Beautiful Marriage (Genesis 24)

 

Click for Audio: Beautiful Marriage_Gen 24_July 31 2011

MOTIVATE

–          This coming week marks 10 years of marriage. I am humbled at my wife’s patience, honored by her perseverance, passion and prayers. Happy Anniversary Danielle!

–          Marriage is a foundational institution, worthy of discussion for several reasons:

  • Marriage is God’s “very good – beautiful” idea (Gen 1-2).
  • Marriage is beautiful because it reflects God’s love for His people
    Isa 62:5 “as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you”
    Eph 5:25-33 “ Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
  • Marriages that are healthy make healthy families, which make healthy churches, which result in healthy communities, cities, nations and even a world. The world depends on healthy marriages and families.

– Teaching through a book of the Bible requires you to address issues as they come.[1] This week we get to address the topic of relationships and marriage. Abraham is nearing the end of his life and desires to honor and protect God’s covenant with his family and future offspring. Therefore, Abraham makes arrangements to provide a wife for his son Isaac. In this text we can see

 

EXAMINE             Beautiful Marriage  Genesis 24

In Genesis, God has created and called a people for Himself. God started with a man named Abraham. He made a covenant promise to bless him and multiply his offspring. Abraham sought to protect this promise and helped his son, Isaac obtain a wife. In Genesis 24, one can discover 3 characteristics of a godly marriage.

 

Godly marriage requires godly compatibility (24:1-4).

In ancient times, marriages were arranged by parents.  Abraham charged his servant with the task of finding a wife for his son, Isaac. The only stipulation Abraham gave was that she not be from the daughters of the Canaanites; reason being that the Canaanites did not worship the same God. Abraham understood the importance of building a marriage and family that has a focus on faith in the one true God.

Deut 7:3-4 “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to theirs sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.”

Compatibility is a buzz word among relationship gurus today. Whether you listen to match-making websites, Oprah, Dr’s. Phil or Drew, or any other relationship “expert”, the focus is you – your desires, needs and wants. The challenges and crisis come when these expectations go unmet and the relationship is termed incompatible. The reality is marriage between two imperfect sinners will always be faulty.

Christian compatibility is more important vertically than horizontally. In other words, your faith agreement is not overmatched by your preference for body figures or personality types. Of course these things matter; no one is saying marry an unattractive, dumb and boring spouse [no elbows in the congregation!]. The point is everyone has priorities – what will be your defining mark for compatibility? Will it be loving Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; or will it be valuing your own preferences over Jesus?

Godly compatibility starts with Christian faith

2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Proverbs 31:20 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Singles:

–       Focus on being right person than finding right person; grow in love for Jesus and trust His provision.

–       Missionary dating rarely turns out well. Careful of compromising standards, especially faith convictions.

Marrieds:

–       Realize marriage is for holiness more than happiness.

–       If spouse is unbeliever, present Christ’s love & faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 7:10-16 “I command the married—not I, but the Lord—a wife is not to leave her husband. But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband—and a husband is not to leave his wife. But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has an unbelieving wife, and she is willing to live with him, he must not leave her. Also, if any woman has an unbelieving husband, and he is willing to live with her, she must not leave her husband. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the Christian husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to peace. For you, wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Or you, husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

 

Godly marriages require godly choices (24:5-15).

Abraham prayed and made an agreement with his servant, Eliezer, that God would send his angel ahead of his journey to choose the right woman. Proverbs 19:14 “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

Life and relationships are shaped by choices, not just great ones but even the mundane moments of daily life that typically go unnoticed but actually become the bedrock soil of our lives. In examining God’s sovereign hand in the selection of Isaac’s mate, we can understand some godly choices for godly marriages today:

–          Choice of Selflessness (Gen 24:5-9)
Eliezer was concerned what would happen if the woman he chose was not willing to follow. Abraham noted the relationship would not be forced, only mutual. It was not a one-sided fulfillment of selfish desires. Likewise, godly marriages contain choices that are made for the mutual benefit of the other. Marriage is the merging of two selfish sinners but must move toward an unselfish union (one flesh).

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

–    What are some ways you serve and esteem your spouse over self?

At Melting Pot with wife: Danielle doesn’t like strawberries or cheesecake; so I ate them all for her benefit! I do not like marshmallows; and she ate them all for my benefit! Find both simple and great ways to serve your spouse 🙂

 –          Choices of Spirituality (Gen 24:10-14)
Abraham prayed for his servant Eliezer to prosper. When Eliezer arrived in the city he prayed (3x: vv.12, 26, 52) for God to clearly lead him to the woman for Isaac to marry. This decision process was bathed in prayer. A Godward focus led to right decisions for this godly marriage.

Paul Tripp, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
“It’s the thing that many couples miss. It is so simple, so biblically logical, but it seems to slip through the cracks in the lives of many couples. If it is true that all the horizontal skirmishes a husband and wife have are rooted in a deeper war for the heart, and if it is true that a marriage must be fixed vertically before it is ever fixed horizontally, then the place where you win the war for marriage is on your knees. Perhaps there is no more important command for marriage in all the Bible than the simple words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’” p.249

“When together you are worshiping God and seeking his kingdom, you quit trying to make sure that your kingdom comes and your will is done. You quit manipulating, demanding, and working to co-opt your spouse into the service of your kingdom. You quit examining your spouse and your marriage through the lens of your wants, needs, and feelings. When you worship God, demand gives way to service, entitlement gives way to gratitude, and dissatisfaction gives way to joy, because selfishness has given way to a daily love for God and your spouse. Worship radically changes your expectations of and the way you relate to your spouse.” p.271-272

–      Worship and prayer in marriage is a protection against division. It is a funnel for grace and forgiveness; it is a fight against sin and satan; it is a fuel for passion and hope.

–          Choices of Character (Gen 24:15-21)

Eliezer’s method of selecting Isaac’s bride is for her to be well mannered and show servanthood’s character. Rebekah not only shows proper cultural etiquette in giving Eliezer a drink of water but she went beyond the norm and gave water to all 10 of his camels. The catch is that 1 camel could drink up to 25 gallons of water and the jars used for carrying water held no more than 3 gallons.[2] Rebekah and her family extended generous hospitality to care for Eliezer.

Furthermore, Rebekah was a woman of purity (v.16). She had not known a man, valuing her God and her future spouse, saving herself for marriage. She took her purity so seriously that she would not even allow her future husband to see her unveiled (v.65)

Proverbs 31:10 “A woman of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

–          Today’s culture confuses love and sex. The popular phrase, “friends with benefits” is a foolish myth that not only breaks the boundaries of our Creator but also breaks the hearts of those who buy into such a lie that it is wise. Hook ups turn into hang ups! Intimacy lost can never be regained and society has the scars to prove it. Just look at today’s broken families and young generations to see the empty, lonely and needy lives.

–      Character in marriage is seen in honoring each other in words and deeds. Loving unconditionally as Christ loves you.

  • Jesus’ bride was imperfect yet He still sacrificed, loved, died and remained faithful to her.

Godly marriage requires godly community (24:29-61).

Eliezer went to Rebekah’s family to request her marriage to Isaac. Rebekah’s brother, Laban, heard the story and agreed of God’s leadership in the relationship (v.50-51). Rebekah’s mother was also a part of the decision making process (v.55-60). They gave their blessing and sent her along to be married. All the servants and people brought together Rebekah and Isaac, which became a beautiful marriage and love (v.67).

–      Godly marriages happen through the context of relationships. 

Our church has small group Bible fellowships to encourage and equip people, friendships and marriages to be healthy and all that God intended them to be. The vision is Growing Godly Generations – among individuals, marriages and entire families.

 

APPLY/THINK

The most important day for a marriage is not the first day (wedding) but the last. It’s the perseverance, the journey, the fight for love and truth. What makes marriage beautiful is not because it is about you & I, but because it is about God’s AMAZING LOVE.


[1] One may notice that I only briefly touched on Genesis 19 – a chapter on the topic of homosexuality. I will return to this topic, and similar ones in several months when I teach on “Family Matters” (in 2012).

[2] The IVP Bible Background Commentary OT, Walton, Matthews & Chavalas.

 

 

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