Episode 12 – A bride for Isaac

Based on Genesis chapter 24

A Bride for Isaac

‘I am the servant of Abraham. And I am going to tell you how the God of Abraham blessed me when my master asked me to deal with a matter of great importance.’

‘When he spoke to me about this matter, Abraham was already a very old man. His dear wife Sarah had died. And his son Isaac, who was now in charge of the household, was missing his mother greatly. Isaac needed a wife!’

‘One day I was called to Abraham’s tent. My master had a look of concern on his face, and I could tell at once that the matter he wished to discuss with me was of the utmost importance.’

‘Thank you for coming’, he said. ‘You’re the most senior and important servant in my entire household. And so, I must ask you to do a very important thing for my family. (P) As you know, many years ago now, the Lord God told Sarah and me to leave Haran and come and live in this beautiful land of Canaan. The Lord promised that one day He’ll give this land to my descendents. But I’m concerned that in his loneliness, my son Isaac might think about marrying one of the girls from this country, a Canaanite. And that wouldn’t please God because they don’t know Him or worship Him. (P) So I want you to make me a solemn promise – one that you can’t break – I want you to swear by the Lord God of all heaven and earth that you will not let my son marry one of these local girls. Instead I want you to go to the land that I came from, to my own relatives, and find a wife for Isaac from amongst them.’

 ‘I was horrified that he should ask such a thing of me and I replied, ‘But what if, when I have travelled such a distance, I cannot find a young woman who will return with me to live here? Could I then take Isaac to live amongst your own relatives in that place?’’

‘Abraham shook his head fiercely.’

‘No! Under no circumstances are you to ever let Isaac return to the place I left. God told me to leave – to come to this land. And it’s this land that He’s promised to my offspring.’ Then his face brightened up a little. ‘ Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘For God’ll send an angel ahead of you, and when you get there he’ll make sure that you find the right young woman for Isaac’. (P) Then he thought for a moment. ‘But – if she isn’t willing to come back with you, I’ll set you free from your solemn promise.’

‘My master was so sure of what His God would do. He seemed to believe that – already the Lord God was working things out to make sure His promises to my master would all come true. (P) I wish I could say that I had the same confidence he had. (P) In fact, if it had not been that my master would free me from my solemn promise if a woman would not come home with me, I do not know if I would have made the promise at all.’

‘But, as he had allowed me to be set free if the woman wouldn’t come, I made the solemn promise. – Then at once, I loaded 10 of my master’s camels with the best of everything he owned and started on my journey, travelling 400 miles to the north.’ (PAUSE)

‘It was early evening many days later when we came to the small town not too far from the city Abraham had originally come from. I made the camels kneel down beside a spring just at the time when the young women came out to collect water.’

‘But now what was I to do? I had travelled all this way (PAUSE) all I could do was ask the God of my master Abraham to make my journey successful, and so I prayed.’

‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham. Please show kindness to my master by giving me success and letting me achieve all I have set out to do. As I stand here beside this spring of water, and as the young women of the village come to fetch water – this is my request of You. I will ask one of these young women for a drink. If she agrees, and then offers to give water to my camels as well, then let her be the one who is to be a wife for Isaac. This is how I will know that you have shown Your kindness to my master.’

‘Even as I prayed, a beautiful young woman named Rebekah arrived with her water jar. After she had filled her jar with water, I ran over to her and asked, ‘Please may I have a drink?’’

‘‘Of course you can, sir,’ she replied. And took the jug from her shoulder to give me a drink. And then, when I had finished my drink, she turned to me and said, ‘Now I’ll get some water for your camels, until they’ve all had enough.’’

‘Could this be the one I had travelled so far to find? I watched in silence wondering if this was the woman the Lord intended me to meet. I watched as Rebekah emptied the rest of the jug of water into the watering trough for the camels and then ran back and forth from the spring to fill the trough until the camels had drunk all they wanted! (P) When the camels had finished drinking, I gave Rebekah a beautiful ring for her nose and two fine gold bracelets for her wrists.’

‘Then, hardly daring to ask, I said, ‘Who is your father? And would he have room to put me up for the night?’

‘She replied, ‘My father is Bethuel, son of Nahor. And yes, we have food for your camels and a room for you to stay as our guest.’ (P) Nahor! Nahor was Abraham’s brother! After all this travelling, the Lord God had led me right to my master’s own relatives! I fell down to the ground and worshipped God. ‘All praise to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, for He has been kind and faithful to Abraham and led me straight to my master’s own relatives.’’

‘After that I stayed by the spring while Rebekah ran to her home and told them all that had happened. And when her brother, Laban, saw the ring and the bracelets he rushed out to invite me to stay with them.’

‘I was so excited, after all I had gone through – to come to the home of a relative of my master Abraham. But I had still not told them of my purpose in coming this great distance. So when it was time for a meal, I could not eat until I had told them all – why I had come.’

‘I am the servant of Abraham,’ I started. ‘The Lord God has blessed my master with great wealth, servants, cattle, camels and donkeys. And when my master’s wife Sarah was in her old age, she gave my master a son, and Abraham has given everything he owns to his son. Now, my master made me swear a solemn promise that I would not let Isaac, his son, marry one of the girls living in Canaan because they do not worship God. Instead, he told me to travel to his own relatives in the land he came from to find a young woman to be Isaac’s wife.’

‘I was fearful to make that promise. ‘What if I cannot find such a woman,’ I asked. But Abraham replied, ‘You will find her – because the Lord – in whose presence I have walked will send an angel with you to give you success.’ But he also told me that if the woman refused to come with me, I would be freed from my promise.’

‘This very afternoon as I came to the spring, I prayed this prayer. ‘O Lord of my master Abraham, if you are planning to make my mission a success, then please guide me in a special way. Here I am standing beside a spring. I will ask a young woman for a drink, as she comes to collect water. If she agrees, and then offers to water my camels as well, then I will know that she is the one You have chosen as a wife for my master’s son.’

‘Before I had even finished my prayer, Rebekah came and did just as I had prayed. And so I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord. I praised Him because He had led me to find a wife from the family of me master’s own relatives.’

‘So now, I need to know, will you show real kindness to my master Abraham and let Rebekah come back with me?’ (PAUSE)

‘Then Laban, Rebekah’s brother, and Bethuel her father replied, ‘The Lord’s obviously brought you here, so what else can we say? Take Rebekah with you and let her become the wife of your master’s son, just as the Lord has directed.’

‘Once again I worshipped the Lord and bowed to the ground. Then I gave beautiful gifts to Rebekah and valuable presents to her mother and brother. And only then did I eat my food and rest for the night.’(PAUSE)

‘Early the next morning I awoke and prepared to leave. I asked the family’s permission to be on my way as soon as possible. But they replied, ‘We were hoping that Rebekah could stay with us ten more days!’ Ten days! I did not want to wait at all, I wanted to get back to show my master how good the Lord had been to him, and so I asked. ‘Please, don’t hold me back. The Lord has blessed my journey with success and I want to go back and report to my master.’

‘Well,’ they replied. ‘We’ll have to see what Rebekah has to say about it.’ So they called Rebekah over. ‘Are you willing to go with this man now?’ they asked her.’

‘Yes I’m willing to go,’ she replied.

‘And so they said their goodbyes to each other. (P) It was to be the last time they saw each other in this world. And Rebekah, along with her maid who had looked after her as a young child, came with me. As she left, Rebekah’s family blessed her saying…’

‘Sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants overcome all their enemies.’ (PAUSE)

‘Isaac was in the south of Canaan when we came home. It is a dry, dusty and open landscape. He saw us coming from a long way off and started towards us to welcome us.’

‘Rebekah saw Isaac coming towards us. She got down from her camel and asked me who it was that was coming to meet us?

I smiled, ‘It is my master – Isaac.’ Quickly, as was the custom during that time, Rebekah covered her face with a veil. And when we arrived, I told Isaac about all the Lord had done for me on my long journey north.’ (PAUSE)

‘And so Isaac took Rebekah as his wife, and loved her very much. And she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.’

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