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God’s Faithful Providence

Transitions can be difficult, whether it’s a move to a new home, life after the death of a loved one, or the transfer of the family business. Today’s Scripture presents a challenging transition for Abraham and Isaac.

In the previous chapter Abraham’s wife, Sarah, had died, and now the challenge was clear. Isaac needed a wife from his own people who would be willing to come to Canaan. Without a wife, the promise of descendants would fail. But if Isaac left Canaan to find a wife elsewhere, God’s promise of the land would be in jeopardy. Abraham understood the situation well, and commissioned his servant to travel back to Haran to find a wife for Isaac.

Details in the unfolding narrative highlight the faithfulness of those involved. Abraham held firm to the promise of both descendants and land. The servant demonstrated faithfulness to Abraham in carrying out his mission, and trust in God through prayer. The text also shows us the virtue of Rebekah through her service and hospitality to Abraham’s servant and her unhesitating obedience to God’s call upon her life.

But underlying the whole story is the faithfulness and providence of God. No amount of human ingenuity could orchestrate the outcome so perfectly. The servant ended up at just the right well, at just the right time. Rebekah appeared out of nowhere in answer to a prayer. Then we discover that she was actually related to the family of Abraham and Isaac! The providential experience of the servant was so remarkable that Scripture relays it twice in one chapter. The servant’s own words capture well the theological point of the chapter: “Praise be to the LORD . . . who has not abandoned His kindness and faithfulness to my master” (24:27).

Apply the Word

What transitions do you or your church face? Is your focus on the coming problems or the faithful providence of the God who provides? In prayer today, hand over to God the fear and uncertainty of change. Ask for a stronger faith in God’s hand, using the words of Abraham’s servant: God does not withhold His love and faithfulness.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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