Last week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian we continued our series of “Patriarchal Ponderings” and considered the account of Abraham being prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Our sermon from the day can be found here.
We move into less threatening territory this week … with an account of a search for a wife for Isaac. It's a long passage, that takes up the whole of Genesis chapter 24.
While there are many different aspects to the account, one thing that always strikes me, is that so much is dependent on the faith of a servant of Abraham who is never named. Throughout the whole chapter he is simply called “the servant.”
We discover a lot about the character of “the servant.” Early on in the chapter he is described as being a “senior servant in Abraham's household, the one in charge of all that he had.” (Genesis 24:2) In sending him off on his task to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham is committing his future into the hands of a man who was already taking good care of his everyday affairs.
The task begins with a solemn moment when Abraham takes the servant entirely into his confidence and has him swear an oath that he will do the right thing. The servant has many questions. “What if I find someone and they won't come back with me? What will I do with Isaac if no wife can be found?”
Abraham appears to suggest that such questions were irrelevant. He ensures the servant that God is with them and that they needed to trust God to fulfill God's purposes.
It can be quite a scary thing to have people place their trust in you. I do not envy this servants position nor would I like to have to take on his task. Where did he start? Where should he go? How would he know he had found the right person to be a wonderful wife for his masters son?
It quickly becomes clear that this servant is a man of prayer. Throughout the story, the servant is constantly seeking God as his guide. Indeed, you have the impression that without God's guidance, he hasn't got a hope of completing the task.
As the incidents unfold we see that God is guiding him in specific ways. Always there is room for things to go wrong, but … as the servant keeps on trusting... the unexpected keeps occurring. I recall one person telling me that, when they prayed about their life journey, coincidences kept happening. Such seems to mirror the experience of this servant.
And the outcome is that a wife is found for Isaac. A wife who fills him with delight and is delighted to be his partner. But what about the servant?
We never do find out his name or know what his future holds. His life is a testament to the many faithful people who surround our lives. Unnamed folk, who by their prayers and diligence to duty and commitment to doing the right thing ensure that life keeps moving in positive directions.
For some music, a gentle song called “Lead Me Lord” (by Aiza Seguerra). I imagine that prayerful words, such as these, were in the mind of the unnamed servant of Abraham.
Let us take some time today to thank God for all the unnamed people who have blessed our lives!
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.