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Isaac and Rebekah Continue the Legacy
Fall Quarter: God’s World and God’s People
Unit 2: God Destroys and Re-Creates
Sunday school lesson for the week of October 28, 2018
By Dr. Nita Crump
Lesson Scripture: Genesis 24:12-21, 61-67
Key Verses: Genesis 24:61
To appreciate that we must respond to God’s call with affirmation to fully enjoy God’s blessings.
Often, when folks think of being called by God, they think of being called into pastoral ministry. Every pastor has a story to tell of his or her call, of the way they responded, and of life since that response. In my case, I was called to preach at the age of 17 while leading a UMYF sub-district meeting. I spent the next 17 years patiently explaining to God why that just wasn’t going to work. I had help from two well-meaning Methodist preachers who explained to me why being in ministry was so very difficult for women and why I really should consider doing something else. When I finally responded in the affirmative to God’s call to ministry, I felt like the world was finally right in a way that I had not anticipated. Sometimes I look back and wonder what life would have been like had I answered the call at the age of 17. Everything that happened to me during those 17 years has been used by God for the good of his kingdom. But I sometimes wonder what good I might have accomplished for him had I said yes much earlier. Since there’s no going back, those thoughts really have no purpose except to underscore the need to respond positively to God sooner rather than later.
In this story, we find times when people responded positively to God’s call as it was shared with them by other people. We already know how Abraham responded when God called him to leave his homeland and go where he was sent. In this story, God works through Abraham’s servant and Rebekah to provide for Isaac and continue the fulfillment of God’s promise to make Abraham the father of many.
First, the servant is called to go and find a bride. Abraham has a specific type of bride in mind and gave the servant specific instructions as to where to go and what to do. What if the servant had said no? I’m sure he wasn’t Abraham’s only servant. There were probably others who would have taken on the task. But would they have done it so faithfully and so well? Would they have been as loyal to Abraham, and because of that loyalty, as instrumental in doing the work created by God of being a step in the process to fulfill his promise to Abraham? Someone would have managed the task if this servant had said no, but the servant would have missed the joy of serving both Abraham and God as he traveled to find a bride.
The servant made the journey and asked God to work within certain requirements so that he would know for sure which of the young women of the settlement he needed to consider as the bride for Isaac. Rebekah fulfilled the requirements. She did so quickly and without complaint. Not only did she let the servant drink, she watered his camels until they had enough. This was not an easy undertaking. Water for several camels meant many, many trips to the well. One estimate was that it would have taken 80 to 100 jars of water to provide for the camels. 100 trips down into the spring and back up with water. She wasn’t stupid. She knew how much work it would be before she started. She offered care without concern for the cost to her.
Once the servant felt assured that she was the right bride for Isaac, he spent the night with her family. After a few hours to consider the situation and one night to prepare to leave her family forever, Rebekah was ready to leave everything behind and go where God sent her to be Isaac’s wife. Rebekah eagerly responded to God’s call through the work of the servant. Again, she responded without thought to the cost to her.
What if Rebekah had said no? Consider these facts. The servant was a stranger. She had no way of knowing if what he told her about who he represented was the truth. She had no way of knowing if the stories he told about Abraham and his possessions and family were true. She could have stayed home in familiar surroundings with the family she knew. Despite these potential concerns, she was willing to take a step of faith and leave with the servant. Think of what she would have missed had she said no. She would have missed being a part of the unfolding story of God’s relationship with his people.
All through scripture we find stories of people willing to drop everything and either go where God was sending them or follow where God was leading. What about you? What has God called you to do? Have you said yes? If not, why not? If you tell God yes, you will be blessed to be an integral part of the work he’s doing. If you tell him no, what blessing will you miss?
(Information in this lesson was drawn from The New Application Commentary, Genesis, From biblical text…to contemporary life
, John H. Walton, p 522 - 541 and the Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Bible Studies, Uniform Series, International Bible Lessons for Christian Teaching.
Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.