Rebekah – “Captivating”
Please Read: Genesis 22:23; Genesis 24-27 (the main story); Genesis 28:1-5; Genesis 29:12; Genesis 35:8 (Rebekah’s nurse, Deborah, is buried); Genesis 49:31 (Rebekah’s burial site); and Romans 9:6-16
Rebekah. A woman who began well but ended poorly. One of her progeny, Solomon, had yet to pen Ecclesiastes 7:8 which says “The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit.” Her story may have ended better if she’d understood this little bit of wisdom.
The Unnamed Servant
We are introduced to Rebekah when Abraham sends his servant to look for a bride for Isaac. The name of this trusted servant is not given in Genesis chapter 24. Scholars love to insist it was Eliezer, the man who would’ve inherited Abraham’s estate if Isaac hadn’t been born.
But there is another explanation. The servant is not named for a reason. He could be a “type” of the Holy Spirit. (Eliezer’s name, by the way, means God’s Helper.)
The Blue Letter Bible says that “OLD” things are the “TYPES” of the Old Testament, and the NEW things what they stand for in the New Testament. The New Testament is “enfolded” in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is “unfolded” in the New. Or as St. Augustine puts it:
“The New is in the Old contained; The Old is by the New explained.”
Isaac, whose father offered him up as a sacrifice, could be a “type of Christ.” Rebekah could be seen as “the church,” the bride of Christ and the unnamed servant (sent out to bring back the bride) a portrait of the Holy Spirit. The picture works well here because Isaac doesn’t take a handmaid, concubine or second wife. Rebekah remains his one and only wife, his true love.
If the unnamed servant is a picture of the Holy Spirit, he is an excellent role model of the right way to live. I want to be like him.
- I want to be obedient, doing my Master’s business, knowing and walking in the will of God, trusting Him to guide me, leaving the outcome of my faithfulness to Him.
- I want to live with breathless anticipation, expecting God to act on my behalf, believing He sends his angels before me to accomplish His will, and that He can use me to bring Him glory.
- I want to be a woman of adventurous, daring prayer, asking for success and believing my God can and will deliver even before I stop praying.
- I want to be always on the lookout for how God will miraculously show up in the circumstances of my life, that He has put all the pieces in place even before I ask for His help.
- I want to worship and praise the Lord the moment I see His Hand moving in my life.
- I want to be a faithful witness telling other about all that God has done.
Rebekah starts well. She’s beautiful, pure and hardworking. She’s adventurous. Willing to to risk all, she up and leaves her home and family, not knowing where she is going. Kind of like Abraham. But like Abraham’s wife, Sarah, she ends up not trusting God’s word to her and takes matters into her own hands. And like Sarah, she causes an irreparable break in her own family and creates enmity between two people groups.
Commentators call the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah one of the most romantic stories in the Bible. I don’t agree. My personal favorite is Ruth and Boaz. I hesitate on Isaac and Rebekah because it says in Genesis 24:67 that…”Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah and took Rebekah to be his wife. Isaac loved her, and he was comforted after his mother’s death.” The verse says he loved Rebekah but it never says she loved him back. It might’ve been hard for Rebekah to love a melancholic, contemplative mama’s boy twenty years her senior.
Twenty years later, we see the deep divide between them when they finally have some children. Again, like Sarah, Rebekah was barren for a long time. Isaac prays for her and she conceives. Her pregnancy was so troubled that she inquires of the Lord – what is wrong? what is happening to me? Hagar was the first woman in the Bible that God talked to, but Rebekah is the first woman on record who talks to God.
He answers her telling her she’ll be having twins and that the younger son will rule over the older. The boys turn out to be polar opposites. Isaac prefers Esau the outdoorsman and Rebekah prefers Jacob, the indoorsman. Favoritism destroys Isaac and Rebekah’s family.
But if you show favoritism, you commit sin.
Every time I watch “White Christmas” I find myself shouting at Judy Haynes, “Just talk to him!” Every year she believes the gossip and goes away without talking to the man she loves. Instead of just talking to Isaac, gently reminding him of what the Lord has promised regarding Jacob, Rebekah deceives him. She tricks and betrays her Old. Blind. Husband. What is a good wife supposed to do? Scripture says she does her husband good and not evil ALL the days of his life.
Rebekah prayed over her troubled pregnancy but “she neglected to consult God with her plan even though He had given her distinct predictions about the future. The woman who once had sufficient faith to trust God for and an unknown future now felt that she had to help Him out a bit.” (Gien Karssen)
I always have wondered what God would’ve done if Rebekah had stepped aside and let Him work all things together for good?
As a result of her manipulations, Rebekah’s precious son, Jacob, is sent away and she will never see him again. She says go for “a few days” but he stays away 20 years. She will die before he returns.
How is Jesus involved in Rebekah’s Story?
It’s a sad ending to Rebekah’s story but we know that God will include her child, Jacob, in the line of Christ. He redeems all things. We’ve already seen that Isaac and Rebekah’s story can be a portrait of Christ coming for his bride but there’s one more connection to Jesus.
Esau, Rebekah’s other son, marries foreign wives, breaking his parents’ hearts and causing them grief. He becomes the father of the people of Edom, another one of Israel’s enemies. Herod the Great, an Edomite, would murder all the children in Bethlehem trying to kill Jesus. And his son, Herod Antipas, would be the man who ridiculed Jesus at the trial before He was hung on the cross.
Rebekah was a woman full of faith and full of flaws. A woman like you. A woman like me. Her story shows us the tragic consequences of having a proud spirit not a patient spirit; of showing favoritism and meddling with God’s promises.
Questions to Ponder:
- Do you think you know what’s best for your family and demand your will, your way?
- Do you act before praying and asking God what is the best thing to do?
- Do you have any regrets in the way you’ve handled family relationships? Is there anyone you need to reconcile with?
Prayer from Life Principles from the Women of the Bible Book Two by Wayne Barber, Eddie Rasnake, and Richard Shepherd (with some additions from me.)
Lord, I grieve with Rebekah as I see the consequences of her partiality (and manipulations.) I grieve for her husband, her sons, and for her. I see myself in her mistakes and I want to change. Show me where (I need to change.) Convict me (when I play favorites) in my life. Give me the grace to turn from them and the courage to make wrongs right. Thank you that You are not partial. Make me more like you. Amen
The Bottom Line
Things I learned from Rebekah: Let God carry out His Plan. He doesn’t need my “help.”