Continuing the servant’s journey in Abraham’s home country, the servant met Rebekah and was invited by her family. The story focused on the servant’s recount of the Lord’s miraculous guidance with Rebekah and the reactions of Rebekah and her family toward the proposal. Both the attitude of the servant and of Rebekah teach us about giving thanks to the Lord and a whole-hearted faith to continue to be a part of God’s promise.
Did You Know...?
- Laban ran out unto the man (24:29): In Biblical times, it was usual for brothers to take a special interest in sisters’ marriages (Gen 34:13; Judg 21:22;
2 Sam 13:22).
- Take her and go (24:51): The Middle-Eastern women, in respect of marriage custom, are at the absolute disposal of their parents and elder brothers with the circumstance of her acceptance of the bridal presents. [ref]
What can we learn from the servant’s request to tell his errand before eating? See also John 4:34.Hide Answer
When the food was set by Laban before the servant, the servant insisted on not eating until he had told about his errand (Gen 24:33). It did not mean that the servant refused to eat which had been served, but the servant had the sense of urgency to finish his mission first. He prioritized to finish his mission on top of his own personal needs.
Such a spirit of urgency to complete the mission given is similar to the Lord Jesus’. In the gospel of John 4:34, the Lord Jesus explained to His disciples who had told Him to eat, that even He had not eaten any physical food, He rather did the will of the Father who sent Him to finish the Father’s work (Jn 4:34). The examples of the servant and of the Lord Jesus serve as a lesson for us about priority and a sense of urgency of our mission. Sometimes, due to our personal needs and interests, we simply neglect to prioritize to finish the important things at school, at work or even at church. A sense of urgency teaches us that instead of postponing things which can be finished at hand, we ought to faithfully and to diligently complete the given-task whenever possible.
How did the servant address himself to Laban?
What were the great deeds of the Lord declared by the servant to Laban?Hide Answer
When telling about his errand, the servant declared the Lord’s deeds to Laban. First, he was telling how the Lord had greatly blessed his master, Abraham, by making him great and giving him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys (Gen 24:35). Then, the servant shared the miraculous deed of the Lord through his master’s wife. She was able to give birth to a son though she was old (Gen 24:36). Finally, the servant declared how the Lord had guided him personally in finding a wife for his master’s son specifically from his master’s home country and family. The guidance of the Lord was thorough and happened according to his prayer (Gen 24:43-48).
From the Lord’s appointment of a spouse for Isaac, what can we learn about God’s will and guidance in marriage?Hide Answer
From the Lord’s appointment of a spouse for Isaac, we can learn several things. First, God does care about our marriage. Just as the Lord guided the servant in finding the right spouse for his master’s son, He will also guide us in finding a spouse. But as the servant prays to the Lord for guidance, we too must rely on God’s guidance instead of using our way and thinking.
Second, God has His purpose and will in our marriage. The Lord had guided the servant to find a wife for Isaac so that she could accompany Isaac in his walk to continue his father’s journey in the land of promise (Gen 24:7). Furthermore, the Lord also had established an everlasting covenant between Himself and Abraham and Abraham’s descendants, to be God to him and to his descendants (Gen 17:7). Therefore, both Isaac and his wife must support each other and had the responsibility to raise descendants who would keep the everlasting covenant of God. Likewise, marriage is not just about building a family and raising kids, but the most important thing is how a husband and a wife, together, build a godly family and raise descendants who will continue to keep the covenant of God up to their generations to come.
In Genesis 24:27, the servant used the phrase “mercy and truth” in referring to the loving-kindness, faithfulness and righteousness of the Lord. According to the Psalmist, mercy and truth are the Lord’s characteristic (Ps 25:10, 26:3, 40:10, 86:15, 115:1, 138:2). Furthermore, the Scriptures explain that God’s mercy and truth are everlasting and endure to all generations (Ps 100:5, 117:2). Through the Scriptures’ examples, the mercy of the Lord is evident in His salvation, deliverance, forgiveness and consideration (Ps 31:7, 51:1, 57:3, 98:3; Ex 15:13). The servant expressed his thankfulness and great awe to God for not forsaking His kindness by guiding the servant to reach his mission all the way through and being faithful to Abraham regarding His promise by providing the wife from Abraham’s home country and family.
In Genesis 24:49, the servant used the phrase “mercy and truth” in referring to kindness and faithfulness of men. The Scriptures explain how the kindness of men is strongly related to repaying favor or benefit. For example, Rahab pleaded with the spies of Israel to do kindness to her and her family as she had done kindness in saving them from the king of Jericho (Josh 2:12). Moreover, the Scriptures also speak of men’s faithfulness as temporary and unreliable (Hos 6:4; Prov 20:6). Often times, the words of God give warning to men for their acts in forsaking and abandoning to do mercy and truth in their life (Prov 3:3, 14:22). Therefore, the servant pleaded to Laban to deal kindly and truly to his master, Abraham. Though the events were guided by the Lord, the servant still gave Laban the decision to choose, for the servant said, “if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left” (Gen 24:49). The servant’s words expressed his alternative option just in case Laban’s kindness was unreliable.
Who was Laban? And what kind of person was he?Hide Answer
Laban was the brother of Rebekah, the son of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor—Abraham’s brother (Gen 24:15, 29). According to Genesis 24:50, though Bethuel—the father of Laban and Rebekah—was still alive, Laban was the one in charge. Laban was the one who ran out to the well to meet the servant and invited him to lodge (Gen 24:29, 31). Furthermore, the servant spoke his errand and the event of God’s guidance directly to Laban and the servant requested an answer from Laban (Gen 24:33f, 49). Later, it was both Laban and Bethuel who gave permission to the servant to take Rebekah as the wife of Isaac (Gen 24:50-51).
What was the answer of Laban and Bethuel regarding the servant’s explanation?
What lesson can we learn from the answer of both Laban and Bethuel?Hide Answer
If we were in Laban’s and Bethuel’s position, giving a decision of our relative or even our daughter in marriage to a stranger within a short period of time would be quite a challenge. But both Laban and Bethuel answered that “the thing comes from the Lord [and they couldn’t] speak to [Abraham’s servant] either bad or good” (Gen 24:50) in regards to the urgency of the request. Instead of expressing their personal emotions and feelings, they followed what the Lord had guided and shown to them.
Once, in the gospel of Luke, the Lord Jesus showed us an example of a prayer in obeying God’s will instead of His will (Luk 22:42). Although personally He did not like to face the event which was about to occur, He put aside His personal feeling and totally surrendered to God’s will. Both the example of the Lord Jesus and the words of Laban and Bethuel serve as a teaching for us to prioritize the guidance of the Lord on top of our will.
What made the servant bow down his head and worship the LORD twice in Genesis 24?Hide Answer
The servant bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord after he heard Rebekah’s answer that she was the daughter of Bethuel, Milcah’s son, the wife of Nahor, the brother of Abraham (Gen 24:24-26). Then the servant bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord again after he heard the answer of Laban which allowed Rebekah to be the wife of the son of the servant’s master (Gen 24:51-52).
What lesson can we learn from the servant’s attitude in bowing down and worshipping the Lord?Hide Answer
Both times after hearing the answer from Rebekah and from Laban, the servant immediately bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord (Gen 24:25-27, 51-52). The servant’s actions reflected his thankfulness in answering his prayer and thus, allowing him to fulfill his oath to Abraham and glorified the Lord.
From the servant’s actions, we can learn about giving thanks and glorifying God’s guidance. Similar to the reaction of the servant of Abraham, the gospel of Luke records how a Samaritan leper fell down on his face at the Lord Jesus’ feet and gave Him thanks after he was healed (Lk 17:15-16). His actions reflects his thankfulness and glorification to the Lord’s mercy. While the Samaritan leper’s action serve as an example for us to emulate, the action of the other nine Jewish lepers serve as a warning for us to heed. The Lord Jesus further warns us that the other nine lepers who did not return, were considered as the ones who did not glorify God (Lk 17:18).
Why did the servant want to leave promptly?Hide Answer
After the servant and all his men had stayed in Laban’s house for one night, the servant asked Laban’s permission to leave his place and to be sent to his master, Abraham (Gen 24:54). The servant wanted to depart promptly because it was evident that the Lord had prospered his journey. Previously, the servant had prayed to God to prosper and to guide his way (Gen 24:42). After he observed that Rebekah’s deeds were in accordance to the requests of his prayer (Gen 24:13-14), the servant knew that “the LORD had made his journey prosperous” (Gen 24:21). Therefore, the servant felt that the “waiting” period was over and there was no need for him to delay his journey any longer.
In addition, the servant’s prompt departure was to show that he was still bound by oath to his master. Before he arrived at Laban’s country, the servant had sworn to his master, Abraham, that he would take a wife from his master’s country (Gen 24:9). And as long as the woman was willing to follow the servant back to his master’s land, the servant was not released from that oath (Gen 24:8). Since Laban and Bethuel had given the approval and allowed Rebekah to be the wife of the son of his master (Gen 24:51), the servant now had the obligation to fulfill the oath by bringing back the woman to his master. Just as the servant had said to Laban in Genesis 24:56, a delay to this process would not only become a hindrance for him to fulfill his oath to his master but also an obstruction to the prosperity of God’s providence.
What can we learn from the servant’s request to leave promptly?Hide Answer
When Laban and Rebekah’s mother insisted that Rebekah stayed with them for a few days, at least ten, the servant firmly requested their permission to leave promptly to his master (Gen 24:55, 56). The servant’s request was not because he was being impolite, but rather he wanted to stand firm in fulfilling the oath that he had sworn to his master. The servant was being faithful in his mission. Likewise, the servant’s attitude teaches us that in whatever we do, whether the work at home, at the office or even work at church, we need to stay focused and disciplined. If we are committed to staying focused and being faithful to the work, we will not be influenced by any distraction that will hinder the progress of the work itself.
In addition, the servant’s request of a prompt departure showed his obedience and trust to the Lord’s guidance. Once the Lord guided and answered the servant’s prayer, the servant immediately gave thanks to the Lord and believed in His guidance (Gen 24:52). His prompt departure reflected his obedience to the fact that God had answered his prayer and thus, he must follow the guidance given without any delay. Similarly, from the servant’s example, prompt or immediate reaction toward the Lord’s given answer reflects our attitude of obedience to the guidance. When we deliberately tarry or delay to react to God’s guidance, not only do we take His guidance for granted but we may also fall into a trap of disbelief through further delay.
Compare Laban’s and Rebekah’s attitude in responding to the servant’s request of departure.Hide Answer
After hearing the servant’s request to be sent to his master, Laban delayed him by asking Rebekah to stay a few days, at least ten. The servant even considered Laban’s act as a hindrance to his prospered way (Gen 24:55, 56). But Rebekah’s attitude was different. Upon hearing the explanation of God’s guidance from the servant, she immediately replied her willingness to go with the servant without any delay (Gen 24:58, 59). Rebekah’s prompt answer reflected her faith and trust in the arrangement of God.
From the different attitudes of Laban and Rebekah, what teaching do they serve us?Hide Answer
The willingness of Rebekah to go with the servant in regards to the arranged marriage teaches us about faith and trust in the Lord’s guidance. Today, Rebekah’s experience is similar to marrying someone whom we have never met but has been arranged for us. On one hand, without faith and a complete trust in the Lord’s guidance, it is difficult for one to step into the arranged marriage by the church. On the other hand, stepping into a marriage guided by the Lord is not only a blessing but also shows our obedience and gratitude to the Lord’s guidance and providence.
While Rebekah was willing, Laban showed his unwillingness to respond to the Lord’s guidance. Laban’s unwillingness to expedite Rebekah’s departure can serve as warning to us in our walk of faith. Today, our unwillingness to respond or wilfully delay what God has guided and shown not only reflects our lack of trust in the Lord’s plan but also acts as a hindrance or obstacle to His plan.
What were the distinct traits of Rebekah from this passage?Hide Answer
There were several distinct traits of Rebekah found in this passage. First, Rebekah was dearly loved and blessed by her family (Gen 24:55, 60). When she was about to go with the servant, Laban and her mother wanted her to stay with them for a few days. After they learned that they could not hold her, they blessed her. Second, she was sensitive and understood the urgency of the matter (Gen 24:58). After hearing the explanation from the servant, she willingly accepted the marriage proposal. Third, she was good-mannered and respectful (Gen 24:64, 65). When she was about to meet her husband, she dismounted from the camel and covered herself with a veil. Fourth, she was a comforter for her husband (Gen 24:67). Though Sarah, his mother, had died, Isaac was able to be comforted by the presence of Rebekah.
Upon Rebekah’s departure, the family blessed her, to become the mother of thousands of ten thousands and her descendants to possess the gates of those who hate them (Gen 24:60). Such a blessing was similar to the promise of God to Abraham. The numerosity of the ten of ten thousands reflects the promise of the countless descendants (Gen 15:5) and a mother of nations (Gen 17:16). And the blessing of possessing of the gates of those who hate the descendants echoes the promise of possessing the gates of the descendants’ enemies (Gen 22:17).
The similarity of the blessing of Rebekah with the promise of God supports that Rebekah was indeed the appointed one of God who would make happen God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants.