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Author: Phil Hodson
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Congregation:Christ the King Presbyterian Church
 Longview, Texas
 www.christthekinglongview.org/
 
Title:An excellent wife, who can find, says the writer of proverbs
Text:Genesis 24 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Marriage
 
Added:2007-02-13
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Phil Hodson, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


An excellent wife, who can find, says the writer of proverbs.

  • It seems to the writer a daunting task, and to us too when we consider the ideal, how she is such a faithful woman. 
  • But we are going to see today how it is that one goes about finding an excellent wife, a faithful wife.

 We come this week to Genesis ch24.

Have Bibles turn there. 

As we have been surveying Genesis we have seen that God has set about saving the world.

  • That He is reasserting His kingship.
  • That He is going to send the seed of the woman to crush Satan under His feet.

And as we have come through the last chapters we have seen how God is now dealing with Abraham and how He is going to make a people for Himself.

  • And that long-promised Seed of the woman,
  • that Person who will save God’s people from their sins,
  • is going to come through the line of Abraham. 

We’ve also seen that God is going to work salvation by working through history.

  • That He has made promises to Abraham in particular, to make him fruitful and physically multiply him, so that he will become a nation, and that he will be a light to the Gentiles.

And, We’ve seen God at work training Abraham. 

  • Abraham started well, he believed God and that was counted to him as righteousness,
  • but then after ten years we saw he and Sarah get sidetracked.
    • They thought they had to help God out, and Hagar has a son, Ishmael.
    • Oh that Ishmael might live before You, Abraham says.

But God says “no, that’s not the way. Get back on track Abraham, trust me.”   

And then we’ve seen Abraham ready to give up the salvation of the whole world in order to save his life.

  • He is ready to give away his wife, the promised mother of the nation that would bless the world.
  • He is ready to do anything at all
    • to preserve his life,
    • to take the reigns,
    • to try to walk by sight rather than faith.
  • And then we see God use a godless Gentile to shame Abraham, to show Abraham his own wickedness, and to bring Abraham low until He is finally trusting God.

In fact after the Lord disciplines Him and trains Him in righteousness we see Abraham’s faith is so strong that he is even willing to offer up his own son.

  • We saw the quality of Abraham’s faith demonstrated so that no one can accuse him. We saw in that story that Abraham and Isaac were faithful.

Well now in our passage this week we are going to see that that faithfulness is going to continue.

  • It will continue with Abraham all the way to the end,
    • and it will continue after him in others in several ways.

It will continue in those that he trains,

  • like his servant we will see.

 
It will continue in those who are his children,

  • such as Isaac and Jacob and his children.

 
It will continue in those God calls just like He called Abraham, such as Rebekah in this passage.

  • And it will continue in the faithfulness of that final seed of Abraham, our Lord Jesus, who is literally the son of Abraham after the flesh, and the Son of God by the Holy Spirit.

Well let’s read this story and see what we have. 

Genesis 24. 1-34 and 48 to the end of the chapter. 

ESV Genesis 24:1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh, 3 that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, 4 but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac." 5 The servant said to him, "Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?" 6 Abraham said to him, "See to it that you do not take my son back there. 7 The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, 'To your offspring I will give this land,' he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8 But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there." 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.

10 Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. 11 And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. 12 And he said, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.

13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, 'Please let down your jar that I may drink,' and who shall say, 'Drink, and I will water your camels'- let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master."

15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.

17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, "Please give me a little water to drink from your jar." 18 She said, "Drink, my lord." And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink.

19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, "I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking."

20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. 21 The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the LORD had prospered his journey or not. 22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, 23 and said, "Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night?" 24 She said to him, "I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 She added, "We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night." 26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD 27 and said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master's kinsmen."

28 Then the young woman ran and told her mother's household about these things. 29 Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. 30 As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister's arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, "Thus the man spoke to me," he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31 He said, "Come in, O blessed of the LORD. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels." 32 So the man came to the house and unharnessed the camels, and gave straw and fodder to the camels, and there was water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, "I will not eat until I have said what I have to say." He said, "Speak on." 34 So he said, "I am Abraham's servant.

Tells story and we’re going to skip that, then in v48

... v48 “Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master's kinsman for his son. 49 Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left." 50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, "The thing has come from the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has spoken." 52 When Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the earth before the LORD. 53 And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments. 54 And he and the men who were with him ate and drank, and they spent the night there. When they arose in the morning, he said, "Send me away to my master." 55 Her brother and her mother said, "Let the young woman remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go." 56 But he said to them, "Do not delay me, since the LORD has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master." 57 They said, "Let us call the young woman and ask her." 58 And they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" She said, "I will go." 59 So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham's servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, "Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate them!" 61 Then Rebekah and her young women arose and rode on the camels and followed the man. Thus the servant took Rebekah and went his way. 62 Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. 64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel 65 and said to the servant, "Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?" The servant said, "It is my master." So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. 

The Word of the Lord

Thanks Be To God 

Well as this text is laid out before us, as we see this whole story of a piece, there are several things that naturally seem to be given by the writer for us to see.

  • Several themes that rise up here as we move through the story.
  • And I want to draw those out for you.

The first is that of Faithful Abraham. Faithful Abraham.  

We see here Abraham being portrayed as faithful all the way to the end.

  • God has blessed him, the writer says in v1, in all things.
  • And we see that Abraham is now rock solid and no longer blown about by every wind and wave of doctrine like we saw him before.
  • He has become steadfast, a man of faith, living in dependence upon God, and expecting God to fulfill His promises.

We might note that in chapter 22 we saw the degree of Abraham’s faith, that he was willing to sacrifice even his own son.

  • And we saw there how he had to be resolved to do what he did because he was three days on the journey to that mountain.
  • But here we are clearly meant to see Abraham persevering all the way to the end.
    • His faith goes all of the distance,
    • down to the finish line.
    • This is the measure of true faith.

So Abraham is the man of faith yet.

  • He is Faithful Abraham.
  • And one way we can see his faith, his true trust in God, is in his calling others to do the same, that they would trust in God’s promise.

Here in v2-3 Abraham asks his servant to solemnly wear to be faithful to the covenant.

  • The covenant that is sealed in Abraham’s flesh.
  • Abraham is sure of God’s faithfulness, and he assures others that they too can trust Him.
    • It’s like where Paul says, follow me as I follow Christ.
    • I will be your example.
    • Well Abraham is here being an example of faith, calling others to faith, and we can see that here.

Another way we can see Abraham being portrayed as a man of faith is in how he delegates one of the most important tasks of his life to his servant. 

  • We often hear it said that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself.
  • And in some of the earlier narrative about Abraham when he was less than fully faithful, we saw him more than once trying to be in total control of situations; trying to protect himself, even if that meant discarding what God had clearly said.
  • But here we see that he has faith strong enough even to delegate.

The story of the centurion in Matt 8 comes to mind.

  • Do you remember that?
    • The centurion in that story knows that Jesus doesn’t have to actually come under his roof in order to heal his son.
    • He can use means; He can do it from a distance.

Well Abraham here knows that God is able to keep his promises no matter the circumstances. 

  • Abraham knows he is able to send his trusted servant because the promise ultimately is resting upon God and His will to fulfill what He’s promised.
  • So Abraham here is being shown us as faithful to the end,
    • as trusting God,
    • and expecting the promise to be fulfilled,
    • even if it is at some distance in the future after he is gone.

Remember, the writer of Hebrews tells us that Abraham is looking forward,

  • And he is not going to see the fulfillment,
  • but he is trusting, and now he is handing off the torch to those who will be faithful after him.

And this servant of our story is very much the recipient of this torch.

  • Abraham is sending him out in his place,
  • charging him to trust God,
  • to be faithful to the promise,
  • to the covenant that God has made.

And so the second movement of this passage centers around this servant, who we can call, The Faithful Servant.

  • Notice that we don’t even know his name.
  • We know thoughts and prayers as well as his words and actions, and yet he is anonymous.

But his name isn’t really important because the picture being painted here is not really meant to be about the servant so much,

  • but about how he is the faithful servant,
  • a servant trusting in God, just like Abraham,
  • going out from Abraham to walk by faith like Abraham.

He is a picture of someone in the mode of faith who points beyond himself, directing our eyes upward to God, as he carries on the faith of Abraham and as he is sent on this mission to get a bride for his master’s son. 

Look at the text here, how Abraham is schooling this servant.  
 
In v3 & 4 Abraham says to his servant “do not take a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites, but go and get a wife for him from my people.”   

The Canaanites are going to be dispossessed of the land because they are idolaters,

  • and so again and again God’s people are told that they must not mix with them,
  • so that they won’t become like them and turn away from God.
  • And that is what Abraham I think has in view here.

And so Abe sends him back to UR. “Go and get a wife from where I came from, not from among these idolaters that are going to be judged. 

  • Go out by faith, that the people of God that come from my loins might be consecrated as a holy people.

And then in v5 the servant asks him a legitimate question, he says, “what if she won’t come to this land?”

  • He’s asking,
    • “Which part of this promise of God’s is the most important?
    • Is the land part of the promise the most important, in having Isaac inherit the land?
    • Or is the seed part of the promise the most important, in moving Isaac on over there if need be, to get him a wife?
  • The servant’s asking how to prioritize things, as if things might go wrong and he might have to juggle things around in order to help get only one of these things fulfilled.

But God of course is going to fulfill all that He’s promised, and Abraham understands that well.

  • God has trained Abraham through his trials to trust Him no matter how things look.

And so we see here Abraham’s faith again.

  • Remember that we saw the degree of Abraham’s faith when he was willing to sacrifice his own son.
  • And remember we saw the perseverance of Abraham’s faith, in going all the way to the finish line of his life.
  • Well now we can see the scope of Abraham’s faith as well.
    • He is convinced that God is going to fulfill all that He has said.
    • Not one thing will be left undone,
    • and so he tells the servant that he doesn’t need to wonder which thing he might choose over another.
  • God is faithful to do all that He has promised, and this servant needs to just rest in that and be faithful.
  • Abraham is teaching this man to be a faithful servant.

And so this faithful servant accepts his charge, takes a solemn oath to complete it, and in v10 he sets out to go.

  • And in the rest of his part in the story we see him walking by faith.

In v11 he goes where the women come to draw water.

  • And he prays. “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.”

He appeals for both himself and for his master.

  • And he mentions to God His steadfast love.

Whenever you see the words Steadfast Love in the Old Testament, at least in the ESV translation, this is the Hebrew word Hesed.

  • Hesed is God’s special covenant love that He has for no other.
  • It is His love of the covenant relationship, of being bound to His people by oath like in a marriage.
  • So it is like the servant is saying, remember how you have joined yourself in love to your servant Abraham and vowed your commitment to do these things for him.
  • O Lord, please remember that and come through now and grant me success.

And so right as he is saying amen, v15 says, ‘before he had finished speaking…” 

Here comes Rebekah and it progressively becomes clear that she is the answer to his prayer.

  • And all the while the story shows us more and more the faithfulness of this servant.
    • He runs to meet her,
    • he waits to see what she will do,
    • and in verse 26 after she has watered all his camels and welcomes him to her father’s house, he worships God.
  • He doesn’t say, “yes, I’ve done this great thing, I’ve accomplished the task I was sent to do.” 
  • He says, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master's kinsmen."

He gives all the glory to God for fulfilling his promises toward Abraham.

  • But notice that he also praises God, “who has led ME in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”

This man, even though he doesn’t come from Abraham’s flesh, is a child of Abraham because he has the faith of Abraham. 

  • He’s just like us, singing “Hail Abraham’s God and mine” as the hymn says. 

Well this servant is faithful all the way to the end of this story, and we see him bow prostrate all the way to the ground when the family agrees to let Rebekah come. And then we see him make sure that they get out of there without delay and then all the way back to Isaac.

  • This is a clear picture of a faithful servant.

But we would be remiss if we neglected to go on here to see Rebekah as she is set out here as the faithful woman, the faithful bride.

  • She is painted here in every way like the Proverbs 31 woman.
    • She is eager to serve Abraham’s servant,
    • she quickly lets the water down,
    • she calls him Lord, a term of respect,
    • she runs to refill her jars to water the camels until they are finished.”

This is a no holds barred story showing us how this is a radiant bride that God has graciously provided for the son of the promise, Isaac.

  • She is a woman of high character,
  • and she is a woman, it seems clear, of faith as well.

As Abraham’s servant tells the family the story of his master, of Abraham’s sending him, and all that happened at the well, we see the family respond in faith.

  • They say, this is a no brainer, it is the Lord’s doing, no question about it.
  • V50 says, ‘we cannot speak to you bad or good.’  Which means, this isn’t even up for discussion.
  • V51, “Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her and go.”

But the story would not be complete without the next part where Rebekah must choose for herself what she will do. 

Will you go? I will go. 
 
And they send her away with a blessing that is actually a quote of the Abrahamic promise just the way that God had made it to Sarah in Genesis 17 and to Abraham again in Genesis 22 right after he had been willing to sacrifice Isaac.

  • There God said, “because you have not withheld your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore.
  • And your offspring shall possess the gate of His enemies.”

This is a happily ever after story from beginning to end, from the sending of the servant to Rebekah’s seeing Isaac and his receiving her to himself where it says “and she became his wife, and he loved her.” 

But this story does not end here, and the happily ever after of the story has now been launched off the scale of anyone’s imagining. 

You see just as in this story where the father arranged for his son a bride, so also in the corridors of eternity the New Testament tells us that our Father in heaven arranged for His Son a bride.

  • In John 17 Jesus tells us that we were set apart from before the foundation of the world as the Father gave us to the Son.

 And then the Father sent the Son of God Himself down from heaven, and in our New Testament Scripture reading in John 4 we see Him, meeting with the woman at the well who is the perfect picture of the bride He has chosen. 

You see She is not pretty like Rebekah, but she is a sinner.

  • She does not come with the other women of her village to draw water in the evening, because she is full of shame.
  • She comes alone in the heat of the day when it is miserable.
  • She is the lowest of the low, and the disciples are shocked that our Lord speaks to her.

 She is a Samaritan, an unclean sinner, an outcast of an outcast people. She is us. 

And yet He comes to her.

  • And He cuts right to the chase.

 He gives to her living water and she becomes herself a well for that whole village she goes back to call. 

You see, we are the bride who is cleansed by the groom.

  • We are the ones who go and tell of His love.
  • And we also are the ones he has sent as His servants.

He has sent us on a pilgrimage to gather His bride. 

We are sent to be fishers of men and women to fulfill the promise to Abraham.

  • And our fields are ripe for harvest.

All authority has been given to our Lord, and He is plundering the strong man’s house.

  • He has conquered every enemy, even that of death which was the result of our sin.
  • He has come and done all that is necessary to set every prisoner free.
  • and He promises to bring every one of His own, home to Himself.

Our Lord is alive, and if you call upon His name, He will welcome you to His table and have fellowship with you unto everlasting life.

  • He is alive that you might know Him and be known by Him.
  • That you might radiate to eternity the image of God to His glory.
  • That you might love even as you have been loved.

An excellent wife, who can find?

  • Our God can find her, and He is able to cleanse her from every spot and wrinkle, to present her holy and blameless on that Day, for a story of rejoicing that will never end. 
  • The one who calls you is faithful, and He will surely do it.

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Phil Hodson, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Phil Hodson

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