I was excited to bring encouragement to a local congregation recently because the scripture from the Old Testament was the story of Rebekah. I knew that this woman was an example for the Jewish people, of service and hospitality. Rabbis, pastors & scholars have used this woman’s story to describe God’s people on the day of the return of the Lord. In the generation that sees God’s messiah return, a faithful people will be found that reflect the story of this mother of our faith.
Perhaps you look at the churches in your city or at the people of faith in your social circles and, like me, you wonder, “Is this really what Jesus had in mind when he came preaching, healing & loving? Is this what Jesus died for?” The current reality seems bleak, the church weak and many people of faith can’t be distinguished from everyone else by their life and entertainment choices. Two voices come to my mind:
“I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.” – Ghandi
“The best money has never been on the church. Yet the church has outlasted every economic and political system.” Gary Best
God, in the story of Rebekah, is telling us our story. You’ll find this gem in Genesis 24 and it’s the longest story told in the book of Genesis (longer than Noah, creation or Joseph). There a number of perspectives on this, but today let’s just look at this story as a shadow of our story.
I would entitle the story of Genesis 24: “Rebekah’s Extravagant Responsiveness.”
- Genesis 24.1-4. It starts with desire: Abraham’s desire for a family, and a bride for his son. She must be from his own family of faith. She must be pure and ready to carry on the family line that God had started.
- Then comes the search. vs. 10-14. The servant goes to find, prepare and return with a bride.
- Rebekah is found: pure, serving, faithful and without knowing Isaac, she has prepared herself fully. Without hesitation she is found Extravagantly Responsive.
- she quickly lowered her water jug, quickly poured the water into the camel’s trough and then ran to get more water.
- Rebekah was instantaneous in her agreement to go with the servant to be married.
- Abraham followed God in being hospitable, Rebekah also reflected that hospitality.
- She was prepared to leave all she knew for a man she’d never met
- The story ends vs. 63 with the servant presenting Rebekah the bride to Isaac the groom.
THIS IS OUR STORY!
(not every detail, but the main and the plain of it)
- The Father desires a family and a bride for his son (he’s wants us to enjoy him – he’s preparing extravagant hospitality for us, not just when we get to heaven, but right now!)
- Matthew 22.2 – “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”
- The Spirit calls us and makes us ready for the Son
- Romans 8.26 – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
- The history of this age ends with a bride, ready for her wedding day – OUR wedding day. (Revelation 19)
THIS IS OUR FAMILY!
The family likeness is unmistakeable. Abraham was chosen by God, Rebekah was chosen by the servant and you are being made into this likeness:
- Voluntary love that motivates action. No paid worker runs to do 3 hours of voluntary labour – that is a work of the heart, a work of love. In the same way, God’s family people are quick to love with actions.
- Extravagant Hospitality – Rebekah offered her family’s hospitality. For people of faith there is space for the stranger in our lives and space for the Holy Spirit in us.
- Wholehearted lovers. For Abraham it was important that the family God had promised him was pure and uncorrupted. God’s work in us is to make us singleminded and wholehearted lovers of God. Every other good thing is like rubbish to those whose hearts are completely His.
- Beautiful. The servant gifted Rebekah with jewels, clothes and everything she would need to be ready for Isaac. In the same way, the Hoy Spirit is making us beautiful for Christ. We are being made beautiful by God for God
- Full of faith. Just as Rebekah loved Isaac before she met him, we love Christ before we’ve seen him face to face. We believe the promise of a wedding on the testimony of Holy Spirit.
WHO WE ARE IS NOT WHO WE ARE BECOMING
Today, you are invited to live in this reality. Does this list describe you? It can and it will if you will allow Holy Spirit to prepare you.
Rebekah’s story is meant to be a shadow of our story. This church in this city is meant to be God’s bride – extravagant in love, service, hospitality, beauty and faith. The Spirit is looking for those who will be formed into the family image.
The King will find us ready.