The Providence of God & a Faithful Servant
Intro - a good story
Most of us enjoy a good story. In November of 2011 Kendall Willson, the Facilities Manager at Nipawin Bible College called me into his office. He proceeded to say “Jason, you drive a Nissan - are these your keys?” I did a double take, confused more than anything. A set of car keys I had lost in Edmonton 1 full year earlier, were somehow here in Nipawin at NBC, now hanging from Kendall’s fingers.
He continued, “These keys were left in the guys dorm at Alumni Weekend last year”. Immediately my mind went into detective mode, piecing together quickly the story from a full year earlier. In November 2010, still living in Edmonton, I had acted on plans to come to Nipawin for an annual NBC Alumni Weekend event. I had also arranged to give rides to two other Edmonton-area alumni.
Early the Friday morning I went out to the parking lot at my townhouse, started the car, and backed it up to a loading area about 100 feet away from my townhouse door. I opened the trunk, and shut off the car. Over the next 5 minutes I walked back and forth from my place to the car, and loaded the trunk. My two travel mates arrived, parked on the street, and they also brought their bags to the car. Once the trunk was loaded, we were ready to take off for Nipawin. One small problem. I couldn’t find the car keys.
Me and my 2 travellers spent about 10 minutes looking around the parking lot, looking in the car, especially the driver’s seat where I’d been, we searched the sidewalk between the car and the townhouse, and Lindsay looked all around inside the house. No keys. I was perplexed. Not wanting to spend more time looking, I grabbed the extra set of keys from the house, and we took off to Nipawin.
8 hours later we arrived at NBC. I dropped off the one passenger, Chris, at the guys dorm and the other guy, Derek, at his parent’s home. And I stayed with my sister in another home. I didn’t think of the missing keys until I got back to Edmonton. Truth be told, I never saw them again. Until seeing Kendall hold them in front of me here in Nipawin one year later.
His story was simple. In the weeks after Alumni Weekend, someone in the guys dorm had found a set of keys around that didn’t seem to belong to anyone. The keys were eventually passed along to Kendall as the Facilities manager and he’d thrown them into the safe and eventually forgot about them. One day, a year later, after I was on staff, he suddenly remembered that I drove a Nissan and called me to his office and showed me the keys.
The story all came together. Somehow I’d dropped my car keys into the truck that morning in Edmonton a year before, during the process of packing my and the other two guys’ stuff. Somehow the keys had gotten into the guy’s bag who stayed in the guys dorm for the weekend. At some point during the weekend, he’d discovered a set of keys with his belongings. Knowing they weren’t his, but assuming that somehow they belonged to someone in the dorm, he’d left them there in whatever area he’d slept in. Eventually someone in the dorm saw them laying around, asked around, and when no one claimed the keys they made it into the hands of Kendall, the Facilities manager.
Kendall was surprised that no one who’d attended alumni weekend had reported losing their keys. And of course, I had no way of knowing I’d that actually lost my keys in Nipawin instead of Edmonton. As it turned out, God brought Lindsay and I through a process to move to Nipawin 9 months later, only to be reunited with my car keys about 1 year after I’d first lost them - a 750km journey to find my keys.
Don’t you just love a good story. And although I don’t think that God’s providence in me finding my keys had the impact of some other stories in my life, it did come to mind when I read the story of the servant of Abraham on a journey, travelling 900km to find Isaac a wife.
The providence of God and a faithful servant are on full display this morning as we read the story, familiarize ourselves with the details, and ask the Lord to guide us on our own journeys. This is quite a story. It’s the longest written single story in Genesis. It could be noted that while only 31 verses are used in Chapter 1 for creation, 67 are used in this chapter to recount the story of Isaac and Rebekah.
I want to begin with clarifying the word providence. It’s not actually a word even in the Bible. So what do we mean when we say God’s providence? Paul Helm, a British theologian defined the providence of God as being the working of God's sovereignty to continually uphold, guide, and care for his creation. John Piper comments that it
is God’s seeing to everything. Absolutely everything that needs to be
done to bring about his purposes, God sees to it that it happens.
Isaiah 46:10: “[I declare] the end from the beginning and from ancient
times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will
accomplish all my purpose.’” In other words, “I will see to it.” A good
summary of providence is that it is God’s wise and purposeful sovereignty.
Part 1: The will of the Father (v1-9)
We begin with looking at number one on your outline, “The will of the Father” and start with some background information.
1) Abraham is near the end of his life, well advanced in years. He’s
lived a long fruitful life, and he desires to see Isaac married.
- 2) We see in verse 1 that Abraham has been blessed in all thingswhich will be fleshed out later in the chapter (v35,36). You might remember the story of Melchizedek earlier in our Genesis series calling Abraham blessed back in chapter 14, but this is the first time the narrator uses this word.
- 3) We’ve recently read through the story of God’s request for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and Abraham’s choice to obey and trust that God was enough for him, and that God would somehow still fulfill the promise to make a people through Abraham’s descendants in His own perfect way,
- 4) God spared Isaac, and just last week when Josh preached, at the end of chapter 22, mention is made of Abraham’s extended family, and foreshadowing with the name Rebekah, a daughter of Bethuel, who is Abraham’s nephew. So today, we begin in chapter 24 by looking at the will of Abraham. And our first scene is Abraham engaging in a conversation with his most-trusted servant. This servant is unnamed, though it could be a previously well-praised servant named Eliezer (Gen 15:2). Abraham is confident in the Lord’s promise from 22:17 to multiply his offspring and bless the nations. And here we read Abraham painting a “best- case scenario” to his servant regrading how he is to go about finding a wife for Isaac. These are the last recorded words of Abraham in Genesis, and it’s probably not a coincidence that there is a connection to wanting to see God fulfill His promise.
An oath and instructions (v2-6)
As Abraham sits down with this most trusted servant, he starts the conversation with “Put your hand under my thigh, 3 that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth”.
Now, talk about an immediate recipe for things getting really serious or awkward in the blink of an eye. Because it wasn’t just that servant was putting his hand on his thigh. When you study deeper the meaning of this phrase, it’s a euphemism for the servant putting his hand under the reproductive organ of Abraham. This is a completely bizarre thing to you and I in Canada in 2023, but this was actually a normal practice in that culture and time of history by which the patriarchs would secure their last will, especially when it was connected to posterity, or the future generations of a family line. And the process would be to have an oath sworn that was connected to a physical source of life. You see something like this practiced again in Genesis 47 with Jacob invoking Joseph to do the same when he asks him to swear to take his body back to be buried in Canaan, the promised land.
And that “promised land” here is a big part of Abraham’s oath with his servant. So he makes his servant swear the oath that he will do as Abraham is asking.
Abraham has two main instructions for the servant. First, that Isaac is not to marry a Canaanite woman and so the servant must travel to Abraham’s kindred and get a wife for him there. Generations later, when God was bringing the Israelites into the promised land they are warned in Deut 7 not to marry the people of the land, which included the Canaanites. Here we see Abraham’s desire to protect his son from any woman who would potentially influence Isaac away from faith in the one and only Lord God. Abraham’s second desire is that Isaac will not to go back to Mesopotamia with the servant. In verse 6 he says “See to it that you do not take my son back there.” Abraham knows that just as clearly as God called him out of that land to where he is now, it is just as important for Isaac to remain in the land of the promise at this time in history. He wants to ensure that Isaac would not find a reason to be tempted to return to Mesopotamia, especially if a potential bride was unwilling to come back to Canaan.
Holding onto the promise (v7)
Now Abraham doesn’t just tell his servant to go on this great journey, but he shares with his servant the news of the great promise. Abraham passes on truths he’s been told in Gen 12:7 and Gen 22:16. And so he says to the servant in v7 “The Lord God of heaven said to me, to your offspring I will give this land. He will send his angel before you and you shall take a wife for my son from there.”
We get the sense that whatever happens to Isaac is of great importance in God’s master plan. The servant is even told he will have an angel to go before him. Now, it wouldn’t feel too shocking for Abraham to be promised by God to receive direction from angels - this is a man who’s had angels of the Lord visit him personally, to think back to the story of Sodom and Abraham bartering with the Lord about the amount of righteous men it would take to save the city.
Freedom from the oath (v8,9)
It is in verse 5 we initially get to the million dollar question from the servant. “What if the woman isn’t willing to come back with me?” Is is possible this would be a waste of time? Is he making an oath that will be impossible to keep?
Perhaps you or I have doubted the value of asking a question before if we felt that the person wouldn’t listen, even if it was the right thing to do. We might ask or wrestle with, “what’s the point of asking someone a question or bringing something up, if the person we’re going to bring it up to won’t respond the way I want them to"?
Abraham addresses this concern very simply. He says, you only are responsible for what you’ve been asked to do. The faithful servant is asked to invite Abraham’s kin to come back and marry Isaac. If she will not come, the servant has still done what is right in the eyes of Abraham, who says in verse 9 “But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine...”
And so, with that clarification of what he is “signing up for” with this journey, the servant puts his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swears the oath concerning the matter.
Part 2: The faithful witness of the servant (v10-49)
It’s interesting that neither Abraham or Isaac goes to find the bride. The task is given to this servant of Abraham’s who is completely devoted to him. The favoured term the servant uses for Abraham in this chapter is “my master”. 19 times he uses the term. He lived and served to please his master which has good spiritual implications for us in 2023. We know that Abraham was a man of faith and now we get a glimpse of why Abraham would have chosen this servant, who is indeed, faithful himself. The servant will prove to be a faithful witness to the providence of God. The journey to Mesopotamia was no small day trip. It likely took at least 21 days, or 3 weeks, walking 25 miles a day. Camels were still fairly rare in this era, and that the servant took 10 shows both the wealth of Abraham, and Rebekah’s generosity, energy, and servanthood to water them.
We move onto Part 2 in our outline and look more deeply at the faithful witness of the servant.
a) the prayer of expectation (v10-14)
It begins with a), a prayer of expectation. God faithfully brings the servant the 900km to his destination. And now the servant has arrived, he’s got the camels knelt down, doing the end of journey stretches and the first thing he does is pray. He knows what God has promised his master Abraham, he knows the importance of the task that Abraham has given him. And he acknowledges his dependance on God. In verse 12 he says “Oh Lord God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughter of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say ‘Please, let down your jar that I may drink’ and who shall say ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’ - let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac.
This is actually the first recorded instance of prayer for specific guidance in Scripture. The servant believes the promise of God, and shows incredible trust in the providence of God to direct him. He took time to pray and to ask God for help, and then kept his eyes open to what God might do.
And if you feel like this was a “fleece” moment, where the servant was testing God, it’s important to note this is actually quite different from Gideon’s fleece moment, where Gideon used that method because he didn’t trust in God’s promise. Here, the servant never doubts God’s calling on his life for this moment, and he’s not demanding a sign. The faithful servant, however, is asking for God’s favour and providence as he seeks to honour Abraham and to complete the task his master Abraham has given him.
Now, it’s not often we read in Scripture of God answering prayer this way, and I don’t think it would be prudent to demand or expect that God would answer your or my prayer in this way, at least not on a regular basis. But God shows his favour to the servant in this moment. In fact, God was already at work in Rebekah before the servant prayed and was already sending the answer to his prayer before the servant even had the thought to pray.
b) the character of Rebekah (v15-25)
As we continue in this section seeing the faithful witness of the servant, we now are introduced to b) in your outline, the character of Rebekah, who if you remember I mentioned, was name-dropped last week by Josh at the end of chapter 22. Notice how the servant is pro-active in approaching a woman here. He doesn’t just pray and then kind of wait around for God to bring the woman to a comfortable space close to him so he can ask her a question. No, he sees a woman come and he “runs” over to her to ask his question. He’s a man on a mission, and he trusts her response to God’s providence.
Now, the narrator here gives us as readers more information to know about this woman than the servant would have been able to know in his moment of meeting her, like that she hadn’t laid with a man before. He would have only known in the moment that, at least in his eyes, Rebekah was very attractive in appearance.
Yet, the servant’s evaluation process was just about to begin. “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar”, he asks her. It’s not a leading question. It’s not “is there any chance you could give me a little hand watering 10 camels?”.
Since hospitality is the determining factor of the faithful servant’s prayer, it’s notable that God makes it quite evident what Rebekah’s character exudes. She is kind, hospitable, industrious, and willing to help a stranger. In fact, Rebekah doesn’t just give the servant a drink, and just offer to give his camels a little drink either. She’s going the extra mile. She indicates in verse 19 that she will draw water for them until they have finished drinking. After a long trek, a single camel might drink 25 gallons or more of water. And Rebekah had to draw that all by hand.
A few verses later after telling the servant who she is, we read that Rebekah also offers the servant housing and food for both him and the camels.
Beyond character, there are a few other important details we can pick up about Rebekah that are valuable to our story. We are told she has never laid with a man. If genealogies are important and a specific family line has been chosen by God toward fulfillment of His promises, then it’s absolutely important that there be no doubt in the future with who the father of any child born to Rebekah might be.
When we get to verse 21 we see that the faithful servant is just taking it all in. He’s still seeking the Lord’s direction and guidance. He knows there is still one more request of Abraham’s that needs to be confirmed. So again, with intentionality, he keeps doing what he can to move things forward. First, he shows some of his own hospitality in the act of gifting Rebekah generously for her service to him and his camels, and then he gets right to the point in verse 22. “Please tell me, whose daughter you are?”
It can be noted that when the servant received instruction from his master Abraham about Isaac marrying one of his kindred, it’s not as specific a request as Isaac’s son Jacob will receive a generation later when he is told to go and seek one of Laban’s daughters. While it seems there could have been flexibility in how close or broadly related a potential wife could have been to Abraham’s family and still have been an acceptable bride, we once again see God’s working of providential details to the awe of the servant, leaving no doubt if the kindred relation is close enough. Rebekah tells the servant that she is the daughter of Bethuel, the granddaughter of Nahor. This is not a distant relative of Abraham’s, it is a close cousin, a granddaughter of Abraham’s own brother!
c) a response of worship (v26-28)
One can imagine the “a-ha” moment that suddenly floods through the servant’s heart and mind, knowing clearly right then that God has answered so incredibly his prayer of verse 14 to lead him to the one appointed for Isaac. That just as Abraham spoke in verse 7, God has favourably sent his angel before him and directed him to Isaac’s future wife. The faithful servant can only respond immediately in the beautiful moment of worship to the Lord marked on your outline as point 2 c). In verse 27 the servant calls out “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”
Have you ever had something happen you felt could be an amazing coincidence until you found out someone was praying? Just this past week I had a last minute switching of an upcoming new tenant for our rental property in Edmonton. I had one tenant in place, and then inexplicably they fell through, causing me to need to move on to my second choice - and when I called that 2nd person’s current landlord, after the fact, to do a reference check I found out their current landlord was a Christian, that they knew personal friends of mine, and that she’d been praying this past couple weeks that her tenant would land in a new home with a good landlord. So, I don’t know what God is doing there yet, but He is at work through prayer.
Abraham’s servant had prayed a prayer upon arriving at the well, and God had answered and brought about details in an astounding show of his providence.
d) meeting the family (v 29-32)
This passage next introduces us to Rebekah’s family which you’ll see on your outline as 2 d). After Rebekah has run home to tell her family about what she’s experienced we’re introduced to Laban. Yes, that Laban who will eventually trick Jacob and give him the wrong wife. We seem to already get little hints that Laban does not always have the purest of motivations. Laban hears Rebecca’s story and comes to the well. It seems here that he is suddenly more motivated to show kindness to Abraham’s faithful servant now that the gold and jewelry have come out.
Regardless, the servant goes to the home of Rebekah and continues to experience God’s providential care and blessing under the direction of Laban who seems to be providing leadership in this family home. Their father, Bethuel, is likely at the tail end of life and has passed on many of those day to day responsibilities.
e) The faithful witness and the ask (v33-49)
We move along to 2 e) on your outlines. The servant is in the family home. The table is set, the food is laid out, and it’s time to enjoy fellowship and a feast together, but Abraham’s servant is still a man on a mission. Throughout the entirety of this chapter, we see time and time again a faithful servant who is concerned with staying on task with what he’s been asked. His personal comfort or simply living lavishly and enjoying a feast is not his concern, only that he would complete the will of his master. He says in v33 “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say”.
And then, over the next 16 verses we get the complete recap of everything that has happened. We read the faithful witness of the servant as he recounts now to Rebekah’s family, all the ways he has seen God at work. He starts with sharing the clear instructions and details given to him by Abraham, including his fear that he would perhaps meet the right woman, only to have her be unwilling to return with him. He shares the details of his earnest prayer to God for His favour and directing him to the right woman. He recounts the amazing providence of God in the immediate arrival of Rebekah and how she fulfilled each “ask” of his prayer. And he finally finishes his testimony with sharing the details of his heartfelt response to the Lord in worship, sharing with Rebekah’s family the words of verse 48. “Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son”.
In our modern way of reading stories, we might be tempted to skip over this entire section because it simply repeats the details of the event preceding it. But to skip over the section, or not realize it’s significance is to miss the point. It was such an amazing story, it needed to be re-told. The servant felt the need to give God credit. He wanted to make sure everyone knew that him being there in that moment was the result of a full and complete work by God.
Thus, it is communicated to Rebekah’s family that both his proposal for marriage is providential from God, and that this marriage itself, if Rebekah is to accept, has been ordained by God.
Part 3: The willingness of the bride (v50-60)
This brings us into Point 3 on our outlines. At the start we see a positive response from Rebekah’s family.
An unwilling family (v50-55)
Laban and Bethuel say in v50, “The thing has come from the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good.” This response is not necessarily a clear sense that they are agreeing with what the Lord has done, but rather acknowledging that if it is from God, then who are they to stand against it. They are however, clear with their next statement. “Rebekah is before you. Take her and go. Let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken.”
The faithful servant again worships God. And Laban, likely to his delight, gets a portion of the wealth that may have been driving or influencing his interactions with the servant. It is clear that Abraham had well-prepared his servant to pay for any dowry, or cost, and to bless with abundance any family of a potential bride-to-be.
The evening continues with feasting and as the servant spends the night there, we can imagine how elated he might have been going to bed that night. However, the morning brings a bit of a twist. The tune of Rebekah’s family seems to have changed. “Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go” say Laban and Rebekah’s mother in verse 55.
It’s an interesting foreshadow toward a generation later when Laban would make Jacob wait and work 14 years for his wife Rachel. Perhaps if he could see the future, Abraham’s servant should have seen this short 10 day wait as a blessing. We can this moment as a reminder of how easily we drag our feet with obeying God’s direction for our lives if we aren’t fully sold on the direction. You’ve heard messages from this very pulpit in the last couple years preaching through varying Scripture passages where God warns of personal family getting in the way of God’s call on our lives. Rebekah is being summoned by God, to be part of God’s promise to make for Himself a people, set apart for Him and His purposes - to be a part of His promises to Abraham and His offspring. God’s providence in all the details of Abraham’s life, the faithful servant’s journey, even in Rebekah’s timing of coming to the well, has been articulated with Rebekah’s family. But they’re still wrestling to let go. And yet, it’s an
interesting twist then that in God’s providence, the family decides to present Rebekah with the choice of making the final decision.
Abraham’s servant communicates his immediate response to the family’s waffling and makes it clear that he will have no part of foot dragging and waiting around for at least another 10 days. He asks them to send them on their way.
A willing bride (v 56-60)
And so the family calls the young woman and asks her. “Will you go with this man” they say in verse 58? “I will go” is her immediate response. In a moment, she echoes the same willing heart to follow God out of her country, away from her kindred, and from her father’s house to be part of great nation, in just the same way as Abraham had responded to God when He first called Him away from Mesopotamia in Genesis 12.
I remember when Lindsay and I were faced with a decision on coming to Nipawin or not from Edmonton. Over the thought and prayer process of 4 months it became clear to me that if we were to come here, God would have to make it clear to Lindsay. And I started praying - “God, if you want us to go to Nipawin, I’ll know you want us to go only if Lindsay says ‘God wants us to go to Nipawin’, and by her statement I’ll know you’re calling us both.” Lindsay had family in Edmonton, she’d never lived in Nipawin, and her family was even pressuring her to stay in Alberta. And I remember God impressing on my mind that we should write down all the ways we may be allowing un-godlike fear to influence whether we should be staying in Edmonton, or whether we should be moving to Nipawin. We read our lists out loud to each other, and the moment we finished reading Lindsay blurted out the words “God wants us to move to Nipawin”. What an amazing moment in my mind of knowing the will of God and acting on it in coming to Saskatchewan.
Part 4: The welcome of the bridegroom (61-67)
So with Rebekah’s decision we move on to Part 4 in the outline, which is the welcome of the bridegroom. The faithful servant, along with his servant team and Rebekah, and her nurse leave.
Mesopotamia and head back for Canaan. Rebekah receives essentially the same blessing from her family that Abraham had received in chapter 22, which again, just confirms the tie in of Rebekah into the family line of Abraham.
Isaac’s wait and Rebekah’s preparation (v62-65)
And now we find Isaac waiting, and the setting is that he is out meditating in the field toward evening. The word “meditate” here is a little unclear in the Hebrew, but it is possible that Isaac had taken time to be alone to think and pray, and to seek the Lord. Some versions use the word roam, which would only further show God’s providence of the timing of meeting his wife. Isaac had no way to know when the servant would return, and would the servant return empty handed, or with a wife? In God’s providence, Isaac is out in the fields the very evening the caravan returns, and thus he is the very first person the caravan runs into and he is the first person that Rebekah gets to meet upon their arrival.
The servant now refers to Isaac as his master. Bruce Waltke, in his commentary notes that the passage is now most likely signifying Isaac as lord and successor of Abraham. Rebekah’s response when she finds out this is Isaac, her husband-to-be, is immediate. She dismounts, she veils and covers herself, probably showing humility, modesty, and subjection.
God’s faithfulness to his people (v66)
We see Abraham’s faithful servant take one last opportunity to share the stories of God’s providence as he meets now with Isaac. The servant tells Isaac in v66 of all the things he had done. Wouldn’t it have been fitting for Isaac say to him, in foreshadowing the words of Jesus’ parable in Mt 25, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
But really, this chapter has shown itself to be a proclamation of God’s faithfulness to his people, and to his servant Abraham, and now to Isaac. And that is quite evident as we get to end of chapter 24.
Isaac’s love for Rebekah (v67)
I want to touch briefly on Isaac’s love for Rebekah in verse 67. We see the consummation of the marriage, and we read that Isaac loved Rebekah, and was comforted after his mother’s death.
In North America where we seem to pursue love, and then marriage, how easy it is to forget that pursuit of love after marriage is even more important than before. Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage may have been providentially planned in heaven, but that is no sure guarantee for it’s health. Indeed, by the time Jacob and Esau come around, it’s pretty clear there are some issues at play in the marriage. But, in this sermon, for this time, and place, it is noted that Isaac was practicing his love for Rebekah. In arranged marriages, love follows union. There is an intentionality with learning to love and committing to love that perhaps we can learn and make better practice of in our own lives.
Isaac’s love for Rebekah also brought him comfort in the loss of his mother, Sarah. Is it any wonder then, that the God of all comfort would be the one in whom we most profoundly understand and see love? Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”.
Just as Isaac welcomes Rebekah and loves her and becomes one with her, we are given the offer of being grafted into God’s promise and when we accept the offer of Jesus Christ we find love and comfort in our journey of life here on earth.
Conclusion: Our journey of faith
In conclusion today, we want to look at our own journeys of faith. Where can you look back on your journey and see the hand of God at work and worship him for that?
God brought me to Cold Lake, AB in the summer of 1996 as an 18 year old after my first year at NIpawin Bible College through my dad making a simple 5 minute phone call to a friend asking if I could work for him for the summer. Years later that boss told me he agonized about hiring a friend’s son...”what if the son turns out to be a dud.
Will that wreck the friendship?” I look at that one moment as setting a new trajectory for my life. The church and community there were where I began to put into practice what I was learning at Bible College. God began to grow me in servanthood and leadership, he birthed new interests and abilities in me that then led me to another city for more school. Which grew me in other skills and other interests that led to another town for more school where he also led me to meet my future wife, all the while continuing to grow me in skills that began at that first summer job of ’96. This opened the door for my main vocation after Linz and I first married, that I served in for the first chapter of our marriage. God led us to Edmonton and school for Lindsay while I kept on in that vocation, and continued to grow us together in ways that prepared us both for God to bring us to Nipawin through a simple job offer that I wasn’t even interested in, and a 4 month process of prayer, making it clear that this is where He wanted us to be. But it all started with a father making a 5 minute phone call, desiring God’s best for his son.
God wants what is best for you and I. And ultimately, God’s providence brought you and I to church this morning, and His providence put this date on my calendar for preaching out of Genesis 24. God’s providence has allowed every good and difficult thing that is part of my life and your life this spring and this summer, and he’s calling us to be faithful servants.
Like Rebekah, we’re being asked to trust God’s providence. This is our first of 3 concluding points.
a) Trusting God’s providence
Are you going through a tough spell at work? Are your kids causing you heartache? Are your parents causing you heartache? Is there too much on your plate? Are you in a season of plenty, or do the cupboards feel bare? Are you travelling by camel to the middle east to visit your extended family and to look for a spouse? No, I’m kidding about that last one. God’s probably not calling you to that.
Trusting in God’s providence requires us to develop and grow in lives of prayer and recognizing we actually are completely dependent on.
God. Abraham’s servant could not have travelled 900 km and found success without prayer.
Where are the opportunities in your life each day to pray and come before the Lord asking Him to grant you success today and show His steadfast love? Because of the affluence of North America, it’s so tempting to let our wealth or well-being stifle prayer. In the book “A Praying Life”, Paul Miller says “If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.” He continues in saying “Jesus is, without question, the most dependant being who ever lived. Lk 5:16 tells us he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Talk about a man who desperately needed His Father. Miller suggests that “prayer mirrors the gospel. In the gospel, the Father takes us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of salvation. In prayer, the Father receives us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of help.” Let’s grow in learning the art and heart and importance of prayer.
Jehovah God is the Living God who sees everything and plans all things for His glory and the good of His children. We need His help. We can trust that God is providentially at work in all circumstances, holding onto the truth of Rom 8:29a “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son...”
b) Being obedient to our call
Abraham’s servant was obedient to his call. This is point b) He was given one task. “Go to Mesopotamia and bring a wife back for Isaac.” Rebekah’s response wasn’t Isaac’s problem. His obedience to go was all he had to concern himself with.
Rebekah was presented with a call to leave her family and be joined to Isaac. Her obedience to go meant leaving and trusting God in the unknown of a new life.
I dare say in Canada we have a lot of comfortable Christians who have been unwilling to be obedient to call of Christ. The result is in the statistics. A slowly dying evangelical church. Faith is the opposite of comfort. Will you be obedient, and step out in faith?
c) Loving and looking for the bridegroom
And last, part c), loving and looking for the bridegroom. God fulfilled the promise to Abraham in multiplying his descendants and in the coming of Jesus Christ through Isaac’s line.
Jesus Christ came. He lived among us, and he was the most faithful servant the world has ever known. We are gathered here today to be reminded of the eternal bridegroom who will come back again to claim us as His bride. 2 Cor 11:2-3 gives us a wedding picture of a church betrothed to Christ, presented to him. Paul shares that he is afraid that we would be led astray from a pure love, a pure devotion to Christ, our bridegroom.
Christ has done everything He needed to for you to be His bride, and He offers you to come to Him in faith. Like Rebekah said “I will go”, will you give yourself to Christ, to be His bride? Will you lay yourself down, your kingdom, and make the decision to love Christ and live for God’s kingdom?
God promised Abraham that all the nations would be blessed through His offspring. Today we read the first step of that blessing with the marriage of Isaac to Rebekah, and we’re going to sing in closing “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery” and celebrate the beautiful providence of God bringing Christ through the line of Isaac and Rebekah. Now, if we have put our faith and trust in Christ, we have become the spiritual offspring of Abraham, the church, the bride of Christ. May we anxiously await Christ’s second arrival, His return from a foreign land, to make us His own, saying together in our hearts, and with our mouths, “Come, Lord Jesus”.
Let’s take a moment, meditate on these truths, as the music team comes forward and then let’s sing together.