Do You Seek the Lordís Guidance?

Explore the Bible Series

February, 17, 2008

 

Background Passage: Genesis 24:1-67

Lesson Passage: Genesis 24:34-48

 

Introduction: For generations, cultures socialized their children by telling stories.The family campfire or hearth served as the hub of life, and children learned about their tribal identity from older kinsmen.Elders passed on the family history, instilled moral values, and impressed a sense of ďselfĒ on the young.This time-tested method of training has been, I fear, lost in recent generations, at least in highly technological societies of the West.The television and computer have replaced the hearth as the means of socializing little ones, creating a sterile, rootless culture.One college historian has claimed that the collegiate classroom is the last place where young people can hear the ďfamilyĒ story of our nation.I have some reservations about this characterization, but the ďstoryĒ does largely go untold.

 

Genesis Twenty-four is masterful story-telling. These verses recount a fascinating narrative about the marriage of the son of promise, Isaac.An unidentified servant, perhaps Eliezer of Damascus, takes center stage in the drama.This humble slave faithfully followed Abrahamís directions to seek a wife for Isaac among the descendents of Terah.The story, like a great drama, unfolds in four ďactsĒ.The halting, faltering Abraham acts differently in this text, replacing the doubts of his past with a renewed, vibrant confidence.In Chapter twenty-four the patriarch acts confidently and decisively.He sent the servant on a clear mission, with unmistakable directions to his slave.No Canaanite woman would fit the marital needs of the son of promise; instead, the servant had to seek a bride from Abrahamís extended family, a woman of great kindness and grace.Furthermore, the seemingly risky search would, according to Abrahamís unshakable faith, end in the servantís successful identification of a wonderful bride for Isaac.

 

Godís quiet, gracious providence acts as a backdrop for the entire story, but there is little reference to divine intervention.None of this seems miraculous, and no supernatural messages or actions occur.Instead, the Lord works silently, behind the scenes.The servant did not receive, so far as the text reveals, a supernatural communication, but he did recognize the hand of God in finding Rebekah.Christians can find great comfort in this story.Most of the time believers do not receive some remarkable indications of the guidance of the Lord.Instead, Christians seek the Lordís wisdom concerning the important decisions of life.After the fact, Christians can discern the hand of God in lifeís mundane affairs, and their harts are filled with thanksgiving and praise for the Lordís guidance.Above all, we should enjoy this narrative.This is a delightful story that teaches invaluable lessons about the Lordís providence.

 

 

 

Outline of the Lesson Passage:

 

I.                   Abrahamís Directives for the Servant (24:1-9): Abraham had grown old, and he wanted to ensure the marital blessing for Isaac.A trusted, older servant received the stewardship of identifying Isaacís partner.Abraham caused his servant to swear fidelity to the masterís plan.The ancients regarded an oath, sworn on the loins, as a binding covenant that centered on the offspring of the patriarch.In effect, the slave swore on the descendants of Abraham that the solemn oath would be honored.The vow had several features.

A.    The servant would not take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites.†† Abraham hoped to ensure that the bride would come from the blessed Semites, not from the cursed descendents of Canaan.

B.     The servant would seek a bride from the Semites, in particular, the family of Terah. The family of Terah had a history of paganism, but at least they had some sense of the worship of Jehovah.

C.     The servant would not take Isaac away from the land of promise.Abraham had met with near disaster when he left Canaan to seek refuge in Egypt, but the old man had learned his lesson.Now, under no circumstances, would Isaac leave Canaan.Abraham, confident in the Lordís promise, assured the slave that God would guide the process.As directed, the slave swore to follow Abrahamís instructions.

 

II.                The Servantís Interaction with Rebekah (24:10-27)

A.    The servantís journey and prayer for success (vv. 10-11): After a lengthy journey to Nahor, the servant settled briefly near a well. This journey, approximately four hundred miles, must have taken a long time, and, according to custom, the servant sought immediate refuge at a well.

B.     The servantís prayer for Godís guidance (vv. 12-14): The servant asked that God might provide direction by causing the potential bride to draw water for the weary traveler. The prayer request rested on the Lordís steadfast love for Abraham.

C.     The appearance of Rebekah (vv. 15-27): Rebekah drew water for the servant and the camels, and the servant observed her as a potential answer to his prayers.She was beautiful, hospitable, gracious, and humble.Furthermore, the text reveals that she was a virginal maiden of marriageable age.The servant gave the young woman a gold ring and two bracelets; then, he asked about her family.When she revealed her linage, the slave man praised God for divine guidance to the household of Abrahamís family.

 

III.             The Servantís Interaction with Rebekahís Family (28-61):

A.    The servantís story (vv. 28-49): Abrahamís faithful slave told Laban, Rebekahís brother, the story of the Lordís dealings with the patriarch.In addition, the devoted servant told of his encounter with Rebekah, and his hope that she would journey to Canaan to become Isaacís wife.

B.     The familyís agreement to end Rebekah to Canaan (vv. 50-61): Laban discerned Godís hand in the story of the servant and agreed to let Rebekah go to Canaan.Despite some initial reluctance, Laban gave Rebekah several handmaidens and made arrangements to send the party to Abrahamís household.The young womanís parents gave her a warm blessing to send her on her way.

 

IV.             Isaacís First Encounter with Rebekah (24:61-67): This heartwarming story concludes with Isaacís delight in his new bride.As he meditated during the evening, he saw the caravan approaching.As Rebekah neared her future husband, she covered her face as a symbol of her chastity and humility.The narrative, sparse and uncomplicated, ends with Isaac taking Rebekah as his wife.He quickly came to love her, and she brought comfort to her new husband.What a beautiful, simple description of marital love.Isaac cherished his new wife, and she brought comfort and peace to her husband.

 

Question for Discussion:

Are you careful to mark the precious providence of God in the mundane affairs of life?Do you discern Godís hand in all your ways?Do you often recall the words of Proverbs 3:5-6?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.

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