Thursday, January 24, 2008

Abraham, his servant, Isaac, and Rebekah

Matchmaking was the norm in Bible times and is still practiced in much of the Middle East today. This is a cultural thing, perhaps not necessarily a Biblical mandate, so what I am writing in this post is my opinion, not a commandment.

The most beautiful matchmaking story in the Bible is found in Genesis 24. Take the time to read that if you are not familiar with the story, or even just to refresh your memory. I won't quote it all here since there are 67 verses in that chapter. Here is the basic gist of the story:

Abraham, the father, wants a bride for his son. Not just any bride, but a particular bride from his homeland. He insisted that the bride be brought to his son and was adamant that his son not go back to that land. Also, he did not want his son marrying into the Canaanite tribes around them. Since he did not want his son to go back to his homeland, Abraham sent his most trusted servant to choose the bride and bring her back.

This servant is not named but is commonly believed to be Eliezer (see Genesis 15:2). If so, this is the servant who would have inherited all of Abraham's possessions if Isaac had not been born. He had every reason, from a worldly standpoint, to be jealous of Isaac and to perhaps seek revenge by purposely getting him the wrong woman. Instead, he was a very godly servant, fully devoted to both Abraham and Isaac. He asked God's guidance in getting just the right bride for Isaac. His stipulation was that she be willing--even eager--to serve. (Hauling water for one thirsty camel is quite a chore, let alone for the dozen or more that Eliezer had with him.)

In this story, Isaac is not involved until the very end when he meets Rebekah, hears the servant's account, and takes Rebekah as his wife. The most significant point about Isaac is that he loved her.

Rebekah was the chosen bride. She was obviously God's choice for Isaac, and she knew it. But she was not dragged, kicking and screaming, from her home. She went willingly. Her family tried to detain her, and even left the choice up to her, perhaps expecting her to refuse. But she chose to obey God.

So what do I glean from this, to apply to my own family?

1. The part of Isaac not being allowed to make the choice for himself is a cultural thing. I'm not sure I would have the courage to do the choosing for my children. I would want my children to be more involved than Isaac was. However, I think Isaac could have had the right to reject Rebekah. It was not until after he heard the servant's story that he took Rebekah as his wife. He, too, must have recognized God's hand and accepted His choice.

2. Rebekah's parents did not force her to go to Isaac. She was given the opportunity to refuse. If my daughter has a problem with someone who I think would be a fine choice, she would be expected to speak up about it. Some men put on a good face for the parents, but the woman might know better. On the other hand, parents who are not godly (Rebekah's probably were not) may not be able to recognize God's choice. A godly woman will need the courage to follow God's clear direction even if her ungodly parents would rather she married someone else.

3. Isaac and Rebekah were married almost immediately. Both were ready. They were old enough, they were mature enough, they were fully prepared materially to start a home together. I do not agree with the current trend of boys and girls getting to know each other, sometimes far too intimately, before they are old enough and responsible enough to seriously consider marriage.

4. Rebekah did not make the first move. If a man is to be truly head of the home, the woman must not start out by making this important first decision for him. The man should be man enough to begin the process himself with God's guidance.

There are more principles I would like to state, but that will wait for another post when we look at the first marriage, Samson, and Ruth.


Joseph said...

thank you for that lesson. and please continue in it.

zorg said...

I would say basically the same as Joseph. That was interesting, please hurry up and continue:)

Twinklemoose said...

This is cool. We recently had a sermon on the servant in the account being a type of Christ. He is a SERVANT. His call to Rebekah is EFFECTUAL. His call to Rebekah is SUPERNATURAL (think of how he prayed for the right one to give him water and offer to water his camels - a huge and unexpected task under normal circumstances). His call to her is URGENT, like the Holy Spirit bringing a lost person to conversion. She has to go with him the next morning, though her family wants to keep her another 10 days.

Cathy said...

Twinkle, I have never heard of the servant being a type of Christ. Usually Abraham is seen as a type of God the Father, the servant as God the Holy Spirit, and Isaac as God the Son. Rebekah is seen as a type of the Church, the Bride of Christ. At the command of the Father, the Holy Spirit brings sinners (now the Church) to Christ as His Bride.

Twinklemoose said...

Oops! My bad! Actually, it was the servant as an evangelist bringing good news, and the call was effectual for Rebekah. Had it not been, he was prepared to look to the right or the left to find the right one. He wasn't about to wait around and try to persuade her if she didn't come readily.