Imposing His Will (Gen. 24)

After a long 127 years Sarah dies. Abraham seems to realize the frailty of life and takes a new interest in ensuring the longevity of his line. He sends his servant, under oath, to find Isaac a wife among his tribe. The servant prays that God will reveal Isaac’s wife, he does, and she (and her family) accept the arrangement without a fuss. Everybody wins, including you if you made it through both tellings of the servant’s story without losing focus.

A surface read of this chapter reveals (at least) two lessons. The first is that the covenant is still being honored. God continues to be faithful to the nation of Abraham by providing Isaac with a wife and Abraham shows his faith in God by remaining in Canaan while trusting his servant would find a suitable wife. The second is that we should pray to God knowing that he will answer us and that we should recognize when he does.

Of course, a superficial read isn’t going to cut it at HoleyBooks.

Up until this point in Genesis, when God gets involved it’s very clear to the reader that the outcome is not a product of probability or chance. Usually this is because either God physically intervenes as some sort of anthropomorphized super-human, sends an angel spokesperson, or because the author of Genesis explicitly says that God did something. When Abraham’s servant goes to find Isaac a wife none of those scenarios play out. Instead, the servant and Rebekah’s family interpret the events for themselves as part of God’s plan.

They were convinced, but why? The servant prays, while hanging around the town well, that the woman who offers both he and his camels water be God’s choice for Isaac’s wife (Gen. 24:14). This condition is so broad that it was unlikely he would fail at finding someone he could at least claim was chosen by God to be Isaac’s wife. Furthermore, we’re never told that God consented to this arrangement. Is it reasonable to expect God to reveal what we seek on demand? I doubt it. Why should this servant have different expectations?

Then we get to Rebekah’s family. Why are they so easily convinced that it’s God’s will for this strange man to take their daughter away? They don’t even know if the servant actually prayed since there weren’t any witnesses (Gen. 24:45)! Even then, it seems pretty obvious that he’s imposing his will onto God. I think it’s fair to ask, why would any resonable person believe this guy? They have nothing but his word and he’s a stranger. Either they’re incredibly trusting (reckless) or need the cash (Gen. 24:53).

Or who knows, maybe Rebekah has some damning personality flaws? Whether God intervened or not, the servant was successful. Isaac got his wife.

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