In Good Hands
You’re in Good Hands with – All State. That’s right, you are in good hands with All State. Probably all of us have seen the commercials for All State with these guys. The “You’re in Good Hands” slogan started in the 1950’s when a general sales manager at the insurance company rushed home after learning his daughter was ill. His wife, comforting him, noted that the girl was “in good hands” with the doctor. The manager recalled the incident at a sales meeting, and the slogan, “You’re in good hands with Allstate” was born. What are the qualities that All State wants their customers to believe they have that means they are in good hands? They want their customers to believe that they are knowledgeable, approachable and leaders in the field of insurance. They also want their customers to believe they are trustworthy, reliable and dependable, that they will take care of them when there is a problem and that there is nothing to worry about if you are insured by them.
Character is defined as attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual; moral excellence and firmness. Your character, good or bad, is made up of different qualities and we all have the choice as to what our character will be. I think we all probably strive for the same qualities that All State wants their customers to believe they have. Those qualities also remind me of the character of God. God is trustworthy, reliable, dependable, he takes care of us and we have nothing to fear or worry when we are “in his good hands.” As Christ-followers we know from scripture and from our own experiences that we are “in good hands” with God. Psalm 33:4 says, “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.” 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Matthew 6:25-26 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
As we think about the character of God, I believe it is important to evaluate our own character. We should ask ourselves: Am I trustworthy, reliable and dependable? Do my loved ones feel cared for by me? Do people feel like they don’t have to worry if they have been placed in my hands or if a task is left in my hands? Do I possess the same character qualities as God? This brings us to the big idea we will explore this morning that God is pleased when we exhibit his character. We want to emulate the character of God. We want to be more like his son, Jesus. I believe that God will use us for his purposes when we exhibit his character and it is important for our witness as Christ-followers that others would say that they are in “good hands” with us.
Two weeks ago, Pastor Stuart, opened up the beginning of chapter 24 to us which tells the story of Abraham sending his servant to Mesopotamia to find Isaac a wife from his family/clan and not from among the Canaanite women. The servant was led by God to find Rebekah, who was the granddaughter of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. When Rebekah tells her family about what the servant had said and done, her brother, Laban, invites the servant into his house, gives his camels a place to stay and be taken care of, and places food before the servant and his men. But the servant would not eat until his story was told and that is where we pick up the passage this morning.
The phrase, “in good hands” will be important as we study this passage and see how the character qualities of the main players fit in with it. Before we begin, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for your many attributes. You are trustworthy, reliable and dependable. You care for us and we don’t not need to worry about anything because we are being held in your good hands. Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us this morning. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear what you want us to understand from this passage. Give us opportunities to share your good news with those in our spheres of influence who do not know you as their Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
There are three points to the message this morning. The first is Witness, this is the witness of the Servant, found in Genesis 24: 34-49. This is what God’s Word says, “So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’ “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’ “He replied, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.’ “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’ “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also. “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ “She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’ “Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”
The servant is giving witness to Rebekah’s family about everything that has happened from the time that Abraham has commissioned him to find a wife for his son until the present, with a couple variants. There is a lot going on and a lot to notice in this long narrative. The length, the detail and the retelling of the story shows how important this story is to the continuation of God’s promises to Abraham. The servant begins by identifying himself as Abraham’s servant and informing the family of his master’s abundant wealth. He is not modest as he lists all that Abraham owns such as sheep, cattle, silver and gold, etc. This list reflects what Abraham acquired in Egypt and Gerar and is a more comprehensive list of his wealth then we have seen before. He also tells them that Sarah has borne a son to Abraham in her old age and that the son has been given all that Abraham has. He is enticing Rebekah’s family to agree to allow her to marry Isaac. Why does he begin with Abraham’s wealth? He wants her family to believe that the son of Abraham has the wealth to take care of Rebekah. I also believe that the servant noticed that his gifts to Rebekah brought out the materialistic character in Laban. In verse 30 we notice that as soon as Laban saw the nose ring and bracelets on his sister’s arms and heard her story he makes a great show of hospitality towards the servant. He’s probably thinking there was more where that came from.
The servant twice mentions the oath he took to find a wife from Abraham’s family and not from among the Canaanite women. This shows the importance of finding a wife from Abraham’s family. Baldwin says, “The success of this enterprise was depended on the separateness of the people of God, a necessary condition for developing a counter-culture that would reflect their walk with God.” Notice that servant never mentions that Abraham commanded him not to bring Isaac to Mesopotamia. He probably thought it would give the family the idea they needed to meet the son first before giving their ok.
Up to now the servant has focused on Abraham’s wealth and his kinship with Rebekah’s family. Now he turns to how the providence of God led him directly to Rebekah. He recounts his prayer to God to show him the right woman and how God answered that prayer. The servant knew that God had led him to Rebekah because even before he was done praying she came to the well and gave the servant a drink when he asked her. Then the sign that he was waiting for was fulfilled when she offered voluntarily to water his camels. Further verification came when he asks Rebekah whose daughter she was and she answered that she was the granddaughter of Nahor who just happened to be Abraham’s brother. The servant knew that the Lord had led him to exactly the right place at the right time to find the right woman. He knew God was in control of all that happened and he bowed low and worshipped the Lord. Now the servant asks Laban and Bethuel to show him the same kindness and faithfulness that the Lord showed Abraham’s servant in finding Rebekah in the first place. He wants them to act in good faith the same way the Lord has and make a decision one way of the other. If they say “yes” then he can take her back to Isaac or if they say “no” he can move on to find someone else.
We see certain character qualities in the servant and Rebekah that are the reason why the Lord chose them to play such a huge part in the next installment of the blessing to Abraham and his descendants. The servant was loyal, patient, determined, and humble. He had integrity and a heart for prayer, thanksgiving and praise. He praises and worships God every time he answers his prayers. That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to be a person who prays before I act and to praise and thank the Lord for answered prayers. Rebekah was generous, kind, friendly, hospitable, practical and hard working as seen in volunteering to water the servant’s camels. Their character showed that the blessing was in “good hands.” The servant and Rebekah were able to be used by God for his purposes because they exhibited his character and I believe that God will use us as well for his purposes when we exhibit his character in our daily lives. (Big Idea).
Our next point is willingness and we will see this in the willingness of the bride to go back with the servant to Canaan. It is found in Genesis 24: 50-61. This is what God’s Word says, “Laban and Bethuel answered, “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.” When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.” But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.” But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.” Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.” Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.”
Laban and Bethuel say they realize that the Lord has been at work in this matter and give their consent for the servant to take Rebekah to become Isaac’s wife as the Lord has directed. It is interesting because this part of Abraham’s family was probably not following the one true God as Abraham had been for close to a hundred years. Stenberg says, “The Mesopotamians undergo a process of discovery that brings home to them God’s management of the world.” And Hamilton says, “It is not the servant, Abraham or Isaac, but rather their God that Laban and Bethuel find persuasive.” God was in total control of this situation.
The servant worships the Lord for their. He provides the bride and her family with costly gifts. This would have been seen as the bride price and the “mohar” which would compensate the bride’s family for taking her away from her family. We notice that the servants gives the gifts to Rebekah’s brother and mother and not to the father. It seems that the father may had been ill and only brought out for the initial negotiations with the servant. Or it is also possible that it was normal for the brother and mother of the bride to take the lead in these types of negotiations. Finally, after the servant had recounted the story, after Rebekah’s hand in marriage had been given and the gifts handed out the servant and his men now eat, rest and spend the night knowing that the task was satisfactorily completed.
The next morning the servant announces that he is ready to leave and take Rebekah back to marry Isaac. This seems abrupt but he may have been worried that Abraham would not live long enough to see his new daughter-in-law. The family pushes back wanting Rebekah to stay with them for ten days before leaving. This was probably normal so the woman could spend some final days with her family knowing that they may never see each other again. It would have also made sure that the marriage arrangement was on the up and up. The servant though pushes back as well and plays the “God” card. Now that the Lord has granted him success in his journey he wants them to send him on his way. It was important for the servant to return to his master to report on the success of the mission. We see a determination to finish the task at hand as another of the servant’s character qualities.
The family leaves the matter in Rebekah’s hands and without hesitation she says she will go with the servant. Rebekah recognized the will of God for her life and was willing to follow that will wherever it led. Discernment and obedience to the will of God were other character qualities of Rebekah. We also need to be discerning the will of God for our lives and then be obedient to that will. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to listen, discern and obey the will of God for my life. When our character aligns with the character of God, we can be better equipped to listen, discern and obey God’s will for our lives. Once Rebekah has decided to go, her family sends her and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. It is interesting that neither Abraham’s servant nor Rebekah’s nurse is specifically named in this passage. As Pastor Stuart said two weeks ago, Abraham’s servant may have been Eliezer, but we aren’t told for sure. Rebekah’s nurse is named later in Genesis as Deborah. This anonymity may be so we focus on the major characters in this passage which are Rebekah and later on Isaac.
The last thing that Rebekah’s family does is bless her. Notice they did not invoke the name of the Lord with this blessing. They bless her to increase in numbers, to thousands upon thousands, and that her offspring would possess the gates of their enemies, meaning they would conquer their enemies. It is significant that these blessings mirror the blessings that God promised to Abraham. Mathews says, “The author (of Genesis) is declaring Rebekah the divinely chosen instrument who helps realize the promise made to Abraham and his descendants.” Rebekah’s character is equal to Abraham’s and she exhibits the character of God which means the fulfillment of the divine blessing is in “good hands.” After the blessing we see Rebekah, her maids, Abraham’s servant and his men mount their camels and leave for Canaan.
The final point this morning is welcome talking about the welcome of the bridegroom. We see this in Genesis 24: 62-66. This is what God’s Word says, “Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?” “He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
The narrative now turns to Isaac. It seems since we saw him last he has changed locations from Beer Lahai Roi to the Negev. What has probably happened is that in the time it took for the servant to go to Mesopotamia and back, Abraham has set Isaac up with his own homestead, in the hopes that the servant’s mission is successful. We notice that one night Isaac is out in the fields “meditating.” This word could mean “prayerful” or “contemplative” or even “lamenting.” We can only wonder what is going through Isaac’s mind. He has lost his mother who he was very close to. He is awaiting news of whether the servant has found a bride for him or not. It’s possible that he is lonely in that Abraham has set him up with a home but has not stayed with him there. He is probably regularly calling out to God in the pain of his mother’s loss, in his loneliness and in the uncertainty of what the future holds for his life.
Isaac “looks up” and sees the camels approaching and Rebekah also “looks up” and sees Isaac. To “look up and see” indicates that what is about to be seen is important. What is important is that Isaac and Rebekah get their first glimpse of each other. We are told that Rebekah gets off her camel. It seems in that time and place it was unladylike for a woman to be on a camel in the presence of a strange man. She asks the servant who is the man that is coming to meet them and when he tells her that the man is his master she covers herself with her veil. Notice that the servant now refers to Isaac as his master. We already heard that Abraham had given everything he had to Isaac, and this now includes his servant. She puts on her veil which was a mark of chastity, modesty and submission. Her face would now be covered until their wedding night.
The servant reports to Isaac all that had transpired and a number of things happen as we end the story and the chapter. One, Isaac brings Rebekah into the tent of her mother and marries her. This signified that just as Isaac has replaced Abraham within the blessing, so has Rebekah replaced Sarah. Rebekah now becomes the next mother in line to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham that he will become a great nation. Two, Isaac loved Rebekah. As with any arranged marriage the couple doesn’t start out loving one another but Isaac and Rebekah fell in love with each other and their marriage was more than a marriage of convenience. Lastly, Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. It is clear that Sarah’s death deeply affected her son. Rebekah’s arrival would prove to be a source of solace and support. There would be a good balance and compliment in their home.
Other character qualities of Rebekah in this section are that she was alert and expectant. She was waiting to see the man whom she would spend the rest of her life with and when she saw him she obeyed God’s will for her and became his wife and a comfort to him after Sarah’s death. She was also chaste, modest and submissive. We also notice some character qualities of Isaac. He had a quiet and patient faith. He was seeking after the Lord as he meditated in the field. He showed grace and humility as he humbled himself to take Rebekah as his wife because the Lord had arranged and ordained it.
In his sermon titled "Think Hard, Stay Humble," Francis Chan told about a man named Vaughn who radiated the love of Christ to everyone around him: There were a couple of guys who came to his church who said they were inspired by their former youth pastor, a guy named Vaughn. The next week another person named Dan told Francis "I know Vaughn. He's a pastor in San Diego now, and he takes people into the dumps in Tijuana where kids are picking through the garbage. I was just with Vaughn in Tijuana. We would walk in the city, and these kids would run up to him, and he would show such deep love and affection for them. He'd hug them and have gifts and food for them. He'd figure out how to get them showers. Francis, it was eerie: the whole time I was walking with Vaughn, I kept thinking, If Jesus was on earth, I think this is what it would feel like to walk with him. He just loved everyone he ran into, and he would tell them about God. People were just drawn to his love and affection." And then Dan said this, "The day I spent with Vaughn was the closest thing I've ever experienced to walking with Jesus." Hearing this made me think, “Would anyone in their right mind say that about me? Would anyone say that about you? … As I thought about all this, I prayed, "Lord, that's what I want. I don't want to be the best speaker in the world. That doesn't matter. I don't want to be the most intelligent person on the planet. That's not what I want to be known for. I want to be known for someone saying, "Wow, he's a lot like Jesus."
God is pleased when we want to and strive to be more like Jesus. He is pleased when we exhibit his character. (Big Idea). Earlier I put forth that each of us need to look into our own hearts and evaluate our character. Does our character fall in line with God’s Word? Do we daily exhibit the character of God in our lives? That brings us to the last next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to evaluate my character to see if I am exhibiting God’s character in my life. If we are that’s great and we must keep it up. If we aren’t then it is time we make the necessary changes to align our character with his.
As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, help us to be praying people and a thankful people for answered prayer. Help us to listen, discern and obey your will for our lives. And help us to evaluate our character and align it with yours. As we leave this place today give us divine appointments with those who do not know you as their Lord and Savior and use each of us as witnesses to your love, your holiness and your salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.