Monday, November 27, 2006

Rebekah - From Maidenhood to Motherhood - part 1

What a day this has been! I can't wait to tell my family all about what has happened! It started out like any other normal day. I did my chores, and went out to the well to draw water for my family, as I always do. However, this time there was a foreign-looking man near the spring. He asked me for a drink of water and I quickly gave him some, for my parents have trained me to always be generous. I also drew water for his camels, for the poor animals looked so tired and thirsty. It took quite a while to draw water for them - all ten of them - and while I did it, the man just stood there, watching.

When I had finished, the man gave me some beautiful jewelry - a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets - to my utter surprise! After all, watering camels really isn't that big of a job! He asked me whose daughter I was, and if there was room for him to spend the night in my father's house. "I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor," I told him, adding, "We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night." My father has trained me to always be hospitable, especially, I would imagine, to such a kind man as he!

The man then bowed down and worshipped the LORD, thanking Him for leading him to the family of his master's relatives. Then I knew for certain that he was a good man. Why, he must be the servant of our relative Abraham! When I discovered this, I ran off to tell my family the wonderful news...

Genesis 24 begins as Abraham is instructing his trustworthy servant on where he is to find a wife for his beloved son Isaac. Concerned that his wife might marry a daughter of the Canaannites, among whom Abraham was living, Abraham made his servant swear that he would get Isaac a wife from his own country, and from among Abraham's own relatives. Realizing, however, that God had given them the land they were now living in, Abraham tells his servant that he was not to bring Isaac to Abraham's homeland if the girl would not come. In that event, the servant would be released from his oath, free to return home.

With these instructions, Abraham's servant set out for Aram Haharaim, arriving in the town of Nahor. Faced with the incredible task of trying to find the right wife for Isaac, the servant decided to leave the selection up to God. Aware that God is active in people's everyday lives, he had his camels kneel down near the well outside the town, during the time the women came out to draw water. Then he began to pray, asking God to show him the right girl. He prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too' - let her be the one you have chosen for Your servant Isaac. By this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master." (Genesis 24:12-14)

Before he had even finished praying, God began to work. Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder, on her way to fetch water. We know that she was lovely, for Genesis 24:16 says, "The girl was beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever laid with her." She was a pure maiden, and was keeping herself fully intact for the right one.

After she had filled her jar and was starting home, the servant hurried to her, and asked her for a drink of water. She was very generous, quickly saying, "Drink, my lord," and lowering her jar to give him a drink. We then find that she was even more generous and hardworking, for, "After she had given him a drink, she said, 'I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.'" (Genesis 24:19) She truly had a servants heart. I don't know how much water ten thirsty camels could drink, but it must have been gallons upon gallons! Yet, Rebekah worked cheerfully, drawing water and emptying her jar into the trough, working until all the camels were through drinking, and really going the extra mile. Without saying a word, the man watched her closely, trying to learn whether or not this was the one the LORD had chosen to make his journey successful.

When she was done watering the camels, the man knew for sure that she was the one. He then gave her the beautiful jewelry, asking her whose daughter she was, and whether or not he could stay in her father's home. Rebekah was very hospitable, and quickly offered him a place to stay on behalf of her father. From this we see that she was not only living at home with her father, she was also a true ambassador of her father, having learned well to always be hospitable.

While the man worshipped the LORD for being faithful and bringing him to his master's relatives, Rebekah ran to tell her family all about what had happened. After Rebekah's brother Laban had seen the jewelry and heard what the man had said to Rebekah, he hurried out to welcome the man into their home.

Abraham's servant came and unpacked. Before he ate however, he wanted to make sure he attended to the matter he'd been sent for. He told Bethuel's family all that Abraham had instructed him, what he had prayed for God to do, and what Rebekah had done in answer of his prayers. Finishing his account, he asked them, "Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn." (Genesis 24:49) "Laban and Bethuel answered, 'This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed." (Genesis 50-51)

Abraham's servant was overjoyed at the news, and bowed down in worship to the LORD. Then he gave gifts to them, in great appreciation of what they had agreed to.

The next morning, the servant wished to leave with Rebekah, wasting not a moment in sharing the good news with his master. Rebekah's family understandably wished to have a few more days with her, but the servant was determined to go. "So they called Rebekah, and asked her, 'Will you go with this man?' 'I will go,' she said." (Genesis 24:58)

So they sent Rebekah on her way, with her nurse and maids, and blessed her by saying, "Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; May your offspring possess the gates of their enemies." (Genesis 24:60) They truly realized that the fruit of the womb is a reward!

The travelers were almost home when they saw Isaac in the field. Rebekah, after asking and finding out that the man was Isaac, took her veil and covered herself. This is a beautiful picture, suggesting Rebekah's modesty, as she covered herself in her future husband's presence. It's also seems to show her submission to her future husband. Some think that this is where we get the modern use of the bride's veil.

Isaac heard all about what the servant had done, and brought Rebekah into his mother's tent, where he married her. "So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." (Genesis 24:67)

The story of Isaac and Rebekah's marriage gives hope to us girls, as we look around and oftentimes see no one who would measure up to be a Godly husband. We often begin to despair, wondering if we will ever get married. However, we should learn from Rebekah. She was in her father's home, cheerfully serving her family, perhaps even unaware that Isaac even existed. Even is she knew of him, she probably never expected Abraham's servant to travel all those miles, and come to her town, look for a wife for Isaac. God beautifully orchestrated the events, and brought Issac and Rebekah together for a loving marriage. Don't give up! Use the time you have now wisely, cultivate a servant's heart, and don't worry. God will work his plans out perfectly!

Stay tuned for Part 2, as we explore Rebekah's life as a mother.


Ella said...

Anna, your posts are as beautiful and thought-provoking as always. I like that you always tend to sum up my feelings in the last paragraph. I really like that Abraham's servant knew that GOD was the one who orchestrated events. That is something I always need to remember. But you are right, Rebekah's story can give us hope. It seems like in today's society that if you are out of your father's household, you can't be married. This shows otherwise. Anyway, beautiful post, Anna.

Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

Excellent post! The story of Isaac and Rebekah is inspiring. God will always take care of us.