Genesis 24:10-14

Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master; and he set out and went to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor. He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water; it was towards evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, ‘O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. I am standing here by the spring of water, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let the girl to whom I shall say, “Please offer 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.’  Genesis 24:10-14


This is an interesting part of the story.  Abraham has chosen this particular servant and has sent him on a mission to find a wife for his son.  We have no idea why Abraham chose this particular servant.  We don’t know his name.  But immediately we are drawn to his wisdom, even as we are surprised by his plan.


He takes “ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master…”  This isn’t where match-making begins for us today….at least not that we’re willing to admit it… 


We prefer to think that match-making begins with attraction, chemistry, romance, mutual interests.  We are quick to say that it is all about love.  But if it is, then it is about love as lust, the lowest form of love.  It is about “What am I going to get out of this deal?”  We secretly wonder “What does this person bring to my life that I want for my needs and my hopes and my dreams?”  We hate to think about how selfish all of that is.


So we self-righteously think that the idea of buying a wife “with camels and choice gifts” a bit…inappropriate.  But that isn’t the only surprise in this story.


The servant also prays, ‘O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.”  Here is where we are drawn to the wisdom of the servant.  He prays for God’s help.  But notice his prayer.  He doesn’t pray for Isaac, for Isaac’s life, for Isaac’s happiness, for Isaac’s future.  His goal is finding a wife for Isaac but his prayer is to please Isaac’s father, Abraham.  This is weird to us.


There was a day when young people had a strong sense of family identity and family legacy.  Not just immediate family but extended family.  Questions about marriage began with questions about the consequences of bringing families together via marriage.  So it seems very strange to us that this “find a wife for Isaac mission” seems to have very little to do with Isaac.


This is the irony of our age.  My wife’s theory is that this brave new world of instant communications and electronic media is making us all the more self-absorbed.  We text a friend and get an immediate answer – a very different world than the days when reaching out to a friend meant going home to our phone, calling their house, maybe getting them at home and maybe not.  Or, perish the thought, actually walking to their house to look for them.  No wonder we think life is about me and instant gratification for my wants – or that we bring such attitudes into our marriages.

So we watch this servant on his mission and we recoil at how Isaac is being left out.  Which then leaves us blind to the point of the story – it isn’t about Isaac or Abraham or the servant at all.  It is about God, working out God’s purposes, for all creation.

Which should then catch us short with the realization that that is what our lives are about too.

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, we aren’t always aware of what you are up to in our lives but we are aware that we matter, that our lives make a difference, that we are connected to other people in so many ways, seen and unseen.  Forgive us our selfishness.  May your Spirit work in us, softening our hardest edges, opening us to new possibilities, that we might live by faith, trusting your goodness, and relying on your guidance.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


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