November 16, 2010

Nameless But Notable XVII: Servant of A Servant of God

"Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac." ~Genesis 24:1-4

The first question that usually gets asked is, "Why is a man touching another man's thigh?" This is simple. Offspring (males mostly) were prized as progenitors of the family lineage. Offspring of both genders were looked at as surplus workers, shepherds or farm hands so to speak. When a man placed his hand on another man's thigh he was swearing his "seed" that he would follow through on an agreement or his future or livelihood.

Long after the incident where Abraham nearly sacrifices his son we encounter another gem of Abraham's faith. It is the narrative that tells of Abraham trying to secure a bride for Isaac. Isaac was not to marry a bride of Canaan. So Abraham commissions his most trusted servant to go to Abraham's homeland to do just this. Abraham sends him and he will not be released from this commission unless the woman refuses to marry. This commission is indicative of Abraham's trust in His faithful servant. This servant makes careful plans and gathers supplies and diligently selecting the proper gifts for the bride and the family.

Upon arriving at Nahor he realizes he needs something more…he prays to God…in very specific details. He had just completed this prayer and along comes Rebekah who he requested a drink from and he stood waiting in anticipation. God has answered the prayer to the letter. To the letter! Not coincidence folks. While the answer to his prayer waters his camels he does he voices his sincere gratitude to God. Do we do this when we know that God has entered into our lives to work wonders? Do we even recognize when he has or are we too desensitized in our modern age?

What is even more remarkable about this faithful servant’s behavior is the expedience with which he wishes to fulfill his commission. Instead of tarrying for ten days as requested by Rebekah’s family he wishes to depart to tell his master of the wonderful outcome of his journey and more than likely God’s participation in it. I definitely would tell people of God’s direct actions in my life!

We do not know this man’s identity. He had an enormous impact in the Bible and the lineage that led to Jesus. Think about it. The entire lineage of Abraham down to Christ and our salvation pivoted on and unnamed servant of Abraham. Not only is this a story of obedience to God but also a profound example of a servant of the servant of God obeying to the letter and being faithful to his master(s). The servant of a servant of God is what all in the church should do. It is in this humbleness and willingness to serve God that we capture a glimpse of Jesus. This man’s roll was critical in the entire flow and story of the Old (and New) Testament…and we don’t even know his name.

We see this pattern "servant of a servant of God" continued even today in Godly relationships like that of a Christian father and son/daughter, and a mother and a child. We also see it (should see it) in the patterns of discipleship in our churches also. It is an order and method that is acceptable to God. In the case of discipleship it is ordered and commanded by God (Matthew 28:19-20). Why should we do different if the situation warrants. Entrusting things of great value to others builds a sense of esteem in people that they can actually "get it done" for the Lord. This is a behavior we should always encourage.

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