Genesis Chapter 24

The Marriage of Isaac
I. Observation A. Context 1. Recap: In Ch. 23, we read about Sarah’s death and Abraham’s making arrangements for a burial site. • CORRECTION: The cave at Machpelah is not in the far north, as was said last week; rather, it is in the area of HEBRON (Gen 23:2), which is between Beersheba and the far north, not HARAN, which is in the far north, where Abraham stopped on his original travels from Ur (Gen 12:4) and where today’s lesson takes place. 2. Starting location of Ch. 24 is not specifically stated, but it is likely back near Beersheba since Abraham sent his chief servant who was in charge of his household (v.2) and that when they return, Isaac is said to have returned from Beer Lahai Roi (v.62), which is believed to be SW of Beersheba. 3. We also do not know how soon after Sarah’s death this happened, but the context suggests it was very near her death, for “Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (v.66). Perhaps Abraham realized that his time was short after Sarah died and wanted to ensure his son was married before he died. B. Events 1. The Oath: Abraham selects his most trusted servant, due to the serious importance of this task (v.2) a. “Do not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites…” (v. 3) b. “but go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for Isaac.” (v. 4) c. “Do not take my son back there (to his relatives)” (v. 6, 8) d. Abraham is confident that God will provide: “…he [God] will send his angel before you” (v. 7) 2. The Servant’s Journey (v. 10-11) a. Set out for Aram Naharaim, in NW Mesopotamia (Ryrie), which was near the region of Haran, where Abraham had traveled through on his original journey from Ur (Gen. 12:4). b. NOTE: Haran and Nahor, although used here as geographic terms, were actually the names of Abraham’s two brothers (Gen. 11:27), so the geographical usage refers to the lands they settled. c. The journey is estimated to have been approximately 500 miles (Ryrie) 3. The Servant’s Prayer and God’s Answer (v. 12-27) a. Notice how specific his prayer was: (1) When I say…Let her say… -- would make it difficult to attribute answer to coincidence (2) Watering 10 camels (v. 10) would have been a lot of work (Ryrie) and not something the average person would probably offer to do for a stranger. b. Notice how precisely God answers his prayer: (1) “Before he had finished praying…” -- Immediate answer to his prayer (2) She was apparently the first woman he saw after praying. (3) She responded EXACTLY as he had asked God. (4) When the servant asks, he finds that she is the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother…not only did she respond exactly like he asked God for her to respond, but she was Abraham’s family!! c. The Servant immediately recognized God’s answer to his prayer and his response: “Praise be to the Lord…” (v. 27) 4. Rebekah’s Family a. Abraham’s Servant recounts the events to Rebekah’s brother, Laban, and her father, Bethuel (v. 34-49) b. After hearing how God had clearly answered the servant’s prayer, they responded “This is from the Lord” (1) Their response indicated that they did fear the Lord, recognized his hand in the situation, and submitted. 5. After Laban and Bethuel agreed to let Rebekah marry Isaac, the servant gave gifts to Rebekah, her mother, and Laban.

6. Departure a. As they prepare to leave, Laban and Rebekah’s mother want to wait 10 days; not clear why. b. The servant, not wanting to be delayed, protests and they leave the decision to Rebekah, who chooses to leave. c. The blessed Rebekah before she left: (1) “may you increase to thousands upon thousands” – fruitful in producing offspring (2) “may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies” – prosperity, protection, and expanse of territory (3) Although it is uncertain if they were aware of it, this blessing echoes God’s promise to Abraham through Isaac. 7. Marriage to Isaac a. Arriving home (probably to Beersheba), they meet Isaac who had returned from Beer Lahai Roi. b. After hearing what had happened, Isaac married Rebekah and was comforted after his mother’s death. (v. 66) II. Interpretation A. Why was Abraham so specific in his instructions to the servant about finding a wife for Isaac? 1. God would fulfill his promise through Isaac, so his wife ought to be one who feared God. 2. God had set apart Abraham’s family, so it ought not be joined to the Canaanites, his future enemies. 3. Although he knew his relatives would be the best source for a wife, God had brought Abraham to where he was now and had promised to give Canaan to his offspring…going back may hinder this. B. Does a person have to be willing to be used by God in order to actually be used by God? 1. There is no indication that Rebekah was aware of the servant’s request; nor would she be aware of God’s influence in what she was to say. Also, perhaps God influenced the servant in what to ask. 2. How does this balance “divine intervention” with “free will” ? C. Why was it important for God to answer the servant’s prayer exactly as he had asked? 1. It provided unquestionable evidence of the hand of God at work in the situation. 2. Had the servant just told Rebekah’s family, “I’ve come for your daughter to marry my master’s son,” they may have resisted. However, after recounting the events, it was clear that it was God’s will. III. Application A. What promises has God made to you/us? How might being “unequally yoked” with non-believers hinder the fulfillment of these promises? B. God sees the big picture and is actively involved in bringing his diving plans to successful completion. Since God doesn’t need our awareness or willingness, why does he include us? It’s for OUR benefit! 1. Great example: Father working on a car with his very young son. He could easily accomplish the task without his son’s help, but by involving him, he’s strengthening the father-son bond and showing love to his son. C. It’s not always easy to see God’s hand at work in where we are going, but it’s often easier to see when we look at where we are and where we have been.

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