Abraham, Pt. 12: Finding the Right Bride

Scripture: Genesis 24:1-67, Genesis 25:1-11
Date: 05/29/2004 
The last in a 12 part series on the life of Abraham. This sermon focuses on the search for a bride for Isaac.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning. It’s with a mixture of bittersweet feelings that I stand before you this morning because for almost four months now we have been exploring the highs and the lows of the ultimate patriarch Abraham and today will be the last installment in that specific study. I really have enjoyed it. I’ve been blessed and moved many times. I’ve learned as I have studied in preparation for these messages things that have been a benefit to my own soul and I trust that’s also the case with you. Today we’re going to be talking about “Finding the Right Bride,” part 12 in “Abraham the Ultimate Patriarch.” “Finding the Right Bride” and that’s probably a good title for today. We’ve had a baby dedication, we dedicated some elementary and high school students and now we’re going to tell you how to find the right mate. It seems like it just segways very well. We’re going to chapter 24 in Genesis so please turn with me Genesis chapter 24 and beginning with the first verse. And the content of our study today will be Genesis chapter 24 and the first part of chapter 25.

Now we’ve, we saw of course Abraham offered his son and God spared him, the great analogy of Christ. Sarah passed away and Abraham has made a provision for death. But one thing still remains that is leaving Abraham feeling somewhat unsettled and that is finding the right bride for his son. Now this is not any insignificant task because he realizes that the posterity coming through Isaac is going to be the nation, not just a component or a family in a nation, but it is the very trunk the tree. Something like Adam and Noah. Everybody here is related to Adam and Noah, am I right? Well, everybody who is going to be coming from this special family tree would come through Isaac and whoever that mystery woman is and Abraham knew that and he had concerns because typically when you study the genealogies before Abraham it became an average to start getting married around thirty, thirty-five. Abraham now is a hundred and forty. If Isaac was born when Abraham was a hundred, Isaac is forty. It doesn’t look like there’s any wife or prospects and that could partly be because he was waiting on his father. It was very common in bible times, it’s still the practice in some parts of the world, for the parents to play the predominant role in finding the spouse for their children.

Now we almost laugh at that today that the parents would be involved in something like that but you know sometimes parents know their children better than their children know themselves and what will make for their ultimate happiness. So verse one, Genesis 24, “Abraham was old, and well advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house…” Now we believe this is Eliezer and I’ll get to that in a moment. “…who ruled over all that he had, ‘Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord…’” Now you and I, you know, you go to court and you raise your right hand when you make a vow. It seems kind of strange that you would take and put your hand under someone’s thigh and then make a vow, but that was really a symbol in these times that they were going to rest on your word and it was, you know various customs in various countries. And he said, “Put your hand under my thigh, and I’ll make you swear by the Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” People who believed in the same God as Abraham. “And the servant said, ‘Perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to that land from which you came?’” Abraham probably nearly jumped out of his chair. He said, “Beware you do not take my son back there.

The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you are released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.” He could not be more emphatic to emphasize the Lord brought me out of that land and if my son goes back there, he may find someone there and become entrenched with the family there. How often have you seen it happen where some young man or some young woman goes to some part of the country for education, they find a spouse and they never get out of that state? There’s a tendency that when you develop relationships you can put your roots down somewhere and never move again, and Abraham thought, “God brought me out of Mesopotamia into the Promised Land. There is a risk that he’ll be tempted to develop roots back there. Do not bring him back there to get his wife. Bring his wife from there to the Promised Land.”

You’ll see why that’s important in even the symbolism later. So his servant put his hand under his thigh, and he swore, they made a covenant, concerning this matter. Now this is probably a good place for me to stop and at least remind you in a superficial way that it is important with God that we are not unequally yoked to unbelievers. This was Abraham’s concern. I do not want my son who I have trained to believe in the God of heaven and earth to become entangled romantically with a woman, it doesn’t matter how nice she is or how beautiful she looks, if she’s worshipping the pagan gods of the Canaanites. And so the Lord was giving a very strong message that they should not be unequally yoked, but he was to have a bride from his own people that worshipped the same God. You remember how much it grieved Isaac later when his son Esau married some of the Canaanites. That’s why Isaac sent Jacob back. They did not want their faith polluted. Remember in the Bible before the Lord destroyed the world with a flood? What single even contributed to the extermination of the human race save Noah? “When the sons of God,” the children of Seth who believed in the true God, “saw the daughters of men,” the descendants the daughters of Cain who had rejected God “and took them wives of all they chose.”

When the sons of God that worshipped the God of creation began to intermarry with the daughters of Cain who had rebelled against God pretty soon their particular faith evaporated. And then it goes on to say, “The thoughts of men were only evil continually.” Now it is, for some reason it is becoming less popular to speak plainly on this subject. It’s okay, Doug, you can talk about the Ten Commandments and say, you know, don’t lie, don’t kill, don’t steal, but when you start telling us who we’re supposed to marry, mind your own business! Friends, I’ll tell you that I believe that the Bible is just as clear on this command as any other, that believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. And I’ve heard all the arguments, “Oh, Pastor Doug, you know I married someone who was a church member and they turned out to be a real big zero and they gave me all kinds of trouble, but I’ve met this girl or I’ve met this guy and yes, I know they’re Christians maybe of another faith or they may not be Christians yet, but they’re such good, moral people and they’re nice, and doesn’t that matter? And I’m hoping that they’ll come around.” Well, don’t marry them until they do because you’re showing idolatry, you’re worshipping a person more than God. “If any man loves father, mother, sister, brother, children, wife more than me he is not worthy of Me.” If you really love and worship God then your life mate should be chosen based on seeking first his kingdom. That ought to be a criteria.

Don’t even consider if they’re not, don’t say, “Well, you know they’re not that bad. Good looking, maybe you know they almost believe the same. I mean I realize they’re Buddhists, but that’s almost the same and…” There’s all kinds of, you know when people want to believe something they can rationalize almost anything and I’ve seen it. Love is blind and lust doesn’t see very clearly either. And some people think they’re in love and they’re in heat and they make really dumb decisions and so don’t even consider it. Deuteronomy 7:3, “Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods.” If nothing else it dilutes your faith. Even if they don’t totally turn you away it will dilute your convictions. What happened to Solomon? Wisest man who ever lived in almost every area except his romantic choices; they turned his heart away and it’s happened many other times. Sampson, strongest man got mixed up with the wrong girl, lost his strength.

Do not become romantically involved with somebody who is not of your faith. So Abraham says, “You go back and you get a girl from my church.” That’s a long trip he was going to make. Now let’s talk a minute about who Abraham chose to do this. And I couldn’t make up my mind whether to name this sermon “Finding a Bride” or “A Faithful Servant” because really it is dealing with service. Eliezer, it doesn’t name him in this story but it names the chief steward of Abraham in another passage you can read in Genesis 15:2, But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless…” this was before Abraham had Isaac or Ishmael “…and the heir of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?” This servant who had been born in Abram’s house many years earlier who he had raised like his own son was his chief steward. He had been as faithful to Abraham as Joseph was to Potiphar and Abraham put everything under his hand because he was a faithful, honest, trustworthy, diligent, intelligent servant. He’s going to trust this servant with finding a bride for his son.

You’ve got to trust somebody if you’re going to commit that to someone else, amen? Talk about a good relationship. Eliezer means “God helps,” and that makes sense. And Eliezer he may have when you study the history of Abraham been in Abraham’s household for sixty years so they were old friends. Something else I want you to think about. Didn’t I just read to you from Genesis that before Abraham had Ishmael or Isaac who was in line to inherit everything Abraham had? Eliezer his chief steward. You would think Eliezer would be jealous when Isaac comes along and he realizes, “You know, it was going to be mine, but you came along.” He’s happy for Abraham. He’s happy for Isaac. He was just willing to serve in whatever capacity. Now that’s a real servant. He’s not saying, “What’s in it for me?” He’s interested in what’s in it for Abraham. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master makes ruler over his household? Blessed is that servant…” Matthew chapter 24, verse 45, “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, shall find so doing.” You know Jesus ends his discourse in Matthew 24 by asking are we faithful servants that will take care of our master’s house? It says Eliezer ruled over all that he had. You know why I think it mentions that?

We’re servants of the father, right? Just like he was of Abraham. All of his possessions are at our disposal. Have you considered that? What a privilege that is, through prayer. So he makes a covenant with Abraham to find a godly wife for his son. What is the mission really of the Christian? To help prepare the bride for the big wedding. The bride of Christ is the church and you and I are to do all that we can to help her, to help present her a spotless bride to Christ the groom. Something else you’ll find. It says in verse 24, verse 10, I’m sorry chapter 24, verse 10, “And so the servant (Eliezer) took ten camels, the camels of his master, and he departed, for all the goods of his master were in his hand. And he arose and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.” There was an abundant provision that was made. Ten camels were loaded not only to take care of the supplies for the journey but to carry the dowry and the gift to retrieve the bride comfortably. That was probably a pretty substantial caravan. Some of them were there as guards. It was probably an armed caravan because they were taking great wealth with them. Who did that stuff belong to that Eliezer took to Mesopotamia? All belonged to Abraham. Does Abraham provide everything that Eliezer needs for the journey?

Does the Lord provide, our Father provide everything that we need to retrieve the bride? All the resources are given abundantly. I want to read something to you. First quote is from Councils on Health, page 222, “With Christ the Father gave all the resources of heaven that nothing might be wanting in the plan for uplifting man.” Romans 8:32 said, “He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Our Father is willing to make an abundant provision for you and I, whatever we need. I can see that when Eliezer is packing for this trip he doesn’t have to go to Abraham and say, “Could I have a little of this and a little of that so that I can get the right…” Whatever you need for your mission you take it! And the Lord will do that for you and me. If you’re engaged in growing the church he’ll give you whatever you need. Another quote, Christ’s Object Lessons, page 197, “All the resources of heaven are at the command of those who are seeking to save the lost.” If your primary mission in life is to do the work of Jesus, to expand his kingdom, to share the Good News he will bless, he’ll give you every resource you need to do that. That’s a wonderful promise. All the resources of heaven are available through faith.

Now he’s got to make this journey to find the bride and he has to cross one of the most forbidding deserts in the world. The desert that separates Mesopotamia from Israel is a very dry and barren land. The trip was going to take about five hundred miles to go from Israel, Hebron probably is where he was at the time, to Nahor or Haran. They’re basically the same and I’ve got a map here that’ll just give you some idea. When Abraham first came out of Ur he was way down by the coast and he followed the Euphrates up to Haran. At that point some of his family stayed because Abraham’s brother Nahor died, and Nahor, they had a sister Milcah and they had some children that stayed there. When Abraham went on, his father Terah died, when Abraham went on that family stayed at Haran. They never came completely out of Mesopotamia. They came out of Ur, but they never came completely out. You know there are some people who are in Babylon and are God’s people but they’ve never come completely out and that’s why the Lord says, “Babylon is fallen. Come out of her, my people.” And so they make this trip from Haran down from the north and it’s about a five hundred mile trip. You know it’s interesting, I was thinking, you start thinking about camels. I started thinking about the wise men.

You remember the wise men came from the east and where do you think they came from? They came from Mesopotamia across the desert to find the groom. And now you’ve got Abraham sending his servant from the Promised Land across the desert to retrieve the bride. Isn’t that interesting? They crossed the desert. When the Children of Israel were saved by the Lord they had to go through a wilderness to get to the Promised Land. And friends, if you’re going to get to the wedding you’ve got to go across the desert. It’s a trip. That could be why it says that the ten virgins waited and the bridegroom tarried. God often brings us through a desert. Incidentally, the name Bethuel, that was the son of Milcah the sister of Abraham. They went to the house of Bethuel and that means “house of God.” It’s very similar to the name Bethel. So Eliezer goes to Nahor and he finds the wife for Isaac in the house of God. Again, where are you going to go looking for your spouse? Singles bar? Internet? Or the house of God? That’s the best place to look. So he makes this long journey and he eventually comes to a well and while he’s there at the well he realizes he’s reached the city. He and his associates they’re dusty and tired. And where am I now? Verse 11, yeah.

Then “he made his camels kneel down outside the city by a well of water at even, the time when the woman go out to draw water. Then he said, ‘O Lord God of my master…’” You can’t help but wonder if he kneeled with the camels. They’re all kneeling. “Oh Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” Now you check and see if I’m wrong, but there’s a lot of verses in chapter 24, sixty-seven verses, Eliezer never mentions his name. He always refers to himself as Abraham’s servant. “My master,” his identity was a servant. How does Paul identify himself? Paul, a servant, a slave of Jesus Christ. Everybody serves somebody. Are you content to be a slave of the Lord? And anybody here, or anybody listening, if you think you don’t serve somebody, you do. I can tell you who it is. And if you think you’re serving yourself, the devil would just as soon you go on thinking that but you’re serving him. It’s one and the same. “O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” He’s not even saying “kindness to me.” “Behold, I stand here by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water.”

Now I’m going to give you a provisional fleece. Verse 14, “Now let it be that the young woman to which I say, ‘May I have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels drink…’ ‘Please, let down your pitcher that I might drink,’… ‘Drink, and I’ll give your camels drink’--let her be the one whom You have appointed to Your servant Isaac. So by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.” There was going to be a simple test to determine the right woman and you might not realize it but that’s a big test. It would have been perfectly normal for him to pray for this providential sign to ask for a drink. Well, you know, back in Bible times you always gave someone a drink of water. People don’t drink that much. You ever try and drink a gallon of water. I forget, what is it? Doctors say you’re supposed to drink eight 8 ounce glasses a day. Is that what it is? Six ounce glasses? Have you ever, have you done that lately? Try to sit down and drink a gallon of water, one gallon. It gets uncomfortable, and if not right then it will be later, but I’m just trying to illustrate giving a person a drink is not a big thing, but then he goes on to say, “And then she’ll offer to water the camels.” That’s entirely different.

Very few of us drink like camels… unless you go to 7/11 and get one of those Big Gulps that they pedal there. So he presents this providential sign and… You know sometimes we pray that God leads us to providence. He doesn’t know how he’s going to recognize who the Lord has chosen. So he says, “Well, all the virgins typically come out and draw water. She’ll probably be in this crowd that’s coming out at this time and I’ll ask for a drink and I hope that the one who offers me a drink will also offer to water the camels.” And probably if he’d asked for a drink from the first one, she said, “Sure,” and walked away, he would have kept asking all the girls for a drink. Now you remember what I said about singles bars? That’s not the way to do this. These were drinks of water that he’s using as a test and it’s really a test of service. And so he goes on. And it says in verse 15, “It happened, before he had finished speaking.” You know I think that’s really beautiful when you think about it. Isaiah 65:24, “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” I remember one time before I was even a Christian in New York City one of my best friends was named David McClean. He was a young man from India and he and I actually ran away together at one point.

I was alone in New York City and my mother didn’t live there anymore. She was living in England. I had no friends there and I was going through New York and I was in a phone booth trying to find David’s phone number. And you know I went through some fleeting periods in my life where I wondered if there was a God and this was one of those times and I felt very alone. I’m in the City, no family is there anymore, nobody I know, the sun is going down, I don’t know where to stay. I opened up the phone book and there are about sixty thousand McCleans in the New York City telephone book, and I knew that I didn’t know his mother’s name and he didn’t have the phone in his name. And I said, “Lord, help me. I don’t know how I’m going to find him.” He walked by the phone booth. And I’ll still remember I thought, “O Lord, how am I ever going to find him,” and he walks by the phone booth and I start banging on the glass of the phone booth. “David! David!” “Before you finish asking I will answer you.”

Here as soon as he prays that prayer and before he can even say, “Amen,” she comes up and she offers him a drink of water. Where am I here? Let me get back to our story. It says in, verse 15? Thank you. “Before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder. Now the young woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had known her.” You know what this is telling us? She is a type of the bride of Christ, amen? Beautiful! “And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.’ So she said, ‘Drink, my lord.’ Then she hastened and let her pitcher down into her hand, and gave him a drink.” It almost makes it sound like he had no vessel and she poured it and he drinks it right from her hands. “And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.’”

Now this is the place where the Bible says, “And while he wondered…” He thinks, “Wow! Could this be the one?” He is in a state of wonderment that this is happening and he’s hoping that she is the woman. Do you realize what’s involved in watering these camels? It just so happens that about three weeks ago I did an Amazing Fact on the radio about camels of all things, interesting creatures. I wouldn’t want one for a pet but they’re still interesting. A camel can drink up to twenty-seven gallons of water in ten minutes and these had just crossed the desert. You know it’s a myth that camels store water in their humps. In reality a camel when he is hydrated has no more water in his body than you percentage-wise. What makes them unique is they can become more dehydrated than you. Other creatures, they would die if their kidneys became as dry as a camel can. They can lose more moisture than almost any other creature and still keep on going. But they can drink twenty-seven gallons. How many camels were there? Ten times twenty-seven gallons, two hundred and seventy gallons.

How much does a gallon of water weigh? Eight point three pounds per gallon, isn’t that right? Eight point three pounds is what I found, times two hundred and seventy gallons. She hauled two thousand, two hundred pounds of water out of the well. So when she says, “Sure, I’ll give you a drink and let me water your camels for you.” You’ve got one slight virgin hauling water for all those camels. Now she’s a type of the church and that’s a symbol of giving living water, camels are unclean, to a lost world. Ten camels, a symbol for the Law of God, the sins of the world. And she continues to water those camels and they continue to drink. Do you think they said thank you? Camels are not very grateful. They’ll drink and then spit. Watering camels is a thankless job, but isn’t it interesting that this act of service is the test for finding the wife for Isaac? Now allow me for a moment to talk about the glory of service. In our culture today we often measure success by how many servants you have. God measures success by how many do you serve. How do you spell success? BMW? Mercedes? Lexus? Gucci? Nordstrom’s? How do you spell success? God spells success by service. You know we often think that what makes us great in the world is when everybody is working for us, but what makes you great in heaven is a willingness to serve and Jesus said, “I have come to you as one who serves. You ought to serve each other. He who would be greatest among you, let him be the servant of all.”

How did the Lord prepare Joseph to be a great leader? By first being a great servant. He served in Potiphar’s house. He served in the prison and through his faithfulness in service God knew he would be faithful to lead. Service is a noble thing. You know even in the time of Jesus it was one of the teachings of the Pharisees that if you were a religious leader it wouldn’t be enough that you just teach and preach, you must have a practical skill. That’s one thing the Jews taught. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are with the books if you do not have a practical skill that you can use to earn money then you’re not a complete person and that’s why even the most educated of the religious leaders learned to use their hands in some practical way. And that’s what real education is. What did Paul do? He was a tentmaker and you look around at the different leaders and they all had something. Jesus was a carpenter and we need to know how to do practical things. Jesus could cook too. You remember at the end of the Gospels when they were fishing they got to the shore and he had made breakfast, right? I don’t think he got it at Long John Silver’s. So here this test that is being plied to her is one of service. You know David before he was king he served in Saul’s household.

He was a musician for the court, he was an armor-bearer, and it’s through service. He took care of his father’s sheep and that’s how God finds people. Paul calls himself in Romans 1:1 a servant. Now when this happens and he is given this obvious indicator that this is the one the first thing he does it says he falls down and he worships God. He doesn’t even tell the girl what’s going on. He’s more interested in thanking God first. He bows his head while she’s watering the camels he’s wondering and he bows down and he thanks and worships the Lord and then he says, “By the way, what is your name?” And talk about miracles of miracles. And she says, “Oh, I’m…” Basically what she said is, “I’m Abraham’s niece once removed.” She was a cousin of Isaac. What are the chances of that? “When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a golden nose ring weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels of gold.” Don’t try to make a new doctrine on jewelry here. Notice that it gives the shekel weight. They did not have paper money. Money was all gold and silver and they gave the weight of it. So he gives her a gift to thank her for her unusual courtesy and you know it could have taken an hour or more for her to water all those camels. And he said, “Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please, is there room in your father’s house for us to lodge?” He figured, I’d better find out more about this girl to see if she’d be a proper wife.

She said, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, Milcah’s son, whom she bore to Nahor,” Abraham’s brother. Now Eliezer knows those names. That was the very family. Keep in mind it doesn’t say the town. It doesn’t say the ranch. It says when the young girls came out of the city. There were hundreds of girls in this city. What were the chances of this being the one? Isn’t it wonderful how God’s providence leads? “Moreover she said, ‘We’ve got both straw and feed enough, and room to lodge.’” They had enough for hospitality. “Then the man bowed his head and he worshiped the Lord. And he said, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and truth toward my master. As he has made me on this way, the Lord has led me to the house of my master’s brethren.’ So the young woman…” she gets so excited she hears him thanking God, he says he’s Abraham’s servant, she’s got these very valuable gifts and she runs back to her house to say, “You won’t believe what just happened at the well! I just met Abraham’s servant and look, he’s been to Tiffany’s and he got me these gifts here!” And Laban who was a little bit covetous as it was, he said, “Oh, let’s invite him home! Maybe I’ll get a gift.” And so “Laban ran out to meet the man by the well.”

I’m in verse 30. “It came to pass, that he saw the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and he heard the words of his sister Rebekah, saying, ‘Thus the man spoke to me,’ that he went to the man. And there he stood by the camels at the well. And he said, ‘Come in’ (this is Laban speaking) ‘Come…O blessed of the Lord! Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels.’ Then the man came to the house. And he unloaded the camels, and provided straw and feed for the camels…” So the camels have had water, they’ve had feed, they’re unloaded. “…and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. Food was set before them to eat...” And so Laban is there and probably Milcah’s son. And they say, “So what’s going on? Eat your food.” He says, “I am not going to eat until I tell you what my business is.” Now this man has crossed a desert. He is hot. He is tired. He’s no doubt hungry. He probably hadn’t eaten all day.

As long as it takes to manage a caravan like that. He’s got the scrumptious food in front of him, but he is more preoccupied with his master’s business and putting his master first than taking care of his own physical needs. And so as Rebekah has shown all the gifts to everybody and as they’ve set the food before this man he says, “Look, the first thing that I want to deal with is I need to relate to you, I want to tell you what brings me here.” And with the food cooling in front of him he insists on relating to him the miracle that brought him to this home. And then from verse 37 all the way down to verse 48 he rehearses the story of how he came to the well and I should probably begin by verse 35, “The Lord has blessed my master greatly…” Oh, I want to start with verse 34, one of the shortest verses in the Bible. He says, “I am Abraham’s servant.” Doesn’t even tell his name. “I am Abraham’s servant.” Who are you? What’s your name? I am a servant of Jesus. That’s your identity. I’m a Christian. Everything else is secondary. “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has blessed my master greatly, and he has become great; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys.” Now keep in mind, Abraham is a type of the Lord.

Our Lord is great and he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. This is what Eliezer is saying. “And Sarah my master’s wife bore him a son when she was old; and to him he has given all that he has.” Now he’s setting the stage. In the East when you married somebody they wanted to know, do you have a job? Is your house paid for? Do you have a house? Do you have a car? Are you in debt? Are you productive? Assets and ownership in the East is a very important criteria for preparation for marriage. Matter of fact, there are a lot of young people in the East, in the orient, they’re in love, but they won’t even think about marriage until they get some property and sometimes they’ll wait years until they feel like they’ve got some substance. Eliezer is setting the stage because he’s getting ready to ask this woman to cross the desert and go marry someone she’s never seen and so he says, “Abraham owns, he’s a billionaire and everything Abraham owns he’s giving to this son Isaac and they’re looking for a wife for Isaac.”

Well, that ought to make any girl sit up even without a photograph, right? And he didn’t have any photographs. So do you understand what he’s saying here? And he’s giving everything to his son. “My master made me swear, ‘You’ll not take a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites, in land who I dwell; but go to my father’s house…’ ‘Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’” And so he relates this whole thing about giving the drink and how as soon as he had prayed this prayer, “Before I had finished speaking,” verse 45, “in my heart.” It adds something here. He wasn’t even praying out loud. I prayed in the heart, before I had finished speaking, bingo! Rebekah comes along, beautiful girl, a virgin, meets all the criteria, and begins to not only water me, but my camels. Now verse 49. He says, “I bowed my head and worshiped…” Verse 49, “Now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master,” he doesn’t even say me, “tell me. And if not, tell me, that I can know to turn to the right hand or the left.” Let me reinterpret that for you. Are you going to be kind and true to my master or are you going to be mean and dishonest. He sort of puts them on the spot. He says, “God has directed me to Rebekah, now how are you going to deal with that?”

Well, they were all sitting there sort of speechless. And they said, verse 50, “Laban and Bethuel answered,” Bethuel is the father of Laban. They answered and said, “The thing comes from the Lord; we cannot speak to you either bad…” This is obviously providential leading. “‘Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the Lord has spoken.’ And it came to pass, when Abraham’s servant heard these words…” What did he do again? “He worshiped the Lord.” It seems like worship for Abraham’s servant comes very natural, doesn’t it? I’ll submit that those who are finding a bride for Jesus we naturally worship and thank God for his blessings as soon as we receive them. Every time God answers his prayer, he worships on the spot. He thanks right there. The servant then, it says, when he heard this, “he worshiped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth. Then the servant” he begins to unpack the caravan baggage and he brings out “jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing, and” he gives “them to Rebekah.”

All these gifts for the bride. “And he also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.” He figures, you know, they’ve got to let go of their daughter you want to make sure and thank them. “And he and the men who were with him ate and they drank and they stayed all night.” And that was a real night of rejoicing and marveling in God’s providence. “Then they arose in the morning and he said, ‘Send me away to my master.’” Wait a minute! He’s just ridden five hundred miles across the desert. He wakes up the next day and says… There’s a real man for you. “I’m done with my work here. Gotta go.” I mean, you know, you’d think that someone would say, “Look, take some pictures. See the sights. There must be some attractions here in Nahor. Leave? We just took a caravan all the way across the desert.” He is so excited that <> Where, soon after this, will Jacob find Rachel? She’s uncovering a well. When Jesus met the woman at the well she had five husbands. She was married to a man she was not married to. She’s living with a man rather.

That didn’t make sense, did it? She is living with a man she is not married to. How many is that so far? And none of them satisfied her. She finally found satisfaction and living water in the seventh and that was Jesus. You remember how many daughters did Jethro have? Seven. Moses marries the seventh, Zipporah. And so they all meet at the well. For those of you who are single, we have a fountain out in front of the church. Afterward… You’ve been maybe hanging out in the wrong place. So he puts his master first. He takes care of his business and then he wants to bring word. He says, “Let me go. Do not hinder me.” Lets go back here to Genesis chapter 24. And they say, “We can’t speak good or bad.” He says… Oh, where am I? Verse 54, “…the men” that “were with him” they “ate and drank… stayed all night.” The next day he said, “Send me away to my master.” Let me go. Verse 55, “But her brother (Laban) and her mother (Milcah) said, ‘Let the young woman stay with us a few days, at least ten; after that she may go.’” These numbers should sound familiar to you.

How many virgins were there in the great wedding of the Son that is coming? Let her stay just a few days. I mean doesn’t that seem like a reasonable request? She’s getting ready to go. Will they ever see her again? That’s quite a sacrifice for her to make; to take off and to go away, to say good-bye to your family and maybe never see them again because you’re going to be married off. They couldn’t be calling every day like some girls do with their mother after they get married. Like my wife does with her mother years after marriage. They didn’t have… oh, no? Let me see you deny that in the presence of all these witnesses! I didn’t say you talk about me. I say you talk to your mom every day and that’s okay. I don’t mind. But I’m just saying they didn’t have that benefit, did they? And so they sent Rebekah away their sister and her nurse.

We later learn her nurse’s name. Who knows? Deborah. And they sent away “her nurse, and Abraham’s servant.” Matter of fact, the reason we know the name of Rebekah’s nurse is later they actually mention her death and burial in the Bible. She was a very honored woman. And they sent “their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and they said to her: ‘Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands…’” And she did. “And may your descendants possess the gates of those that hate them.” Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth. She’s a symbol of the church. And they did and they will. “Then Rebekah and her maids…” She’s got a whole entourage. They “arose, and they rode on the camels and they followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and departed.” And they begin this long trip back across the desert.

Now again I want to just, I want to talk about this point a little more. Both Eliezer and Rebekah in this story are beautiful models of service. Eliezer is trying to expand the house of his master through marriage. Our job as Christians is to help the church grow. Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world.” And here you know what they say to Rebekah? “Will you go?” And what does she say? They’re giving her a choice. Think about the courage. She was going not because she heard that Isaac was wealthy because for one thing she didn’t really know that just from the gifts in the caravan. You know, who knows? This could be, she could have been sold into slavery. She could have been marrying some fat old sheik. She didn’t know it. There’s a lot of scary things that could have happened with this, right? But she sensed the providence of God. She saw the relationship with God.

She still knew the reputation of Abraham that he went to the Promised Land by God’s leading and she says what the church should say, “I will go.” Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world.” And Isaiah said, “Here am I. Send me.” We should say, “I will go.” When you hear the invitation to be the bride of Christ you should say, “I will go. I will go.” And so she’s willing to serve. You know in the Bible it tells us Exodus 21, they had a law that if after a period of years when it was time for a Hebrew servant to go free, that if he did not want to be free they would go through a ritual where he would stay with his master. And he would say, “But if the servant says, ‘In my heart I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out free.’” And he would make a covenant to be the servant for his master forever. You know how it identifies the redeemed?

It tells us that we are gatekeepers in the house of God. We will serve him before his throne day and night forever and ever. What a privilege to be servants for this master. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” And so they make the trip across the desert and the Bible tells us that Isaac is out walking, meditating in the afternoon. I wonder what he was doing out there. What do you think he was talking about? “Isaac came by the way,” verse 62, “of Beer Lahai Roi, for he dwelt in the South. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening.” Now when did Eliezer find Rebekah?

During the evening when the girls came out to draw. When does Isaac end up laying eyes on Rebekah? Same time of day. When did Jesus die for our sins and seal his love for us? Same time of day. And he’s meditating in the field, and that’s sort of like prayer. What do you think he’s praying about? Did Isaac know that Eliezer was on an errand? Come on now. Do you think you can load up ten camels under somebody’s nose and not know where they’re going or what they’re doing? Sure he did! He knew what was going on. And think about him submitting to his father’s will for that choice. Was Isaac praying about finding the right wife? How long do you think Abraham prayed to find the right partner for his son? Probably years and finally he took some action. You know I think that it’s something we ought to be praying about even at an early age.

I’ve started praying for the younger Batchelor boys already. “Lord, if Jesus should tarry, get them good girls. Help them find the right wife.” It should be a matter of prayer. There are only a handful of big events in a person’s life. Your birth, you don’t have much choice about that, do you? Your death, most of us don’t have much choice about that. Your occupation, baptism, and marriage. Isn’t that right? Those are three of the great decisions in life. Your commitment to life to the Lord in baptism, what you’re going to do or be, and who you’re going to marry assuming you’re going to marry. That’s a big decision. That’s something you really want to pray about and not jump into recklessly or lightly and he’s out in the field meditating. Isaac is a type of Christ, isn’t he? He’s the one that the bride marries. Jesus said the sower went out to sow.

Isaac is out in the field, isn’t he? The world is the field. Isaac is out in the field. He’s meditating, and he lifts his eyes and he looks and in the distance he can see a caravan of camels were coming. And at that same time Rebekah lifts her eyes. It almost sounds like a romantic novel. Their eyes met. “When she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel; for she said to the servant who was with her, ‘Who is this man out walking in the field to meet us?’” Now, she’s made this trip, 500 miles, fifty miles a day, ten days, and that’s a lot; fifty miles a day on a camel. It may have been a month. We don’t know how fast. She’s got all these girls. It took a lot of time for them to get ready every morning. It may have taken a month, right? We don’t know. Trip there, ten days. On the way back, a month. I’m glad I got that in.

Ask me how I feel about travel with a family. Okay. And I can tell I’m not alone. And so she asks this servant who is with her… oh, wait! I started making a point. Who do you think they’re talking about at the fire every night as she’s on her way to the Promised Land? “Tell me more about Isaac.” She’s probing the servants, right? “What’s he look like? Is he nice?” And his idiosyncrasies. “Does he snore? Have you heard?” Just all these little things they’re trying to find out. She’s getting ready. She’s committed. She’s going to get married. Doesn’t know what he looks like. All she knows so far is that he’s a relative.

They were marrying cousins is what really it amounts to. And he’s wealthy. So she’s plying all of the servants of Abraham’s house with questions. I could just see her ride her camel a little closer up to the front and say, “So tell me more about Isaac.” And do you think they were happy to tell her? So what do you think the topic of conversation was the whole time she’s on her way to the Promised Land? Isaac, Isaac, Isaac, Isaac. What should be the topic of conversation as we’re on the way to the Promised Land? Tell me the story of Jesus. Tell me more about Jesus. What’s he like? And they, the servants of Abraham talked to her. And the Bible says, “Who is this out in the field?” Can you imagine the first person she sees when she gets into the Promised Land they say, “Oh, that’s him!”

What will be the first face that we see in the Resurrection? And at the Second Coming before the angels or anyone else? We will see him face to face. Who is this? And they said, “It is my master.” Meaning Isaac. So she hops off the camel and veils her face preparing for the wedding. And the servant comes up to Isaac and he tells him all things that had happened. He relates the whole experience. And can, I can see it now. Isaac is listening to the whole story and he’s looking at Rebekah. He’s listening to the servant, but he’s looking at Rebekah because even with a veil on the Bible says that she was beautiful.

Now I won’t be able to get into it because I’m not going to do a series on Isaac right now, but the Bible says Isaac did the same thing his father did when he went from place to place. He said to Rebekah, “Just say that we’re brother and sister because you’re so beautiful they’ll kill me for you.” It’s a liability to have a wife that good looking, isn’t it? And so he’s just looking at this beautiful trophy wife and the Bible says, “Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife.” You wonder where all the ceremony was. You know you’d think, “I’ve come all this way.

Don’t we have a wedding?” It almost sounds like that’s just the way they did it. I don’t think Adam and Eve had a big wedding. I mean things were simpler. When you know that God chose your spouse it might have been a little simpler and it could be that there was a wedding in there somewhere and it’s just the way that they word it. Sometimes in Hebrew it gets to the point. “And she became his wife, and he loved her.” Don’t forget, you know I know I’m running out of time, “he took her to his mother’s tent.” You know whether you want to or not, gentlemen, you will somehow take your wife to your mother’s tent.

What that means is your respect and attitude towards your mother will somehow also be reproduced in the way you treat your wife. He took her to his mother’s tent, but I like what it says here, “and he loved her.” You know this is something that’s missing from some of the Old Testament stories of marriage. It says, “He loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” And how does Jesus feel about his bride? He loves us. Isaac found a beautiful wife and the right wife because he trusted the leading of his father. He was patient. It’s a whole lot better to wait and get the right wife than rush and get the wrong one. Amen? You know what Rebekah means? “Beautiful fetters.” You know what fetters are. Shackles. That’s sort of like marriage, isn’t it? It’s a beautiful commitment, isn’t it? That’s why you call a husband “house band”.

It is a form of servitude, but it’s a beautiful service, amen? That’s what Rebekah means. “Beautiful loops of rope” or “beautiful fetters.” And the Bible tells us that he loved Rebekah their entire lives. Matter of fact, one time he tried to lie about her being his wife and he was caught because he was flirting with her. Genesis 25, I’m almost done, verse 8, “Then Abraham gave up the ghost and he died in a good old age, an old man and full of years.” And that really means filled and satisfied. What was it do you think that helped Abraham die in peace? His son found the right wife that worshipped the right God. “And he was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, that is in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre, the field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth.

There was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.” And thus ends the colorful story of the greatest patriarch. One of the last acts of his life was to find the right wife for his son. And you know how the Revelation ends? We’re all invited to the marriage supper of the lamb. Isn’t that what it’s all about? The whole Bible is a wedding. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” It’s a honeymoon chamber. “And I will come again and receive you unto myself.” “Behold the bridegroom comes.” God has called his bride out of Babylon into the Promised Land and that’s exactly what happened in this story but even beyond that it’s a beautiful story of loving service. And service for the Lord, service for Eliezer and Rebekah willing to serve strangers and make those sacrifices, beautiful model for the Christian church.

You know in closing, I think we may have it on the screen. Did we get time to type those words in for that song? Yeah, we did. We’re going to stand and we’re going to sing this. It’s not in your hymnals. It’s a familiar chorus written by Kelly Willard, “Make Me a Servant.” Let’s stand and how many of you know this melody? Have you heard this? if not it may be new for some of you. Just, we’ll go through it a couple of times.

Make me a servant humble and meek. Lord, let me lift up those who are weak. And may the prayer of my heart always be, Make me a servant, Make me a servant, Make me a servant today.

We’ll sing this through in just a moment one more time, but before we do we’ve concluded this whole series on Abraham the Ultimate Patriarch and really a friend and servant of God. There may be some of you here who have been inspired through this series. If you’d like to re-consecrate yourself to Jesus as his servant and find your identity there also knowing that he providentially has a plan for your life just like he did for Isaac and Rebekah and if you feel this desire in some way to acknowledge that we’d like you to come or you have some special prayer you’d like to bring to the Lord. Maybe you’re looking for your mate and you’d like to ask him for leading in that area. Come. We’ll sing this one more time.

Make me a servant humble and meek. Lord, let me lift up those who are weak. And may the prayer of my heart always be, Make me a servant, Make me a servant, Make me a servant today.

Loving Father in Heaven, Lord, our hearts are stirred and warmed as we consider how much you love us. We’re inspired by this story of the father’s love for the son, the servant’s love for his master, the husband’s love for his wife, and the wife’s love for her husband. Lord, all the emotions that a human might cherish are seen in this story. Lord, we pray that you will guide us in our decisions. Help us to seek your providence for these important decisions in life. Ultimately we pray that you will not only help us to choose the right mate for our children, for our lives, for ourselves, but also that we’ll choose to be your servants, willing servants and find our fulfillment and completion in that. Lord, make us your servants and lead us to the Promised Land we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. God bless you, friends. You may be seated.

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