Day 34: “Do not take my son back there”

Before you read: Sarah has died and is buried in a cave in a field purchased by Abraham. That field is the only land Abraham owns in Canaan.

Read Genesis 24:1-20

God answered the servant’s prayer. Rebekah is from Abraham’s family – his brother’s granddaughter – and she makes the exact offer the servant had asked God for.

But why does it matter so much who Isaac marries anyway?

Especially, why can’t he marry a Canaanite? Abraham has lived there a long time. The Canaanites know him. Isn’t he practically one of them?

Ah, but he’s not.

He’s chosen by God for something else: to be head of a whole other nation, one that doesn’t even exist yet, except in the seed of Isaac. If Isaac were to marry a Canaanite, he would be absorbed into their nation.

That’s not what God wants.

He’s making something new, something all His own.

God is being exclusive.

He doesn’t want His circumcised, special people – the family of Abraham – to mix with any other people.

This will be a theme through the whole first part of this Big Story.

It’s a huge problem for many readers today. We are very concerned about inclusiveness.

God doesn’t seem to be.

Not yet, anyway.

But strangely, though he doesn’t want Isaac to marry a Canaanite, he does want him to stay on Canaanite land. “Do not take my son back there.” He doesn’t want Isaac going back to Haran, where Abraham’s people are.

Two parts of the big promises God made to Abraham were: I will make a nation of you (so don’t intermarry with these people), and I will give you this land (so don’t go back where you came from).

But there is a third part: I will bless the whole world through you.

Ah.

Notice how the servant prays, “Lord, God of my master Abraham …”

He’s learned to know this God through the way God has dealt with Abraham.

He’s seen enough and heard enough that he’s willing to reach out himself, even though he is only a servant, even though God hasn’t spoken directly to him. It’s enough that he has seen God work though Abraham.

“Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way.”

They danced together, God and Abraham, and it was beautiful – so beautiful it inspired the servant to reach for God, too.

With God, the exclusive relationship becomes a powerful invitation.