A Bride for Isaac (Genesis 24:1-67)
Genesis 23:1-25:18 wraps up the life of Abraham by focusing on the land, offspring, and blessing God had promised him. In Genesis 23, Abraham became the legal owner of a small plot of the promised land when he purchased a cave in which to bury Sarah. In Genesis 24, the focus shifts to the promise of offspring.
God’s promises transcend generations.
For decades, Abraham had seen God make incredible and seemingly impossible provisions to make sure that all his promises came to pass. This was supremely seen when Isaac was born to Sarah, who was barren and well past the age of childbearing (21:1-2). Genesis 24 presents us with a new challenge: Isaac needs a wife. Without a wife, he won’t have kids, and then the promises to Abraham and his offspring would come to nothing.
Three roadblocks stand in the way of Abraham finding Isaac a wife. First is that Abraham forbids Isaac from marrying a Canaanite (v. 3). He knew that intermarriage with the current residents of the promised land would risk assimilation with those people. And this in turn would jeopardize their call to be distinct from the nations in order to bring a blessing to them.
Abraham’s solution is to send his servant back to his home country and choose a wife for Isaac from his family (v. 4). But this presents the second roadblock. Even if Abraham’s servant finds a suitable woman for Isaac, would she even go (v. 5)? After all, she’s being asked to take the same huge step of faith Abraham took back in chapter 12: leave everything she’s ever known behind and head to Canaan. The third roadblock is related to this one: Isaac is not to leave the promised land. He can’t just go back to Mesopotamia, find a wife, and settle down (v. 6).
The entire covenant then hangs on Abraham’s servant a) finding a suitable wife for Isaac in Mesopotamia who b) is willing to take a big step of faith and go with him to Canaan and marry Isaac. In the past, we’ve seen Abraham try to orchestrate a fulfillment of God’s promises on his own terms. By now he’s seen enough to be entirely convinced that God’s going to provide a wife for Isaac (v. 7).
The servant’s journey is told in verses 10-33. Because God’s covenant with Abraham is at stake in this chapter, there’s an emphasis here on God’s “steadfast love” (vv. 12, 14, 27), a phrase emphasizing his faithfulness to his covenant. And only God’s faithfulness can explain the servant’s providential meeting with Rebekah.
The servant happens to find himself at a well in Nahor, asking for God to provide a woman who will offer water to him and his camels. This also happened to be the exact moment when Rebekah showed up, who demonstrated remarkable hospitality by offering water to him and his ten camels. If that wasn’t enough, this young woman just happened to be a relative of Abraham’s (vv. 24-28).
The servant’s recap (vv. 34-49) does several things. For one, it lets Rebekah’s family know that Abraham is wealthy and that the son she’d be marrying is the sole heir of his fortune, making the marriage more desirable (vv. 34-36). Primarily, though, the recap underscores God’s hand in orchestrating the servant’s meeting with Rebekah at the well (vv. 27, 48) which causes Laban and Bethuel to conclude, “The thing has come from the LORD” (v. 50).
Interestingly, the chapter doesn’t conclude with the servant going to Abraham and reporting the successful journey. Instead, he and Rebekah meet Isaac in the field, and Isaac “brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother…and she became his wife, and he loved her.” (v. 67) This language as well as the servant now calling Isaac “my master” (v. 65) communicate an important point: God’s promises won’t die with Abraham and Sarah. Isaac and Rebekah have now stepped into the roles they once occupied so that the promises of land, offspring, and blessing will continue.
- In what ways was the servant’s journey to find a wife for Isaac a longshot?
- Considering that just one camel drinks a lot of water, what does Rebekah’s offer to draw water for the servant’s ten camels demonstrate about her character? What practical ways can you imitate her example this week?
- Read Philippians 2:5-11. How does Jesus, like Rebekah, demonstrate selflessness in this passage?
- God orchestrated many small moments to bring the servant into Rebekah’s path. Looking back, how have you seen him orchestrate seemingly small moments in your life to shape your growth as a Christian?
Genesis 24:27 – “...‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master….’”