Thursday, November 27, 2008

Genesis 24:10-14 "God, Bless Me and My Master, Today."

Genesis 24:10-14: Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and wet out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand; and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’; -- may she be the one whom Thou hast appointed for Thy servant Isaac; and by this I shall know that Thou hast shown lovingkindness to my master.”

In the opening of this passage, we see the servant doing what he had to do to equip himself for the task and then setting out to do exactly what he had promised his master he would do. Many times we make promises to either our earthly masters or to our heavenly Master, but we’re not prepared to equip ourselves for the task. We promise we’ll preach the Gospel everywhere but never study it ourselves or go to Bible school. Sometimes we tell God that we will use the talents He has given us (our voice, our ability to play the piano, our art, our physical ability in sports, etc.) to influence and reach thousands with his message of salvation but we are never really serious about it. We are not prepared to work hard to achieve the level of proficiency required for that kind of recognition and acceptance. We just don’t want to practice. If the truth be known, almost all of us would speak, sing, play, or compete, and give God the glory, if being good at it just came naturally without effort. While the ability does come innately for many, the success takes lots of hard work.

Abraham’s servant also knows what to take along with him as he packs gifts from Abraham’s family to take to the woman God will lead him to. Obviously, when you go to take someone’s daughter away to another land, you need to provide enough incentive and proof that she is joining a family able to take good care of her. At least that was the custom of that day.

The servant goes to visit the locale of Nahor, Abraham’s brother (Genesis 11:26) in Mesopotamia. This is the first time we come across this name of Mesopotamia. The word itself describes a land in the middle of or between (meso) and rivers (potamia) in the Greek. The rivers are the Tigris and the Euphrates, and today we find the countries of Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and the Khūzestān Province of southwestern Iran.

While we do not know what time he arrived there, we do know that he waited until evening time to cause his camels to kneel down by the well, outside the city. He knew that this was the time that the young maidens and other women would be coming to the well from inside the city to get water for their families. Abraham’s servant positions himself in the right place, at the right time, in order to carry out his assignment for his master. Many times we want to succeed in serving God but we are not prepared to be in the right place for doing so, nor are we patient enough to do it at the right time.

The servant then does something interesting – he prays. Scripture says that he prays to “the God of (his) master Abraham” but the two words prior to that may well indicate his own personal relationship with that God. Abraham had certainly modeled and encouraged the worship of God among his household and, as a faithful servant, this man may well have adopted God as his very own Lord. And what he asks for is even more interesting. He prays that God would show lovingkindness to his master by allowing him (the servant) to be successful. The servant’s success is the means by which his master will be shown lovingkindness by God. There is nothing in it for the servant except his rejoicing in being a vessel by which his master would be shown God’s favor. What an example for us as we go about our daily service to God. Our prayers for our success should be tied directly to God and to His Name being glorified in the world as a result.

Then the servant tells God what he has done by going to the well at the time the young women are coming to draw water. Now certainly God knew that the servant had done that; he did not need to tell Him. So why utter those words? I believe the servant was simply saying to God, “I have followed my instructions totally, and I went with the leanings of my understanding that you placed in my heart and mind, so God please honor my efforts with a sign in order that I may be able to know which one of these girls is the one you have appointed for Isaac.” And the servant proceeds to establish and suggest some very practical short-term criteria to define success so that he would know God’s will in this matter. We often do that ourselves. We set up certain conditions that need to be satisfied as a means of our understanding what God would have us do in a particular circumstance. Many times, however, people set up extreme criteria that if met would prove God’s existence, presence, and involvement beyond a shadow of a doubt. In fact, if God were to satisfy those criteria, there would no longer be any need for faith. It would be totally unreasonable not to believe in Him. God would not be quick to do that because even when He did, as we will see later in scripture, people still denied His existence.

Abraham’s servant on the other hand, picks criteria that, on the one hand, are practical enough and on the other beyond the realm of common practice in order to ascertain God’s will in this case. Think about it. Nine out of ten women that would be going to the well that day would have been taught to offer water to strangers. In fact, even those that were not taught specifically to do so, likely would simply out of common courtesy, especially when asked for a drink. Less likely, but still within the realm of possibility, would be that the same woman that gives him a drink would take the time and the trouble to also water the stranger’s animals. If that were to happen, most skeptics would chalk it up to a sheer coincidence. Those of us, however, who are looking for just enough divine intervention in their lives to know we are on the right track, would consider this occurrence nothing but God’s hand in our lives. We all need to be constantly seeking that kind of guidance and direction as we seek to do His will.

Finally, this passage concludes with the re-acknowledgement by the servant, that all he is asking for, and all God will do, would be for the sake of his master. That’s our job as well. “God, do this and allow this, strictly for your glory and your name’s sake.” Amen.

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