Guidance (Eliezer & Rebekah Part 2) message by Lead Pastor Terry Brisbane. For more information, visit cornerstone-sf.org
We are focusing on heroes in this Heroes of Faith series. I’m not going to go back and uncover the things that we shared last week. This is the second part of a little three-part mini-series within the larger Heroes of Faith series. The focus of this three-part mini-series is finding a wife for Isaac. It is built around two people. Eliezer, who is a chief servant of Abraham’s household, and a remarkable young woman who will become Isaac’s wife, Rebecca. These two form the core focus. One of the things we know is that the desire of Abraham was Isaac, his son of promise, would have a wife. He sent his servant to find that wife. I was thinking about this because this week my wife and I celebrated our anniversary, August 4th. We were married right here, 32 years ago. I truly thank the Lord because I didn’t think I’d be married that long, to be honest. I love my wife. My wife loves me. There’s no perfect relationship. We have had our ups and downs. I think you have to keep reinventing your relationship to keep it vibrant and alive. That’s a very important thing to do. It’s unique.
If I was sharing, I would say that without the Lord, I know for sure we would not be married. We both came from broken homes. There’s a unique pain in having a relational breakdown. I get that. We never saw past our early teen years what it was like to have mom and dad together. This entire journey for us, which is hopefully going to continue for a little while, has been a grace adventure. If you can, keep us in your prayers and hopefully, we’ve got a long stretch ahead of us in life. Let’s look at Genesis 24. We’ll pick up right there. This is the prayer of Abraham’s servant, Eliezer. He’s made the journey on behalf of Abraham. He was hoping that this would be the moment he would find the woman that Abraham believed God would show him was going to be Isaac’s wife.
Eliezer prays, “Oh, Lord, God of my master, Abraham, please give me success today,.” I love this simple prayer. “would You show unfailing love to my master?” I love this, would you show unfailing love to my master, to my employer, to my friend, and my mentor? “See, I am standing here beside this spring.” Eliezer had gone from the land of Israel, east and north to the land of Abraham’s family in Mesopotamia. This would be the region known as modern-day Iraq. It was a city called Nahor. In Nahor, he went to a specific well, a place where the water was taken by the women at the close of the evening. He hoped that God would show him, in that moment, the woman he was going to appeal to consider marrying Isaac. Taking in the cultural differences, this would still be an amazing request.
Eliezer says, “See, I’m standing here beside this spring and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them to please give me a drink from your jug. If she says, yes, I have a drink, and then also adds, I will water your camels as well.” Remember, he came with a very small caravan of camels bearing a lot of gifts. A couple of servants were with him. He says, “Lord, would you let her be the one You’ve selected as Isaac’s wife? This is how I will know that You have shown unfailing love to my master.” It’s a simple and specific prayer. Picking up with verse 15, “It happened before he had even finished speaking, that behold, Rebecca, who was born to Betheul, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with a pitcher on her shoulder.” We see that while he was still speaking his prayer, at that very moment, Rebecca is crossing his path. While he’s praying, she’s walking past him.
God was working, as He so often does, on both sides of a divine appointment. I love that because there are many times where we come out of a conversation, we meet someone we weren’t planning on. This happened to me yesterday. I had this conversation and I walked out of that going, ‘wow, Lord, the last thing on my mind was to have this conversation. I wonder if it was You who set up these meetings for us.’ Maybe they’re happenstance. But when they focus on the things of God, I really wonder. I believe God sets up divine appointments and we’re meant to cross paths. We’re meant to talk. We’re meant to share the heart about who He is.
Eliezer goes on, “Now the young woman was beautiful. She was not married. She was on her way down to the well. She filled her pitcher and came up, the servant ran to meet her and said, “would you please let me drink a little water from your pitcher?” Maybe he’s thinking, ‘maybe this is her.’ She said, “Please, yes, drink, my lord. She quickly let her pitcher down to her hand and gave him a drink.” When she finished giving him a drink she said, and it was an extraordinary gesture of hospitality, “I want to draw water for your camels until they finish drinking. She quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.” To give camel’s water was an extensive amount of work. Have you ever seen a camel? Camels are deceivingly massive creatures. They’re desert automobiles if you think about it as they run on water. They can weigh as much as 1600 to 1800 pounds. They’re all over the Bible as well. The Asian variety has two humps. The Arabian camel has a single hump. Contrary to what anyone says, there is nothing you open up on the hump and pour water into it. It’s not a fill-tank. It’s a storage for fat in the hump. Camels can go a long way.
Camels are remarkably famous for being able to go about a hundred miles on a full tank of water. That is when they’re fully fueled with water. They can keep going under extreme conditions, carrying an exceptional amount of weight. They can carry between 400 and 600 pounds for a hundred miles without needing to refuel with water. It’s astonishing when you think about it. When they come to the end, they have to be filled back up. It takes about 30 gallons of water to fill the empty tank of a camel.
When she offers to go far beyond customary hospitality he immediately wonders if she is the one. You see the phrase here and I love the way it’s captured, “and the man wondering at her.” Eliezer’s wondering what’s happening because he’s tired. He’s been traveling and she’s offering water. We’re told that he’s wondering at her. It continues, “and remains silent as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.” He’s wondering, Lord, could this be the answer to that simple prayer I just uttered? He’s watching her work. He’s watching her do an extraordinary amount of hospitality. It’s a reminder to us that there are going to be times where we need to sit in silence and wonder with God a bit about what He might be doing in and around us. I think that we live in such a noisy time that it’s harder to do this. I don’t just mean physical noise. But, all the things we hear all the time with the life pace we have. We’re constantly bombarded. We live in a technology capital. We have so much access to information. It’s so easy to look something up now. Before it would’ve required a trip to an extensive library of books. You still had to know how to look for something. Now it’s just a few seconds of Googling to find information.
We constantly have entertainment things coming at us. It’s a constant bombardment of information. We live in a very noisy time. In the process of that noise, there will be times we have to be more intentional about creating space to listen in our lives and to listen for God. As all the benefits of our technology may bring us, they also bring challenges with them. Challenges that require us to have a pace that is intentional in creating room to hear God. Especially if we want relational and emotional health, mental growth, and to have that spiritual strength in our lives. It also means we’re going to have to listen to our lives better. It’s what we’re doing right now. That’s partly what we’re doing. We’re creating space in a very intense, energized, and noisy time of great adventure. We’re creating room to listen. There are times we just need to take a walk. Take a prayer walk and ask, “Lord what are you saying to me about my life right now?” We might have decisions to make. Maybe we have relational crises we have to work through. We need to know how to position ourselves. Maybe we have, as many of us do, unique situations in our jobs that require a delicate kind of wisdom. We may wonder if we’re capable of exercising that wisdom. What does it mean to walk with God, to trust God for His guidance? This is a big part of what I want us to see here.
Eliezer is wondering if this is indeed the woman God has designed for him to meet. Verse 21 says, “The man wondering at her to remain silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.” It says, “So it was when the camels had finished drinking that the man took a golden nose ring, weighing half a shekel.” That’s a big nose ring right there. Eliezer gave it to her. He took these two bracelets from her wrists weighing about 10 shekels of gold. There’s a lot of weight there. It was a gesture meant to impress her. He was saying that there’s something happening here and I want you to be aware of it. He asked, “Whose daughter are you, please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to lodge?” It was not an uncommon question. It might strike us as strange if someone asked us after we were nice to them in the restaurant or a coffee shop. In that culture, it was common to extend extensive hospitality. The idea of welcoming a guest into the town if you had the means was not as far-fetched as it might initially seem. “Would you have room? Is there room in your father’s house to lodge us?”
“She said to him, I’m the daughter of Betheul Milcah’s son, whom she bore to Nahor.” These names don’t mean anything to us, but Nahor was the brother of Abraham. It means that he has found Abraham’s relatives, the family that he was sent to connect with. “Moreover, she said to him, we have straw, feed, and room to lodge.” Yes, and we have room for you, please. You are welcome here. It says, “Then the man bowed down his head.” Eliezer’s first reaction is to get down and say, thank you, God. He gets down and worships God right there. He turns from wonder, as he’s pondering and looking at her wondering, could God answer my prayer that fast? Eliezer went from wonder to worship just like that. Clearly, God’s in it. It’s awesome when we have those moments. When doors open for us in such a way that we sense with astonishing certainty, God’s in this. Thank you. Eliezer said, “Blessed be the Lord, God of my master, Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master.” Verse 27 is a key verse. I would love for us to note it. He says, “As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”
I consider this verse critical because when it comes to guidance, just hold that phrase in your hip. As for me being on the way, the Lord led me. There is a truth here that God will not do for us what He has ordained for us to do. Eliezer is led as he is on his way. That speaks of cooperation and divine guidance as we walk down the path of obedience and trust. I find this to be true in life with God. He reveals His will as we do the will that He has revealed to us as we understand it. Many times we ask, what should I do? What does God want me to do? Which door should I open and walk through? I have these options. God will reveal His will.
It continues, “So the young woman ran and told her mother’s household these things. Rebecca had a brother whose name was Laban.” Uncle Laban. He’ll later become famous in a very different way. “Laban ran out to the man by the well, and so it came to pass. When he saw the nose ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrist,” They were obviously noticeable. “And when he heard the words of his sister Rebecca saying, this is what this man has been saying to me and sharing with me, that he went to the man,” He went to Eliezer, “and there, he stood by the camels at the well, and he said, listen, you are welcome here. Come in. Oh, blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside? I have prepared the house and a a place for the camels. Come on in.” Many people have noted that it’s amazing how hospitable Laban was when he saw all those rings and jewelry. He knew it was a wealthy guest and he was not a guy to miss a deal.
It says, “Then the man came to the house and he unloaded the camels and he provided straw and feed for the camels and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him,” the small contingent with the camels and goods that they brought, “food was set before Eliezer to eat…”, enjoy, relax, and look what he says. Then we’ll leave it here. Eliezer says, “I would love to eat the meal and take advantage of the hospitality, but I can’t, I have to tell you something. I will not eat until I have told you about my errand. If I do that first, then and only then will I feel comfortable to relax.” Laban says, well, then speak on, tell me your story. Tell me why you’re here. Eliezer says, ‘I’m not doing anything for myself until I finish the task and assignment I’ve been given.’ It’s a real example of fidelity and faithfulness. One of the best ways we can evidence our gratefulness to God is through the quality of our service. I’m talking about the way we value and handle our commitments. How we care for our sacred entrustments. We’re not perfect, but God does want us to be people who keep our word or who can make and keep commitments.
I was sharing last night and I know some of us come from backgrounds where we didn’t see commitment-keeping modeled. Some of us struggle to hold when we’re feeling the pressure, we break. We broke before. We’ll break again. God wants to teach us how to follow through when we make a commitment. Eliezer is an amazing model. He is so committed to his master’s interest that he will not indulge himself without first discussing the purpose for which he has come. He could, there’s nothing wrong with it. Why not just enjoy? I would love to, but I need to do what I committed myself to do. It was very important.
In a culture where everything is about selfies, self-aggrandizement, self-promotion, self-indulgence, self-gratification, and transactional relationships, where we both agree that we only get out of it what we want to get out of it and nothing more. In that kind of environment where people want to avoid unnecessary self-denial, here’s a man who says no to an opportunity because he’s committed to a higher purpose. It’s a great reminder for those of us who would follow the Lord and become the kind of people we are to aspire to be. That doesn’t mean we’re always going to be that way. But to be a person of excellence. When we’re committed to a higher purpose, it affects everything that we do. Our life with Jesus was not meant to be disconnected from how we work.
My children are older now. They’re working in environments where they’re now experiencing politics, maneuvering, people watching their backs, how you get the promotion, and who gets where, and it’s all who switches around. You get switched around. There are chess pieces here. I say, “One thing is you can’t control some of that. You can be wise. Here’s what I think you should do. What we can control is: ourselves, our attitude, our conduct, the quality of our work, and the way we work. We serve the Lord.” Our life with God is not meant to be disconnected to just an hour or two that we devote to our spiritual life and then it has nothing to do with our work life or our relational life. It’s meant to inform everything we do. That’s what Jesus was getting at. Jesus said, “Don’t just give me your offering at the temple, then your heart is in a whole other place all over the rest of your life. Don’t just appease me. I don’t want that.” In fact, Jesus made this statement. It probably bothers some people. He says, “If you’re going to give me an offering and then live however you want to live and disregard me, just keep the offering. I don’t need it. I want your heart. I want you to love me because if you love me, you’re going to want to represent me. What I say is going to matter. It’s going to affect how we do things.”
I look at this and think, “You know Lord, with this spirit of excellence, can you help us to be a people who are contending for things to be as good of a worker, manager, owner, or leader as we can be? Can we be honest and represent you well? Can we be people who are improving in our relational capacities? Can we do better? Can we work on our internal improvement? Can I grow? Can I think about what things I need to be restrained from? What things are toxic to me and what my blind spots are? What do I need your help to be more restrained from so that I can pursue the things that are better in my life? How can I get past the wounds of my past? How can I heal? How can I be a blesser?” This is the way of the Lord. We all need grace. How we serve matters. It shows up in how we live our lives. I say I love you, Lord. I say, I’m thankful, but it has to show up in the everydayness of our life. Not perfect, but a real desire.
This connects to the second piece here. I think it’s essential to thank God. Especially when our prayers are answered. What does Eliezer do, he gets down and starts worshiping God. He pauses. Many times we mark the things that don’t go our way, but we don’t always say thank you for little prayers that are answered. We say, “You know Lord, did I stop to even acknowledge you?” Thank you, Lord. Thank you for making a way for me. Thank you for this. Thank you for helping me here. Thank you. Did I thank You? Did I even think about You? Did I pause? I know I have stuff I can be upset with, but did I pause to say thank you for blessings that I don’t even deserve? Am I even looking for them? Did I say thank you for all your blessings known, unknown, remembered, and forgotten? I give you thanks. Every now and then we need to do that. All your blessings known, unknown, remembered, and forgotten. Pause to say thank you. Little prayers.
The last piece brings it full circle. This is where I really wanted to focus. The will of God often unfolds as we walk forward in faith and obedience. Just like the Lord led Eliezer. It’s a cooperative expedition. So it will be for us as we prayerfully commit ourselves this way. We must trust that He will lead us in the way we should go. As we do what we know we are to do with what we can see. This is a huge principle and I hope we can understand it. “As I was on my way the Lord led me.” There are a lot of things in the future that we say, “I don’t know how that’s going to work out. I can’t see.” We start wondering what we are going to do? Some of us are afraid of it. Some of us aren’t sure what to do. Some of us say, “I don’t know what God’s going to do. I can’t see that far.” The temptation is when we are afraid of something or can’t see how it’s going to work because it’s around the bend, is to stay where we are until we can see it. But he says, “As I was on my way, the Lord led me.” That implies the idea of active obedience, not passive obedience.
In other words, it’s not about waiting for things to unfold and become clear to us. Most of the time God wants us to be on our way. We walk in obedience. We walk in the path that we know. We focus on what we know He wants us to in this stage. As we move forward into that, we can trust Him with what’s ahead. It will unfold for us. God will show us. A lot of times we are paralyzed. We’ll say, “Well, I can’t, I need to be stronger or I need to know what’s going on before I can.” God’s saying, “Don’t focus there. Focus on what I’m asking you to do now, here with a little obedience.” Walk in that. As I was on my way, the Lord led me. This is a really critical piece because sometimes we get stuck. We forget that He wants us to keep moving. He doesn’t want us to close down and get paralyzed. In all our ways, acknowledge Him. He shall direct our paths. He will show us the way we should go. This is true for our life. This is true for what’s ahead of us. A lot of times we wonder, “Well, how’s this or that going to work out? Or when’s this going to happen?” We say, “Move in the direction you know is right. Focus on the things that you can focus on in the now. Move towards something and trust that as you’re doing the things you know you’re supposed to be doing, God will open up the path.”
I will show you a great verse that some of us may want to hold onto in the coming weeks. This is from Job. It connects. It says, “Then you will take the light in the Almighty and look up to God. You will pray to Him. He will hear you. You will fulfill your vows to Him.” That is, you accomplish what you’ve committed yourself to do. You’ll do it. You will succeed in whatever you choose to do. Look at that phrase “and the light will shine on the road ahead of you.” I know it sounds so similar, but this is a powerful truth wrapped in simplicity that can help us big time.
As we walk towards things, the light will shine ahead of you as you walk for he says, “Take the light in the Almighty.” Look to God. Love God. Look towards Him, pray, ask Him, He’ll hear you. As you walk in this way, you’re going to find that He will shine the light on the road ahead of you. He’ll show you. Some people say, “I don’t know what the future holds for me. I don’t know how I’m going to handle this. I’m going to know how it’s going to be. I made this decision. I don’t know how it’s going to end” Don’t worry. Don’t be anxious. Let’s not do that. There are a lot of things out there. I tell myself, Lord, I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t want to let you down. I don’t want to let the people I love down. I feel weak in this area. I’m scared. Help me to have courage.
The Lord will remind us to focus on what we know. Focus on what I’m asking you to do now. Then walk, I’ll show you the way. I’ll take care of you. I’ll open up the path. You’ll see it. When we get there, what you focus on is what you know. That’s huge. That path will open. A lot of times what it reminds us of is that as we take the light in Him, He’s going to illuminate our way. What a promise, what a gift. Though the way sometimes is steep. Sometimes it’s dark. Sometimes it’s emotionally perilous and difficult to climb. He will show us the way as we walk forward in the light that He gives us in your word. The psalmist says, “is a light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet.” You will show me the way.
Let’s pray about this together. We’ll have our closing time of giving and the song that we are going to connect to. Lord, in this simplicity of your truths, our life to us, it’s about slowing down and creating space. We’re so busy and have so much noise, so much mental clutter, and emotional clutter that we can’t even hear. We’re not listening to our lives. We’re not listening for You. Help us. Help us, please. For others, it has to do with having gratitude in our hearts to mark the moments, to be aware and have discerning eyes like You had, to see things that we would otherwise miss, to say thank you more. Of course, this idea of how to trust You with things we can’t see that are ahead of us when we have to make calls, decisions, and choices. How do I make the right ones? How do I know what the best path is? Lord, many times, it’s about learning to trust You and to walk faithfully with what we do know, with faith, believing as we do that and move towards things, You will unfold Your will for us. You’ll make the path clear. You’ll shine your light for us. If some of us are filled with perplexity right now, help us to have more faith in You, even as we focus on what we know now. What does it look like to be obedient in the now, at the same time trusting You for what’s ahead. Give us that place. Give us that ability as I was on the way the Lord led me. I ask for Your blessing and grace over all of us. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.