Led by the Lord

,

Where God guides, He provides

Genesis(67) (Part of the Origins(65) series)
by Stuart Johns(184) on April 24, 2022 (Sunday Morning(259))

Obedience(26), Worship(15)

Origins

Led by the Lord

(Genesis 24:1-33)

 

INTRODUCTION

“I made my pastoral calls in the county hospital and walked back to my car in the parking lot. Just as I reached out to the car door to get inside, I heard, ‘Go see Bob.’ Bob was a retired fireman, seriously ill with heart problems and confined to a bed because of his ailment. He had recently made a decision to accept Christ and was making wonderful spiritual progress. I took what I heard to be the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I protested, saying, ‘I was there not long ago. It's not time yet to go back again.’ The prompting persisted, so I got into the car, pulled out of the lot, and headed for Bob's place. It was just a few minutes away, up a rural road winding through beautiful, northern California hills.

 

I came to Bob's house, pulled into the driveway, and looked over to the big front window of the living room where Bob usually lay in a hospital bed.

 

Bob was lying there, but he looked different. I thought to myself, "He looks dead." I hurried to the front door and knocked. Evelyn, his wife, came to the door breathless and distraught. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here. Bob just died a few minutes ago!"

 

We sat together in the kitchen, not saying too much to each other as the man from the funeral home did his work in the other room, getting ready to remove my friend from the home. Quietly, when the time was right, I read from the Scripture, and Evelyn and I prayed, seeking God in the loss of her husband.

 

I've thought back many times to that afternoon, and I am so glad that I followed the leading of the Spirit. I got there just as someone needed me most.”

 

Source: Unknown.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/april/10040907.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Divine prompting

        • I have experienced divine promptings throughout my life

        • Most of you know the story about my divine calling to pastoral ministry and how that was confirmed by multiple people in the weeks following that calling

        • There have been times when I have sensed the Lord prompting me to pray for or call certain individuals

          • It’s amazing to hear what those individuals were going through when I was prompted to pray for them

          • It gives me chills when I call someone and they need to talk about a situation they are going through

    • Obedience shows true faith

        • I had befriended another man who worked in the suite beside the one I worked in

        • During a break, one day, he was telling me that he was considering moving in with his girlfriend to save on expenses

        • The Lord prompted me to challenge him not to do that, but I chickened out

        • When I went back to my office, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit for not being obedient

        • So, I prayed and asked the Lord to give me another opportunity to challenge this man

        • That opportunity came about a week later

          • We were standing outside chatting and I mentioned his comment about considering moving in with his girlfriend

          • I challenged him to trust God and not move in with his girlfriend

          • His response was something like this, “Thank you, I needed someone to challenge me on that.”

        • He claimed the name of Christ, yet he was considering doing something that he knew would tarnish that claim and witness

 

  • WE

    • Divine prompting

        • As disciples of Jesus Christ we all have probably experienced a divine prompting at one time or another?

        • How do we respond when those promptings come?

    • Obedience

        • Perhaps, like me, we all have experienced the conviction of the Holy Spirit for not being obedient to that prompting

        • Hopefully, we have all experienced the blessing of obedience, too

 

Abraham is getting older and is probably realizing that in order for God’s promise to be fulfilled, his son Isaac was going to have to get married and start having children. ​​ Abraham had a couple of criteria for this bride search that he had his chief servant swear to abide by. ​​ The servant understood the criteria, but asked what he should do if the woman refused. ​​ Abraham reassured him that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Where God guides, He provides.

 

Abraham’s faith had developed into a strong faith that trusted God to do what seemed humanly impossible.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 24:1-33)

    • Promise (vv. 1-9)

        • Abraham’s state (v. 1)

          • His age

            • The narrator tells us that Abraham is now old

            • Well advanced in years

            • It is believed that Abraham is almost 140 years

            • Isaac would be 40 years

            • Sarah has been gone two or three years

          • His status

            • God has blessed him abundantly

            • “Age and wealth are often signs of a blessed life (e.g., Job 42:12).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 326]

            • God had blessed Abraham in every way

              • Long life

              • Flocks and herds

              • Gold and silver

              • Male and female servants

              • Promised covenant son

              • Promise of land (a country)

          • The narrator moves from Abraham’s state to a conversation that he has with his chief servant

        • Instruction (vv. 2-4)

          • Chief servant

            • Most Bible translations have “oldest/eldest servant”

            • From that translation, many scholars believe that it could be Eliezer, who was his most trusted servant and household administrator

            • Genesis 15:2, But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”

            • We are not told if it is Eliezer, but if it is, he would also be old and advanced in years

          • Put your hand under my thigh

            • This must have been the customary way for oaths to be sworn in the Ancient Near East

            • The hand would actually be put under the male reproductive organ, since that was the source of life/offspring

            • “Westermann says, ‘The rite of touching the generative organ when taking an oath occurs elsewhere only in Gen. 47:29 where the circumstances are the same, namely, imminent death. ​​ The one who is facing death secures his last will by an ‘oath at the source of life.’’ (Westermann, 384” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 201]

          • Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth

            • This was not a deity that the Canaanites or Abraham’s relatives in Mesopotamia worship

            • This is the only God who deserves to be called God

            • He is the God of the Creation and the Cosmos

          • Ethnic purity

            • Abraham urges his servant to not choose a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites

            • He instructs him to go back to Mesopotamia to find a wife from among his own relatives

            • NOTE: ​​ Abraham’s relatives were also polytheistic in their beliefs, so perhaps Abraham is more concerned about ethnic purity than religious practice

          • The instructions given by Abraham cause his servant to ask two legitimate questions

        • Question & Answer (vv. 5-8)

          • Questions

            • What if the woman does not want to come back to Canaan with me?

              • Keep in mind that the distance from Canaan to Mesopotamia is around 400 miles

              • It would take about a month for the servant to travel to Abraham’s home area

              • The woman would be leaving everything she knows and embracing her new family

              • There wouldn’t be any weekend trips home to visit her mom and sisters

              • She would be making a life-changing decision to accept the marriage proposal

              • The servant wants to know Abraham’s wishes in case Abraham passed away while he was gone

            • Do you want me to take Isaac back to Mesopotamia?

              • If the woman is unwilling to return with him, do you want me to take Isaac back to Mesopotamia?

              • The servant wants to know which criteria is most important to his master – wife from his own people or remaining in Canaan

            • We see Abraham’s answer to the two questions

          • Answers

            • Don’t take Isaac back to Mesopotamia!

              • God promised to establish my offspring in Canaan

              • Perhaps Abraham was concerned that if Isaac left Canaan that he would never return

              • Abraham believed God’s promise with all of his heart and never looked back

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – “True faith always results in obedience.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

                • It would have been easy for Abraham to abandon Canaan and return to what was familiar, but he held to God’s promise by faith

                • This is true for us as well

                  • When God calls us out of our comfort zone

                  • When He asks us to follow Him to a place that is far away from family and friends

                  • Do we follow in faith or resist in doubt and fear

                  • I declined the offer, twice, to move from Ohio to Missouri, to work at the headquarters of Child Evangelism Fellowship in the USA Ministries department

                  • We did not have any family in Missouri (I did have a cousin and her family in Kansas, but they were not close)

                  • Moving from Missouri to California took us further away from family

                  • We had faith that God was calling us to both of those places, so we obeyed in faith, trusting Him

                  • He blessed us with incredible friends and neighbors who became our surrogate family

                • Is God calling you to obey Him, by faith, in a particular area?

                • Are you resisting that calling?

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obey the Lord’s calling on my life and follow Him by faith.

              • Abraham knew from past experiences that God would provide and so he encourages his chief servant

            • God will provide

              • Abraham reassures his servant that God would send His angel before him to prepare the way for his success

              • Where God guides, He provides.

              • Abraham was confident in God’s ability to transform the heart and mind of a young woman to accept the adventure of a lifetime

              • Abraham then helps to put his servant’s mind at ease

            • Release from oath

              • If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from the oath

              • Abraham reiterates again that he does not want Isaac to go back to Mesopotamia

          • With his questions answered and his mind at ease, Abraham’s servant is willing to swear the oath

        • Oath (v. 9)

          • Abraham’s servant places his hand under his master’s thigh

          • While doing that he promises to find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s family in Mesopotamia and not to take Isaac back there

        • Once the oath is sworn, it is time to prepare for the trip

    • Preparation (vv. 10-11)

        • Before (v. 10)

          • The servant took ten camels and loaded them down with all kinds of good things (choice things, expensive things)

          • We are not told what these good, choice, expensive things are

          • In verse 22 we find out that there was a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets

          • The narrator leaves us in suspense as to other items that the servant took as a bride price

          • The location in Mesopotamia

            • We are told that the servant goes to the town of Nahor in the region of Aram Naharaim

            • The town of Nahor can either refer to the actual name of the town or to the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor lived (perhaps Haran)

            • Aram Naharaim means “Aram of the two rivers” [Mathews, 332]

              • Northwestern Mesopotamia [northern Syria and Iraq today]

              • The two rivers would have been the Euphrates and its tributary the Habor/Habur/Khabur

          • This was the preparation for the trip

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God will direct us when we trust and obey His Word.

          • Abraham’s servant has a general idea of where he is supposed to go

            • This is more than Abraham had when he left Haran

            • If this chief servant has been with Abraham since he left Haran, then he would know where to go, but we are not given that information here

            • He has to trust and obey God’s word of guidance as he travels north

            • When we obey God’s leading by faith, He will direct us – where to go and what to do

            • We can claim that truth for our lives today – God will direct us when we trust and obey His Word

          • About one month passes between verses 10 and 11

        • After (v. 11)

          • In verse 11 we see the preparations of the servant after he arrives in the town

          • He has the camels kneel down near the well outside the town

            • This was strategic on the servants part

            • He was preparing to watch the evening trek to the well by the young women of the town

            • What better way to encounter women who could be potential wife material for Isaac

        • There is one more vital part of his preparation – prayer!

    • Prayer (vv. 12-21)

        • Prayer (vv. 12-14)

          • He addresses the Lord

            • Since he is Abraham’s liaison, he addresses the Lord as the God of my master, Abraham

            • This is does not mean that the servant does not have faith in the Lord

          • Requests

            • Give me success

            • Show kindness to my master Abraham

            • The servant needs to know which young woman is God’s choice for Isaac, so he asks for two specific things to identify her

              • First, when I ask a girl for a drink, she will lower her jar and give me a drink

              • Second, without prompting, she will recognize that my camels need water and offer to give them water too

            • He petitions the Lord again to show kindness to his master, Abraham

          • Aren’t you glad that the Lord knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8) and because He knows before we ask, He is already acting on our behalf

        • Answer (vv. 15-21)

          • The Lord had already prompted Rebekah to leave her house and head to the well while Abraham’s servant is praying

          • The narrator gives us some key pieces of information

            • Genealogy

              • He does not keep us in suspense about whether or not Rebekah is part of Abraham’s family

              • While the servant does not know it yet, we are given insider information

              • Rebekah is the daughter of Bethuel

              • She is the granddaughter of Nahor and Milcah, Abraham’s brother and sister-in-law

            • Attributes

              • Rebekah is very beautiful – probably referring to her appearance

              • She is a virgin – in the Ancient Near East it does not necessarily means she has not been sexually active, but rather it means that she is of marriageable age

              • She is pure – no man had ever lain with her (which in our modern culture means she was a virgin, she had not been sexually active)

              • Again, the servant is not aware of these attributes when he sees her

            • At the moment, the servant is relying on the criteria he has asked the Lord about

          • Rebekah went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up again

          • The servant is hopeful, so he hurries over to meet her

            • I’m assuming that Rebekah is the first woman to come to the well, which is why he hurries over to meet her

              • He is hopeful and enthusiastic about the Lord’s ability to answer his prayer

              • Just imagine if he had already approached multiple women and they had rejected his request for a drink or, if they gave him a drink, but didn’t offer to water his camels

              • I think his demeanor would have been less hurried with Rebekah

            • When he asks her for a drink, she lowers her jar and gives him a drink, then she offers to draw water for his camels until they are satisfied

              • She doesn’t waste time, but empties her jar into the trough

              • Then she ran back down to the well to get more water and continues this process until the camels were taken care of

                • Camels who have not had a drink for a couple of days could consume as much as 25 gallons of water to rehydrate

                • Multiply that by 10 camels and you have 250 gallons of water

                • On average, a water jar in the Ancient Near East, could hold up to 3 gallons

                • That would be a potential of 83 trips down to the well and back – talk about water aerobics

              • “When you see a man or a woman going out of his or her way to minister, you have found someone very special.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: ​​ Genesis-Job, 113]

            • While she is serving the needs of the camels, the servant is quietly watching her to discern if the Lord had made his journey a success

        • We can assume that he felt certain that the Lord had made his journey a success by what he does next

    • Presentation (vv. 22-25)

        • Gifts

          • The camels are satisfied and the servant is satisfied

          • So, he takes out a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets

          • It is apparent that he gives these items to her, because in verse 30, Laban saw her wearing them

        • Request

          • He then asks her whose daughter she is and if there was room in her father’s house for he and his companions to spend the night

          • She tells him that she is the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor

          • She answers his second request by telling him that they have plenty of resources and space to house them for the night

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God answers prayer!

          • We see that God answered the prayer of the servant through Rebekah

          • She willingly gave him a drink of water and then offered to water his camels

          • I am a huge proponent of praying specific prayers, because then we know when God answers them

            • I’m not talking about praying specific prayers that try to corner God or prosper individuals

            • I believe we can pray specific prayers according to God’s will and purposes and He will answer

            • Each week we share praise reports for answered prayer

          • We have to remember that God answers prayer in three ways

            • Yes, No, and Wait

            • There are times when we feel like God has not answered our prayers, because we did not get the answer we wanted or hoped for (so we actually missed His answer)

          • How we react to answered prayer is so important

        • That is what we see next in verses 26 and 27

    • Praise (vv. 26-27)

        • The servant bowed down and worshiped the Lord right in front of Rebekah, presumably

        • He again addresses his praise to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham

          • He acknowledges that the Lord has been kind and faithful to Abraham

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is faithful!

            • We can trust in the faithfulness of God

            • That is His character and His character never changes

            • How have we seen the faithfulness of God?

              • At Idaville Church, we have seen the faithfulness of God through His provision for our finances, through salvations and baptisms, through spiritual growth, through the revitalization of the church, and so much more

              • Personally, we have seen God’s faithfulness through answered prayer for family members, through God’s provision for us financially, through healings, through His protection, and so much more

              • How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life? ​​ (take a moment and write a couple of things down)

          • The servant also recognized the Lord’s faithfulness to him

            • He acknowledges that the Lord had led him to the house of his master’s relatives

            • This was Abraham’s nephew’s family that the servant would be staying with

        • PRINCIPLE #5 – Worship is the right response to God’s faithfulness.

          • When is the last time you have bowed down before the Lord and worshiped Him for His faithfulness?

          • In our busyness we may neglect to even thank the Lord for His faithfulness and answers to our prayers, let alone bow down before Him and worship Him

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Bow down before the Lord in worship for His faithfulness to me.

          • We are going to give everyone the opportunity to bow down before the Lord in worship during the closing song this morning

        • Rebekah understands the significance of what is taking place, so she runs back to her house

    • Provision (vv. 28-33)

        • Pronouncement (v. 28)

          • Rebekah told her family what had happened when she went to draw water at the well

          • Perhaps they were wondering where she was, since it probably took her a long time to water the camels

          • We learn that Rebekah has a brother named Laban (that name should sound familiar and he will play a significant role with Isaac and Rebekah’s son, Jacob)

        • Hospitality (vv. 29-33)

          • Perhaps Laban was running the household at this point, which is why Bethuel does not go out to greet the servant

          • It is probable that Laban either made preparations prior to going to the spring or gave instructions to the household servants to make preparations for the entourage

          • Laban hurried out to meet Abraham’s servant and invited him to stay with them

          • Perhaps the gifts that he gave Rebekah and his worship of the Lord, prompted Laban to address him as “blessed by the Lord”

          • The servant followed Laban back to Bethuel’s house

          • Hospitality shared

            • The camels were unloaded and given bedding and food

            • Water was brought for the travelers to wash their feet

            • Food was brought out for the men to eat

          • Urgency message

            • Since the Lord had so graciously and faithfully answered his prayer, the servant did not want to eat first

            • He wanted to share the purpose of his trip

            • Laban encourages him to tell them, but that’s a narrative for another time

 

  • YOU

    • Are you ready to obey the Lord’s calling on your life and follow Him by faith?

    • Are you ready to bow down before the Lord, in worship, for His faithfulness to you?

 

  • WE

    • We can encourage those in our congregation by affirming the calling God has place on their lives

    • We can model worship for God’s faithfulness by bowing down before Him

 

CONCLUSION

As the worship team leads us in the closing song this morning, I want to encourage everyone to come forward and bow down to the Lord in worship of His faithfulness.

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