Epistles to the Cyberchurch - Su Min

To: en & others
From: Su Min
Subject: Isaac & Rebekah

My dearest En,

We now look at Gen 24. Another classic story from the old testament. The commissioning of the chief servant to find a wife for Isaac is literally a gripping story as spelled out in vs 2 & 9.

Firstly we trace the chief servant to be Eliezer of Damascus, Eliezer the Damascene, identified in Gen 15:2. Could the same man have been one of the two servants to follow Isaac on the way to Mt. Moriah (Gen 22:3)? Perhaps so. Anyway we know that the chief servant has an exalted role in the family, and was put in charge of important household jobs.

So Eliezer is summoned and instructed to put his hand under the thigh and swear. Here we need a student of anatomy and a student of ancient eastern custom to put two and two together to understand that by custom a great promise may be made by putting one's hand under the thigh and holding onto the intimate part of a man, the generative organ.

By asking Eliezier to put his hand under the thigh and swear, the chief servant is expected to thrust his hand under the robes and grip the male external genitalia, with great respect of course. Difficult to think of a more intimate act! Eliezier is instructed to grasp the family jewels and swear by God that he would not get a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites but from the kinsfolk, the ka-ki-lang. Abraham prophesies that God will send an angel ahead to prepare the way for this transaction: Gen 24:7

The gripping and the swearing occur (Gen 24:9), Eliezier is commissioned to go to find a girl willing to come back to Isaac, and Eliezier sets out suitably prepared (Gen 24:10). Not only is Eliezier materially prepared, but he is also spiritually prepared. Reaching the well outside the town, he prays to God, placing this project in the hands of God, asking that God signals to him the right choice by a pre-selected response from the girl (Gen 24: 12-15).

Lesson: when we are faced with a daunting job, do we stop and pray and place this project in God's hand, asking for his help, and perhaps asking for signs and signals of approval? We need not ask for lightning and thunder or pillars of fire and smoke: but God may speak to us through a dear friend, an appropriate bible verse, or God's still small voice may speak to us clearly, if we listen.

Even before he finished praying, very beautiful virgin Rebekah appears with a water jar carried on her shoulder (Gen 24:15).

Lesson: How long does it take for God to hear us? Faster than snail mail. Faster than E-mail. Faster than instantly!! Even before he finished praying! That is how fast!

This is really wonderful, to know that God knows my every word, my every prayer, my every thought. I need not worry "did God hear me?". I have the assurance that he does hear and he does care. And how quick is God to respond? Ah, that, my mortal friend, is for Him to decide: He has his perfect eternal timing. He will meet us at our point of need. The God of the universe is the God of time. (Rebekah gets one single mention in the new testament, in Rom 9:10, spelled Rebecca, following the Latin spelling of the Vulgate)

Eliezier, a total stranger to her, asks for a drink, and is given water. Rebekah extends the oriental hospitality to the camels, and in doing so confirms that indeed she is the chosen bride (Gen 24:17-21). Eliezier produces a nose ring of gold and sticks it into her nose (Gen 24:47) and places two gold bracelets on her arms. He rejoices that God has lead him to the right road to find a wife for Isaac, and bows down to worship God (Gen 24:26-27).

Lesson: How do we respond when our prayers are answered: Yell whoopee and live it up? Do we ever pause to bow down and worship God and thank him for answered prayer? Eliezier did. We should too.

Eliezier is welcomed to the household. The camel are fed and the visitors are washed Gen 24:28-32. Food is prepared, but before the eat Eliezier is burdened to declare his intent (Gen 24:33-49)

In the recording of this event in Genesis, I marvel at the detail, and at the story telling skills of the old oral tradition, before the word was committed to pen and papyrus.

Father and brother agree, as the Lord has directed (Gen 24:50) and Eliezier bows down to the ground before the Lord worship God (Gen 24:52).

More presents are presented, Rebekah's consent is sought (Gen 24:58), she is blessed (Gen 24:60) and sent off with a retinue (Gen 24:61) and in vs 67 we read that they got married and lived happily ever after.(Made up that end bit myself)

When we read of their married life we will find that they had their ups and downs: The bible records not fairy tales but true lives of real people, humans with warts, pimples and all. God does not promise us a bed of roses, but he tells us that when we are punctured and scratched by the thorns he will be there to comfort and heal us. He knows about thorns. As the lamb of God he experienced those thorns for our sakes.

Apart from the lesson notes included above already, I see that this passage also indicates to us the precision to which God prepares and chooses our life partner: sending angels ahead to prepare the way.

Let us close in prayer:

love love dad dad

For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min

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