Community Group Study “Genesis: Isaac and Rebekah”
Read Genesis 24:1-67
Unexpectedly, Genesis 24 is the longest chapter in the book and it is all centered around Abraham looking to God to solve the problem of Isaac needing a wife. Given the various things we’ve seen in God’s story so far we would think that more of a focus would be given to things like the fall in Genesis 3, Abraham’s call to leave his homeland, even the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22 was only 19 verses long. What is God teaching and showing us about his character in Genesis 24?
We learn that God is kind and loyal in his love of his people. Genesis 24 uses the Hebrew word “Hesed” for times to describe God’s committed, covenantal and loyal love for Abraham. The word is a hugely important biblical word to talk about God’s relationship to his people as “steadfast love”, “loyal love”, “committed to his covenant love” or as the Jesus Story Book Bible says God’s “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love”. For the promise of God to be fulfilled, the blessing God gave to Abraham to make him a great nation, give them a place to call home and bring about a redeemer to bless the nations, has to carry on to Isaac, and from Isaac to his future son. For Isaac to have a son, he needs a wife. Abraham is at the twilight of his life and passes on to the next in Genesis 25:1, and he desires to see how God is going to provide or his promise before he dies. God could have moved forward his promise after Abraham had departed the earth, however, we see God’s steadfast love (Hesed) for Abraham is shown in tangible and physical ways, specifically his gift to give Abraham with a foreshadowing of what he will do with his future family.
As you read through the passage you’ll notice a few things. First, Abraham calls his servant to make a covenantal promise to him to go and find a wife for Isaac and specifically one from Abraham’s family line. This shows us that Abraham believed the promise of God and did not want his future family line of blessing to be intertwined with the Canaanites, because they worshipped gods other than Yahweh and God has already promised he’d remove the Canaanites from the land. This sends the servant on a 20+ day journey back to Mesopotamia and the city of Nahor. Second, you’ll notice the servant’s dependence on God throughout the story. He seeks God in prayer and sets up an elaborate challenge for the woman God would bring. She’d have to offer to water his camels as a means of knowing if this was from the Lord. You may have heard people use this passage before to talk about setting up similar tests to find your spouse with an application of “give God your wish list and wait.” Instead the take away should be us seeing and knowing that the life of faith is one of dependence and trust in God, the servant models this and points to that when discussing Abraham’s relationship with God. This means that the servant would not have succeeded if the Lord had not blessed him. Third, notice the servant sees this about God and 4 times in our text names it as God’s “steadfast love” (Genesis 24:12, 14, 27, 49). Which again is the Hebrew word Hesed, God’s committed love and promise not just to his plan but to care for his people.
As the chapter moves forward we see how God provides for Isaac and the future family he is creating in Rebekah. Rebekah has been foreshadowed a few times in Genesis. We first learn of her family line back in Genesis 11:27-30 and later she gets name dropped in Genesis 22:23. The text of Genesis 24 also points us forward to Jacob’s future conflict by introducing Laban. We can see in Genesis 24:30 and 24:53 that Laban is a greedy man; with only eyes for the rings and bracelets the servant gave Rebekah. We will see in Genesis 29 and beyond that Laban is a man ruled by a desire for money and profit.
What do we learn from Genesis 24? We learn that God’s steadfast love is seen in personal and practical means. God’s Hesed love moves forward his plan for Isaac to find a wife within Abraham’s lifetime so that the promise will continue and the blessing passed down. We also learn that God’s promise is generational. His plan unfolds as the promise is passed on from one generation to the next — from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob. Likewise today, God’s plan and his blessing in Christ is passed on from one generation to the next in the call to make disciples. Finally, we should be encouraged that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). God is the one who works out the detail, through the servants actions, to find and provide a wife for Isaac. It did not happen just because the servant had the right plan or worked hard or got lucky. It came because of God’s steadfast and faithful love to his people.
At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.
How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?
Read Genesis 24:1-9, Why is Abraham searching out for a wife for Isaac at this stage in the story? What clues do you get from the text to help answer that question? Why is he committed to finding a wife for Isaac from his family line and not from the people already in the promised land?
How did the servant model a dependence on God? Look at Genesis 24:12-14, 21, 26-28 to help answer this question.
Define “Hesed” based on this study guide, the sermon and online bible dictionaries. How does it fit into this story and why is it such a great way to describe God’s love? Feel free to use online tools like blueletterbible.org to help.
God’s goal is not just to make our lives happy and successful, but he does sprinkle in good gifts in the lives of his people. Why does God do this? How has he done this in your life and the life of the church?