March 2014 Scripture of the Month
55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. 56 And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master. 57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth. 58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. 59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.
In an remarkable version of the common practice of arranged marriages in the culture of Abraham’s day, Abraham sent his trusted steward to his homeland to find a godly wife for his son Isaac, instead of one of the pagan Canaanites who were natives of the land. The steward asked for a specific sign from the Lord to show His chosen woman to continue the seed of Abraham, which He had promised to multiply as the stars of the sky. The Lord had shown the sign in Rebekah, Abraham’s great-niece. Her family recognized that this thing was of the Lord, but requested time for Rebekah to stay with them for a few days.
This is where we find Rebekah at the beginning of this passage. She had just heard about this situation the very same day. In a great act of faith, she left her family, her friends, her life, all that she had ever known, to go and marry a man she had not even met! To describe this as rash would be almost inadequate – if it were not for the fact that God had given a clear sign. Having received this direct sign from God, Rebekah did not hesitate to say “I will go with this man”. Because of her absolute trust in God, she was ready and willing to follow His leading, wherever it might take her. With such a big decision suddenly put in front of her, it seems perfectly reasonable that she would want time to let it sink in. However, Rebekah knew that life is short. Because of this, when God gives clear direction, there is no time to waste “thinking it over” or “letting it sink in”. Tomorrow may never come – now is the time to follow God’s leading and go where He wants us to go.
The reaction of Rebekah’s family is also remarkable. Instead of trying to persuade her to stay, they let her make her own decision and blessed her for it. They too realized that this thing was of the Lord (cf. verse 50) and so their opinion of it did not really matter. In this is illustrated the divinely designed perfect balance between God’s supremacy and the free will of mankind. God was involved in making this happen, and He knew that Rebekah would choose to go and marry Isaac. However, this in no way means that Rebekah’s free choice in the matter was removed.
I also want to draw attention to the blessing given to Rebekah on her departure. Their parting blessing on her was not that she would find a godly man in her husband-to-be. They did not even wish her a happy marriage. But what they did bless her with is a hope that she would be the mother of billions (this is their words!), and furthermore that her children should be a godly seed possessing the gates (the political realm, the legislature) of their enemies. Compare this with Psalm 127 – God designed children as a blessing! There are no ands, ifs, or buts in this blessing! Instead of rejecting them for selfish reasons, Christians today need to take possession of the blessings God wants to give them – children, who will become the world-changers of tomorrow.