Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"On Fire": What We Can Learn (Good and Bad) from Rebekah, God's Plan and God's Timing

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This morning...

As I was doing some conversing with God about the women who are selflessly committing to praying for some of their platonic male friends to have their life partners brought to them (Genesis 2:22), the Spirit led me to Rebekah.

On certain levels, I really dig her...

For instance, in Genesis 24, I liked how she was a direct answer to prayer by having a servant's heart (and remember that a wife is to be a divine form of help-Genesis 2:18)---*naturally*:

"The servant said, 'Lord, God of my master Abraham, allow me to find a wife for his son today. Please show this kindness to my master Abraham. Here I am, standing by the spring, and the girls from the city are coming out to get water. I will say to one of them, "Please put your jar down so I can drink." Then let her say, "Drink, and I will also give water to your camels." If that happens, I will know she is the right one for your servant Isaac and that you have shown kindness to my master.'"

Before the servant had finished praying, Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, came out of the city. (Bethuel was the son of Milcah and Nahor, Abraham’s brother.) Rebekah was carrying her water jar on her shoulder. She was very pretty, a virgin; she had never had sexual relations with a man. She went down to the spring and filled her jar, then came back up. The servant ran to her and said, 'Please give me a little water from your jar.'

Rebekah said, 'Drink, sir.' She quickly lowered the jar from her shoulder and gave him a drink. After he finished drinking, Rebekah said, 'I will also pour some water for your camels.' So she quickly poured all the water from her jar into the drinking trough for the camels. Then she kept running to the well until she had given all the camels enough to drink.
 

The servant quietly watched her. He wanted to be sure the Lord had made his trip successful. After the camels had finished drinking, he gave Rebekah a gold ring weighing one-fifth of an ounce and two gold arm bracelets weighing about four ounces each. He asked, 'Who is your father? Is there a place in his house for me and my men to spend the night?”
 

Rebekah answered, 'My father is Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor.' Then she said, 'And, yes, we have straw for your camels and a place for you to spend the night.'

The servant bowed and worshiped the Lord and said, 'Blessed is the Lord, the God of my master Abraham. The Lord has been kind and truthful to him and has led me to my master’s relatives.'"---Genesis 24:12-27(NCV)

There are a few gems here:

1) Rebekah was prayed for. She was an answer to prayer. This means that people who believe in Adonai were wanting her in their family. It was a God-fearing home that was looking for a God-fearing wife for their God-fearing son. (2 Corinthians 6:11-18)

2) The servant looked for signs and received them. I'm big on signs (Daniel 4:2-3). Yet here's the thing: Things were done in order and so *the integrity of the signs* could be trusted. Sleeping with your boyfriend and asking God to give you a sign that he's the one is...spiritually chaotic and I Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is *not* the author of confusion. He writes love stories that are full of peace and wholeness and lack drama. So, when you're being blatantly disobedient (Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message), *the first sign* that he's going to give you is to stop having sex. No man is a good covering who...uncovers you.

3) Rebekah didn't know all that was going on behind the scenes. She was simply (eh hem) living her life and minding her own business. And because of that, one day, *seemingly out of nowhere*, she found herself transitioning from single girl to bride-to-be. (Side note: If you are a virgin, let this be a "reminder sign" to stay one. I'm pretty sure that God wanted it mentioned that Rebekah was one for a reason. Virginity is one of the most precious things that you can ever have and give to your future husband!)

Then there's this part:

"Laban and Bethuel answered, 'This is clearly from the Lord, and we cannot change what must happen. Rebekah is yours. Take her and go. Let her marry your master’s son as the Lord has commanded.'

When Abraham’s servant heard these words, he bowed facedown on the ground before the Lord. Then he gave Rebekah gold and silver jewelry and clothes. He also gave expensive gifts to her brother and mother. The servant and the men with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, the servant said, 'Now let me go back to my master.'

Rebekah’s mother and her brother said, 'Let Rebekah stay with us at least ten days. After that she may go.'

But the servant said to them, 'Do not make me wait, because the Lord has made my trip successful. Now let me go back to my master.'

Rebekah’s brother and mother said, 'We will call Rebekah and ask her what she wants to do.' They called her and asked her, 'Do you want to go with this man now?'
 

She said, 'Yes, I do.'

So they allowed Rebekah and her nurse to go with Abraham’s servant and his men. They blessed Rebekah and said, 'Our sister, may you be the mother of thousands of people, and may your descendants capture the cities of their enemies.'''---Genesis 24:50-60(NCV)

4) This line right here gives me spiritual goosebumps: "This is clearly from the Lord, and we cannot change what must happen." There are so many people who are so...not interested in if they are hearing from the Lord when it comes to who they should choose to be their *covenant life partner*. And I really like how the New Century Version puts it. They didn't just believe that they were hearing from God but they knew they were *clearly hearing from God*. When something is clear, it is "free from darkness, obscurity, or cloudiness". This means no questioning and no doubts. Just lots of light, which is something that God is full of (I John 1:5). If you are in a relationship and it's not *clearly from God*, rethink it. Before you jump the broom.

5) I also like how excited the servant was to bring Rebekah back home (a marital covenant should be a truly exciting thing!) and that Rebekah obviously got down with leaving and cleaving (LOL-Genesis 2:24-25). You know, there are some people who end up delaying or even missing out on God's best for them when it comes to a partner because they are *way too attached to their family*. A part of what getting married means is leaving the family who raised you in order to start your own. If you have that "I'm not leaving my mama" spirit, you could end up being the one who's left behind.

6) Rebekah received a blessing from her family. Unfortunately, not all family situations are healthy or functional enough for this to happen. That said, I will say this, though: If not one family member (even if you have what I call "love family" instead of *blood family*) can be happy for you and your plans to marry someone, that's something to think about and pray really hard about. Marital covenant is a blessing and so, blessings should be given concerning it.

So yes, when it comes to how Rebekah became a part of Isaac's life, I dig her. Especially because of this:

"The servant answered, 'That is my master.' So Rebekah covered her face with her veil.
 

The servant told Isaac everything that had happened. Then Isaac brought Rebekah into the tent of Sarah, his mother, and she became his wife. Isaac loved her very much, and so he was comforted after his mother’s death."---Genesis 24:62-67(NCV)

7) OK, now this is an eastern culture situation and we don't do a lot of matchmaking in this way on this side of the world. Meaning, we tend to know the person before marrying them. With that taken into account, did you catch that Rebekah took notice of a man that she never even met before? I am a firm (FIRM) believer that spirits meet way before the flesh does. In fact, when people allow God to do the matchmaking, the flesh pales in comparison to the spiritual connection that is between them.

8) I also like that Isaac loved her and that it says that through his marriage, he was comforted. Remember that Genesis 2:18 says that God will make a helper for Adam. Well, when you read the New King James Version of John 14:26 it says "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." Uh-huh. And then when you read the Amplified Version of the same verse, it says "But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you." Just as the Holy Spirit comforts us, something that a godly wife should be able to learn from the Holy Spirit is how to *comfort her husband*. This means that she should be able "to soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to" him. She should be able "to make [him] physically comfortable". She should also be able "to aid; support or encourage" him. That said, this story reminds us that a good man (and woman's) steps are ordered (Psalm 37:23) because as Isaac was losing his mother Sarah, Rebekah was on the scene to be the woman that he needed.

Now that's a lot of the good parts. Here's the part where Rebekah goes a bit left and we all should take heed of. For the sake of space and time, I'm going to reference an article I read about it rather than actual Scripture (although you can read the entire account on your own at Genesis 25:12-34 and 27):

In time, Abraham died. Like her mother-in-law Sarah, Rebekah was also barren. Isaac prayed to God for her and Rebekah conceived twins. The Lord told Rebekah what would happen to her sons:
 

"Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." (Genesis 25:24, NIV)

They named the twins Esau and Jacob. Esau was born first, but Jacob became Rebekah's favorite. When the boys grew up, Jacob tricked his older brother into selling his birthright for a bowl of stew. Later, as Isaac was dying and his eyesight had failed, Rebekah helped Jacob deceive Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau. She put goatskins on Jacob's hands and neck to imitate Esau's hairy skin. When Isaac touched it, he blessed Jacob, thinking it was really Esau.

Rebekah's deception caused strife between Esau and Jacob. Many years later, however, Esau forgave Jacob. When Rebekah died, she was buried in the family tomb, a cave near Mamre in Canaan, the resting place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and her daughter-in-law Leah.


9) Although we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), *never* are we instructed to "play God". Rebekah's favortism got the best of her and she took matters into her own hands by not *helping* her husband but actually *deceiving* him. Sometimes I think we forget that Rebekah and Laban were brother and sister and so once Jacob was deceived by Laban, in some ways, it's a perfect example of what it means to reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7-8). And so yes, as it directly applies to the platform of this blog, *let God lead*. Do not manipulate. Do not give ultimatums. Do not decide that you need to take matters into your own hands. YOU DON'T AND THAT'S A SUREFIRE RECIPE FOR DISASTER AND/OR REGRET. What you need to do is follow God and oftentimes, that's going to require a lot of patience on your part (Psalm 27:14 & 37:34).

Yet it's this part of the article that inspired the title of this post:

Rebekah's Accomplishments:

Rebekah married Isaac, one of the patriarchs of the Jewish nation.

She bore two sons who became leaders of great nations.
 

Rebekah's Strengths:

Rebekah was assertive and fought for what she believed was right.
 

Rebekah's Weaknesses:

Rebekah sometimes thought God needed her help. She favored Jacob over Esau and helped Jacob deceive Isaac. Her trickery led to a split between the brothers that has caused turmoil to this day.
 

Life Lessons:

Impatience and lack of trust made Rebekah interfere with God's plan. She did not consider the consequences of her action. When we step out of God's timing, we can sometimes cause a disaster we have to live with.


10) That life lesson is like a shot heard in broken marriages and divorce courts around the world! Being impatient and not trusting God caused Rebekah to interfere with God's plan. She was so busy trying to "help God out" that she lied to her husband, damaged the relationship between her sons and set up a foundation for marital drama between Jacob, Rachel and Leah. You know, it doesn't matter how called of God we are or even if we are sorry for some of the things that we've done, choices have consequences and sometimes they can last for years and years and affect so many people outside of us. That's why we need to respect God's plan from step one and follow through until completion. Yes, as the article so poignantly conveys, when we step outside of God's timing, we can end up causing a disaster that we have to live with. It won't be Satan's doing. It will be all our own.

I feel led to say that some of you are on the verge of making the same mistake as Rebekah did as it directly relates to your marital future. God has revealed to you a part of his plan but you're about to mess it all up because you are not choosing to respect this timing (Acts 1:7-Message); you're not fully surrendering to the fact that things are made beautiful in *its time* rather than *your time* (Ecclesiastes 3:11). As it relates to this kind of message/heads up/warning, timing is defined as being "the selecting of the best time or speed for doing something in order to achieve the desired or maximum result". You are not the Master of Time, God is and so if he's telling you to slow down...*slow down*. If he's telling you to move...*move*. If you are in a relationship where you know that you are settling but you are afraid of being alone, staying it can "throw time off" when it comes to making room for the one God does have for you. Also, if there are plans God has for you professionally or when it comes to moving to another location (perhaps even another country) and you're dragging your feet, that's also jacking up timing. Oh, and please don't be pressuring a man to get more serious or to propose. You are really messing timing up that way. You're also robbing him of the honor of professing that you are "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh" (Genesis 2:23) and you of being formally acknowledged in that fashion.

OK, this ended up being longer than I thought it would be but I do feel a release now.

This is going to be a life-changing year for many of you...

Remember, getting to your husband is not just about following God's plan...

It's also about respecting his timing too!

Luxuriant,

SRW

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