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“A Love Story” Genesis 24:1-66

November 9, 2014

Genesis 24:1-66

“A Love Story”

 

Intro:  Our journey through Genesis today brings us to a narrative story.  It is a story basic to every human family – a man needs to find a wife.  In ancient custom, it was the father’s responsibility to find a suitable match for his son.  There was more bargaining than romance when all was said and done.

 

Because Abraham was very old, he could not personally carry out this task so he called upon a servant.  The servant, who had been with his family the longest and had won the respect of Abraham, was chosen. 

 

Why is this story important?  With the death of Sarah, there is no matriarch for the people of God.  If the promise of God to Abraham is to be fulfilled then Isaac must have to wife, as Shakespeare would put it.    Abraham charges the servant with certain parameters for his search – listen for those. 

 

Everything that happens in this story today impacts the future of the people of God.  And everything that happens today hinges on the work of a faithful servant who set out with a difficult task and wisely sought the direction of God in the process.  It is on the servant I would like you to focus your attention as you hear this story read.

 

Read Genesis 24:1-66

 

Now that we’ve heard the story, let’s go back and pick out the path of the servant. 

 

We discover that he is in charge of everything that Abraham has – which is quite a lot because God has blessed him abundantly all these years.  This servant is trustworthy, knows the mind of his master Abraham, knows Isaac as he has watched him grow up.  There is no one better for this task on Abraham’s behalf.

 

Abraham made the servant make an oath.  Let’s first look at the content of the oath.  He was to swear not to get a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites where they were living.  He was to go back to Abraham’s family and get a wife from one of his relatives.  Because of the promise of God to Abraham, it was important that this lineage stay pure at this time.

 

The servant has some questions and doubts about this task and Abraham tells him that an angel of the Lord will go before him to prepare the way.  And having all of his questions answered the servant makes the oath.  Now this oath is extraordinary.  Abraham tells him to “put your hand under my thigh”.  This was about the strongest, most intimate vow one could make.  It was akin to placing your hands on “the family jewels” and swearing by them.  Serious business.  I am grateful for a pinkie promise or handshake today.

 

The servant leaves with all of the physical materials that he needs to accomplish the task:  jewelry, camels, etc.  He gets to where he is going and the time for women to fetch water for the evening has come.  Obviously, during his journey, he has developed a plan he will use to fulfill this task.  He positions himself and then he does the most important thing any of us can do in a situation such as this:  he prays.

 

He prays a particular type of prayer – I’ve always called it a “fleece prayer” as it happens in Judges 6 when Gideon wants to make sure God is the one acting.  It’s one of those prayers where you say, Lord if the Steelers win today then I will take this new job offer.  It is a prayer where you are seeking specific signs to know whether you are to proceed with something or not.  I think I do this more often than I’m aware.  I think I do it when there is a difficult conversation I need to have.  I find myself praying, “Lord, this is what I need to do, please make this situation obvious so that I might know it is time to do this task.”  Warning:  this type of prayer can be used as a cop out to not do what you know you need to do!  But in the servants case, it was very specific for his mission.

 

God is specific in the answer!  Everything happens the way the servant asked for it to do.  In fact, God begins to answer his prayer before it is even completely prayed!  God brought the servant to just the right wife for Isaac and what is her name?  Rebekah, whose lineage we read about in chp. 22.  You remembered, right?

 

When he realizes that his prayer has been answered we read his response in v. 26 – he bowed down and worshipped God.  I wonder if we aren’t a little light on the praising God for answered prayers side of things.  In past years on FB, there have been many people doing the thanksgiving challenge where throughout November they daily post something they are thankful for.  I’ve only noticed one so far this year.  And it makes me think about how often I stop and praise God when I realize that prayer has been answered.  How about you?

 

The servant was all business.  The mission came first.  After the animals were cared for and he had brought in to the house and was able to wash up and there was food on the table, he stopped.  He said (33)  “I will no eat until I have told you what I have to say.”  He was determined to carry out his master’s charge before he relaxed.  He lived in earnest to please Abraham, to accomplish the purpose of the trip. 

 

He tells the family of Rebekah – and remember her brother Laban’s name because he makes a dramatic reappearance – about his task and about his prayer and about how Rebekah appeared before he had even finished the prayer and answered all of his requests to God.

 

And the way he told the story made the men of the house believe that God was in this and they granted the request to send Rebekah to marry their kinsman, Isaac.

 

The task completed, the arose the next morning and asked to be sent on his way with Rebekah in tow.  He knows that Abraham is old and fragile and he seeks to get back to tell him the good news so that he might have peace.  So the family of Rebekah bless her and send her on her way to a new life.

 

The final task of the servant is the introduction.  Film writers couldn’t have done a better job than as Moses tells it.  Imagine an open field with a warm breeze blowing over the wheat and whatever sappy soundtrack you’d like.  Isaac is walking in his fields.  He looks up and sees camels approaching.  His interest is piqued.  No doubt his father, Abraham, had told him what the servant had set off to do and his mind is thinking “Oh boy, here she is!  Here comes my bride!” And whatever other thoughts a young man might have at this juncture in life. 

 

At the same time, Rebekah looks up and sees this man in the distance and she can tell that he is a somebody.  She gets off the camel and asks the servant, “Who is this man coming to meet us?”  And he is able to tell her, “This is my master” and your future husband.  And I bet that servant wasn’t nervous at all because he knew that this was the wife God had chosen for Isaac.  And Isaac lover her, v. 66 says.

 

That story is better than a Nicholas Sparks novel.

 

Concl.  But other than a good story, what is God teaching us through it today?  We focused on the servant so the logical question is:  Whom do you serve?  Do we live to serve God the way this unnamed man lived to serve Abraham?  Do we respond to God’s calling the way this man did – with a vow to obey, quick action and a prayer for guidance?  What might happen if we began to live this way today?

 

Let’s take an opportunity to live this out.  When we move to prayer, ask God what one thing he would have you do on his behalf.  I guarantee it will not involve mounting a camel and going to another nation.  It might be something much more difficult like making an apology or giving the answer “yes” or “no” to a situation you’ve been hedging on.  But what I’d like you to say to God is something like, “Lord God, I am your servant.  What do you desire of me?”  There will be silence to give you time to listen.

 

Let us pray: . . . “Lord God, I am your servant.  What do you desire of me?”

Lord, we dedicate these known tasks to you and ask you to bless our efforts as we seek to serve and honor you.  Lead us in these endeavors and be glorified in every aspect of their completion. . . .