Rebekah & Isaac
We are continuing to look at some of the characters from Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible. This week we focus on Rebekah.
Heavenly Father be with us as we listen to your word and explore the lessons that we can learn from your people. Grow us in faith and discipleship so hat we too can follow your call on our lives and grow in love and the joy of life in your Kingdom. Amen.
Genesis 24 (abridged)
1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 Abraham said to his servant, ’Go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
10 Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all kinds of choice gifts from his master; and he set out and went to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor. 14 Let the girl to whom I shall say, ‘Please offer your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”
15 Before he had finished speaking, there was Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, coming out with her water jar on her shoulder. 16 The girl was very fair to look upon, a virgin, whom no man had known. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up. 17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me sip a little water from your jar.” 18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.
The servant asked her family if she could become Isaac’s wife…
55 Her brother and her mother said, “Let the girl remain with us a while, at least ten days; after that she may go.” 56 But he said to them, “Do not delay me, since the Lord has made my journey successful; let me go that I may go to my master.” 57 They said, “We will call the girl, and ask her.” 58 And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.” 59 So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah…
66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So, Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
What follows are a series of reflections from Rebekah’s point of view in this story. Maybe you’ll find some ways you can relate to her story.
Why should something like this happen to me? Seriously, it’s every girls dream. A man shows up laden with riches – jewellery, camels, servants, from a distant land. On behalf of a man so wealthy he didn’t have to come himself. The servant says his master is blessed, that God has given him flocks of sheep and goats, cattle, silver, gold, male and female slaves, camels, and donkeys. All I did was get him water.
The servant spoke of angels and blessings and exotic far off lands. It’s all so exciting.
Mum and, my brother, Laban wanted me to wait, they could see God was in this but didn’t want to say Goodbye. They asked me to wait a week, to stay, to think, to say our goodbyes more fully. But they said it was up to me.
The servant didn’t want to delay and neither did I, what girl could resist, all those gifts and the promise of a marriage to a blessed man with so much wealth.
No hesitation, Yes. Let’s go.
Mum and Laban even blessed me as I left.
A dream comes true.
Why should something like this happen to me? I waited a long time, 20 years, for this. We prayed I’d get pregnant, and now that I am it doesn’t feel as I thought it would. My body is as strange as this foreign land. My skin is so stretched I can hardly move, I think I’m as swollen as is possible and then it moves and bulges and wriggles and I think I will burst.
Walking feels like torture, my bones grind each other down, even to take a few steps causes me to double over like the ancient ones. How can it be that giving life feels so much like visiting death?
I feel so far from home, I wish my mum was here – did she feel like this when she carried me?
Other women seem to flourish through pregnancy. Glowing faces, radiant smiles, anticipation of all the joys. I just feel afraid, if this is how I feel carrying my child, will I survive birth?
I prayed to God, I asked him, ‘Why should something like this happen to me?’ But I don’t understand His answer.
Why should something like this happen to me? Of course, it was twins – makes sense of all the ways in which my body felt like it was going to pieces.
Everybody said, ‘How lovely, they’ll be the best of friends. How nice, they’ve got each other to play with.’
I just smile and nod… how little do they know, all they do is fight. Really, that is all they do – fight over space, over me, over their father’s favour. If one wants something, the other one wants it too. All they do is fight.
Is it me? Am I a bad mum? I don’t see anyone else’s children fighting, Laban and I were never like this. Have I let them down?
I am so ashamed, even if I tell them to come into the tent everyone can still hear them shouting, or worse the crashing as the knock things and each other over. I can hardly look the rest of the camp in the eyes. I only have one thing to do, mother these boys, and I can’t keep them safe from each other, let alone everything else. I feel like I’ve failed.
I thought pregnancy was tiring, my body felt like a stranger, but this is no different. I’m mentally and physically exhausted and if I get a moment of peace and quiet to rest it just makes me suspicious about what it is they are doing that I can’t hear them.
It doesn’t help matters that Isaac always takes Esau’s side, just because he’s older, stronger and, well, your typical alpha male doesn’t mean he’s always in the right. Jacob gets such a hard time of it physically that he’s starting to find coping strategies that worry me – tricks and lies to divert his brother and get his own way.
This is not what I thought family life would be. Doesn’t match up to the dreams of wealth and exotic lands when Abraham’s servant came looking for me. Maybe I should have thought longer about marrying a rich foreigner. I’m so far from home. All the people I can trust or ask for advice are way over the horizon.
Why should something like this happen to me?
Their bodies have grown and so has the distance between them. I hoped that age would bring them closer but if anything has driven them apart. Jacob’s twisted thinking has fractured our family completely, took devious to another level, bribing Esau with food until he gave him his birth right. And Esau is so entitled he takes his inheritance and everything it means so much for granted he gave it up for a bowl of stew without a moment’s thought. His dad won’t be able to sort it out for him so easily this time.
But there is a glimmer of beautiful hope in the middle of all this, Esau is getting married. I will have girls in the house to share life with and who knows, maybe grandchildren that won’t fight.
Why should something like this happen to me? Judith and Basemath, my daughters in law, are no better than my sons. Who would have thought it possible, these women are making life even harder – utterly impossible. Nobody treats me with any respect any more.
I was brought to this land with great honour and it’s all lost. Promises of a dream come true, which is now more of a nightmare. I’ve even had to send my beloved Jacob away.
Maybe I should’ve stopped him, but I love him so much it’s hard to tell him no. This time I guess we went too far. Isaac’s eyes and body are failing him and he wanted to bless his beloved Esau – Jacob’s devious ways lured me into planning with him and we tricked Isaac. No surprise really that Esau was livid. And Esau never did have any sense of boundaries, straight to death threats, and I believed him! I really thought he would kill Jacob.
So, Isaac is dying, Jacob is gone, and Esau hates me. God, where are you?
Rebekah with her young girl’s dreams that seemed to come true but slowly descend into a nightmare, bitterness and desperation, asks God where He is.
This is how I imagine He might answer.
I was there when:
... The servant travelled to find you, I guided him to your well and inspired you to care for him and his entourage.
... Your family rejoiced, let you go and entrusted you into my care.
... I was there and delighted when Isaac saw you, was struck by your beauty and loved you.
... Your heart ached for pregnancy that didn’t come as quickly or easily as for many of your friends – I heard your prayers and saw your tears.
... I was with you through the confusion & physical pain of your pregnancy, I ached with you and for you.
You may not have seen or perceived me but I was there when the boys fought, there when you helped Jacob deceive your husband and there when you had to send Jacob off. I was there but you had stopped looking for me, your back was turned.
I am still there, my presence is not just in the hopes and dreams but also the shadows, the tears, the groans. The disappointments, even the nightmares. I am still here. Sometimes you just need to open your eyes, sometimes you need to turn around and you might just glimpse me. I am still here.
You may have to let go of control. You may need to trust me. I am still here. I will always be.
I wonder if Rebekah’s story connects with your story?
I don’t imagine you had a rich servant arrive with camels and treasures, if you did then let us know, that would be a story worth hearing!
Maybe you aware of God connecting with you, calling you in one way or another. Perhaps you have heard God calling and responded. Maybe as you followed the path you were called on perhaps the expectation was of an amazing journey. God has called me, God has chosen me. Here I go!
Maybe like Rebekah it has not all gone as easily as expected. Maybe you have travelled a rockier road, hauled yourself up a harder climb and experienced a more difficult journey than you anticipated?
Maybe like Rebekah the difficulties make it harder to see where God is. Perhaps the challenges make it harder to get on with those around you.
It would be wonderful to think that God’s calling will always be feathery, light, beautiful and simple.
Following Gods call isn’t simple, it takes great faith, especially when following takes use through shadows and hardship.
Hopefully Rebekah’s story, the way I’ve imagined her reflections on her own life, shows it can be hard, can be difficult but that doesn’t mean you’ve got it wrong.
Jesus followed His calling, it brought him from heaven to earth. Jesus lived through friendships, family life, through betrayal, denial and the cross.
Jesus never gave up talking to God. His prayer life never waned. It was sometimes full of pain and sorrow, sometimes full of joy and hope. Whatever Jesus was going through, never gave up talking to His Father in heaven.
Where are we are we? Are we with Rebekah, lost, confused, unsure where God is. Or are we with Jesus, whatever we are going through we keep up our connection with God, keep talking and praying.
There is no judgment here, be honest, sometimes its harder than others to pray. Sometimes it is hard to discern where we are with God.
Take a moment. Ask God again what he is calling you to do for His Kingdom. Ask God to show you how to trust Him again. That you will see Him from the corner of your eye in the details of your life and ask Him to give you faith to be able to follow wherever He calls you.
Closing Prayers God of the past, accept the people we have been and the baggage we drag behind us.
God who was and is and is to come,
Be with us.
God of the present, accept the people we are now and the potential that lies within us.
God who was and is and is to come,
Be with us.
God of the future, accept the people we could be and by your Spirit transform us
God who was and is and is to come,
Be with us.
May God who was heal us from the hurts of our past.
May God who is dwell in us and renew our faith.
May God who is to come give us hope in the promises of faith.
And may the blessing of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you and those you love, now and always.