I am not one to wear a shirt or parade a bumper sticker which reads, “I love my wife.” But this March will mark twenty years of dating my wife. Our first date was a Saturday. It was sunny and pleasant. I greeted her with flowers; daisies. Reservations for dinner were made at a fine restaurant called Applebee’s. We sat across from one another at a round, high table. Lisa ordered soup and I splurged for the chicken fingers platter. After dinner, we took in a show at the theater, the movie theater. When the movie ended, I drove my date to her home. I walked her to the door. It was there that we shared true love’s first kiss which was followed by true love’s second kiss. I love my wife.
I Will Not Eat
Genesis 24 is long. It is long for only one reason: the servant. The servant is first introduced in verse two. “And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had.” The servant is made to swear an oath to Abraham; an oath concerning Abraham’s son Isaac.
There are four things to know about this oath. First, this oath is because Isaac must have a wife. Second, this oath is because Isaac must have a wife, but not a woman of the Canaanites. The Canaanites are the people who dwell in the land of Canaan, a land where Abraham along with Isaac dwell. Third, this oath is because Isaac must have a wife, not a woman of the Canaanites, and Isaac himself must not leave this land of Canaan to find this wife. This wife is to come from Abraham’s home country, the land of his kindred. And fourth, this servant is to find this wife. And this servant is just not to find this wife, the right woman for Isaac, but personally is to hope that she is willing to return with him to the land of Canaan. And this wife, the right woman, is to be willing not just to return with this servant to the land of Canaan, but marry a man sight unseen. She will have never met Isaac. There is no profile picture to be shown, no about you page to read. The most this woman can do is return with this servant to the land of Canaan and marry a man sight unseen, based upon the witness of this servant alone. This is not a miracle, just remarkable.
And Genesis 24 is long. It is long for only one reason: the servant. The servant will hear and then experience Genesis 24:1-27. And he is so impressed with what he heard and then experienced that he cannot wait to tell it to somebody. Listen to Genesis 24:33. He is in the home of the right woman and with her brother and her father and her mother. He then says, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” In Genesis 24:34-48, the servant then shares with this family all that he heard and then experienced. And when finished, he challenges the hearers, “Now tell me, what do you think about all that?” (cf. Genesis 24:49).
And Genesis 24 is long. It is long for only one reason: the servant. The servant eventually returns to the land of Canaan and meets up with Isaac. When he does, the servant cannot wait to share all that heard and then experienced. “And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done” (Genesis 24:66). The servant shared with Isaac all that he heard and then experienced, and not just Genesis 24:1-27, but Genesis 24:1-61.
And Genesis 24 is long. It is long for only one reason.
And It is Not a Love Story
The right woman returns with the servant to the land of Canaan to marry a man sight unseen. Her name is Rebekah. She returned with the servant based upon the witness of the servant alone. And when she returns with the servant is my favorite part of the chapter.
It begins toward evening. Perhaps the sun is setting just right with hints of a peach color brushed against the sky. Isaac is out for a walk. Genesis 24:63 reads that Isaac “went out to meditate in the field.” The word for meditate is only used here in the Old Testament. It simply means to muse or to talk to oneself in a thoughtful manner. Imagine, out in a field alone, taking a walk and talking to himself. What is on his mind?
This is the first mention of Isaac since Genesis 22. There Isaac was a boy, a teenager. Here in Genesis 24, Isaac is a man, forty years of age (cf. Genesis 25:20). His dad is old, well advanced in years. His mom died three years prior. What is on his mind? We could surmise many things, but most important is that Isaac is thinking.
As Isaac walks, he looks up and sees…camels, ten camels coming his way. When Isaac looks up and sees camels, Rebekah looks up too, and sees Isaac. When Rebekah sees Isaac, she dismounts (literally, falls) from the camel, saying, “Who is that man?” Then when Isaac and Rebekah meet, Isaac brings her home, takes Rebekah to be his wife, “and he loved her” (Genesis 24:66). This is the first time in the Bible it is recorded that a man loved his wife. But this is not a love story.
I want us to keep in mind two things: This is the first mention of Isaac since Genesis 22 and Isaac was thinking.
Abraham Was Thinking Too
It is rather intriguing that the particular word for meditate in Genesis 24:63 only occurs here in the Old Testament. And it is intriguing that it occurs at the end of the chapter. And it is intriguing that it is Isaac doing the thinking. By the way, this is the first time since Genesis 22 that both Abraham and Isaac are mentioned in the same chapter – Abraham at the beginning and Isaac at the ending.
At the beginning of Genesis 24, Abraham was thinking too. The word thinking never occurs, nor is there any word for thinking in those opening verses. But Abraham was thinking. As the chapter opens, we hear the last recorded words of Abraham. And we hear in these last recorded words, what is deepest on his mind: Isaac must have a wife; Isaac must not have a wife from Canaan; and Isaac must not leave Canaan to find a wife.
God never explicitly tells Abraham that Isaac must have a wife and that the wife must not be from Canaan and that Isaac must not leave Canaan to find this wife. So, why is Abraham thinking this way? It is all because of verse seven. This is the key verse to the entire chapter.
As Abraham charges his servant that he will be the one to find a wife for Isaac, the servant rightly asks the most important question. What if she will not return with me? Then Abraham does the remarkable. “The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’”
Isaac must have a wife and this wife must not be from Canaan and Isaac must not leave Canaan to find this wife because of what God said. Abraham has been thinking, meditating upon God’s Word. God had promised offspring to Abraham, offspring that would become a nation; offspring that would number the stars of heaven; offspring that would be as the sand of the seashore (12:2; 15:5; 22:17); offspring that would occupy this particular land. The right woman would not be from this land because it was land with its inhabitants that God would also judge (15:16). God had promised a lot of offspring. And in Abraham’s old age, Abraham is not looking at a nation or numbering stars or counting sand. He has but one child, now a man, a single man. So, what is Abraham holding onto? God’s Word.
Also, the last chapter in which Abraham and Isaac are both mentioned is Genesis 22. It is there that for the very first time the word love is mentioned. “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love.” And it is also in this chapter that Abraham learns his very last lesson of faith. “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14). In Genesis 24, Abraham is certain of one thing. As he thinks upon God’s Word, he also knows that God will provide.
So, when the servant asks, what if the woman will not return with me, Abraham can say, “God will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.” Why? God has spoken. “To your offspring I will give this land.” And since God has spoken, God will also provide. And since God has spoken and God will provide, God will also make it happen.
I want us to see that the basis of Genesis 24 is that God has spoken; God’s Word. At the beginning of the chapter, in his old age, his well-advanced years, Abraham is meditating upon what God has said. Could it be possible that as Isaac walked in that field, talking to himself, he too is meditating upon what God has said?
He Gazed at Her in Silence
Genesis 24 is long. It is long for one reason: the servant. He heard Genesis 24:1-8. He heard what God had spoken. And then he experienced God’s provision knowing it was God who made it all happen.
He took ten camels, count them, ten (24:10). And he made his way toward Abraham’s homeland. This was a long journey, several hundred miles, and perhaps many months. As he entered his destination, he stops. He is thirsty. The camels are thirsty. And it is evening (24:11). It is at this time that the women of the city come to the communal well to draw water. Knowing that God has spoken, knowing that since God spoke he will provide, and knowing that since God will provide, God will make it happen, the servant prays. “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today [literally, make it happen]” (24:12). And note the word success (KJV – good speed). “And show steadfast love to my master Abraham.”
He then asks, knowing that God must make it happen, if any of this is to happen, that the young woman who gives him a drink of water and offers water to the camels, be the right woman for Isaac. And before he finishes his prayer, perhaps with one eye open and the other closed, he sees Rebekah, beautiful Rebekah make her way up from the well. He asks her for a drink. What does she do, but also offer to water all ten camels! Camels can each drink about thirty gallons of water. All Rebekah has for this arduous task is one bucket!
As she serves the camels, the servant gazes at her in silence. Is this the one God has provided? Is this God making it happen? Is this God fulfilling his word before my very eyes?! Spoiler alert: it is. God is making it happen right here and now.
The servant gives Rebekah a gold nose ring and some bracelets and asks about her family and home. But the astonishing part is that the servant prays. And the most astonishing part of his prayer is verse twenty-seven. “As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsman.” Rebekah then runs. She runs home to tell her family. Her brother comes and checks things out, primarily because he is more interested in wealth than anything. Then the servant is invited to the home where he shares everything – God has spoken. Since God has spoken, God will provide. And since it is God who provides, God is the one who makes it all happen.
This is what Genesis 24 is all about and why it is so long. This servant is in awe of God. It is why he tells and retells all that has happened. He is impressed by and with God. The servant’s witness, his testimony, is that God makes it happen (see Genesis 24:21; 40; 42; 56). And where does this all begin? God’s Word.
What then is here for us? God’s Word contains God’s will. “Once we know the will of God, we can have tremendous confidence that God will use his supernatural power to overcome obstacles for those who aim to do it.” Therefore, if we are to know God’s will, read God’s Word. And when reading God’s Word, think over it and through it and upon it! Meditate! See Joshua 1:8 and note the word prosperous (same as 24:21, 40, 42, 56). Go walk in a field! “If you are not spending much time in meditative study of God’s Word, then probably doing God’s will is not the passion of your life. And if you ever ask the question, ‘what is God’s will?’ you probably get very confused.” As you read, as you study, as you meditate, pray. Pray to the God who will provide. What will he provide? Fulfilling his will. Pray to the God who will make it happen! Then what? Go. Go expectantly. Go obediently. Go with one eye open and the other eye closed. Go looking to know that God has done it!