It is the second most important decision you must make in your life.
The first is about God. Are you going to serve the Lord? Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour? That is #1.
But #2 is: will you get married? And if yes … who is Mr. Right? Who is the woman or the man you want to share your life with?
Important decisions must not be taken lightly. Pray for it. Listen to your advisors. Be careful in what you do.
Genesis 24 is a long chapter, 67 verses. It is a beautiful story about Isaac and Rebecca. I think we can learn a lot from it about love and marriage.
This sermon is the 1st in a series of 4 I want to preach about marriage. We discussed it in the Thursday Bible studies. But it is important for the whole congregation. My 1st topic today is
The role of the parents
When you read Genesis 24, you see many things that are the same with us. You also see some differences. Obviously this story is from another time and another culture.
When I married mmamoruti in 1976, we were very young: 22 and 21 years. We had arranged it ourselves. OK, we informed our parents. But we took the decision to marry.
Isaac in Genesis 24 is 40 years old (25:20). His marriage is arranged by his father Abraham. He sends his slave to find a wife for his son. Isaac himself only meets Rebecca at the end of the story.
I would never have accepted my father to find me a wife! Would you? (…)
In Rebecca’s case it is her father and brother who take the decision. Although in verse 57, they say: “Let’s call her and find out what she has to say.” At least on this point …
Yes, I know in your culture the family plays an important role. Bro Phineas must involve his family to discuss lobola with Thabang’s uncles. But to marry is their own choice, isn’t it?
Cultures can differ. But according to the bible the parents definitely must play a role.
- If you are a parent, I hope you will be like Abraham. Help your son or daughter to make the right choice. Don’t force them but pray for them and help them.
- If you are young, don’t be as stubborn as I was. Be like Isaac and Rebecca. Talk with your parents and involve them.
- Both parents and children together, try to understand the will of God – what is good and is pleasing to him (Romans 12:2).
The role of faith
How do you choose the right partner? Does the Lord play a role in that? – He wants to!
Take Rebecca. Why is she chosen?
- She is a virgin. Not unimportant.
- She is very beautiful, verse 16. Hm.
- But the most important: she comes from a family that knows the Lord. That’s why Abraham sends his servant far away. He is very clear: no wife from Canaan. She must be a believer!
This is not racism, xenophobia or apartheid. It is faith.
God has chosen Abraham and his family to be his special people. Isaacs wife must not hinder him but help him to remain in that position. A wife who together with her husband loves and serves the Lord.
What kind of a partner do you date?
Of course it is important that your girlfriend is beautiful. Why go for ugly? – But remember a profound wisdom from the Bible:
Charm is deceptive and beauty disappears … but a woman who honours the Lord should be praised. Proverbs 31 verse 30.
Of course your boyfriend must have a good job and a bank account. – But does he have a good character? Does he know Jesus Christ? Is he able to enrich your faith and your holiness?
Later in the new testament the apostle Paul will write this to the Corinthians:
Do not commit yourselves to unbelievers, for it cannot be done. How can right and wrong be partners? How can light and darkness live together?
How can Christ and the Devil agree? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
God chose you and said: I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters.
Another time I will preach on 2 Corinthians 6. But remember: in this world there are just 2 families. You are part of God’s family. Don’t choose the devil as your father-in-law.
A Christian boy or girl should never date an unbeliever. Don’t tell me it’s only play. Being friends is OK. But as soon as you start dating, you can’t leave God out of the picture.
That means at least two things:
- If you like fishing, where do you go? You won’t catch a fish in a shop or an office. Go to the water! – Don’t go looking for a Christian partner in a bar or a dance party. Come to church, to a Bible study or to a conference. There you may find someone.
- Pray for it! Even if you don’t discuss this with your parents or your friends, do as Abraham and his servant did: ask the Lord to guide you.
Before we come to that, first another point:
The role of money
What about lobola? Is it OK according to the Bible? – To be honest, the word of God doesn’t tell us yes or no. This chapter has two lessons that we can learn.
Yes, Abrahams servant gives a gold ring and golden bracelets to Rebecca. He also gives expensive gifts to the bride’s mother and brother. – Nothing is wrong with that. Two families are interconnected by bride gifts.
But in verse 30 you are warned against the temptation of money:
Laban had seen the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms and had heard her say what the man had told her. He went to Abraham’s servant …
Malome Laban is still alive. Parents who try to make a profit from their daughter. Couples who have to delay their marriage until they have raised enough money. In the meantime they are ‘forced’ by their family’s greed to have sex before marriage.
Therefore our Marriage Policy says:
We therefore advise Christian parents not to ask a too high lobola. Families should not prohibit their children to get married but rather help them to live according to God’s commandments.
Your pastor can help you with a copy of this policy. It is an interesting document!
The role of prayer
What strikes me the most in Genesis 24, is that everyone is praying.
Isaac is praying for a wife. He knew about the mission of his father’s slave. And in the early evening – says verse 63 – he went out for a walk in the fields. He went out to meditate, reads another translation. Or even: he went out to pray (חושׂ).
Do you pray for a partner?
Abraham’s servant is praying. All the way he is walking with God. Did you notice?
- Praying at the well. As the camels kneel down to drink, he kneels down to pray.
- Asking for a sign: “Please, Lord, show me the way. Give me success today.”
- Giving thanks to God, verse 26. Maybe the girl wondered but this servant goes on his knees to worship the Lord.
Finally this is why Rebecca’s family agrees to let their daughter depart. It’s not the gifts or the stories about Abraham’s wealth. They are convinced that it is God’s will. Verses 50-52:
Laban and Bethuel answered, “Since this matter comes from the LORD, it is not for us to make a decision. Here is Rebecca; take her and go. Let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD himself has said.” When the servant of Abraham heard this, he bowed down and worshipped the LORD.
There is a lot more to say. But at least you can learn these three lessons here:
- Be committed to God, like Abraham was. Be aware that the Lord has chosen you to be in his covenant.
- Be obedient to God, like the servant of Abraham was. Do what he tells you to do and keep your eyes open.
- Expect a lot from the Lord. If you ask him in prayer, he will show the way. And at the end of the day, you can say thanks.
The role of love
But what about love? We talked about prayer and parents, money and faith. But shouldn’t it all start with loving one another?
Strange enough, Genesis 24 doesn’t start with love. It ends with it, verse 67:
Then Isaac brought Rebecca into the tent that his mother Sarah had lived in, and she became his wife. Isaac loved Rebecca, and so he was comforted for the loss of his mother.
Isaac does not marry the woman he loves. He loves the woman he has married.
The biblical concept of love is different from what you see on Generations. Nothing wrong with beauty and sexual desire. But you can’t build a lifelong relationship on it.
Yes, you can fall in love, high over heels. It’s a wonderful feeling. – But the time will come that the most beautiful body gets old. Your hunk is an old man. Your beauty queen gets wrinkles. – But she is more than a body. Love goes much deeper than sexual lust. Including faithfulness and patience and loyalty.
Marriage is the foundation for love. Not the other way round. Love is not the foundation for marriage.
It is the second most important decision you must make in your life.
I firmly believe that God has already chosen a special person to be your mate. May he guide you to that partner. Through the bible and, prayer, counsel and wisdom, and through his providence. God bless you.