Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Genesis 24:50-54a The Family's Response

Genesis 24:50-54a: Then Laban and Bethuel replied, "The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master's son, as the Lord has spoken." When Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the Lord. The servant brought out articles of silver and articles of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night.

Abraham’s servant has presented Rebekah’s family with a serious question to which he must have an immediate answer: Will they agree to Rebekah coming back with him to be the wife of Isaac, the son of his master? Both the brother and the father reply in a most interesting way. They set aside any personal decision that they may make in favor of the fact that “this whole thing comes from God”. Their opinion does not matter. Since this is from the Lord, than what we have to say is not the issue here. These men had the desirable ability to consider what is presented to them, determine whether it is from God or not, and if so, to lay aside all their own personal desires or wishes, and then to be able to get fully involved in facilitating God’s will. What a wonderful attitude with which to face life as a believer in the Almighty. When life throws us surprises and even curves, we need to step back, assess the situation, and determine the source. If indeed it is from God, then we set aside our plans, our own way of pursuing things, and join God is His plans for us as we totally accept His providence and will on our life. Laban and Bethuel did just that.

The servant is told he can take Rebekah back to Abraham and Isaac, “as the Lord has spoken”. Are we prepared to agree to things “as the Lord has spoken”? What is interesting to note here is that God, as far as scripture records, did not actually say to anyone, “Take Rebekah back”. So what exactly does that phrase, “as the Lord has spoken” mean? What God did do was simply bless what Abraham wanted and what his servant did on behalf of Abraham. That’s important because sometimes we need to discern between what God has said directly in His word to us and what He may be telling us to do through the advice and counsel of others who are committed to serving Him. The latter requires more due diligence as well as having a feeling of peace about it that comes directly from God. We need to know who the messengers are and about their own relationship with God. Does what is evident in their word and their life match what we believe a servant of God should be like? If so, we have more reason to accept their advice and be willing to share in their goals. In the final analysis, however, it still needs to sit well with us theologically and spiritually before we agree to participate.

And of course, further evidence in favor of this messenger being indeed a servant of the Lord’s is that once again, having received Laban and Bethuel’s response, bows down and worships God, giving Him thanks for what He has accomplished.

The servant than gives more gifts to Rebekah, Laban, and Rebekah’s mother but poor old dad, Bethuel, gets left out. The lot of a father, I guess. Clearly Abraham’s servant knew that Rebekah had to be happy, Laban could have been trouble if he wasn’t pleased with the idea, and of course, this whole thing would have cost Rebekah’s mother the most as she would miss her dearly. With all that out of the way, it was time to celebrate what God had done.

This whole account is an incredible story with God as the central character. It was He who made the covenant with Abraham that Abraham’s seed would be multiplied through a child that Sarah bore him in her old age. It was He who put it in Abraham’s head to seek a wife for Isaac from his own people. It was He who was with the servant as he planned how he would discern God’s will. It was He who moved Rebekah and her family to behave as they did. It was He to whom both the servant and Rebekah’s family gave the glory and praise. In fact, is not all of the life of a believer about Him? Do we always recognize it as such? Sometimes, even when we do, we do not celebrate enough so that others may know about His part in it.

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