An All Important Decision
The first story we will look at is the story of Rebekah. She became the wife of a man named Isaac who was the son of Abraham. We can read of Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 The Lord 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, 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. In time, Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac (Genesis 21:1-5). Once Isaac had grown up, it was time for him to be married, so Abraham instructed his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son. And his instructions were very specific, for he did not want Eliezer to find a wife for his son from the people he was living amongst. Instead, he wanted his servant to go back to the country where he had come from in order to find a wife for his son from among his relatives (Genesis 24:1-4).
And Abraham was convinced that God would send an angel ahead of the servant to guide him to the right young woman (Genesis 24:7). So the servant set off on his trip to find a wife for his master’s son Isaac. He travelled all the way back to a town called Nahor (Genesis 24:10). When he arrived, the first thing he did was to kneel down and pray, for he knew that without God’s help he would be unsuccessful (Genesis 24:11-12). And he was very specific in how he prayed, as we can read in Genesis 24:12-14 “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.”
(Abraham’s servant) “I have been on a long and tiring journey and you may wonder why. You see, I have come all the way from Canaan where I reside with my master Abraham, his wife Sarah and their son Isaac. And my master had asked me to find a wife for his son. But he told me not to find a wife for his son among the people he is living today. He told me that, instead, I should go back to the place where he has come from originally to find a wife for his son among his relatives (Genesis 24:1-4). So a few weeks ago some other servants and I set off on a journey (Genesis 24:10). And today we arrived at the place of our destination which is a town called Nahor. And I am now here outside the town at the spring (Genesis 24:11). But I know I cannot possibly find a wife for my master’s son by myself. I know I need to pray and ask God to help me. So that is what I did, I knelt down and I prayed (Genesus 24:12). And I said to the God of my master, “Please God, I need Your help. I have come here for a special purpose, God. And You are in heaven and I am here on earth so I want you to know I am here in Nahor at the spring. And at this time of the day the young women come to the spring to draw water because God, I know that does not happen in heaven, it only happens here on earth. And, please, will you help me know which young woman You have chosen by having her give me some water and having her offer to water my camels at the same time (Genesis 24:13-14).” The truth is, I was still praying when this young woman came to the spring (Genesis 24:15). I asked her, could I have some water, please. And then she so kindly offered to water my camels as well (Genesis 24:17-19). So I thought, “Is she the one God has chosen?” I decided to wait. I watched her carefully as she kindly watered all my camels. And then I asked her who she was. And amazingly, she told me that she is the granddaughter of my master’s brother. God has led me to the house of my master’s relatives (Genesis 24:21-24). Rebekah, that is the name of the young woman, has now gone home to tell her family about our encounter (Genesis 24:28). And I am now waiting to find out if I can spend the night with them.”
Rebekah had run home and told her family everything that had happened to her. Her brother Laban then went quickly to the spring to invite Abraham’s servant to stay with them for the night (Genesis 24:28-31).
(Abraham’s servant) “I was so pleased to see Rebekah’s brother Laban for I must say, I was very tired after this long journey so when I got to their home it was very tempting for me to just sit down and have this wonderful meal they had set out before me. And afterwards have a wonderful rest (Genesis 24:32). But I know I have come for a particular purpose so I told them I must tell them who I was and why I had come before I could eat (Genesis 24:33). So I told them who I was, who my master was. And that he had sent me to Nahor to find a wife for his son from among his relatives. I told them as well that when I arrived at the spring I had prayed to the God of my master and asked Him to lead me to the right young woman. And for me to know who this right young woman was by having her not only give me a drink of water but for her to be willing to water my camels as well. And how Rebekah had done so (Genesis 24:34-49). Rebekah’s family then listened to my story and they realised that indeed Rebekah must have been chosen by God to become the wife of my master’s son (Genesis 24:50-51) I then felt I had fulfilled my task. And I could finally sit down and have this wonderful meal and then have a good rest Genesis 24:52-54a).”
Rebekah’s family was ready to let her go back to Canaan with the servant but, no doubt, they wanted to give her a few days to prepare for her trip and say goodbye to her family and friends. But the servant wanted to return to his master as soon as possible (Genesis 24:54).
(Abraham’s servant) “I felt so refreshed the next morning for I had had such a good sleep so I asked Rebekah’s family to send me on my way (Genesis 24:54b). They asked me to postpone my return. And I told them, “No.” I wanted to go back to see my master because he would be waiting for me. And I wanted to tell him the good news that I had found a beautiful bride for his son. For that would set his heart at peace (Genesis 24:55-56). Rebekah’s mother and brother then decided that they should ask Rebekah herself. And God be praised, she told them she was willing to go with me that very day. And so we set off for Canaan that day (Genesis 24:57-61).”
Please realise that God had chosen this young unknown woman from nowhere to become the wife of Isaac. Not only was she chosen by Him to become the wife of Isaac (Genesis 24:67), she was chosen by Him to become the mother of Jacob (Genesis 25:26), and the grandmother of his twelve sons, out of whom came the twelve tribes of Israel. (Genesis 35:23-26). Moreover, the Messiah would eventually come forth from these twelve tribes (Matthew 1:1-3, 16-17). Now, Rebekah had no idea of these things when the question was put to her asking if she was willing to go with this man to his home and his country far away from her own home, and to be 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 believed that this was the right path for her and that she should obey the God of Abraham whom she likely did not personally know at that time. And the blessings pronounced upon her at her departure have been fulfilled and will be fulfilled more specifically in the future (Genesis 24:60). Just as God had a specific plan for this unknown young woman from nowhere, so He does have a plan and a purpose for each one of us, as we 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.”
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 us to be obedient to Him, and He will lead us every day of our lives as we walk with Him, trusting Him in everything and for everything. God knows us and He knows our desires. Just as Rebekah mattered to Him, so we 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 let us be like Rebekah and learn from her, to willingly follow Jesus wherever He leads us. He will take care of us as we fulfil His plan for our lives. Our willingness to serve the Lord in whatever way He may want us to will cause Him to bless us and enable us to be a blessing to others. You and I may not be asked to travel to a foreign country to marry a total stranger as Rebekah was, but God has things for us to do which only we can do, so let us be obedient to Him no matter what the cost, in the knowledge that God will equip us for the things that He has for us to do, as we can read in Ephesian 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 us for His purpose. Moreover, being obedient to Him will bring us true fulfilment.