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Sunday, January 19, 2020

posted Jan 19, 2020, 9:26 PM by Site Administrator

ISAAC AND REBEKAH

 

Genesis 23:1-24:67     

Key Verse 24:67

 

Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

 

First, Sarah died and Abraham purchased Machpelah cave as a burial site (23:1-20). In Chapter 23, Abraham’s beloved wife Sarah passed away at the age of 127. Abraham needed to buy a burial site for her. This shows that even though he had lived in the promised land for about 62 years, he did not purchase any property there; even if it was God's promised land, he did not try to settle there; instead, he lived there in the promised land as an alien, as a traveler. When Abraham wanted to buy a burial site among the Hittites, among whom he was living, they showed great honor and respect to him. They said to him, Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead. It was not just some people's opinion, but their general consensus among themselves that none of them would refuse Abraham his tomb for burying his dead. Everyone held him so highly. When Abraham pointed out the cave of Machpelah that belonged to Ephron the Hittite, Ephron refused to sell it to him, but pleaded with him to take it for free of charge. When Abraham insisted on paying the price, Ephron suggested Abraham 400 shekels of silver, but he said to himbut, what is that between you and me? Because he held him highly as a great man of God, he never wanted to have that kind of monetary relationship with him; it was almost like blasphemy. Let's say, you gave a ride to Mother Barry to LAX, and she wants to pay you the gas money, how would you respond? No way! Lot was very successful in the city of Sodom, occupying an influential position in the city. But, despite his success, no one actually respected him. When he tried to lecture them, they were upset and said, Get out of our way. This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! It is all people's desire to be honored and respected like Abraham. Then, how can we be like Abraham, receiving respect and honor from others? The answer is simple. If you want to be like Abraham, then, live like Abraham, holding onto God's vision and living for it without any compromise. People watch you; they pay attention to how you live, more than what you say. If you live a compromising life like Lot, even worldly people will despise you. But if you live for God alone as Jesus' disciple, if you keep living that way despite challenges and difficulties, they will recognize you as a real disciple of Jesus and honor you.

 

Also, in this chapter, we see Abraham's maturity in dealing with the Hittites. Even if they held him highly as a great man of God, he did not take it for granted. Instead, he was very humble and sincere. Each time, when he was about to speak, he rose and bowed down before the people of the land. He did not utilize his spiritual authority for the monetary gain either. He insisted that he would pay the full price so that the property might be truly his. Thus, he purchased the field and the cave of Machpelah. Verses 17 and 18 emphasizes this transaction, saying, So Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Since then, this cave of Machpelah was used as Abraham's descendants' tomb site generation after generation. Abraham buried Sarah there; he himself was buried there; Isaac and Rebekah were buried there; Jacob and Leah were too. Then, this field and cave became like all Israel people's sacred place like the origin of their family, just like their homeland; they talked to their children about this cave, and they all came to know that their true homeland which they should eventually go back to was the Canaan, where their ancestors' tomb site was. If Abraham took it for free of charge, several hundred years later, his descendants would not be able to claim it as theirs. But because Abraham secured it by paying the full price in the presence of all the Hittites in the city gate, and this transaction was recorded clearly in the Bible, they claimed its ownership. In this way, Abraham handed it down to his next generations together with God's covenant blessing.

 

Second, Make sure that you do not take my son back there (24:1-9). Look at verse 1 in chapter 24. Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. This verse describes Abraham’s later life. He had fought the spiritual battle of putting his trust in God and obeying God’s command absolutely. He was like a powerful general who set a good example for all believers to follow. Now, after going through all these challenges and trials of life by faith in God, Abraham was enjoying a very peaceful and fulfilling life, with God’s blessing in every way. Life in God was indeed sweet and fulfilling. But Abraham had one more important mission to take care of – it was to find a wife for Isaac, his son, and establish his marriage. Sarah was gone, and he knew that any time, he too could be gone. So, before his departure, he wanted to establish Isaac's family.

 

Look at verses 2 through 4. One day, Abraham called one of his servants and had the servant swear by God that he would not get a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites, but go to Haran and get a wife for him there. It was his only son's marriage matter - it was such an important matter, but amazingly, he entrusted this matter into the hand of his servant! Usually, no father would do so. Even if they may let their reliable friends or faithful employees take care of their business, they would take care of their own sons' or daughters' marriage matter by themselves. But amazingly, Abraham put his only son's marriage matter into his servant's hands. How could he do that? He could do so because he believed that God would go ahead of him and prepare a wife for Isaac. In his eyes, eventually, it was God who would choose a girl for Isaac and establish Isaac's family. For God's covenant person, God Himself takes care of his or her marriage matter, because He wants to establish God's covenant family. Then, whether Abraham himself would go and look for a wife for Isaac or his servant would do the job, it was not so important, because eventually, it was God would do it.

 

But there was one thing his servant must remember in finding a wife for Isaac, that was, he should not take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom he was living, but go to Abraham's relatives in Haran and look for a girl there. Abraham considered it a very serious and important matter that he had his servant swear an oath by the name of the LORD, the God of the heavens and the God of the earth. Abraham understood that Isaac’s future spiritual life would be affected by his marriage partner greatly. Isaac was the covenant son who would carry God’s covenant to the next generation. So, his wife should also be God’s covenant person so that they would be one team, one flesh, with same desire and hope. When Abraham considered this in Isaac’s marriage, then, the Canaanites women were absolutely out of option. In Canaan, there must have been many beautiful and intelligent Canaanite women. Some of them might have possessed charming personalities. But fundamentally, they had different value system, different hope and different lifestyle that none of them could be one with Isaac. None of them could be a suitable helper for Isaac to carry God’s covenant blessing. So, he told his servant to go to Haran, his own country, and get a wife for him from his relatives.

 

Who should be our marriage partner? This is a very important question. This question is the reflection of the purpose of our marriage. Why do we marry? If it is for our own pleasures, if we want to please ourselves, then, like the believers in Noah’s time, we would marry anyone we choose. If it is to solve our financial needs, then, we would choose a wealthy partner. Fundamentally, why should we marry, and what is, by the way, marriage? In Genesis chapter 2, we see God establishing marriage between Adam and Eve, and his purpose in creating marriage was so that husband and wife together, might serve God’s mission more effectively, and when established according to God’s design, they could enjoy a delightful life in the marriage relationship. But in Noah’s time, the believers left God out of their marriage, and married anyone they chose; at first, their excuse in this intermarriage, was that, once they married unbelieving people, they would help them believe in God. But it never worked that way. Instead, it worked the opposite way. They lost faith and did not function as the salt of the world at all. As a result, the whole world was corrupt, and invited God’s judgment. Marriage affects one’s entire life. Some people, because of their wrong marriage, live in pain and sorrow all the days of their life – their families are broken, and their children are scattered. To them, marriage is the source of sheer torture, argument, disappointment and regret. But some other people, because of their marriage, grow to be great men and women of God. To them, marriage is the spring fountainof happiness and delight. When Abraham was concerned about his son’s future, he could not have him marry anyone. His marriage partner should be the one whom Isaac could form a spiritual unity with so that Isaac and his wife together, might serve God’s purpose effectively. One proud young man married a foxy woman, saying that through this marriage, she would have a chance to come to heaven. But after marriage, her situation became worse, and his life and faith were ruined. There are many people who are willing to give everything to God, except marriage dream. They say, I will give everything to God, but let me marry in my own way. But if we understand the importance of marriage – it can either build us up or destroy our life, we realize that our marriage must be established in God, by God, and for God. Our marriage partner should be the one who can form a spiritual unity with us in serving God’s mission so that through our marriage, God’s purpose can advance in our life effectively.

 

Look at verses 6 through 8. Let’s read these verses together:

 

Make sure that you do not take my son back there,Abraham said. The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’ – he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.

 

Abraham said, If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there. Abraham had a clear idea about what kind of woman should be Isaac’s wife. Isaac's wife should be such a woman who could leave her family and her country to marry Isaac even though she had never met him. Wow! What a daring vision he had for his son’s wife! From Haran to Hebron, it was about 600 miles, 20 days’ journey in those days. On earth, what woman could say, Yes, and leave her country and her family and travel 600 miles to marry a man she had never met?! How could she even trust the old servant’s story that sounded too fishy? Such a woman must be very rare. But no matter what, Abraham wanted that kind of woman to be his son’s wife. If any woman was not willing to come, simply, she was not the one for Isaac. Humanly, it was impossible. But Abraham said to his servant, The LORD will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. He believed that even though it was a mission impossible, by God’s help, it would be done. Only a girl who was led and inspired by God would say, Yes, I will marry him.Abraham was looking for such a girlAbraham did not talk about any other condition such as wealth, intellect, character or outward appearance, but this one single thing - by faith in Godinspired by God, she would be willing to leave her country and her family and marry IsaacThe only preference he had for Isaac's marriage partner was this absolute faith in God that when inspired by God, she could leave everything behind including her own family, come to a foreign land and marry Isaac even without seeing him once before.

 

May our young brothers have faith in God in their marriage. May all of our young brothers be so powerful and passionate like Abraham saying, If any woman is not willing to marry by faith, then, she is not for me.

 

Third, I will go (24:10-67). Abraham's servant swore an oath by the LORD. He accepted this mission impossible by faith and left with ten camels with a lot of wedding gifts. From Hebron to Haran, it was about 20 days' journey in those days. When he arrived in Haran, it was toward evening, the time when women go out to draw water. He must have been tired after a long desert journey. Usually, in this situation, even zealous and faithful people would check in the hotel first, take hot shower, eat some good meal, sleep well, and then, from the next day, would start their mission. But, the servant was different. Even though it was the evening time, he did not say that he would start his mission tomorrow. Instead, he started his mission right away, looking for a girl to be Isaac's wife. He was really intense. And his method of starting his mission was to pray, saying, LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let's read verse 14 together:

 

14May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, 'Drink, and I will water your camels too.' – Let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.

 

In his prayer, he revealed what kind of lady she he was looking for - the preferences he had. She would be such a thoughtful woman who was mindful of even speechless animals' thirst; and at the same time, she would be such a hard-working lady that she would be willing to water 10 camelsIn a good environment with no harsh labor or long trip, a camel drinks about5 gallons of water; when really thirsty in a challenging circumstances, a typical camel drinks about 30 gallons of water in less than 15 minutes, sometimes, even 53 gallons of water. After a long journey, 10 camels might drink really a lot of water. Even with tap water and hose, watering 10 camels would be challenging. Then, what about a girl drawing water from a deep well with a bucket, pouring it into a jar, and then, carrying it to the trough for camels to drink? It would be really not easy; it would be physically hard. But the servant prayed for such a girl to be Isaac's wife. Such a lady is totally different than a silly lady who is always concerned about how her pinky nail is broken, or how her manicure is chipped, or how her dress looks, and how her hairstyle is. The servant was looking for a very real and practical lady, so thoughtful, compassionate, and hard-working - a motherly character; indeed, he was looking for a mother of many nations.

 

During the time of Noah, God-believing peoples focused on outward beauty and thereby, married anyone they chose; as a result, the whole world was corrupt, inviting God’s judgment on themselves. Nowadays, both God-believing people and non-believing people show the same tendency in regard to their marriage partner. Or, even some people focus on the candidate’s financial condition. But Abraham valued the woman’s faith, and his servant valued the woman’s inner character and hard workingspirit. People’s view of their marriage partner reveals their spirituality very well. What is your view of marriage partner? What is the most important aspect?

Then, even before he finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. The servant asked her, Please give me a little water from your jar. Then, she said, Drink my LORD, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking. So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran back to the well to draw more water. She did this continually, going from the well to the trough back and forth repeatedly until the camels finished drinking. 10 camels might drink about 100 gallons of water. It would take about 30 minutes or even 1 hour. While she was working hard to draw water, pour it on the trough, run back to the well and draw more, without saying a word, the servant watched closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful. 

 

Rebekah was thoughtful, even being willing to take care of the thirst of speechless animals. Not only so, she was a hard-working woman. Surely, she was a material for a mother of many nations. When women are like this, the society has hope and vision. Brothers are encouraged and strengthened to do something really great. In Isaiah 3:16, God describes how the women of Israel were doing during the time of the prophet Isaiah. It reads: The LORD says, The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.Soon, the nation was destroyed by the Babylonian Empire. Modern women are like these women of Zion, mostly concerned about their outlooks. They are wholehearted to seduce handsome brothers, and have many boyfriends. Such a society cannot last. We must pray that God may establish many women of faith like Rebekah among us, from among young college students, who would take care of so many wandering and thirsty people in our society.

 

After the camels finished drinking, he took out a gold nose ring weighing 1/5 ounce, and two gold bracelets weighing 4 ounces, and gave them to her. I checked out the gold price. It’s $1,559.30 per oz as if Jan. 19, 2020The gift was worth about$6,549.00 in US dollar. It was a lot of money for the service she had offered. The servant already was convinced that the girl was the one whom God had prepared for Isaac. When he realized that the girl was Abraham’s grandniece, he bowed down and worshiped the LORD, praising Him for guiding him to the house of his master’s relatives. 

 

Then, surprised, Rebekah ran and told her mother’s household about this. The family became excited and joyfully served the guests. Quickly a feast was prepared for him. The fragrant aroma came up from the hot meal just prepared. But the servant said to them, I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say. Then tell us, Laban, Rebekah's brother said.

 

In verses 34 through 48, he testified to his master’s blessed relationship with the LORD and to the LORD’s kindness in answering his prayer that day in detail. The whole point of his long testimony was that God had chosen Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife. He said in verse 48, I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Then he immediately asked, Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn. He was very intense and forceful.

 

At this, Rebekah's father and brother - Laban and Bethuel -answered, This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.Abraham's servant bowed down to the ground before the LORD. He gave the gifts he brought to Rebekah and her family, and they joyfully ate and drank. 

Look at verse 54b. The next morning, when they got up, the servant said, Send me on my way to my master. We are really shocked at his words. Then , how much more shocked Rebekah's family were! He was really intense, pursuing his mission relentlessly. He was like a Terminator. To others, perhaps, he was a little too much, a little burdensome. But to Abraham, this man must be very reliable. Once a task was given him, he would pursue it with all his heart, focusing all his time, energy, and talent on his mission, and somehow, he would fulfill it successfully. This man was a nameless servant, but he possessed greatness because of his mission oriented life. And through him, this very important mission of finding a wife for Isaac and establishing Isaac's family was fulfilled. Since everything happened so sudden, they wanted to have at least 10 days or so to prepare her departure in order to say goodbye properly. It was very much understandable. But the servant insisted that he should go back home at once denying all human sympathySo the family decided to see what Rebekahwould say. What was her answer? Look at verse 58. Let's read this verse together:

 

So they called Rebekah and asked her, Will you go with this man? I will go, she said.

 

In those days, once she left her family, most likely, she would never see them any longer in her entire life. Also, she would have a totally different life with different people. Her whole life would change completely. But she did not hesitate; she did not cry like a little baby either. Instead, she made a clear cut decision, saying, I will go.

 

To many women, marriage dream is the most valuable asset they have. It is their lifetime dream to marry a prince charming, handsome, lovely, and gentle. So they are very careful to make a final decision; even after checking out all available conditions of their possible marriage partners for years, still, they hesitate to jump into the marriage relationship, worrying about this or that. They are simply afraid. But Rebekah decided to accept a man whom she had never met as her husband. She made this decision, because she had noticed that God had a plan for her and her marriage and she accepted God’s sovereignty upon her life that God chose her to be Isaac’s wife. She would marry Isaac not because of Isaac - his character or his appearance, or even his height, but because of God. She trusted God - God's goodness and love for her, God's good plan for her life, and thereby, entrusted her life and marriage in God's hands by marrying the one God had prepared for her. This is the meaning of marriage by faith. We marry by faith, not by sight, or not by calculation; we marry not according to our own marriage preferences, but according to God's good plan for us by faith. Through this whole event, Rebekah's family members were so amazed and inspired that they sent her out with their blessing, sayingOur sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies. Verse 61 conclusively describes the servant's mission accomplishment, saying, So the servant took Rebekah and left. The mission impossible was accomplished.

 

Verses 62 through 67 zeroes in on Isaac, showing how he responded to this matter. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, Who is that man in the field coming to meet us? He is my master, the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac apparently did not know about his father sending his servant to find a wife for him. It must have been a great surprise to Isaac. But Isaac also was a man of personal faith. He accepted Rebekah as his wife, submitting himself to his father's authority. Verse 67b says, So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. His love for Rebekah was so genuine that even after 20 years, when Rebekah remained barren and childless, Isaac refused to take another wife as was the custom of his time, even though his own father Abraham did. Instead, he prayed and prayed for his wife Rebekah for 20 years, until they, at last, were blessed with twin sons. 

 

This was how Isaac's family was established. There were several people involved in establishing this family - Abraham who initiate it, trusting that God would go ahead and prepare a wife for Isaac, and thereby, entrusted this matter in the hands of his servant; the servant who pursued this very important mission wholeheartedly and relentlessly, and secured Rebekah for Isaac; Rebekah who decided to marry Isaac even without seeing him once and leave everything behind and go to the foreign land because she trusted in God who had a good plan for her; and Isaac who submitted himself to his father's authority and married the one his father had prepared. All of them trusted in God and pursued God's will wholeheartedly. Thus, God's precious covenant family was established. And today, this is how God's covenant families are established - by absolute faith in God and by submitting ourselves, our life and marriage and our dreams to GodWe pray that we may raise up many Isaac and Rebekah from among young college students who can marry by faith in God alone. We pray that we may establish this kind of beautiful marriages continuously that are by God, and for God among us.

 

One Word: By Faith And Obedience, A Godly Family Was Established 

 

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