There’s a familiar prayer that includes these words: Lord, take me where you want me to go today; have me meet whom you want me to meet; have me say what you’d have me say. I love this prayer. Words I often include in my own prayers. Seeking guidance is one step; following it is another. These words remind me of a man whose story is told in the first book of the Bible. His name was not given; just his occupation of that of a loyal servant for Israel’s great patriarch Abraham.
The servant’s story is intertwined with the love story of Abraham’s son and daughter-in-law, Isaac and Rebekah. In Genesis 24 it is told that Abraham called for his senior servant, the manager of his entire household, to go on a mission to Abraham’s home country and find a wife for Isaac among Abraham’s relatives. This was back when parents had more say in whom their offspring married. Abraham had no desire for his future daughter-in-law to come from the neighborhood. He lived among the Canaanites who did not know or respect the God whom Abraham served. God wanted Isaac’s wife to come from Abraham’s kinfolk who at least were people whom knew about God and respected Him.
I wonder if the servant had any thoughts after Abraham gave him the instructions such as “Who me?”, “Sir, you want me to do WHAT?”, “I’m no matchmaker!” I would imagine being human he was tempted to find some way of getting out of making a trip to the homeland to find a wife for his master’s son. But he was an obedient and trustworthy servant who accepted the mission. It probably helped the servant when his master assured him the angel of the Lord would go before him.
He set off on his journey to the vicinity of Haran, where Abraham’s brother had remained after Abraham migrated to Canaan sixty-five years earlier. The servant stopped at a well in the town of Nahor, which happened to be Abraham’s brother’s name. Here was where the servant did what we as God’s children should always do as we embark on a path the Lord has convicted our hearts to take. It may be an actual journey of moving from one place to another. Or, it may be the start of a marriage, or raising a child, or dealing with an illness or that of a loved one. It may be taking on a new job, or getting off at retirement station, or embarking on some other life change. What essential thing did the servant do? He prayed.
He asked for a sign as to whom he was looking for. He asked the young lady whom God had chosen would be the one who came to the well and offer water for the servant’s camels. The servant chose not to use some random method such as eeny-meeny-miny-mough, whose the fairest of them all. He wanted God’s choice instead of trying to pick her out himself.
Before the servant even got to the “Amen,” God was at work. A young maiden by the name of Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She didn’t know at the time that she was being led to the right place, at the right time, with the right words to say. When she came from the well with her jar filled with water, the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” She said, “Drink, my lord” and she quickly gave him a drink. When he finished drinking, Rebekah offered to draw water for the servant’s camels. She emptied her jar into the drinking trough and ran back to the well for some more, and she drew enough water for all ten of the servant’s camels (Gen. 24:15-20).
Her appearing at the well was not a coincidence. The servant took it as the sign he had asked God for. It would appear from Rebekah’s actions that she was friendly, outgoing, energetic, and not selfish. The servant’s heart probably bounced when he found out that she was the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor; daughter of Isaac’s first cousin. At that, he again did something we should always do – thanked God for hearing and answering his prayer.
The servant may appear to be the matchmaker here, but truth be told, it was God who was doing the matchmaking in this story. The servant did his part and God did His. Our actions alone do not get the job done. But if the servant hadn’t done his part as God directed him, he wouldn’t have had a part in this story of the union of two of the ancestors of Jesus Christ.
The servant told Rebekah’s family of the mission his master had sent him on and the guidance he received from God. Her brother and father did not think the servant’s story was foolishness. “The matter comes from the Lord,” they said (Gen. 24:50).
They did not leave Rebekah out of the decision and just order her to go with the servant. She was given a choice. It was an immense decision in her life—leaving the home and family she would never see again, traveling nearly five hundred miles on camelback with a total stranger, to marry a man she had never met. Her family called her in and said, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go” (Gen. 24:58). That was not a simple thing for her to have signed up for. She must have also believed the servant’s story wasn’t a lot of hooey. It was her faith the drove her decision to leave family behind and begin a new life with a distant cousin.
It was a long journey back to the home of Abraham. I wonder if Rebekah spent many a night awake wondering what Isaac was like, what did he look like, what would he think of her, etc. Being human, I would imagine she was tempted to make a run for it back home.
Isaac was out in the field at evening time when the camel caravan with its precious cargo arrived. Rebekah dismounted from the camel when she saw Isaac, and covered herself with a veil as the custom was. Isaac was told the entire story of the servant’s mission and the providential guidance from God that had found him a bride. The Bible tells us, “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Gen. 24:67).
It was a new beginning for Rebekah and Isaac. It was a “mission accomplished” for the servant who trusted and followed God’s guidance to carry out his mission.