An All Important Decision
In this story, we will focus on a young woman named Rebekah. However, before doing so, we will take a brief look at a man named Abraham. You can read of him in Genesis 12:1-3
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Abraham had obeyed God and had taken his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot, and his servants with him, and they had travelled to the land of Canaan. Eventually they had a son named Isaac, as you can read in Genesis 21:1-5
Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Isaac grows up and one day Abraham instructs his servant to find a wife for his son. His instructions are very specific about who to choose as wife for his son Isaac, as you can read in Genesis 24:1-9
Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?” “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. “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 from my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.
And so the servant, being faithful to his master Abraham, sets off on his trip to find a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac, as you can read in Genesis 24:10-14
Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. He made the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was towards evening, the time the women go out to draw water.
Then he prayed, “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.”
After a long journey, Abraham’s servant finds himself in Nahor where he has strategically placed himself at the well just outside the town. And he has brought with him all kinds of gifts to help make his offer of marriage acceptable to the young woman of his choice and her family.
The servant knows that in a practical sense he has done everything he possibly can but he knows too that it is not enough for he needs to prepare spiritually for this very important task his master has given him so after he has made the camels kneel down, he himself kneels down as well and prays that God will help him choose the right wife for his master’s son Isaac. And he is very specific in the way he asks the Lord to answer his prayer giving God full details as to where he is at that moment and that at this time of the day the young women of the town will come to the well to fetch water. Abraham’s servant may have felt the need to be so specific because God resides in heaven where, no doubt, things are done very differently than here on earth. However, God does know everything what happens on earth even while He is in heaven so He will have known that Abraham’s servant is at the spring and that the young women are about to go to the spring to fetch water. I think we can sometimes be like that, can’t we? Thinking we have to tell God how it is, not realising that God knows better than we how things really are for God is all-knowing. Does God answer his prayer?
Let’s read Genesis 24:15 – 27 to find out
Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.” “Drink my Lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water; and drew enough for all his camels. Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor.” And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.” Then the man bowed down and worshipped the Lord, saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
God has answered Abraham servant’s prayer to the smallest details. The first thing he does is to thank God by bowing down and worshipping the Lord. He knows this would not have happened without the Lord’s help. Only the Lord can have made this encounter with the young woman Rebekah possible. Has the Lord prepared Rebeka’s family?
To find out, let’s read Genesis 24:28 - 53
The girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things. Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and he had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. “Come, you, who are blessed by the Lord,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” So the man went to the house and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.” “Then tell us,” Laban said. So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, and camels and donkeys. My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. And my master made me swear an oath, and said, “You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.” Then I asked my master, “What if the woman will not come back with me?” He replied, “The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. Then, when you go to my clan, you will be released from my oath even if they refuse to give her to you. – you will be released from my oath.” When I came to the spring today, I said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will please grant success to the journey on which I have come. See, I am standing beside this spring; if a maiden comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” and if she says to me, “Drink, and I will draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.” Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebecca came out with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water and I said to her, “Please give me a drink.” She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder, and said, “Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.” So I drank and she watered the camels also. I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?” She said, “The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him.” Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms and I bowed down and worshipped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”
Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.” When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewellery and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother.
Abraham’s servant gives a very detailed account of what has happened for he knows it is extremely important that these people in front of him know exactly how God has led him to Rebekah. After he has shared his story, they are completely convinced that only God can have organised the events. Consequently they give their blessing to Rebekah becoming the wife of Abraham’s son. In response, Abraham’s servant thanks the Lord. Then it is time to present gifts to Rebekah and her family.
We would have expected Abraham’s servant to take a few days off before travelling back home, but the text tells us that the next day already he is ready to go back home for he has finished his task and is eager to tell his master what has happened to him, as you can read in Genesis 24:54
Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”
Will Rebekah be willing to go back with him? Let’s read Genesis 24:55 – 61 to find out her response.
But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the girl remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.” But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted me success to my journey. Send me on my way that I may go to my master.” Then they said, “Let’s call the girl and ask her about it.” So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.”
Rebekah’s family realises that Rebekah is willing to go with Abraham’s servant so they do not try to persuade her to remain at least for a few days but speak profound blessings over her life as she departs.
Please understand that God had chosen this young unknown girl from nowhere to become the wife of Isaac. Not only was she chosen by Him to be the wife of Isaac, she was chosen by God to become the mother of Jacob and the grandmother of his twelve sons, out of whom have come the twelve tribes of Israel. Now Rebekah had no idea of these things when the question was put before her if she would be willing to go with this man to his home and his country far away from her home and her country to get married to someone she had never met. She could have said “No” and if she had, we would very likely never have heard from her again. But she said, “Yes”, and thereby showed remarkable courage. She must have known somehow that this was the right path for her, and that she should obey the God of Abraham whom she very likely did not know personally at that time. And the blessings pronounced upon her at her departure have been fulfilled and will be fulfilled yet more fully in the future.
Just as God had a specific plan for a young unknown girl from nowhere so He does have a plan for you, as you can read in Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
And just as Rebekah dared to step out in obedience to God’s plan for her life not knowing where it would lead to, so God wants you to be obedient to Him and He will lead you every day of your life, as you walk with Him, trusting Him in everything, and for everything. God knows you. He knows your needs and He knows your desires. Just as Rebekah mattered to Him so you matter to Him, as Jesus says in Matthew 6:26
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
So be like Rebekah and learn from her to willingly follow Jesus wherever He leads you for He will take care of you as you fulfil His plan for your life. Your willingness to serve the Lord in whatever way He wants you to will bless you and cause you to be a blessing to others. You may not be asked to marry a total stranger in a foreign land as Rebecca was, but God has things for you to do which only you can do so go ahead and be obedient to Him no matter what the cost, knowing that God will equip you for the things that He has for you to do, as you can read in Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God wants to use you for His purposes, and being obedient to Him will bring you true fulfilment.