Scripture: Genesis 24:54-67 & John 4:46-54
Title: Rebekah’s Faith
- Faith is trusting without seeing
Today we continue our series on the life & faith of Abraham
– Last week we heard how marriage is an act of God and an act of hesed
– Today we hear how marriage is an act of faith
– At this point in the story Abraham’s servant has found a wife for Isaac and has almost convinced the family to agree to the marriage
– We pick up the story from Genesis chapter 24, verse 54, in the NIV…
When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.” But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”
But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”
Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”
“I will go,” she said. So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men.
And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.”
Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.
Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?” “He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.
Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
May the Spirit of Jesus illuminate this Scripture for us
Faith is trusting without seeing:
We are talking this morning about faith and in particular Rebekah’s faith
– But what do we mean by faith?
– Well, at a basic level, faith means believing – taking someone’s word for it, even though you may not have seen or experienced it for yourself
– Faith means trusting without seeing
Let me illustrate…
– I have here a can without a label on it
– You can’t see what is in the can and there’s no label to tell you either – so you have to take my word for it that this can contains black doris plums and not nuclear waste or dog food
– If faith is trusting without seeing then your faith would be proved by your willingness to purchase this can from me
– I could give you this can for free but there would be little faith involved in doing that because you don’t risk losing anything
– Besides Robyn needs these for her breakfast this week
Now you might not like black doris plums – that’s fine, the plums are just a metaphor
– Imagine the can contains love or healing or joy or some other good thing
– The point is: faith is trusting without seeing and our faith (our belief) is proved by our willingness to take a risk
– Faith involves making a choice – not just an intellectual choice (in our head) but a real choice in our actions – Faith is a verb
Although Isaac & Rebekah’s marriage was arranged for them, Rebekah & Isaac still got a choice in the matter
– When Rebekah’s family asked if she would go with Abraham’s servant she agreed
– When you think about it Rebekah demonstrated real faith in leaving her family to travel hundreds of miles with someone she had only known for a day, in order to marry someone she has never met
– The can of plums that she is being offered has no label on it – she simply has to take the servant’s word for it
– Abraham’s servant didn’t have a photo of Isaac and there was no internet so Rebekah couldn’t stalk Isaac on Facebook
– If it was one of my daughters I don’t think I’d be so quick to let her go
– And, to be fair to Rebekah’s family, they did suggest she delay her departure – presumably to allow a cooling down period
– But Rebekah was willing to leave – she was willing to take the risk
– Her faith & courage is similar to that of Abraham – who also left his homeland without seeing where God was taking him
The children in the Flock Sunday school, this morning, are learning how Jesus healed a boy, in John 4
– A government official, who most likely worked for Herod, came from Capernaum to Cana (a distance of about 32 km’s) to ask Jesus to heal his son – the boy was close to death
– Now it wasn’t as easy to travel 32 km’s back then as it is today
– What’s more, Herod was no friend of Jesus, so it took some pluck for the official to ask this favour of Christ
Jesus didn’t give the government official a very warm welcome. He said, ‘None of you will ever believe unless you see miracles & wonders’
– There is some irony here because seeing is not believing – faith (or believing) is trusting without seeing
– But Jesus knew the man wasn’t there as an official, he was there as a dad and Jesus understood the father/son relationship pretty well
– So he says to the man, ‘Go, your son will live.’
The man believed Jesus’ words & went, without seeing or knowing the outcome
– The can Jesus offered him had no label on it but he trusted Jesus that it was filled with the healing his son needed
– On the way home his servants met him and said his son had recovered
– When asked what time the boy regained his health they said 1pm – the same time he trusted Jesus that his son would live
– Faith is trusting without seeing
– Jesus’ healing of the boy was an act of faith
Marriage also is an act of faith
– Marriage is for the rest of your life – it’s for better or worse, it’s for richer or poorer, it’s in sickness and in health
– In marriage we make a solemn commitment without seeing what the future holds
The significant thing with Rebekah & Isaac is: the step of faith comes before the feeling of love – love is the last thing that is mentioned
In verse 67, after Rebekah finally arrives in the Promised Land, we read that Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
In Isaac & Rebekah’s case, love comes after the step of faith in getting married
Now, in saying this I don’t mean to imply that you don’t need to get to know someone before you get married
– With any significant decision it is important to do some due diligence
– We need to do our homework and understand the risk
– We heard about Rebekah’s due diligence last Sunday – Abraham’s servant made a pretty strong case for marrying Isaac
– Faith doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind – faith still asks us to hold on to common sense
– It is not appropriate to trust everyone – but we can trust God
When it comes to marriage ideally we should build a good foundation of trust and honest communication beforehand
– But Rebekah didn’t have that luxury. For her, faith came before love – just as for the official, in John 4, faith came before healing
Faith is trusting without seeing
– Although Rebekah’s faith is more visible in Genesis 24, Isaac’s faith shouldn’t be overlooked
– While Rebekah showed faith by leaving home to go on a journey, Isaac demonstrated faith by waiting where he was in the land of promise
– Isaac didn’t take matters into his own hands by looking for a wife among the local Canaanite girls – he believed in God’s promises to Abraham and waited patiently for God to provide
– Sometimes faith requires us to step out into the unknown, like Rebekah
– Other times faith requires us to sit still and wait, in meditation, like Isaac
– And then there are times when faith brings us home after being on a journey, like the government official in John 4
Whatever faith in God (and in Jesus) may require of us we do well to remember that Rebekah, Isaac and the government official were not disappointed
– Rebekah’s faith was rewarded with Isaac’s love
– Isaac’s faith was rewarded with Rebekah’s comfort
– And the official’s faith was rewarded with the restoration of his son’s life
Questions for discussion or reflection:
1.) What stands out for you in reading these Scriptures and/or in listening to the sermon?
2.) What does faith mean to you?
– How do we know our faith is real / genuine?
3.) Rebekah (in Genesis 24) and the official (in John 4) trusted without seeing
– Can you think of other people in the Bible who trusted God/Jesus without seeing?
– Can you think of a time in your own life when you trusted someone (either God or another person) without seeing? What happened? How was your faith rewarded?
4.) In what ways was Rebekah’s act of faith similar to Abraham’s faith?
5.) What do you think Jesus meant when he said to the government official (in John 4), “None of you will believe unless you see miracles and wonders.”?
6.) In what sense is marriage an act of faith?
7.) In what way did Isaac demonstrate faith?
– How was this different from Rebekah?
8.) Whose faith do you identify with most – Rebekah’s, Isaac’s or the government official’s?