Isaac Takes a Wife: God’s Promises Continue

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  • a woman from Abraham’s family
  • a wife chosen by God
  • a legacy to help carry on God’s promises to Abraham

KEY VERSES

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. —1 John 5:14

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. —Proverbs 3:5-6

PROLOGUE

Isaac stood looking over his field, thinking about many things. His mother—who so often had told him the story of his miraculous birth—had died, and he missed her. For 37 years he enjoyed her love and attention, and now she was gone. No more would he hear the excitement in her voice as she exclaimed time and time again, “Imagine me, an old woman, long past the age of bearing, and your father even older, blessed by the wonderful, all-powerful Lord. It was He who gave us you, Isaac, our miracle son of promise!” And he would remember.

“It was He who gave us you, Isaac, our miracle son of promise!”

The sounds of bleating sheep and goats stirred memories of a different nature. Of sacrifices and near-sacrifices when the Lord tested his father Abraham’s faithfulness in a particularly shocking way. And of how relieved and extremely grateful he felt when the angel of the Lord stepped in at the last minute and provided a ram to become a burnt offering instead of Isaac himself! That, too, he would always remember, especially the blessing and promise that resulted: “Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice’” (Genesis 22:15-18).

Abraham had one last, very important thing to do before he died. Isaac must have a wife.

Isaac knew his father was nearing the end of his days, and true to His word, the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. Isaac would not only inherit his father’s vast wealth, he would also become the next link in passing on the Lord’s amazing promises to Abraham’s descendants. But before that happened, Abraham had one last, very important thing to do before he died. Isaac must have a wife.

STORY AND STUDY

(This story is found in Genesis 24.)

The faithful servant listened carefully to every word as his master spoke: “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac” (Genesis 24:2-4).

The man knew his master well. He had served Abraham longer than anyone in the household and was so trusted that his master had made him chief steward, responsible for everything the wealthy man had. Now he was being given perhaps the most important task of all: bringing back a bride for young Isaac. Sheep he knew. Goats he knew. Directing the affairs of Abraham’s estate he knew. But what did he know about selecting a bride?!

“What if she won’t come?” the servant asked. “What then? Should I take Isaac himself to Mesopotamia to choose a bride?”

“Absolutely not!” the old master quickly responded, looking him straight in the eye.

“‘The LORD God of heaven ... will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.’ So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter” (verses 7-9).

You see, this bride had to fit into God’s plans and promises.

How will I know?

The chief steward and his men started the long journey to Mesopotamia with 10 camels carrying provisions and gifts for Isaac’s future bride and her family, whoever she might be. Each day the trusted servant wondered how he would know which young woman would be the right one.

Finally the caravan reached its final destination: the city of Nahor. They stopped to rest, a group of tired, dusty herdsmen and 10 thirsty camels. What happens now? the servant wondered as he dismounted and stood by the local well.

Before he was even done praying, a young woman appeared with a pitcher on her shoulder.

Remembering Abraham’s assurance that the Lord God would send an angel to direct his way, he decided to pray. What he needed was divine guidance. He prayed, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master” (verses 12-14). Before he was even done praying, a young woman appeared with a pitcher on her shoulder.

The beautiful Rebekah

He watched silently as she went down to the well, filled her vessel with water, and came back up. Could she be the one? Quickly he approached her and asked, “Please, may I drink a little water from your pitcher?”

“Please drink, my lord,” the beautiful young woman replied. After he had drunk his fill, she began drawing water for all of his camels as well. The Lord was answering his prayer in just the way the servant had requested. Now only one question remained. Would she be willing to leave her home and family to marry Isaac and live in a foreign land?

Pause for thought: How much water do you think a thirsty camel could drink? One gallon? Ten gallons? Thirty gallons? NationalGeographic.com says that a very thirsty camel can drink 30 gallons of water in only 13 minutes! Imagine how many trips the young woman made to the well and back to satisfy the thirst of 10 camels. (If you would like to see camels drinking, go to YouTube and search for “camels drinking water.”) What does this action tell you about the type of person Rebekah was? Choose one or more of the following characteristics and explain your choice(s). Do you think Rebekah was shy, polite, lazy, weak, helpful, strong, grumpy, energetic?

Meeting the family

The servant gave the young woman a golden earring and gold bracelets, the first of many gifts for an intended bride, and then asked, “Whose daughter are you? Would your family have room for us to lodge for a time?”

Rebekah quickly responded, “I am Rebekah. My father is Bethuel, Nahor’s son. And we have plenty of room and food for you and your men and straw for your camels.”

Once more the Lord’s hand was evident, and the servant bowed his head and prayed, “Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren. So the young woman ran and told her mother’s household these things” (verses 27-28).

Pause for thought: Turn in your Bible to Genesis 22:20-23. Who is Nahor? What relation is Rebekah to Abraham? God was ensuring that His promises would stay in Abraham’s family and benefit his descendants. Do you remember why Abraham received these promises? It all started in Genesis 12:1-2.

As they neared the family dwellings, Rebekah’s brother Laban came out to meet them, offering them food and lodging and care for their animals. Noticing the jewelry his sister wore, Laban knew this visit signaled a possible marriage. He was excited at the prospect because Rebekah had never been married before, and this would truly be a cause for great joy in her family.

After Abraham’s servant and his men enjoyed the customary washing of feet after a long journey, he got right to the point. He didn’t even take time to eat because he knew his master was waiting and this mission needed to be accomplished. He told the family about Abraham’s material blessings from God; about the miraculous birth of his son, Isaac; about Abraham’s desire to see Isaac married before he died; and about how the Lord had directed the travelers directly to Abraham’s clan in Nahor. “Your sister appeared just as I had asked of the Lord, offering me water and watering my thirsty camels as well. Surely she is the one He has selected for Isaac.” He continued, “Tell me now, will you agree to this marriage?”

Laban and Bethuel did not hesitate. “The thing comes from the LORD; we cannot speak to you either bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken,” they responded (verses 50-51).

“Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands; and may your descendants possess the gates of those who hate them.”

The servant gave Rebekah jewels of silver and gold, beautiful clothing—gifts for the future bride—and precious things to Laban and her mother. One last thing sealed the marriage arrangement: Rebekah agreed to leave her family and her country to become Isaac’s wife. There was a great celebration and afterwards the party readied itself for the return trip to Canaan, but not without a blessing for the departing Rebekah: “Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands; and may your descendants possess the gates of those who hate them” (verse 60).

Once on the caravan route back, the faithful servant could only feel satisfaction that his task was almost accomplished. He thought about the family’s parting blessing for Rebekah and how very similar it was to one the Lord gave to his master Abraham—the blessing which would be passed on to Isaac and then to his son. (Remember the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 22:17?)

Isaac has his wife

Isaac was in his field meditating when he heard the tinkling of camel bells from his father’s returning caravan. He peered through the growing dusk, happy to see Abraham’s chief steward and thankful that he had not returned empty-handed. A travel-weary Rebekah watched curiously from her camel perch, taking in all the unfamiliar sights and sounds and smells of what was to become her new home.

The Bible says, “Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel; for she had said to the servant, ‘Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?’ The servant said, ‘It is my master.’ So she took a veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (verses 64-67).

Conclusion

Faith plays a big part in this story. Remember the study on “Abraham and the Amazing Promises”? God tested Abraham and found him faithful. God promised that over time Abraham would become a great nation, and Abraham believed. God performed a miracle and Isaac was born. God tested Abraham and found that his trust did not waver. The servant accepted his task to find a wife for Isaac and prayed to the Lord God for guidance, refusing to trust his own judgment. God answered.

Now the stage is set as Isaac and Rebekah become the next link in the chain of promises God gave to Abraham and his descendants. They will have their share of trials and testing, to be sure. Will God remain true to His word? That is a story you won’t want to miss, and it continues with their sons Esau and Jacob.

QUESTIONS

1. Knowledge

Abraham instructed his servant not to choose a wife for Isaac from which group of people? How many camels did the servant have in his caravan?

2. Comprehension

What qualities of Rebekah do you think made her God’s choice to become Isaac’s wife?

3. Connections

Many people feel that Rebekah was brave when she chose to leave her home and go to a foreign land to become Isaac’s wife. What about the following people? Were they brave when faced with going to another place? If your answer is yes, explain why. If your answer is no, explain why not.

  • Lot’s wife (Genesis 19)
  • Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 13)
  • Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3)

DISCUSSIONS

Have you ever been given an assignment by someone you really liked, someone who trusted you? What does it mean “to trust” someone? Did that trust make you nervous? Did you worry that you didn’t quite know how to accomplish what was asked of you without some outside help? What did Abraham’s servant do? How did it work out? Following the servant’s example, what would you do first before tackling the assignment? After you have successfully completed the task?

ACTIVITY

Spinner Review Game

Supplies:

  • a blank sheet of unlined paper
  • a pencil
  • one paper clip

Directions:

This game can be played with teams or individuals.

Parent or child draws a large circle and draws lines to divide it into desired number of sections as though cutting a pie in wedges.

In each section have one team write a question taken from the story, being careful not to give away the answer to the other team. Place the paper clip over where the lines intersect (in the center) and hold the point of the pencil inside the paper clip at the point of intersection. Have the child/children/team spin the paper clip around the pencil point, then release and answer the question on which the paper clip lands.

Decide on a reward for the most correct answers given.

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