For some, marriage is a blessed estate. Their prayer for their children is that they might experience the same joy of holy matrimony.
For others, marriage is hell. There is no one who has harmed them more than their spouse, and they wouldn’t wish that misery upon anyone. For them, marriage is a sacred institution, but who wants to commit themselves to living in an institution for the rest of their days on earth.
Undoubtedly, finding a spouse is the second most important decision in life. So how ought one find their soul mate? How ought parents assist their children in making such a lifelong commitment? Lessons can be gleamed from the approach of Abraham presented in Genesis 24.
First, Abraham and Sarah pursue a spouse for Isaac. As parents, they are committed to the well-being of their son, and they put forth incredible effort in this regard. Some might find this parental involvement to be only an ancient cultural practice, but there is a transcultural principle. Parents should be involved in the finding of spouses for their children. For sure there should be prayer, and then there should be the impartation of wisdom. No one should know the individual to be engaged and married better than the individual’s father and mother. No one should love them more, and no one should have invested more into their life. Sometimes, the godly parent knows their son and daughter better than their son and daughter know themselves. In all of lie, godly parents are best situated to give the best wisdom to their beloved sons and daughters, and they should work diligently to set their child up for marital success. And in the process, godly children should honor the position and wisdom of their parents.
Second, Abraham involves the covenant community in pursuance of a bride for his son. Because Abraham is very old, he is unable to make the long journey to his former homeland, so he trusts his dear servant, friend, and fellow-worshiper to assist in this sacred mission. How blessed are those individuals who have like-minded believers praying, seeking, counseling, and encouraging their courtship, engagement, and marriage. The wise couple will value the wisdom of both their birth family and their church family.
Third, Abraham and his servant seek and trust in divine assistance. They are men of faith and prayer, and they place great confidence in the providential guidance of the Angel of the Lord. And who is this Angel of the Lord?
- The same angel that spoke to Hagar by the spring in Genesis 16 and Genesis 21.
- The same angel that spoke to Abraham at the slaying of his son Isaac in Genesis 22.
- The same angel that will speak to Jacob in Genesis 31.
- The same angel that wrestles with Jacob in Genesis 32. (Hosea 12)
- The same angel that Jacob prays to bless his sons in Genesis 48.
- The same angel that will appear to Moses in the burning bush of Exodus 3. (Acts 7:35 God Himself)
- The same angel that led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Promise Land, in Exodus 14, 23, 33 and Num. 20.
- The same angel that spoke the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. (Acts 7)
- The same angel that executed judgment by killing rebellious members of Israel. (1Cor. 10:10)
- The same angel that spoke to Balaam in Numbers 22.
- The same angel that called various persons to office in the books of Judges and Kings… Gideon, Samson, Elijah
- The same angel that was about to destroy Jerusalem due to David’s sin in 1 Chronicles 21.
- The same angel that fought on behalf of Hezekiah and Israel against Sennacherib and the Assyrians (2Chr. 32; Is. 37).
- The same angel that enjoyed the sauna with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3.
- The same angel that shut the mouths of the lions in Daniel 6.
- The same angel that gave the prophetic visions to Zechariah.
Abraham and his servant are not placing their trust in some Precious Moments wedding planner but in the Sovereign God of the Universe. May we as courtiers, parents, and church members be actively in seeking the wisdom and guidance of God. May we be found supplicating often for our own marriages and marriages yet to be consummated.
Fourth, Abraham sees marriage as worship. He realizes his son is on loan from God, and therefore he is not first interested in finding a wife that pleases himself, Sarah, or even Isaac. Abraham’s primary objective is to secure a spouse for his son that will please the Heavenly Father and assist Isaac in his future worship. May the same attitude be found in the church of Jesus Christ today. May we place agape love for God well ahead of phileo, eros, and even agape love for man and woman.
Fifth, Abraham takes certain candidates out of the equation. He will not allow Isaac to be united to a Canaanite. The reason for this censorship is not clearly presented in Scripture. Various reasons have been presented by commentators:
- The Canaanites were especially vile people.
- The Canaanites were people targeted for doom and destruction by the Lord.
- There was private revelation given to Abraham that preceded the codified Law given to Moses.
- Abraham desired a woman of similar faith — one willing to leave Mesopotamia and head towards the promised land.
However, whatever the reason, Abraham is devout in disallowing the consideration of any Canaanite woman. . Regardless of family, beauty, intellect, personality, or marital potential, his son was not going to marry a Canaanite woman and receive his blessing. Similarly, believers are expressly commanded by God not to be “unequally yoked” together with unbelievers. They ought not date, court, become engage or enter into marriage with someone who is not claiming Christ as their Savior and Lord and walking in faithful worship.
Sixth, Abraham has high standards and lofty expectations. Abraham is willing to work hard, seek differently, be picky, and spend extravagantly in order to provide the best for his son and his grandsons. Therefore, Abraham sends ten camels with his trusted servant. Why ten camels? Well, either he intends for his servant to bring back one really big girl, or he sends with his servant an immense amount of treasure. (I think we will go with the later.) Abraham’s servant brings incredible wealth with him on his journey in order to bless the potential bride and her family. He knows that a godly mate is invaluable, and he doesn’t wish for his servant and son to settle for the best available. So, when the right spouse is found, nothing is to get in the way. His son is to be seen as coming from a very excellent and wealthy family, and no amount of money is to stand between his son and excellent soulmate. Likewise, those seeking spouses today should present a great product and have incredibly high expectations. Young men and women should be excellent, for other excellent single men, single women and godly families will be searching for such.
Seventh, and what does an excellent spouse provide by the Lord look like? Rebekah is beautiful, chaste, kind, tender, generous, selfless, strong, industrious, hospitable, respectful, loving, and willing. Parents, may we raise such exemplary sons and daughters, and may our sons and daughters find such life-long partners. And single friends, may you be rich in worship, character, skill, knowledge, and beauty, and may you settle for nothing less than this from your potential mate.
Friends, the estate of marriage can taste like heaven. It can also be a cup-full of hell. Those who put God first in their dating, courtship, engagement and marriage can expect heavenly blessings from Him who looked at Adam in the Garden and said, “It is not good that man should be alone.”