Daily Devotion for March 8, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
This old folk song seems appropriate to Abraham.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
A Prayer for Fasting
Holy Lord God, who by your word reminds us of all who have offered you the gift of fasting as a symbol of contrition; Guide me in my denial of worldly pleasure during this season of repentance, that I may always be reminded of the sin that Christ died to overcome; and accept, I pray, the offering I give you with my body in memory of Christ's suffering.
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Rebecca and Eliezer at the Well , by Johann Ramboux, ca. 1819.See full painting.
We all profess that we are bound for heaven, immortality, and glory: but is it any evidence that we really design it if all our thoughts are consumed about the trifles of this world, which we must leave behind us, and have only occasional thoughts of things above?
~ John Owen
Genesis 24:10-14 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Rebekah
Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water.
And he said, "O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, 'Please let down 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."
Notes on the Scripture
Ten camels! Having a camel in this day was like having a car today, so sending out ten of them was a pretty big deal, and Abraham has apparently loaded them with some nice merchandise — appropriate for gifts — as well.
Nahor is a name, not a place. They are returning to the "city of Nahor", that is, to Ur of the Chaldees, the city where Nahor had lived (see map); Nahor was the name of both Abraham's grandfather and one of Abraham's brothers. So Abraham is sending his wife-scouting party to his ancestral home.
The servant remains nameless. We learned in Genesis 15 that Abraham's majordomo (and his heir if he did not have a son) was named Eliezer. But much time has passed. The chief servant could be Eliezer, or his son, or some unrelated person.
Certainly, Abraham's household would serve faithfully and their blood would mix with that of Abraham's descendants. Inbreeding eventually has unpleasant consequences, and the Hebrews would need a wider gene pool to thrive. But, as was the general practice, only the names of leaders and their descendants are recorded.
The trusted servant, whoever he was, does not waste time. Having arrived at Ur, he rests by the well and, after a prayer to the Lord, determines to take the first single girl who will give him a drink. God does not speak to him, as He does to Abraham; so acting on his prayer might seem a bit risky.
We get a tiny slice of Mesopotamian (probably Akkadian) culture. Fetching water was the task of young women, who performed the chore at sunset. (See painting.) It was no small feat. The water jars were heavy and, in many places, the wells could be deep structures with narrow spiral staircases. But the passage mentions a spring, so perhaps fetching water was a bit easier in Ur than in most places.
By this time, mankind had already begun to experience its first ecological disaster. The irrigation of the marshlands, which had enabled the population density of Mesopotamia, had the unfortunate consequence of gradually increasing the salinity of the soil. Already, by the time of Abraham, crops were starting to fail. (Today, it is a desert with patches of salt.)