Genesis 24:1-9 A righteous man will continue to bear fruit well beyond his lifetime
Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way. 2 Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh, 3 and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, 4 but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?” 6 Then Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there! 7 The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there. 8 But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
God’s faithfulness is evident through His providence to ensure a fitting wife for Abraham’s son. Despite insurmountable challenges, God has prepared for Isaac a wife who is not only godly, but willing to migrate to a foreign land to marry a man she has not met. God will not allow the ministry of Abraham to falter in failing to find a suitable wife for Isaac but will ensure success through the company of angels. In today’s devotion, we learn that through divine providence the righteous will continue to bear fruit well beyond their lifetime.
Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way.
The phrase reestablishes the fact that Abraham is the seed of salvation and blessing to the nations. Although it has previously been stated of Abraham, “The Lord had blessed him in every way” (Genesis 18:1), the iteration here emphasises God’s continual providence at the close of Abraham’s life on earth.
Abraham seeks to ensure that God’s salvation plan for the world is not sabotaged by an ill-suited wife for his son. The absence of Isaac during Abraham’s instruction to the servant suggests Isaac’s deference to his father in this very important matter. The gravity of this task is shown by Abraham’s insistence on the servant taking an oath of conformance to his instructions. This puts the servant under absolute obligation to the agreement failing which will incur divine consequences for him.
… you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.
The oath requires the servant to do his utmost to ensure that his son does not marry the Canaanites, but to take a wife from my country, and my relatives. The servant in realising the odds of this happening raises a question: what if the girl refuses to leave her home? Shall Isaac for the sake of marriage return to the land from where you came? In other words, is it absolutely necessary to fulfil both conditions: a girl of semitic descent and her agreement to migrate to the land of Canaan. Abraham appears shock at the servant’s seeming innocent question: “Beware…!” can be paraphrased as, “Over my dead body! You do not take my son back there!” for that will only spell certain death for God’s salvation plan. No matter how impossible circumstances may seem, God promises his descendants to be possessing and populating the land of Canaan: “To your descendants I will give this land”.
He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there.
Nevertheless, upon realising the near impossibility of the task, Abraham affirms his servant of divine intervention through the angels. At this crucial moment, Abraham exudes confidence having been assured time and time again of God’s care of him and his family through countless perilous and impossible situations.
However, realising the servant’s apprehension, and at the same time, being confident of divine favour, Abraham gives his servant an escape clause if things do not work out. Following Abraham’s clarification, the servant commits himself under oath towards this fateful task.
The ministry of a righteous man will continue to bear fruit well beyond his lifetime.
In order for ministry to be effective, its fruit must extend beyond one’s lifetime into future generations. Abraham’s willing sacrifice of his son Isaac has perfected his righteousness thus, sealing God’s promise of salvation for humanity. Indeed, Abraham’s ministry continues to bear fruit many generations later through the incarnation of the Messiah. Not only is humanity saved from eternal destruction through Abraham, he has secured for himself the crown of righteousness and glory in heaven. Indeed, a believer’s true effectiveness is not measured by his current achievements but by his legacy through future generations.
Jesus says to his disciples, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain…” John 15:16. Thus, it is Jesus’s desire that disciples continue to bear fruit well beyond their lifetime on earth. Abraham bears a son at the age of 100 and brings him up in the ways of God. By making sure that Isaac does not marry out of the faith, he does what is within his power to perpetuate godliness through the lineage. In the same way, Christ’s followers ensure the continuation of godliness through the ministry of discipleship.
Having said, without God’s grace and His providence, it is impossible for Abraham, a mere mortal to see to the fulfilment of man’s salvation through Christ many centuries later. Therefore, the righteous will do well to understand their mortal limitations and rest in God’s providence for things they have no control over. Abraham, being fully aware that he has no bearing over the woman’s decision to migrate to Canaan, commits the servant to the task. Beyond what the servant can do, God will do His part to ensure success.
A life that is aligned to God’s vision will always be in the company of angels.
God’s creative order since the beginning of time has always involved the ministry of angels. When Ezekiel is first called into the prophetic ministry, God opens his eyes to the heavens and the eternal world (see Ezekiel 1). Ezekiel witnesses the different kinds of angels that move to the bidding of God. Psalms 18:10 paints the Lord travelling through space as He rides on the wings of the angels. It is apparent that whatever God does, it involves the company of angels.
Angels are often seen with Abraham throughout his life. At the appearance of the three men, he rushes from the tent door to meet them while bowing himself to the earth. This shows Abraham’s familiarity with the angels (see Genesis 18). Abraham’s speedy acknowledgment of one of the angels as the Lord attests to the Angel’s recurrent visitations. In looking for a wife for his son, Abraham speaks confidently of angelic involvement in the mission. The gospel books contain numerous records of Jesus being seen with angels. The apostle Paul rehearses the common confession concerning godliness as seen in Christ’s ministry. Here, Christ being frequently seen in the company of angels is regarded as an explicit feature of godliness (see 1 Timothy 3:16). Indeed, the company of angels plays a crucial role in the ministry of Christ.
Jesus, for the sake of humanity is made lower than the angels for a little while so that He may restore many sons to glory through His death and resurrection (see Hebrews 2:9-10). And the author of Hebrews makes known the calling of man as higher than that of the angels,
For assuredly He (Jesus) does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Hebrews 2:16
Having understood that man is destined as greater than the angels, Jesus, having been appointed as King of kings will grant His authority to whomever He deems fit. Therefore, as believers are found faithful in small things, God will grant them greater authority, so that they may take charge over the angels and establish God’s kingdom on earth. The angels despite their power are not called to rule which only the sons of God are called to do (see Romans 8:20-21).
Therefore, in realising man’s destiny, let the followers of Christ rise up in authority with the company of angels so that we may rule the earth in righteousness.
Are you accustomed to dwelling on things that are beyond your control? In view of the current economic climate, do you worry that you may not have sufficient earnings? Abraham teaches us that as long as our life direction is aligned with God’s vision for the world, He will grant you divine providence to ensure your prosperity. Align your life with God’s will and learn to live by His instructions one day at a time. Know where your limitations lie so that you may entrust all things to God and be at rest.
Dear Lord, I align my life direction towards your salvation plans. Even as I endeavour to do my best in the tasks at hand, I entrust into your hands the things that are beyond my control. I ask you to send your angels to accompany me in all my endeavours so that I may be successful. I desire to invest my resources, time and efforts to ensure the continuation of godliness in the next generation. Prepare me and in due time use me as your disciple maker. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.