Genesis 24-26: Finding Your Rebekah /Giving up Our Personal Rights
Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac is a picture of God the Father sending His Holy Spirit to earth to pick a bride for His Son Jesus Christ. That is what is happening in the world today as the gospel is preached. Read chapter, 24 and you will find some beautiful analogies.
One of the tests that the servant applied was to find out whether the girl would be willing to offer water to his camels. You know that camels drink a lot of water. What Abraham's servant wanted to find out was whether the girl was a gracious, hard-working girl. And Rebekah was such a girl. She was also a modest girl, for it is clear from Chapter 24:16, that she had no interest in gazing at strangers, like Abraham's servant who was at that well. She had filled her jar with water and was about to go home, when Abraham's servant made his request. That is the type of wife you need.
And that is the type of bride for Christ that the Father looks for on earth too. God led Abraham's servant sovereignly to the right person-Rebekah. The servant then took Rebekah on that long and dangerous journey of of almost 435 miles (that probably took a month) all the way back from Mesopotamia to Canaan-a picture of our journey in this world as the bride of Christ.
Now before we continue, I would like to address the question on what to look for in a wife. Or seeking out a virtuous woman to marry:
Proverbs 31:10-31 describes some of the characteristics of a virtuous woman.
Her heart, hands and tongue are described as excellent. Nothing is mentioned about her physical beauty or her feminine charms, for these are declared to be worthless and deceptive (v. 30). It would be an excellent thing if all women and young girls, and especially young men considering marriage, realized this fact.
The virtuous woman described here, has a heart that fears God (v. 30). This is the foundation for her whole life. She works with her hands, stitching clothes, cooking meals, planting trees and helping the poor (v. 13-22). She uses her tongue at all times with kindness and wisdom (v. 26). She is God-fearing, hard-working and kind - even if she is not beautiful. The glory of God is manifested through her pure heart, rough hands and soft tongue. (Worldly women, in contrast, have an impure heart, soft hands and a rough tongue!). It is in these areas that God looks for women today to manifest His glory.
As a wife, this virtuous woman is a true helper to her husband. She does him good consistently till the end of her life - not in fits and starts (v. 12). In other words, she never loses her first love for him. She also adjusts herself to his profession and calling in life, supplementing his income with her own quiet labors at home, being thrifty and careful in expenditure, so that no money is wasted. She relieves her husband of home responsibilities, so that he can have a ministry in the land for the Lord (v. 23-27). No wonder her husband praises her saying that of all the women in the world (including women government leaders and women preachers and priest), she is the best of all of them. (v. 29). Such a woman certainly deserves to be praised publicly too (v. 31), for she has understood the glory of her calling as a woman.
The New Testament places great emphasis on 'serving the saints' in our homes. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay in the night.... and get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner (1 Peter 4:9; Romans 12:13). Hospitality is primarily the responsibility of the wife in the home. She can receive a prophet's reward, without ever being a prophet herself, merely by welcoming a prophet into her home (Matthew 10:41). She will be rewarded for hospitality shown to the least of Jesus' disciples as well (Matthew 10:41). To receive an apostle into our homes is equivalent to receiving Jesus Himself (Matthew 10:40). Likewise, to receive a child or new Catholics in Jesus' name is also equivalent to receiving Jesus (Matthew 18:5). What fantastic possibilities are opened up for sisters in the area of hospitality! The early Christians (to whom Paul and Peter wrote concerning hospitality), were by and large, very poor. Simple food and a place to sleep on the floor however, were all that they were asked to offer the saints. It is when believers seek the honour of men that they feel that they cannot be hospitable, until they are capable of offering rich food and grand accommodation. 1 Timothy 5:10 indicates that even poor widows in the first century, served the saints in their homes!
So back to Rebekah. What do you think the servant talked to Rebekah about, during that long journey? I am sure it was about Isaac. What do you think the Holy Spirit wants to talk to us about on our long journey? About Jesus. And I am sure that Rebekah had a desire to hear about Isaac too. I want to know more and more about my wonderful Savior, from the Holy Spirit on this long journey, until the day I see Him face to face (like Rebekah saw Isaac.) And then one day, like Rebekah, I too shall enter the tent of my Lord and be His wife. Do you have that longing? That is what Chapter 24 is all about.
The Life of Isaac
But Rebekah had a problem. For 20 years or more, she was barren (compare 25:20 with 25:26.) Is it possible to have problems, when you get the wife that God himself chose for you? Yes! That may be part of your spiritual education. Even when God leads you somewhere, you can face problems. Isaac prayed, and the problem was solved. Rebekah conceived (25:21)
Twins were born to Rebekah. Jacob's grabbing nature started in the womb itself. He dashed for the exit to come out first but missed. Esau's came out first and so he grabbed Esau's heel. This was the man God chose to be the head of the nation of Israel!! God chose a weak man to be His servant-a man who was interested only in furthering his own interests and in grabbing for earthly things. They called him 'Jacob' meaning 'Grabber'. What an encouragement that is for fallen sinners like us. Our Lord came to call sinners and not the righteous.
Isaac was not as wise of a person as his father Abraham was. Isaac's home was filled with partiality. Isaac was on Esau's side and Rebekah was on Jacob's side. Such an attitude is the best way to split a home. Esau and Jacob children became lifelong enemies because of the partiality of Esau and Jacobs parents. One parent favored one son and the other parent favored the other. So the two boys became jealous of each other. And no doubt this separated Isaac and Rebekah too. What a beautiful marriage theirs was when they had started out as a couple chosen by God for each other and deeply in love with each other!
But their partiality towards their children ruined their marriage thoroughly. The saddest part is that the reason for this partiality, in Isaac's case, was his love of good food: He liked the deer-meat that Esau would bring home regularly. Jacob was not a good hunter and so Isaac did not care for him as much. Isaac's blessing of Jacob (that caused so many problems) also came about through his lover deer-meat. A glutton like Isaac certainly doesn't come forth as a good father at home, like Abraham was. Godly fathers can at times have sons who act quite foolishly.
We read in Chapter 26:7 of another of Isaac's foolish acts- but here he followed in his father's lying footsteps. When Isaac was in Gerar, the men there asked him about his pretty wife, Rebekah. He told then that Rebekah was his sister. That was the lie that his father Abraham had said concerning his mother Sarah, on two occasions (Chapters 12 and 20). But Isaac had not learned from his father's mistakes. We don't have to make the same mistakes that our parents have made before us. A wise man will learn from the mistakes of others so that he does not repeat them.
But to Isaac's credit, it must also be said that he had some of the good qualities of his father, when it came to dealing with people outside his family. We read of a time (in 26:18) when Isaac re-opened the wells that his father had dug earlier and that the Philistines had closed up out of jealousy. Those wells belonged to Abraham, because he had dug them. And so they now belonged to Isaac. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's servants and said, “Give it to them.”. Just like Abraham gave Lot the land Lot wanted, Isaac also follows in his father's footsteps here. Then Isaac dug another well (verse 21) and the Gerarites quarreled over that one too. And a second time, Isaac sad, “Give that also to them.” He moved away from there and dug another well. The Gerarites were ashamed by now and did not fight for this well. And so Isaac named it 'Rehoboth, the Lord has made room for us.” Isaac did not make room for himself by pushing people out. No. He gave up his rights and the Lord made room for him and he became fruitful. This stream of giving up one's rights began with Abraham, continued with Isaac and flowed on finally into Isaac's grandson Joseph many decades later. This is the principle we must live by: “I won't fight or grab for earthly things. Let the world, and worldly Christians have what they want. I'll take what's left over. And from the leftovers, God will make room for me and I will be fruitful in the land.” those who grab Sodom and Gomorrah and it's wealth will remain barren. The way of the church is the way of giving up one's earthly rights, even as Jesus our Lord did. His kingdom was not of this world. Neither is ours.
The Biblical principle of ownership involves recognizing that all things ultimately belong to God, that He entrusts us with resources and responsibilities to steward for His glory, and that yielding our personal rights and expectations to Him helps us resolve irritations, anger, and worry.
Recognize That All Belongs to God
As the Creator of all things, God holds the certificate of ownership for the world and all the people in it. (See Psalm 24:1–2.) Christ’s ownership of His entire creation is emphasized in Colossians 1:16–17: “For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him. And he is before all, and by him all things consist.”
Those who have received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ are “doubly owned” by God, since Jesus purchased their redemption through His death and resurrection. “Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.” (I Corinthians 6:19–20).
Understand the Responsibilities of Stewardship
God is the Creator and Owner of all things, and along with the good gift of life, He entrusts resources to each person, including time, talents, relationships, and abilities. With every gift of God comes the responsibility to be a faithful steward of those resources.
For example, when granted the gift of family, a husband is responsible to love his wife and a wife is responsible to reverence her husband. Parents are responsible for training their children and caring for their physical, educational, emotional, and spiritual needs. Children are responsible to honor and obey their parents and other elders.
In all things, we are to fulfill our responsibilities for the glory of God. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31).
Identify Personal Rights and Expectations
In the areas of life where we have responsibilities, we also have personal rights and privileges—things we believe we deserve. Personal rights affect every facet of life: self, family, friends, knowledge, health, reputation, schedule, future plans, dating, money, clothes, music, activities, possessions, and so on.
Based on these rights, we construct expectations of others and of circumstances. Just because you are alive, you probably believe you have the right to be accepted as an individual, to express opinions, to earn and spend a living, to control your personal belongings, and to make decisions. You expect others to respect your rights and act in a way that fulfills your expectations. Consequently, we often overlook God’s ultimate ownership of all things and begin to take a personal interest in seeing that our rights and expectations are fulfilled. Then, instead of seeing rights and expectations as privileges and blessings that we might or might not receive, we cling to them selfishly.
When we don’t get something we think we deserve, our pride is wounded—anger and worry are our natural responses. Expectations are especially damaging within a family, since people tend to expect more of family members than they do of other people. They also may expect to “get away with” failing to fulfill responsibilities because of the family relationship.
A selfish focus sets us up for conflicts. “Among the proud there are always contentions . . .” (Proverbs 13:10). We become more concerned about defending our rights and expectations than we are concerned about fulfilling our responsibilities. When offenses arise, the other party may feel justified in his actions, based on expectations of his own that we failed to fulfill—because we were not faithful to our responsibilities.
Yield Rights and Expectations to God
Only as we yield our rights and expectations to God are we free to focus on fulfilling our responsibilities. God is not as interested in giving us what we “deserve” as He is in our recognizing that He is the Owner of all things and that He is able to work all things together for good. He may choose to withhold something you expected to receive in order to help you grow in maturity or to reveal more of Himself to you. By yielding our rights to God, we can respond to life with patience and teachable hearts.
Identify Personal Rights
Unresolved conflicts and irritations may indicate rights that need to be relinquished. Focus on areas of life where you have felt angry or worried. Discern your responsibilities in those areas, as well as the rights and expectations that you associate with them.
Yield Rights to God
Remember that God owns all things. Through the grace and strength God provides for you, embrace the responsibilities that God has entrusted to you, but surrender to God the rights and expectations that accompany your responsibilities. This deliberate surrender of your rights and expectations frees those around you from the prison of your expectations and removes the grounds of many conflicts.
Transfer Ownership to God
Give your rights and expectations to God. Trust Him to take good care of what belongs to Him. Remember that even if your hopes are not fulfilled, He is always able to work things together for good in your life.
Thank God for Whatever Happens
In Scripture, we are challenged to thank God in all things. When you surrender your expectations to God, you’ll have a new freedom to rejoice in all circumstances, knowing that God is in charge and that He will take care of you.
Surrendering your rights and expectations to God opens a whole new capacity for gratitude in your life. After all, if someone does something for you that you are expecting, you may not feel obligated to express gratitude. However, if you are not expecting anything, you will be delighted and your gratitude will bless others.
Resolve Anger and Worry
Don’t be surprised if surrendered rights are tested. As you consciously yield your rights to God, let go of your expectations, and learn to focus on your responsibilities instead of what you had expected from others, you might experience a challenging season in your life. Do not fear; God will sustain you, and His grace will be sufficient in your time of need.
When irritations arise, let the negative emotions of anger and worry motivate you to discern if there is an area of life that you haven’t fully relinquished to God’s control. Respond to your irritations with patience, trusting God to work out the situation for your good and for His glory—to develop your character, lead you to new opportunities, and help you mature in Christ.
Jacob started life as a grabber and he had to be converted before he could become Israel. These are some of the important principles that we find in the book of Genesis that apply tous even today. Look at the number of believers who are seeking for position and honor in Christendom. The very first qualification to be a Bishop is that you have no desire to be a leader because you are thoroughly convinced that you are not fit to be leader. We must allow the Lord to make room for us and to make us leaders. Then we will be fruitful. That is certain.