SUMMARY: The first lens that we used to examine and study Genesis 24 focused on the story itself and how that story, when seen through that specific lens, was a foreshadowing of all of New Testament redemptive history. It was a picture of the church bringing in a virgin bride for the Son. (See my post of April 25 to get more detail.) Now we put on a narrowed lens and focus our attention on Abraham’s servant. What can we learn from him?
APPLICATION – THE MODEL SERVANT
Looking carefully at Genesis 24 again, we see that the hero of our tale is none other than the faithful, nameless servant who completes the mission and brings back the bride. In examining him, we see a lot of qualities that we as believers and as witnesses for the Lord Jesus would do well to emulate. In fact, we are the servant who has been called by the Father to bring in the bride for the Son in real life (see above), and we want to be likewise faithful to that calling.
In no particular order, then, let’s look at this remarkable servant and see how his character fits him for his mission and ours.
- He is nameless, as we have already mentioned. Why is this significant? This characteristic speaks of his humility. He never mentions his name to Rebekah’s family and they never ask him. This is because his name is not important. He speaks about the father’s wealth and greatness and about the son of the father. These receive all the attention. Just so, we are to tell of the greatness of our heavenly Father and of the glory of the Son and to realize that Christ must increase and we must decrease (John 3:30).
- The servant is not free to do whatever he wants. Rather, he called to be on a mission, sent out by his master the father, and his duty constrains him to complete his mission. He is bound by his own oath to carry out the mission and to carry it out as the father has related it to him. He is not even free to make up his own speech but is to communicate with the people in the far land exactly what the father has given him to say. In the same way, we as believers are bound by our oath to Christ and are thus compelled to preach the gospel “once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).” Our lives are not our own, for we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Our message and our mission are not our own but have been given to us by the Father. Thus, we are called to be stewards of the gospel and are obligated to communicate the message about the Son exactly according to the Father’s wishes.
- The servant is under obligation and is not free of his oath until he has brought back the bride. Likewise, we are under obligation (Romans 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:14ff) to preach the gospel.
- The servant will not be delayed, deterred or distracted from his mission. He is not willing to sleep or even eat until he has determined the success of his venture (24:33). It would have been culturally proper for him to delay and to enjoy the hospitality of his hosts, but he is on a mission and he cannot afford the luxury of pleasant distraction. In the same way, we disciples must regard with caution undue ease and distraction. There will be much time to rest in eternity, but now we are to make the most of the time (Ephesians 5:15-16). We are to endure hardship as a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:3) and we are to avoid being entangled in the world’s web (2 Tim. 2:4) so that our gifts and talents are not squandered on trivial things and so that the clarion call of the gospel is not choked out by our own love of pleasure. For Abraham’s servant, mission trumped even bodily needs, and the disciple of Jesus would be wise to see their commission as likewise of paramount importance.
- Abraham’s servant saw himself as “on mission,” and his mission thus dominated and defined his life. To bring back a bride for his master was not just the most important of many tasks he had to do, but it was the only task on his radar screen. All of life was prioritized under that great heading. He identified himself as a “bride-finder.” This is the kind of commitment that the disciple of Jesus has as he/she presses toward the goal for the prize. It is a “one thing I do” kind of focus (Philippians 3:13). The disciple has fixed their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and has given themselves to the gospel task.
- Along the same lines as other points above, the servant was single-minded in his devotion to his task. Our world is much more complex than the world of Abraham’s servant and there are many more “moving parts,” but this makes it incumbent upon us to discipline ourselves to stay focused on the task and restrain ourselves severely (1 Cor. 9:26-27) so that we win the prize.
- Abraham’s servant is dependent upon the Lord to guide him to the place of success and it is God’s remarkable providence that makes the entire story come together. The servant is aware of his dependence on God and he pauses at several critical points to allow the Lord to direct his steps and to confirm his choices. (Isaiah 30:21; Psalm 119:105; 32:8) How much more is it true that the disciple of Jesus is dependent upon the Lord for the success of his/her mission and even their very survival. We must actively seek the Lord’s guidance in prayer if we are to accomplish the mission.
We are the servants of the Lord, those who have been called by the Lord to gather in the elect and to present a pure and chaste bride to the Son. The servant of Abraham serves as a model for us, showing us how to humbly and faithfully carry out a mission and how to maintain undistracted devotion to Christ despite many potential obstacles and side roads.
SDG rmb 4/27/2019