Saturday, December 20, 2008

Genesis 24:54b-60 Dealing with the Hesitations of Others

Genesis 24:54b-60: When they arose in the morning, he said, "Send me away to my master." But her brother and her mother said, "Let the girl stay with us a few days, say ten; afterward she may go." He said to them, "Do not delay me, since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master." And they said, "We will call the girl and consult her wishes." Then they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will go." Thus they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham's servant and his men. They blessed Rebekah and said to her, "May you, our sister, Become thousands of ten thousands, And may your descendants possess The gate of those who hate them."

The next morning, Abraham’s servant and his team arise early to commence their journey, along with Rebekah, back to Abraham and Isaac as agreed to the night before with Rebekah’s family. And out of courtesy, but more as a “bid me well” request, he asks permission to be sent on his way to his master, expecting everything to be a go.

Unfotunately, Rebekah’s brother and mother have a different idea not being so quick to part with their sister and daughter, respectfully. They want her to stay with the family another ten days before she goes to Isaac. Maybe Abraham’s servant had wisely surmised that these two could have presented some obstacles to his plan and thus had given them the gifts the night before.

If you are a little like me, someone who likes to make things happen, you may well, during your life or service to God, have found yourself in a circumstance just like Abraham’s servant found himself that morning. He had gone to bed thinking everything had been worked and that God had blessed his task and he wakes up in the morning only to be told (or in today’s terms, he gets an email or a phone call) that there is hesitation on the part of others involved in the decision. What a letdown. What does one do in this particular case? How could God be allowing this to happen one may ask? It is in these most frustrating and disappointing moments in our life that God is more interested in our reaction and our steadfastness in trusting Him to see the matter through in His time and His way. It is also in these circumstances that God wants us to realize that there is a spiritual Enemy against whom we must do battle in times like this. The Enemy’s role is to convince us that there is no God and that indeed we were foolish to think He was with us even up to this point and he makes the going real hard. In the meantime, our heavenly Father is only interested in our own spiritual growth and development through all of this.

Before we see how the servant did react, let’s consider for a moment Rebekah’s father. There was no suggestion from him with respect to any delay in the plans that had been agreed to. Why was that? I like to think it is something that Tim and Darcy Kimmel, in their book Extreme Grandparenting (Tyndale House, 2007) refer to as the wisdom and experience of those that had lived longer and seen more in life. Bethuel was the older and wiser patriarch of the home. Through his many years of life, he saw God at work and he had learned not to interfere with what God wanted because that only made matters worse. He was more than willing to let Rebekah go as had been agreed, although here he remains silent, allowing the servant, the objectors, and God, to work it out.

When you or I are the older and the wiser in any given situation, we need to be able to reflect on how God has worked throughout our lives and to encourage others to just let God be God. We need to facilitate God’s will in our lives and in the lives of others, especially those that are younger.

So what indeed did the servant do when faced with Laban and Milcah’s hesitation? He pleads that they do not delay him because indeed God had already blessed his way. But not only that, he again asks them to send him on his way. He very wisely asked that they not interfere with what was clearly the plan of the Lord. Who were they (who is anybody) to interfere with what God had intended, especially as believers? And as such, that left them very little real choice. Secondly, the wise servant also wanted to make sure that he just did not take the girl and leave; instead, he wanted the family to endorse his going with Rebekah.

When dealing with others, especially God’s people, we need to engage their cooperation. We are not to use force but instead use the words, the wisdom and the rational that God has laid on our hearts and lips to convince them to be partners in God’s will for any given situation. And once we have done our best in attempting that, to leave the rest to God. That is exactly what Abraham’s servant had to do as Laban and Milcah replied to his plea.

Realizing that they could not go against God’s own will, Rebekah’s brother and mother try to involve Rebekah herself in the decision, hoping she has changed her mind about going right away as the servant had planned or perhaps not going at all. Were Laban and Milcah really that ahead of their times that they would actually allow their younger sister and daughter, respectfully, to make such a decision? I don’t think so. In fact, turning this kind of matter over to her in those days was most unusual. I believe it was a last desperate attempt to find a way out without them going against God’s will but willing that someone else might. It is amazing how the Enemy can hide himself in each of us, even as believers. He has this well-honed ability to find out what our own personal desire is and then works on us to pursue it, especially where it goes contrary to what God wants. They tell the servant that they would call the girl in and consult her wishes.

Rebekah, however, was resolved to fit right into the plan of God no matter what her family may have wanted. To the question “Will you go with this man?” that her mother and brother asked, she responds, “I will go.” Nothing elaborate, just a simple commitment to do God’s will and to keep her word. This was simply bonus evidence that she was indeed the woman that God would use to fulfill His covenant with Abraham.

Rebekah’s response was the final deal clincher. There was no turning back or any further objections that could be made by anyone. The family agreed to send Rebekah’s nurse or maid with her and Abraham’s servant. They all blessed her in the role she was to play in being available to fulfill God’s covenant, that she would through her offspring literally multiply into thousands of ten thousand and that her descendants would possess the gate of those who hate them. We referred to this phrase in discussing Genesis 22:17. To repeat, I believe it means that Rebekah’s descendants, since they would be Abraham’s descendants, would achieve both physical and spiritual victories. They will be able to defeat their political enemies as well as their spiritual ‘enemy’. And because that will be the case, through now Rebekah’s offspring, all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

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