now may it be that the girl to whom I say, 'Please let down your jar so that I may drink,' and who answers, 'Drink, and I will water your camels also'--may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master."Genesis 24:14(NASB)
Abraham knew that God's promised Seed, Who was to crush the serpent's head and release humanity from slavery to sin, was to come through Isaac, his own precious child of promise. Isaac had been born to Sarah, his elderly wife, when Abraham was 100 years old and he knew the importance of finding his beloved son a virtuous wife, of God's choosing. And so he sent his most trusted servant to pick a wife from the daughters of his own kinsmen, in the land of Mesopotamia.
The importance of this assignment cannot be overstated. Before setting out on his momentous mission, the servant, who was probably called Eliezer, had sworn to Abraham, that he would not choose a Canaanite woman, nor would he let Isaac visit his relatives - who remained idol worshippers in a pagan city. Over the years, Eliezer had witnessed Abraham's faith in God and seen the Lord working in his master's life. And like his master, this servant was a man who learned the importance of trusting God in every circumstance of life, and seeking Him in prayer.
Eliezer set out with many gifts for the prospective bride, but it was a long, dusty journey to the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia. On arrival at the outskirts of the city, Eliezer made the camels kneel down by a well of water, as he reflected on his tremendous task. He noticed that the daughters of the men of the city were coming out to draw water and he prayed a simple prayer to the Lord.
Eliezer asked God to show loving-kindness to his master, by granting him success in his mission. He said, "may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this, I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master."
This petition, offered by Eliezer, is the first biblical record of a prayer, asking God for specific guidance. His prayer was not only that his mission would be successful, and God's loving-kindness would be shown to his master, but also that God's perfect will would be carried out in the choice of a wife for Isaac.
Eliezer's request was not vague and imprecise. His prayer not only dealt with the practical issue of providing sufficient water for his caravan of thirsty camels, but it also demonstrated his desire to fulfil his master's wishes to the best of his ability, and to honour the Lord God in his important quest. No doubt the servant was very aware that God's promise to bless Abraham'was intricately tied up with Isaac and his future bride.
Before he finished praying, Rebekah arrived at the well and her actions showed... that before Eliezer called on the Lord, his prayer was being answered. But it was only as the girl offered to water his ten camels, and proceeded to draw water from the well, that the servant knew his prayer had been heard and answered, and that this was the girl he was to bring to Isaac as wife - that Rebekah was the girl God had chosen.
As we see Eliezer's search for a bride unfold, we see God's sovereign wisdom and divine plan being carried out. We also discover that the first girl who arrived at the well, not only gave this stranger a drink of water, willingly... and offered to water his camels, but she was the daughter of Abraham's own brother, Nahor, and her actions and attitude indicated that she was as kind-hearted and industrious as she was beautiful.
The story of this servant's search demonstrates the exquisite harmony between the execution of God's sovereign will, in His progressive plan of salvation, and man's free-will to participate... through the choices we make in our lives. The Lord knows the end from the beginning and God's eternal decree had identified Rebekah as the bride of Isaac, and the Lord could have manipulated events without the involvement of Eliezer.
The Lord had foreordained the union of Isaac and Rebekah, before the world began, but Abraham and Isaac, as well as the servant and the girl, had learned the lessons in life that caused them to be willing participants in carrying out the will of God. Abraham understood that the local Canaanite women would corrupt his son, and so he wisely looked for a wife from his own kith and kin.
Abraham also realised that his son's wife must be brought into the family while Isaac needed to submit to his father's choice of a bride, and understood the dangers of associating with those outside the commonwealth of faith. Eliezer had learned to trust in the Lord with all his heart and to bring everything to the Lord in prayer. And during his journey, he learned to take one step at a time, and allow the Lord to guide His decisions. He learned not to 'second-guess' what God would do, but to step out in faith and be led by Him.
The young Rebekah had kept herself pure in the pagan city of Nahor, and had pursued the qualities of a virtuous woman, which bore the fruit of righteousness, as demonstrated in her kindness to the stranger, her willingness to work, and her beautiful disposition. No doubt the Lord had His hand of blessing on His handmaiden from her birth, as He does with all who are called and chosen - and no doubt the young woman had heard how her uncle Abram had been called by the Lord to go to a place that He would show him - and how Abraham believed God and was credited with righteousness.
There are many more lessons we can learn from the actions and attitudes of every character in this beautiful story, but like every person in this narrative, faith in God is the key to success. May we be successful in all we say and do and bring honour and glory to our God and Saviour.
Heavenly Father, I pray that like Abraham, Isaac, Eliezer, and Rebekah, I will look to You moment by moment, trust in Your unfailing Word, and make the right choices in my life. I pray that I would not only walk in the way of righteousness and bring everything to You in prayer, but that my life and witness would bring honour to Your name as I grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus. May I be willing to take one step at a time, as prompted by Your Holy Spirit and permit Your plans and purposes to be carried out in my life, for the benefit of others, and for my own spiritual growth. Thank You for the many lessons there are to learn in the Scriptures, and may I develop a teachable spirit, and bring honour and glory to You. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.