Daily Devotion for March 9, 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.
An old favorite, sung in the a capella style of the Mennonites.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, not into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of Christ I pray.
Prayer for Life
O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant me so to die daily to sin, that I may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Prayer for Peace
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live together in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the God of peace, who declared victory over death by the resurrection of His only Son, Jesus Christ, make me perfect in every thought and act through His grace, that my life might be pleasing in his sight and that I might share the perfect peace that is only possible through Him, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Abraham's Servant Meeteth Rebekah, by James Tissot, ca. 1898.
You cannot help but enjoy the way Tissot depicts Rebekah as a saucy, confident, and rather flirtacious young girl. Abraham's servant is at her feet in more way than one. Lucky Isaac!
And do not walk in My judgments,
If they break My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,
Then I will punish their transgression with the rod,
And their iniquity with stripes.
Genesis 24:15-21 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Rebekah
Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder.
The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.
Then the servant ran to meet her and said, "Please give me a little water to drink from your jar." She said, "Drink, my lord." And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink.
When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, "I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking." So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels.
The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.
Notes on the Scripture
The narrative of yesterday and today is fairly straightforward. Abraham's servant has traveled from Hebron to the region of Ur in southwest Mesopotamia, from which Abraham came, to find a girl to marry Isaac. He prays to God that the girl he asks will offer him water and that this will be a sign that she is the one; it seems like a college mixer, with the servant praying that the girl he likes will dance with him. (Luckily for Isaac, the servant picks a pretty one!)
It is no easy task to water the camels. The girl must walk down stairs and fill a heavy earthen jar, perhaps three gallons at a trip, then carry it up the stairs. Camels that have just taken a long trip are the thirstiest animals on earth, and there are ten of them. Notice the expression, "she let down her jar"; it is sufficiently heavy that she must carry it on her shoulder or head.
This is Rebekah, destined by her hard work and beauty to become the mother of the Jews. She is the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham's brother, and thus Isaac's first cousin. The custom of the region was for men to take two wives, or a "wife" and a "concubine". Even Abraham, remember, had gotten a child by Hagar, his wife's servant. No doubt, the custom of bigamy made this easier for Sarah to swallow.
Genealogies of the time almost never named women. If you wonder why Rebekah's father, Bethuel, is called the "son of Milcah" (his mother), this odd bigamist culture is the reason. Children of second wives were not the outcast bastards of later eras — Ishmael could have inherited Abraham's estate — but neither were they quite as respected as the children of the wife or first wife. This seems odd to us today, when we are accustomed to reading about the struggles of Henry VIII, say, to have a son by his wife to inherit his crown, even though he had plenty of bastard sons running around.
But there is no hint of a question about Rebekah's lineage. She is just what Abraham wanted. Now, it is up to the servant to close the deal. One can well imagine that Rebekah might not jump at the prospect of moving so far from home, into a turbulent and often lawless area she has never seen, to marry a man she has never met.