Day 14

Isaac & Rebekah

from the Genesis reading plan

Genesis 23:1-20, Genesis 24: 1-67, Genesis 25:1-18, Romans 9:9-24

BY Debbie Eaton

Text: Genesis 23:1-20, Genesis 24: 1-67, Genesis 25:1-18, Romans 9:9-24

On cold Sunday nights in January, our family gathers around the TV with hot chocolate and popcorn to be transported into the lives of wealthy aristocrats and their faithful (and not so faithful) servants. Those servants who go rogue make for good TV, but it’s the faithful ones who inspire us by their show of loyalty, humility, and sacrifice.

Our Sunday night ritual reminds me: servants and their roles may at times seem invisible, but they carry a quiet weight of influence with those they serve.   

As we engage in the storyline of Isaac and Rebekah, we find Abraham’s servant as an unlikely key character. Abraham’s long-standing relationship with his chief servant is a beautiful picture of the value of trust in relationships. The two men experienced the whole of life together—success and secrets, testing and tragedy, hardship and happiness, failure and faith.

With the death and burial of his beloved wife Sarah, Abraham’s attention turned to the task of finding Isaac, now 40 years old, a wife of his own. But this would be no ordinary coupling. This marriage would preserve the family line leading to the ultimate servant, “the Son of Man [who] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

And so Abraham called his servant—“the elder of his household who managed everything he owned”—to his bedside (Genesis 24:2). It seems fitting that this man, who’d been entrusted with every other area of Abraham’s household, was given this responsibility as well.

In a posture of humility, the servant was asked to place his hand under his master’s thigh in a binding oath to both Abraham and his God (Genesis 24:9). And under the cover of God’s promise to him, Abraham gave his servant instructions to return to his homeland to find the woman God had chosen to carry on the family legacy.

The journey to the homeland was long and tiring. How would he ever find this woman? This was a task the servant knew to be far bigger than himself. But for years, he had witnessed Abraham’s dedication to the Lord, how he’d learned to pray with expectancy. He’d seen the impossible come into fruition (Genesis 21:2), and could testify to God’s faithfulness to those who love Him.

So he turned to the Father in prayer—expectant for an answer even as he prayed.

“Lord, God of my master Abraham,” he prayed, “give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.”
– Genesis 24:12

And he was quick to praise the Lord when that prayer was answered.

“Then I bowed down, worshiped the Lord, and praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who guided me on the right way…”
– Genesis 24:48

God not only uses Abraham in this story—He also uses Abraham’s faithful servant to show us that each and every one of us has a purpose. Like Abraham’s servant, our prayers are heard by God, too, regardless of our power or position in the world. In Christ, we all have the same direct access to God (Hebrews 4:16).

Your servant heart is dear to God. Your work done unto Him is also seen by Him. It is a great gift from our loving Father, that we get to participate in that work. And while Abraham’s servant played a role in ushering in the Messiah into this world, it is Jesus—the “suffering servant” (Isaiah 53:10-11)—who is always the true hero of the story.

May this serve as an encouragement to us, friends, that God uses those behind the scenes to carry out His plan. A faithful servant’s work is never invisible to the God who loves them. They, too, have a profound influence on the Kingdom.

Post Comments (89)

89 thoughts on "Isaac & Rebekah"

  1. Sarah says:

    This was a very good reminder of them effectiveness and influence of prayer and seeking God for my own life. To pray with expectancy and not to be ashamed of what I am asking for too. God has a plan and wanted to carry it out and lead the servant to Rebekah. :)

  2. Ruby says:

    I’ve enjoyed this study so much, as well as the thoughts written and commented.
    Some of y’all seemed to be talking abt the difference in some arminian beliefs vs. more Calvinistic beliefs. Reformed doctrine (or Calvinism) will say that Adam and Eve had a free will, but because of their choice, all mankind after them have a fallen will. I don’t think anyone has the authority to say that one belief is wrong and the other right, because we don’t really know. Who knows the ways of God?
    If we’re honest, we often think God’s ways are so unfair. (Especially if a fallen will is the case.) My Mom used to tell me, “The important question is not, ‘Why did God only choose some people for heaven?’ but rather, ‘Why did God choose anyone at all?’ None of us deserve the gift of salvation!” I think it’s so important, like one of you pointed out, to emphasize that we CAN put our trust in God, because we don’t have His understanding.

    1. Denise says:

      Your mother is very wise. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Loving this study! Jesus is always the true hero of every story! Love the sweet reminders that we all have direct access to God through prayer and that we all have a purpose in His greater plan to fulfill His Kingdom! What a privilege. We all have an assignment to use our lives in order to bring more people to know Jesus as their Savior! He is the REASON we live! God’s providential care is so evident all over the Bible and within our lives- getting to see Him take care of things and handle things that I have no control over is amazing. He is so good.

  4. Tamara B says:

    I wonder why Romans 9:9-24 is included in the reading. I get the first verses. But I don’t see the relation with the rest. Especially because I find these verses hard to accept.

    “11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of thim who calls.
    14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.”

    Indeed, who am I to judge what He should do (verse 20-21), but why do I have to tell others about Him, if everything is already decided..? He hardens some people, and some He shows mercy..

    I know we have to be salt and light, and that He uses us to show Himself to the people (that He chose on forehand?), we are to witness, and I do, but this text is kinda hard for me to understand. To who do I keep telling the truth, to whom can I aswell give up?

    1. Samantha says:

      Tamara, I too struggled when reading this passage, because it can be difficult to understand, and you have raised some good questions. I did some research in Matthew Henry’s commentary, and also looked up the notes on this passage in my own Bible, and I prayed for the Holy Spirit to give me insight on this passage, as He will give to you too :) I want to share with you what I discovered: My Bible’s commentary says this about Romans 9:14-18, “God rejected Israel because Israel rejected God. Likewise, God raised up Pharoah and hardened his heart, even as Pharoah FIRST decided to reject God. God raised up Pharoah to demonstrate His power; yet Pharoah rejected God in his own heart. God let Pharoah have his own way, hardening Pharoah’s heart in disbelief.” If you keep reading down to verses 19-26, where it discusses “vessels of wrath,” the commentary continues, “The designation ‘vessels of wrath’ refers to the unbelieving to whom God has **unceasingly extended pleading hands** (Romans 10: 21 – ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’). God shows mercy to those who receive His extended hands of mercy, but allows those to be hardened who reject His mercy. Both passages of commentary and Matthew Henry’s strongly reinforce that as the clay has no right to ask the potter what he is making, so we in our finite knowledge and understanding, do not have authority or grounds to assume that God has made some sort of mistake. His nature is just and fair, and everything He does is right, and we have to trust Him. In short, I think it is safe to say, God has given every person an opportunity to repent and receive His great grace. But there are some who will harden their own hearts, as Pharoah hardened his heart against God. And therefore, in His divine mercy to His people as a whole, He demonstrates His judgments and wrath against sin through the lives of those people who first chose to harden their own hearts. He allows their hearts to continue to be hardened. He gives each person his or her own free will. This is why we should never give up on anyone. We should continue to pray for the people in our lives who continue to harden their hearts, that God’s ever-stretched-to-them love would soften their hearts so that they would receive Christ and become “vessels of mercy” (Rom. 9:23). “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ ” (Rom. 10:10-11). Grace and peace to you, dear sister. I hope this has helped.

      1. Tamara B says:

        So you mean.. God hardens the hearts of the ones who already choose not to accept His truth..? I thought it meant that there was some predestination, some will harden, and some won’t (because He already knows our decision before we do?). You say all are given the choice, but most reject God and therefore, He hardens their heart (afterwards?)

        1. Samantha says:

          What I mean is, God, in His grace and mercy, gives everyone the opportunity to choose Him or choose against Him. I don’t believe that when I person is born it is already determined if they will go to heaven or hell. Why even create us then, if He knows we are destined for hell with no opportunity to be saved? He loves us too much for that, and that defeats the purpose of the cross. It defeats the purpose of the tree in the Garden of Eden. God put the tree there in order to give Adam and Eve a choice – to love Him, or to choose their own will, which would lead to death. If He had not given them the tree, the choice, it would have made them forced to love Him. But forced love isn’t love. So He gives us all the opportunity to come to Him, and the ones that receive Him are the “chosen,” but the ones that reject Him in their hearts and with their lives become the “rejected.” Does He know in advance who will choose Him and who will reject Him? I don’t know. Maybe if we prayed for them, they would change their minds about God and be saved? I think that is where faith and trust in Him come into play. We don’t have all the answers, and we won’t. But we have to rest in the truth that He never makes mistakes. “He is trustworthy with your life.” (<—from an SRT study last fall)

          1. Tamara B says:

            Ok, tnx for explaining :)

          2. Ruby says:

            Testing…(seeing if I know how to comment. Lol.:)

          3. Grace says:

            Thanks for this Samantha – you’ve given me a tonne of insight on that passage

      2. Betty Barnard. says:

        So so wonderful thank you for this Samantha!

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