Rebekah and Isaac
- Tell how God cared for Abraham's family.
- Realize that, like the people in this story, we can trust God to care for us and for our families.
- Consider all the ways God cares for us.
- Thank God for his care.
Leaping over a couple of decades, Sarah has died, Abraham is old, and the focus is now on the future of the covenant son, Isaac. It's time for Isaac to get a wife. Strangely, Isaac is the one person who is in the background of the story. This, of course, reflects the times as well as the marriage practices of millions of people still today. Whatever its drawbacks, we can also recognize that it has strengths.
The story that follows is intricate, beautiful, and even romantic. It begins when old Abraham called his unnamed senior servant to make him swear that he will not get a wife for Isaac from among his neighboring Canaanites, but go back to his family, which he had left years before. But Isaac is not to go. Abraham's fear is that Isaac may settle back in the land from which Abraham came and abandon the new promised land.
The first thing you notice is that if you're going to get a good wife for your son, there needs to be a display of wealth. So, the servants' camels are loaded with all kinds of good things. But more than money is needed. The selection process involves great wisdom and discretion, and most of all, faith.
Abraham's servant recognizes that he needs divine help in order to make the right choice. His prayer is very specific, setting out a test for the prospective bride. The girl who was willing to draw water---a difficult task---both for the traveler and his camels will be the chosen one. The bride must be someone who shares Abraham's ideals of hospitality and obligation to help others, touchstones of Abraham's own faith.
Amazingly, the test leads directly to the family Abraham and left many years before, to Rebekah, Abraham's grandniece, and her brother, Laban. Clearly God is leading the way, but the gold nose rings and bracelets were playing a part as well. Everything was falling into place.
When Abraham's servant meets Rebekah's family he tells the story all over again, emphasizing how Rebekah's appearance was an answer to prayer. Her brother, Laban, and her father, Bethuel, agreed and were ready to send her along with Abraham's servant back home to Canaan. Then Abraham's servant unloaded all his gifts for Rebekah and her brother and her mother. Abraham was obviously a worthy and wealthy prospective father-in-law.
Seeing all that wealth, Rebekah's family tries a new tactic. Most likely the request to have her remain for a few more days was not because they were going to miss her so much as that it might lead to more gifts. Abraham's servant wisely insisted he must leave soon, and they give in with Rebekah's consent.
Like the ending of romantic novel or movie, the story comes to a close with Isaac looking out over the countryside, watching the camels approach. Rebekah veils herself for meeting with her husband. And Isaac loves her.
Faith, determination, drama, and love, all wrapped up in one wonderful story. But most of all, a covenant remembered, renewed, and kept.
What would be wrong with Isaac marrying a Canaanite?
How much did Abraham know about his family back home?
How did Rebekah feel about leaving home with Abraham’s servant?
Would you dare to pray such a specific prayer as Abraham’s servant did?
This is a complicated story for children this age with its repetitions and the intricate dance of marital protocol. Still, the children will be drawn in by the story’s basic structure of faith and love and be intrigued by its element of surprise.
Don’t neglect to play up the details: the gifts, the attitudes, and the actions of the story.
Today, we continue God’s story by considering the wonderful way God provided for Abraham’s family. Remind children that this is a continuation of God’s story that we began two weeks ago with Isaac’s parents, Abraham and Sarah.
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