READ: Genesis 23-24
BACKGROUND: These 2 chapters advance the narrative of Abraham and his family. It is obvious that the culture they’re living in is different than our own, but this is a cool story of God’s providence.
23:4 – Abraham was in the land that God had promised to give his descendants, but he didn’t own or rule it yet. He just lived there.
9 – Abraham wanted to just buy the cave, but Ephron wanted to sell him the whole plot of land the cave was on. This was partially motivated by Hittite law that Ephron still had to pay all the taxes on the land if Abraham only owned the cave.
15 – This is a healthy price for the field.
19 – Eventually, not only Sarah was buried here. Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, & Leah were all buried in this cave as well.
24:2 – “Under my thigh” is a real awkward place to put your hand unless you’re a quarterback taking a snap from the center. But strangely enough, in that culture (and in some cultures still today) that’s where you put your hand when you swore an oath. It may have been a symbol that the offspring would avenge the oath if the other party failed.
3 – The Canaanites were pagans.
4 – This is approximately a 500 mile journey.
14 – Watering 10 camels was a lot of work!
15 – Rebekah was Abraham’s grand-niece. Which makes her some sort of 2nd-cousin to Isaac. Again, weird, but a different culture than ours.
22 – That is some serious bling! At the current price of gold that’s around $10,000 worth of jewelry.
53 – The gifts given to her family functioned kind of like a dowry. They proved that the groom-to-be was had the necessary funds to support her.
55-57 – Rebekah’s family wanted time to get used to the idea of her leaving, but the servant reminded them that God had been clear.
THINK: Trajectory: [truh-jek-tuh-ree] noun, plural tra·jec·to·ries. 1. the curve described by a projectile, rocket, or the like in its flight. Example: The ball Mike hit in his softball game tonight did not have the proper trajectory to clear the fence as it’s trajectory took it directly to the glove of an outfielder. 🙂
The trajectory of a rocket is the path it will follow on the basis of its shape and speed and weight and direction. You can know ahead of time where it’s going if you understand its trajectory. That’s the way it is with God’s Word. The Bible does not give us a detailed description of God’s will for our lives. But if we listen carefully and study its shape, and speed, and weight, and direction, we will see trajectories that give guidance and strengthen faith. Let’s see how this worked for Abraham.
Sometimes God spoke to Abraham directly and made his will unmistakably clear. But as far as we know from Genesis, those times were few and far between. Most of the time it seems Abraham had to trace out for himself his own trajectories of obedience from what God had said and done in the past. I think that is what’s happening in Genesis 24:1-9.
Three trajectories from God’s Word combine to show Abraham what God’s will is at the present time. The first trajectory is that Isaac, his son, must have a wife. Second, the wife may not be taken from the Canaanites. Third, Isaac may not return to the land which Abraham had left. As Abraham ponders these three trajectories of God’s Word, he sees them merge into a single line of decision. The decision is: I will send my trusted servant to find a wife for my son among my own kindred and in my own land, and he will bring her back. Abraham determines what the will of God is by forecasting where the trajectories of God’s past revelation are leading. And Abraham is so confident that this is God’s will, he says to his servant in verse 7, “God will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son.” Once we know the will of God, we can have tremendous confidence that God will use his supernatural power to overcome obstacles for those who aim to do it.
I think most of us here want that very much. We want to be able to project God’s will for our lives into the future from the trajectories we have seen in the past. We want questions answered about marriage, and children, and job changes, and major purchases, and schooling, and the use of leisure time, and involvement in special ministries, and church affiliation, and what percentage of our income to give away, and on and on. And we want to enjoy that same confidence Abraham did—that when we aim to do God’s will, he will send his angel before us and overcome the obstacles. We want to be led by God, and we want to be led in triumph.
We discover God’s will for our lives from the trajectories of his Word, and God really does work powerfully for those who aim to do his will. He sends his angel before them. There are serious implications to be drawn from the fact the we discern God’s will from the trajectory of his Word. It means that if you are really serious about wanting to do God’s will, you will become a meditative student of his Word. I say meditative because it’s not just memorized facts that we need. It is a knowledge of trajectories. And we get that by asking: What’s the point of this? Where does that lead to? Why did he say this? Where is he heading here? What does this imply? To ask those questions prayerfully is to meditate. If you are not spending much time in meditative study of God’s Word, then probably doing God’s will on earth is not the passion of your life. And if you ever ask the question, “What is God’s will?” you probably get very confused. – Thoughts adapted from John Piper 8-8-82
ASK: Do I constantly struggle to figure out what God’s will is for me? What is one practical step (hint: the answer to this question is studying the Bible) that I could take to be able to understand his will better? When & how am I going to take that step?