In 1989 we did an extended tour of Eastern Europe in our VW Camper which included a very memorable time in Poland. Two days before we left the UK a friend gave us an address of a Christian family in southwest Poland and told us that they would love to see us. With that in mind we added Bibles to our luggage along with various food stuffs such as tea and coffee which we understood were very scarce in Poland at that time. But how would we find one address in a place we had never visited in a country whose language we could not speak? We clearly prayed generally about our whole trip but I don’t recall praying specifically that we might find this ‘needle in a haystack’!?
We reached the town with the address on a piece of paper looking for any clues that might lead us to our hoped for destination when a word of the address appeared on a street sign. God had, I surely believe, brought us to the place! Our memories of that visit are memorable indeed. We were welcomed with love and hospitality, fed richly (to our embarrassment as food was scarce) and when we departed we were given gifts – not a bride for our son who was yet to young but with wonderful memories of Christian love and friendship across cultural borders.
Chapter 24 of Genesis begins with a father’s concern for his son. Abraham, mindful of the great and precious promises God has made to him is very aware of the short time he has left on earth. He is v.1 ‘old and well advanced in years’ and he has with great sadness already buried his wife, Sarah. He knows that it is Isaac, the child of promise, who will continue the family line and therefore be instrumental in the promises being fulfilled. So he takes appropriate action!
He calls his chief servant and gives him detailed instructions about seeking a wife for Isaac who must not be from among the Canaanites in whose land he is currently living. There must be no marriage outside of the line of Seth – a prohibition that is often repeated in the pages of scripture. The line is to be kept pure!
The servant heads off at his master’s bidding and arriving at his destination he prays. V.12-14 and his prayer is answered to the letter as all the markers he sought are revealed one by one and he is welcomed into the home of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. The young lady to whom God guided him at the well, Rebekah, agrees to accompany him back to Beersheba where Abraham and Isaac were living and she becomes Isaac’s wife.
Such ‘arrangements’ may seem strange to us as we observe the state of marriage in our own time but surely there are things to learn from this account.
The whole exercise was conducted in the light of God’s promises.
The servant carried out his duties in a spirit of prayer seeking God’s guidance
And present but less importantly
There are hints of things we have in current Christian Marriage services
Note v.57 – Will you go with this man? And her reply ‘I will go’ and the use of the Veil v.65
Marriage is a very precious ordinance put in place by God himself and there is thus a responsibility placed on Christian people to hold it in high regard and demonstrate what it should be. Sadly though, like Isaac and Rebekah as we shall see, we don’t always get it right with inevitable consequences. However we must never lose sight of the truth that God is a gracious and merciful God and when we bring our failures to him he is ready to forgive.
So there is a challenge to those who are privileged to be married to live our married lives to the Glory of God.
There is a challenge to those who seek a wife or husband to do so in the light of God’s Word.
There is a challenge to those who have the precious responsibility of teaching young people what Christian Marriage is so that it is held in high esteem, again to the glory of God.