Sunday, December 14, 2008

Genesis 24:33-49 Abraham's Servant Presents His Cause

Genesis 24:33-49: But when food was set before him to eat, he said, "I will not eat until I have told my business." And he said, "Speak on." So he said, "I am Abraham's servant. The Lord has greatly blessed my master, so that he has become rich; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys. Now Sarah my master's wife bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him all that he has. 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 live; but you shall go to my father's house and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.' I said to my master, 'Suppose the woman does not follow me.' He said to me, 'The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father's house; then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my relatives; and if they do not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.' So I came today to the spring, and said, 'O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now You will make my journey on which I go successful; behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, "Please let me drink a little water from your jar"; and she will say to me, "You drink, and I will draw for your camels also"; let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master's son.' Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder, and went down to the spring and drew, and I said to her, 'Please let me drink.' She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder, and said, 'Drink, and I will water your camels also'; so I drank, and she watered the camels also. Then I asked her, and said, 'Whose daughter are you?' And she said, 'The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bore to him'; and I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists. And I bowed low and worshiped the Lord, and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had guided me in the right way to take the daughter of my master's kinsman for his son. So now if you are going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, let me know, that I may turn to the right hand or the left."

Abraham’s servant was certainly not a procrastinator when it came to the hard things that had to be done. So when all those wonderful dishes were placed before him, he did not dig right in even though he may have been hungry from his journey. Instead, he informed his hosts that he would not eat until he shared with them his mission. As humans, most of us find it so easy to procrastinate, to put off doing the difficult things we know we must do. It is much easier to get involved in things of lesser importance than what really matters. If we were honest with ourselves, we too would admit that we have some of those things we do not often rush to do. For me, these include writing an article or preparing a presentation I know is due soon. For some crazy reason, I usually wait until the last minute. Some people may treat exercising in the same way or worse, they may skip doing it altogether. Most business people find it very difficult to pass on unpleasant news to employees. Instead, we let it slide and ending up doing neither the employee nor the company any good. Others may find that prayer or personal devotions are difficult to get into. It always amazes me how when we go to pray in a group, prayer is often the last thing we do after spending most of the time just talking about what we will pray for. Small group Bible studies, unless well managed by the leader, spend very little time actually studying the Bible. We need to take a lesson from Abraham’s servant and deal with the important and difficult things we must do first.

So the servant explains to Rebekah’s family how it is that he came to accept this mission and how it is that he feels Rebekah is indeed the chosen one of God for Isaac. He repeats the whole story. He includes reference to Abraham’s wealth and blessing from God, with all the details about herds, money, and servants. There is also an appeal to Abraham’s desire to have his son, to whom all this inheritance belongs, marry someone from his own people and relatives rather than the Canaanites. Both of these statements and the facts they convey would also serve to endear Rebekah’s family to the success of his mission.

The servant shares Abraham’s faith as to what God wants to do with respect to his mission, as well as for Abraham, Isaac and the woman God has chosen. He then goes on to tell how he himself prayed to God to make him successful for the sake of his master, Abraham. He shares how he asked God to help him know who the right young woman would be and how Rebekah did indeed meet all the criteria. And finally, he explained how he worshipped and thanked God for guiding him to them as a family.

Imagine the situation that Rebekah and her family found themselves in. One moment they had a daughter in their midst and the next moment they were listening to a man explain how it was God’s will in every respect, as evidenced by the mission, the signs required, and the action of the young woman, that Rebekah should leave them and go to Isaac to get married. I am not sure how my wife and I would have responded in similar circumstances. Would we have accepted this from God or would we have wanted more evidence and certainly more time to investigate the whole thing? I wonder what was going through the head of Rebekah as she heard all of this?

And the servant, eager to finalize the deal, leaves Rebekah’s family and her very little time to think things over. He wants to make his goal perfectly clear and wants to leave no room for misunderstanding. He basically asked them outright, “Will you agree with my master’s wishes, yes or no? If not, I need to know so I can decide what I will need to do next -- whether to go back or to pursue the arrangements for what my master desires.” When one deals honestly and fairly with another, he or she has the right to expect that they will be treated honestly and fairly in return. This was the case with Abraham’s servant. He did not want any pretenses. He spoke his business clearly and appealed to them to respond in kind. If we handle our business and interactions in a similar manner, than we can expect that others treat us likewise.

Sometimes we wonder why things go wrong in our relationships and we only need to look as far as the way we treated others to find the answer. The ‘golden rule’ of doing to others what we would want done to us needs to be applied in all our relationships, including those involving business, either for ourselves or for our employers. Only then can we expect God’s blessing.

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