to happen, gotta have, the race has to continue. So God will go with you—just go for it. “And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.” I’m sure Abraham was thinking, ok, suppose this doesn’t work out, it must mean God has another plan and I’m just not seeing it yet. But God will come through. “So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.”
And so the unnamed servant is on a mission to find a bride for this son and bring the bride back to the home. Again it’s a picture of the Holy Spirit, I just want you to notice as we go through, why unnamed? Well didn’t Jesus of the Holy Spirit, ‘when the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth, He will not speak of Himself but He will speak of what He hears,’ and so the unnamed servant, like the Holy Spirit, goes out. And did not even Jesus Himself, I think it’s Matthew 22, say, ‘the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven, is like a certain king that arranged a wedding for his son’? Here’s a father arranging a wedding for his son, like the kingdom of God. Verse 10: “Then the servant took ten of his master’s camel,” he’s getting the dowry all together, “and departed, for all his master’s goods were in his hand. And he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. And he made his camels kneel down outside the city by a well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water.” Now notice that. Not the men, the women. Again it’s a shock to our system, but I have been in the Middle East and I’ve been in Bedouin tents where this kind of culture is still prevalent, and it was, it was a mind-blower to me, because if you go into the tent during the day you see no women, you see the men, they’re laying down on the rug, they’re drinking coffee, but you look outside and you see the women, they’re working in the fields, they’re working with the livestock, and they’re at every beck and wish of the husband. And so the women did the physical labor, the important, physical labor, while the men did the more important labor of drinking coffee, lounging around, and making negotiations over future plans. That’s how they saw it. Now watch this, verse 12: “Then he said,” oh by the way, Eliezer, this unnamed servant, would be called the friend of the bridegroom. Now that’s a term in Judaism that is more reserved, at least we notice it, in the New Testament. John the Baptist called himself the friend of the Bridegroom, the friend of Jesus Christ being the Bridegroom. But this servant acts as the friend of the bridegroom. He’s making the negotiations with the bride’s father. He’s going to give the dowry, he’s going to be the guy who swings the deal and closes the deal—friend of the bridegroom.
Verse 12: “Then he said,” now watch him pray, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink,’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.” There’s a second principal I want to bring into this if you’re looking for a mate. Not just separation, marrying only a believer, not a non-believer, but number two, supplication. Pray. Pray. You’re entrusting that future to God. Prayer is through this entire chapter. You’re going to see this servant pray and then you’re going to see him pause, and then pray again and worship God, and you’ll see Isaac meditating out in the field toward the end of the chapter, the rabbis also said that meant he was praying. If you’re looking for a way to break the ice on your first date, try this: what do I say, what’s my opening line? Here it is: let’s pray. If she goes, uh… what?! You do not want to date her. Or if you, gals, say, would you mind praying and he goes, huh? I’m not a praying kind of a guy. You dump him. Just open the door, push him out, get on with your life. It will break the ice and here’s why. It in a wonderful way, you are taking the relationship and moving it to a spiritual level immediately. You’re placing it on spiritual ground right off the bat. It’s one of the first moves you make. You pray about it. And let’s say it doesn’t work out, let’s say you find he’s a creep or she doesn’t want to be with him or he didn’t want to be with her, so what? What have you lost? You’ve had fellowship, you prayed for each other, and you can continue to pray for that person long after that. But you haven’t lost anything because you’ve made it a spiritual exercise, you’ve moved it on to spiritual ground. He prays. Now this is an unusual prayer, one of the most unusual in the Bible, simply because it’s answered before he’s done praying. Wouldn’t that be great if every prayer was like that? You can’t even say ‘Amen,’ just boom—there it is. This is one of those instances. Supplication.
In verse 14 when the servant says, please, or excuse me, ‘the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please, let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink,’ it’s very detailed in what he’s asking God to do. Notice this: “Let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac.” A better rendition of this is that, let the person that I meet be the one You have chosen. Let her be the one, the one that I meet first off, be the one You have chosen. So I’m involved but I’m trusting that You are the one that has made the choice. “And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.” So it’s all about the will of God. I love it. It’s all about, Lord, You’ve made a choice. Show me who it is. Now you’re going to discover she’s really beautiful. But that’s not what he prays for. No, he’d be on the lookout, no doubt, for a good-looking girl, he’s going to get it for, he doesn’t want Isaac hating him his whole life. But I find it interesting that in the prayer he didn’t say, oh, God, I pray that she be 5’8”, blonde hair, have a bachelor’s degree in fashion and a healthy stock portfolio, in Jesus’ name, Amen! Though she has some assets, though she’s beautiful, it’s a spiritual prayer. It’s on a spiritual level and God will honor that.
“And it happened,” verse 15, “before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder. Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.” I just want to say something before I move on. The Bible notes that she’s beautiful. The Puritans had an interesting idea. They believed that physical beauty was of the devil. Don’t look at physical beauty, man, you find somebody beautiful it’s of the devil. Well technically, I guess that’s true, the devil himself was beautiful. He was a beautiful creature because God had given him beauty. But the idea that because a person is beautiful physically that that’s nothing to include into the equation is wrong! You see, even scientists recognize that there’s a thing called love mapping. I’ll tell you a little bit more about that toward the end of the study. But it’s how our brain works chemically, physiologically, and what features in certain people we find attractive and why that is. And what that mechanism is in the brain that brings that attraction when we look at a person and go, wow! She’s beautiful! That’s, there’s an initial attraction. You would want that. You know, you would want him to bring Isaac a beautiful girl. You wouldn’t want Isaac, after, by the way it’s a 450-mile trip one way, so close to 1,000 miles round trip. It’s going to take a couple months to make that journey there and back. You don’t want to go through that and then bring a gal who’s going to get off her camel and Isaac’s going to look and go, oh my goodness! Ok, do I have to? And he noted it’s a very beautiful woman. But while it’s mentioned, again, it’s on a spiritual level. And he’s praying for just the right one—just the right one.
And I love that the servant is praying, I love that Isaac will be out in the field praying, and it could be, as some commentators believe, that every single day this servant would get up in the morning and pray, commit his journey to God, get up in the morning, commit his journey to God, next day, commit his journey to God. Because he’s praying all the way through this encounter at the well. Ok, so your first date you open in prayer. Don’t stop there. Don’t say, yeah, well we prayed our first date, we’re done now. Pray through your relationship. I had an interesting meeting, this was so many years ago I think I’m safe to tell it. It was a Friday afternoon and I was told that I had a meeting with a couple whom I was supposed to marry, perform their wedding, on the following day, Saturday. Now there was a process then as there is now. They had seen an assistant pastor, they had been through counseling, I assumed, and now I was just, you know, they had been mentored and discipled, I’m just simply going to tie the knot. So I asked the couple, tell me about your relationship with each other and they told me how they met and they were looking at each other. And then I said, tell me about your spiritual relationship. Dead silence. And not only was there dead silence, but the man, the soon-to-be husband, started shrinking in his chair and was silent while the gal just sort of, kind of, stood up and got puffed up. Definitely miffed. You could see the body language. She was not pleased that I asked that. So I decided to press a little bit more. I said, now does that make you uncomfortable, do you pray together, do you read the Bible together, what’s your favorite Scripture? I just started asking some questions and she said, that’s none of your business. I said, oh really? And you’re asking me to perform the wedding tomorrow and you’re telling me it’s none of my business that I ask you, as a pastor, as a servant of God, about your spiritual relationship? That’s right, it’s none of your business! Well I decided to press a little further and ask her why it was none of my business and do they read the Bible at all or pray together. Come to find out they didn’t, but she was so incensed that I even asked about her walk with God she got up from the table and stormed out of the room. While this guy is just sitting there saying nothing. He was such a wimp. Just a noodle, just melting in the corner. So I said, ok, so you’re the leader of this relationship? Uh, yeah, well, yeah, you know she is this way and… I said, ok, well you got, it’s like 2:00 in the afternoon, you’ve got about three more hours to get her back into this room and we’ll finish the counseling session or I’m not going to do your wedding tomorrow. Oh, but it’s on the invitation! I don’t care what invitation, I don’t care who’s coming in from out of town! You can have the president and the Pope there—I’m not going to do the wedding before God unless I know you have a spiritual relationship. So you’ve got three hours to get her back in here and finish this up. They never showed up. I didn’t do the wedding.
I don’t know where they got married but I did hear that it wasn’t long before they divorced. Very, very sad. So Abraham is holding his servant to this and his servant is taking it very seriously, he’s planning for success, this is going to work, I’m going to trust God and I’m going to pray all the way through and make sure it’s on a spiritual level. “And the servant ran to meet her and said,” ok so here he is praying, oh God I just pray that as the chicks come out to draw water um and one, and one is there and I’m gonna say, hey can I have a drink and she’s gonna say, not only can you have a drink but I’ll also give water to your ten camels. Ten camels. When camels take a long journey and they can go for days without water, once they require water again, ten camels would require four huge barrels worth of water. It’s not like she’s going to take a little cup and go, here. She’s gonna have to go back and forth and back and forth. It’s an undertaking and would show the kind of character he’s looking for—industrious. Submissive. A servant. So it’s Lord, let her be the one. So here he is, she’s there, he sees a girl and says, wow, she’s good-looking, I wonder if this is the one! So he tries it. Here he is, verse 17, “Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.” God please, God please, he’s thinking. And “so she said, “Drink, my lord.” Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink.” And all the while he’s wondering, go on. “And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”
What was he doing at this point? Yes! Yes! “Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.” It’s exactly as he was praying and he didn’t get to say ‘Amen’ and she shows up and she said it like it was scripted. He’s wondering. “So it was, when the camels had finished drinking, that the man took a golden nose ring weighing half a shekel,” that was really cool in those days, gals, like a big diamond ring to you, “and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels of gold, and said, “Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please, is there room in your father’s house for us to lodge?” So she said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, Milcah’s son, whom she bore to Nahor.” Moreover she said to him, “We have both straw and feed enough, and room to lodge.” She saw the loot coming out of this guy’s pocket, I feel the witness! Yes! I may have stretched it a little bit. Now watch verse 26: “Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord.” Isn’t it beautiful? He has learned from Abraham to trust the Lord. He went out on faith like Abraham lived by faith, and now he’s just seeing God do something, maybe he, in his heart, really didn’t expect, but he’s blown away, he’s wondering, and he bowed his head and he worshiped.
“And he said, “Blessed be [Yahweh] the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.” Verse 27 is one of the most important verses on how God leads human beings in Scripture. “As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me”. Who does God lead? People who are on the way. People who get in the way get in His way. And when they’re in the way, on the way, God leads them. It’s not like the servant said, well, tell you what Abraham, I’ll just kick back in my tent and I’ll pray, God? If you want to find a wife for Isaac then just bring her here. No, he got up and was caravanning 450 miles making the long journey on the way. And God led him on that way. So here’s a principal. God’s providence is seen and revealed in man’s diligence and obedience. God’s providence is seen in man’s diligence and obedience. Be diligent. Be obedient. Get in the way. You got to take the first step before God will tell you what the second step is. The steps, Psalm 37, the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. But you got to take the first step. How’d you learn to ride a bicycle? Did you read a book on it? Watch videos about it? No, you got on a bike and you tried it. And you got your balance and you go, I get it, I get the hang of it. So when you want to walk with the Lord and be led, get on the way. Take the first step. And God will show you the second and the third and the fourth and you’ll have a journey, you’ll have a path marked out for you in life.
In the New Testament, the Lord told Philip, ‘Go down to Gaza which is the desert.’ He didn’t tell him what he was gonna find down in Gaza which is the desert, right? He just said, ‘Go down to Gaza which is the desert.’ So he went. Because he took the first step, God told him, ‘Now it’s time to take the second step. Join yourself to that chariot,’ because he saw a man sitting reading the scroll of Isaiah, Isaiah 53, in a chariot. And the Lord said, ‘Now go join yourself to that chariot.’ He never could’ve joined himself to that chariot and led that man to Christ unless he would’ve just gone out down to Gaza which is the desert. So go! Take the first step—and God will show you the second. And the third. And the fourth. “So the young woman ran and told her mother’s household these things. Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban”. Keep your eye on Laban. He likes material things and he’s getting involved in this transaction. It’ll prove important later on in Genesis. “And Laban ran out to the man by the well. So it came to pass, when he saw the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of his sister Rebekah, saying, “Thus the man spoke to me,” that he went to the man. And there he stood by the camels at the well.” See Laban’s going, hmmmm, this is good. Whoever this guy is represents a very wealthy patron. “And he said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord!” I say watch out for Laban. “Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels.” Then the man came to the house. And he unloaded the camels, and provided straw and feed for the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. Food was set before him to eat, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you about my errand.” Isn’t that interesting? I got business first; I’ll eat later. I’m on an errand. I’m on a mission from God. “And he said, “Speak on.” So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant.”
Now this is what you find. The nameless servant now tells of the riches of the father’s house. Helper, Comforter, is telling of the riches of the Father’s house to this family and then to Rebekah. Type of the Holy Spirit. “The Lord,” verse 35, “has blessed my master greatly, and he has become great; and He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and to him he has given all that he has. Now my master made me swear, saying, “You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell; but you shall go to my father’s house and to my family, and take a wife for my son.” And I said to my master, “Perhaps the woman will not follow me.” But he said to me, “The Lord, before whom I walk, will send His angel with you and prosper your way; and you shall take a wife for my son from my family and from my father’s house. You will be clear from this oath when you arrive among my family; for if they will not give her to you, then you will be released from my oath.” And this day I came to the well and said, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, if You will now prosper the way in which I go, behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass that when the virgin comes out to draw water, and I say to her, “Please give me a little water from your pitcher to drink,” and she says 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.” But before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah, coming out with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down to the well and drew water. And I said to her, “Please let me drink.” And she made haste and let her pitcher down from her shoulder, and said, “Drink, and I will give your camels a drink also.” So I drank, and she gave the camels a drink also. Then I asked her, and said, “Whose daughter are you?” He’s just telling the whole thing that we just read. I’m “the daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.” So I put the nose ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists. And I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the way of truth to take the daughter of my master’s brother for his son.” Now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me. And if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.” Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing comes from the Lord; we cannot speak to you either bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the Lord has spoken.” And it came to pass, when Abraham’s servant heard their words,” here it is again, “that he worshiped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth.” Then the servant brought out the jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother. And he and the men who were with him ate and drank and stayed all night. Then they arose in the morning, and he said, “Send me away to my master.” But her brother and her mother said, “Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go.” And he said to them, “Do not hinder me, since the Lord has prospered my way; send me away so that I may go to my master.” So they said, “We will call the young woman and ask her personally.”
Interesting. It’s pre-arranged but it involves her choice. It’s a mixture of the arrangement of the fathers, or the families, but still they’re letting her make a choice. She has to answer the question. “Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.” So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her: “Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands; and may your descendants possess the gates of those who hate them.” Now here is a third little key, I think, in a relationship. As the servant went out and was engaging in the conversation and thus afterwards making the plans for the marriage, all the while he’s planning for success not failure. He’s planning for success, not failure. He wants to do the right thing and he wants God really to show him. And every step he goes, yes, and he worships the Lord and then again worships the Lord. He is planning not for failure but for success. When you into a relationship and you’re getting close to marriage, plan only for success, don’t even let the vocabulary of failure enter the relationship. Don’t even entertain talking about divorce. When Lenya and I first got married that was just part of what we said to each other, we’re never in our future going to entertain a possible divorce. It’s out of the question. There is no backdoor in this relationship. We’re planning for success, not failure. We won’t entertain it, we won’t negotiate it, and we’ll never threaten each other. I’m going to divorce you, we’ll never even say that in an argument. It’s out of the question.
I found a letter that has been precious to me. I’ve shared it with some of you over the years. And I want to tell you who it’s from. Dr. James Dobson, you know of him, Focus on the Family. He so often talks about his mother and father and the commitment that they had with each other. And he found a letter that his father wrote to his mother before his father and mother married, when they were just in the engagement process. I want you to hear it. Dobson’s father writes: “I want you to know and be fully aware concerning the marriage covenant that we’re about to enter. I’ve been taught from my mother’s knee and in harmony with the Word of God that marriage vows are unviable and that by entering into them, I am binding myself absolutely and for life. I am not naïve concerning this. On the contrary, I am fully aware that mutual incompatibility or other unforeseen circumstances could result in extreme mental suffering. If such becomes the case, I’m resolved for my part to accept it as a consequence of the commitment that we are now making and to bear it if need be to the end of our lives together. I have loved you dearly as my sweetheart and I will love you as my wife, but above everything else, I love you with a Christian love that demands we will never act in such a way as to hinder our prospects from entering heaven which is the supreme desire of both of our lives.” Now that’s a classy way to say, ‘I love you.’
I know what I’m getting into. I might get into this and in a couple months go… I’m willing to accept it for the rest of my life. He was planning for success—not failure. “Then Rebekah,” verse 61, “and her maids arose, and they rode on the camels,” 450 miles on a camel—just think about that. Romantic, isn’t it? “And followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.” Now I suppose that on the way back she had a lot of questions. What’s he like? Tell me, describe his looks, is his handsome? Is he kind? Tell me again about his family and about this miraculous birth that he had? And all the conversations that would describe him and so as the servant is revealing about the son to the bride, the closer and closer they got, I know she was going, I can’t wait to see this guy! I can’t wait to lay my eyes on him! As the servant told about Ishmael and the rivalry and then told about Mount Moriah and the almost sacrifice, she couldn’t wait to see him. Isn’t that the way it is as the Holy Spirit reveals more and more of the Father’s love and the future kingdom? The closer we get to heaven it’s like, I can’t wait to see Him face-to-face! Verse 63: “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming.” I love that phrase: the camels were coming!
Meditating in the field, the ancient rabbis in the Jewish targums, translated this as he was in the field praying. He’s meditating in solitude before the Lord. He’s out praying. What’s he like? Well there he is—he’s a man of prayer. He saw the camels were coming. “And Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel.” I’m glad for that translation. The original King James said she “lighted off her camel,” and so as a young man when I read that I pictured her taking a cigarette out and lighting it up… and it just killed the whole story for me. Really? She lighted off her camel? So I’m glad for the change. “She dismounted from her camel; for she had said to her servant, “Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “This is my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself.” Now they’re entering into the period of betrothal where they become legally bound to each other, they cannot separate unless there’s a formal and legal divorce, but they can have no physical contact, no physical, sensual, sexual relations, until the marriage itself. “And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her.” Notice that. Commitment came first, love followed it. Mark Twain said, “It’s a good thing to keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half-shut afterwards.” Go in fully knowing what’s going on, fully prepared and then, once you make the commitment, it’s a commitment. Let the engine be the will and let the feelings be the caboose. When you commit, even if you commit to go through difficult times with your partner, and you go, I don’t know if we’re going to make it through this one, commit to it. Let the will drive the engine. Let the feelings and the emotions be the caboose. Keep working through willing, doing what is right, and you will find the feelings can and will follow. It was an act of the will and they loved each other. “So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”