Friday, July 17, 2015

All Things New: Rebekah, The 'Leap of Faith' Road

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Then they said, "Let's call the girl and ask her about it."  So they called Rebekah and asked her, "Will you go with this man?"

"I will go," she said.   -- Gen 24:57-58, NIV84

Years passed; Isaac grew to manhood, Sarah died and was buried.  And Abraham, feeling his age, called his chief servant in with a request.  Isaac should not marry any of the women of the nations around them, he said.  Isaac should marry a woman of Abraham's clan...someone who would share his heritage and who would not bring strange gods into the household.   So Abraham sent his most trusted servant back to the land he seek out a bride for his son.

We know his side of the story well; how he came to the place and asked God for a specific sign to show him the woman God had chosen for Isaac's wife...and how quickly a beautiful young lady appeared who fulfilled the sign to the letter and turned out to be Abraham's great niece, the daughter of his brother Nahor's son, Bethuel.

We know very little else about this remarkable young lady at this point.

But we know something of her family.

Her grandfather, Abraham's brother, had died.  Bethuel was now the head of the least, in name.  But Rebekah's brother Laban was the one who greeted Abraham's servant and gave orders regarding him.  It was Rebekah's mother and Laban who attempted to set the terms for Rebekah's journey.  This makes me wonder how much actual influence Bethuel had in his own household.

And we know from later dealings with Laban that he was not a man of integrity.

So...what was life like for Rebekah, living in that household?  With maidservants of her own, she still went to the spring to draw water.  Was that an indication of her servant's heart...or her opportunity to get out of the house and away from an atmosphere that was oppressive to her?  Or was it just an unusual set of circumstances that had her making the trip for water that particular night?  Or all three in combination?

That night started out no different than any other night when she would draw water...she took her jar down to the spring, with the sun slanting low in the west.  She was a little surprised to see a travel-worn man near the spring, with ten camels kneeling nearby with servants attending them. But the man said nothing, and it was not proper for her to ask a stranger about his business, so she continued to the spring and filled her jar, as always.  But when she turned and headed back with it, the man stopped her and asked for a drink of water.  As she was apparently the first young lady to come and get water that night, that may not have seemed odd to her.   He had nothing to use to draw water, and he was thirsty.  And there were all those camels...

Again, what prompted Rebekah to offer to water the camels?  Her servant's heart?  Her interest in a legitimate excuse to stay away from her family?  Or maybe her curiosity...perhaps she could learn the stranger's purpose if she watered his camels.  He appeared to be a wealthy man. She didn't even hesitate, once the idea occurred to her.

She carried jar after jar to the animal trough to water those camels.  Camels can go for weeks without drinking, but when they have water available, they drink...and drink...and drink...and drink...and drink.  She kept filling the trough until the last camel turned away.

The man then pulled out a gold nose ring of impressive size and two hefty gold bracelets and offered them to her...and asked whose daughter she was, and if there would be room for him and his attendants to spend the night. She was impressed...if the jewelry was his appreciation for watering the camels, he was a man of honor and significance.  She told him she was Nahor's granddaughter, and welcomed him on behalf of her family.

Then the man surprised her...he bowed to the ground and worshiped God, thanking Him for bringing him straight to his intended destination.

God led him here?  That was...different.  Rebekah hurried to her mother and told her what had happened.  Laban, who was standing there, saw the jewelry and the moment he'd heard enough to find the man, took off for the spring.  "I have prepared  the house and a place for the camels" could hardly have been exactly true...there had been no time...but unexpected guests were the only kind of guests in those days, so there were things that were just always ready.

The camels were bedded down, the travelers all had footbaths, and food was brought for them.  But the servant waved it off.  "I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say."

Now they were down to business.  "Then tell us"...every translation I have handy at the moment attributes that statement to Laban, but every one has it marked that that is the implication, as Laban has clearly been playing the role of host up to that moment.  But the entire household...including Bethuel, as we see in verse 50...had assembled to learn what had brought this man to their doorstep.

Now, consider.  It had been close to sundown when Rebekah went to the well.  She watered all the camels, then returned.  Laban had gone down to the well, and all the servants and camels were brought back to the compound and were fed and bedded down.  Then the men were welcomed and food prepared.

It was getting late in the evening when he began his story.

None of them there would remember Abraham, unless there were very old servants around.  Bethuel was not yet born when Abram left Haran, but news had traveled around somewhat.  They may or may not have known of Isaac,  they may or may not have known about Abraham's wealth.  But the servant had come with camels and servants and the gold jewelry that Rebekah was now wearing and it was all proven.

The servant's story was impressive...that he and Abraham agreed that there was one woman he was to seek, and she would have the power to choose to come or not come.  He was not obligated to find another if that woman declined the journey.  He related how he had asked God to show him that specific woman...and that Rebekah had precisely fulfilled that description.

Laban and Bethuel looked at each other, amazed, and replied,

This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.  Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed.'

But one asked Rebekah.  Her father and her brother agreed that if this was God's doing, they had no business having an opinion.  I wonder what Rebekah thought as she returned to her place, took off the jewelry and settled down to sleep.  I rather suspect it all seemed rather dream-like and unreal.  Was she excited?  Disappointed that she wasn't going to marry some young man that she'd had her eye on?  Or maybe the person who'd made inquiries about marrying her wasn't young and handsome but a local middle-aged landowner who was interested in adding her to his harem in order to make an alliance with her father?

Maybe she was seeing a way out of something that was becoming intolerable.

Or, maybe for the first time in her life, she was seeing herself as significant to God.  He had, after all, led the servant straight to her.

The next morning, Abraham's servant got up and asked for permission to leave with Rebekah that very day.

Rebekah's mother and Laban balked.  Ten days, they said.  'Let her stay home with us for ten days or so, then we'll let her go.'

But he was insistent.  He had obtained his objective; his master was waiting to see if he was successful.  There was no reason to delay his return.

Then...Rebekah's family hit upon the idea of asking her.  I'm not sure what they expected her to say, but I'm convinced it wasn't what she said.  She'd had the night to imagine life differently than it ponder the idea that God had a destiny for her unlike any she had considered.  So when they asked her, "Will you go with this man?"  she simultaneously took her future into her own hands and released it into God's when she surprised them by saying, "I will go."

The woman that the servant was seeking chose to return with him.

In less than 24 hours, she had changed from the daughter in a house of manipulation and tension to a bride on the way to her husband, whom she'd never met, in a land she did not know.  But she did know that God had selected her for that place...and it was her own choice to step into it.

And God, in His ways, put her in the arms of a man who loved her.

Are there areas in my life in which God is calling me to leave what is familar absolutely and without  hesitation?  Will I go where the Spirit calls, trusting Him? At once?  Today?

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