Years ago, a young DTS student who was working for GES told me that a chapel speaker had used Genesis 24 to teach them how to find a spouse. The student told me that he thought the message was totally imposed upon the text. He did not think that Genesis 24 is teaching us how to find a bride (or husband).
Dr. Allen Ross seems to agree. In The Bible Knowledge Commentary, he says that Genesis 24 is about “the providential work of God in the circumstances of His faithful servants” (p. 67).
While we can glean some marriage-related principles from the passage, Moses expected it to show God’s sovereign hand in the history of Israel.
What principles can we find here about marriage? We are not to marry unbelievers. In Isaac’s case, the young women in Canaan were idolaters. A secondary marriage lesson is that care should be taken to select wisely. Not all believers are mature.
However, the emphasis of the chapter is not on marriage. The main point is that God’s hidden hand was at work in the history of Israel. The Lord did not leave to chance the finding of a godly woman for Isaac. He led Abraham’s servant to the right woman at the right time.
Abraham’s servant was definitely old school. He didn’t just go through the motions. He took his oath seriously. He saw this as not merely a command from his human lord, but as a charge from God Himself.
That servant has much to teach us about our service to the Lord.
Prayer was a big part of the servant’s search. While we aren’t told directly, it seems clear that this servant was a born-again man. He wanted to please God in what he was doing.
The servant surely knew the story of Isaac’s miraculous birth. He also knew of God’s promise to bless the children who would come from Isaac. So finding the right wife for Isaac was no small matter. It was a matter of eternal significance, and the servant knew that.
When the servant met Rebekah, he recognized God’s hand in the encounter. Note that in verse 26, he bowed his head and worshipped the Lord.
Do we recognize the hand of God in our lives?
The negotiations with Rebekah’s family were rather drawn out. Once again, the servant bowed and worshipped God when he learned that the family would allow her to go with him and be Isaac’s bride (v 52), and he was exceedingly generous in the gifts he gave Rebekah, her brother, and her mother (v 53).
Rebekah was sent away with a blessing (v 60) that would certainly have been very meaningful to the new Nation of Israel as it was coming into the Promised Land for the first time.
Isaac was meditating in the field when the servant arrived with Rebekah in the evening (v 63). While we aren’t told specifically what Isaac was thinking about, he most likely was ruminating on the revelation that God has given concerning him and his father and his descendants.
Meditation on God’s Word is a good thing.
While Isaac was still grieving over the death of his mother, he found comfort in the wife God had given him.
Isaac anticipated the coming son who would pass on the godly line that would one day become a mighty nation. We too should be concerned about having godly offspring who will glorify the Lord.
The NT says very little about how to choose a spouse. In 1 Cor 7:39, Paul said that widows can marry whomever they wish, but “only in the Lord.” Believers are only to marry fellow believers. And while it is not required, it would be foolish for a spiritual believer (1 Cor 2:14-16) to marry a carnal believer (1 Cor 3:1-3).
I’ve been born-again for fifty years this September. In those years, I’ve seen things that, as I look back on them, make me realize that God was providentially at work behind the scenes. I’m not suggesting we can be certain that various events in our lives were a result of God’s hidden hand rather than simply being positive coincidences. But I’m suggesting that mature believers should thank God for the fortuitous events in their lives.
I encourage you to make out a list of God’s top ten interventions in your lifetime and thank God often for those blessings.
When the people of Israel would say “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”—an expression that occurs a dozen times in the OT (Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, 2 Kings, Jeremiah) and twice in the NT (Matt 8:11 & Acts 3:13), they would think in reverential terms of these men, their ancestors. These were godly men. These were chosen men. The nation is the chosen people.
The miraculous acquisition of a wife for the miracle son surely underscored for the new nation its own miraculous standing in the world. They were God’s people.
History is going someplace. Contrary to our popular culture, life does make sense because Jesus is in control. He is coming again and will, from Israel and from Jerusalem, establish His rule over the world.
God is at work behind the scenes in the lives of all believers who are faithful to Him.
May we, too, worship God as we see His hand intervening in our lives.