Sarah had been dead for several years when Abraham decided that their son Isaac needed a wife. After all, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. And that required a grandson. So Abraham, now in his old age, sent his servant out to find him a wife. Even though this story happened in the Old Testament when the Jewish people were expected to be fruitful and multiply, it does have some lessons for today.
Lesson 1: Isaac’s family was involved in search for his wife. Ladies, imagine a strange man called you one day and said he had a wealthy boss who was looking for a wife. Would you be open to that idea?
Lesson 2: Isaac’s wife had to meet qualifications. Namely, she had to be a Christian from the land of Abraham’s childhood. The servant was instructed not to take a lady from Canaan, where he now lived, because they were a vile people. And she had to be willing to relocate to her husband’s country. Imagine your boyfriend told you that he dumped his last girlfriend because she was from the wrong country.
Lesson 3: Gifts were more than a bribe. On his quest to find Isaaac a wife, the servant took with him “ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master.” And when the servant found Rebekah, he gave her a “gold nose ring weighing a beka[c] and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels.” These gifts symbolized the sacrificial nature of marriage and the seriousness Abraham placed on the search. He was getting old. His time was short. In southern lingo today, these gifts may have been called “earnest money.” Ladies, would you take gifts from the friend of a friend who wants to meet you? Would you take them seriously or would you laugh them off as bribes?
Lesson 4: The servant prayed to be led to the right woman. “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Guys, if marriage is for you, is anybody in your church praying that you will be led to the right woman?
Lesson 5: The servant was looking for a sign from God: “May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” How often is “by this I will know” part of our prayers today? Are we open to the possibility that God still intervenes in real time in this world? That he still sends signs?
Lesson 6: Rebekah’s virginity was valued so highly that it was described in her introduction: “The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her.” Guys, would you be willing to introduced your girlfriend to your family like that today? Isaac had lived with his parents all these years, like a lot of young men in his time. And since he was a God-fearing man, I think it was taken for granted that he had not been with another woman.
Lesson 7: I think the critical part of this story happens in verses 18 and 19 when Rebekah appeared and the servant asked her for a drink of water. “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” Did Rebekah give him a suspicious look and walk away? No. Did she say “I’ve only got enough for myself?” No. Did she try to avoid him by saying “not today.” Did she try to tell him where the nearest watering hole was? No. Did she cry rape? No. Did she call for her family? No. Did she call security? No. Not only did she offer him a drink, she gave some to his camels. And then she was okay when she found out it was his boss’s son who was interested in her, sight unseen. Do you believe in divine intervention or does skepticism prevent God from acting in your life? Unfortunately, many single ladies today know how to do one thing well – say no. They have read all the books on how to guard their hearts and have saying no down to a fine art. After all, the men are supposed to persue, right? Well, Isaac never went looking.
Lesson 8: As soon as Rebekah accepted him and gave him water, her brother also accepted him. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” Conferred respect. It’s almost unheard of today.