Practical Blessedness

Genesis 24:1-9

1 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.”

The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”

“Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

Supreme Happiness

Everyone wants blessings. What do you think if someone says, “Bless you?” Does it sound special, or just an ordinary wish? “Bless you” has become very common expression. With no practical proof, to say “Bless you” is no better than hearing someone says, “I love you” with no practical proof.

Many people consider wealth as blessedness, yet, we often hear tragic stories caused by abundant wealth. Some rich people are scared of their lives because of so much wealth. Wealth is better than nothing at all but it’s not equated to blessing. Jesus warned in Luke 8:14, 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

Riches and pleasure are found in the same sentence with life’s worries. Christ equated wealth and pleasure to worries of life as obstacle to spiritual growth. When worries of life prevail, it is hard to perform productively. Similarly, when riches and pleasure dictates a lifestyle, spiritual growth will be impaired and weakened. Spiritual deterioration is not blessedness.

“Blessedness” is the totality of supreme happiness in life. If you can think of it, “blessedness” is far better than the deepest joy you can ever think, imagine or dream about. God’s blessing is beyond our imagination.

The Bible teaches that God blessed Abraham in all aspects of his life.

1 Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 

Blessing from the Lord is not concentrated in one aspect of life. The Lord blessed Abraham in every way. In all significant parts of life, Abraham was blessed. The Lord’s promise many descendants to him, and Abraham thought it was necessary for Isaac to have a wife.

1. Wife

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, 4but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

When Abraham told his senior servant, “Put your hand under my thigh,” it was a ritual of solemn commitment. Among his many servants, the senior servant may have served Abraham the longest. Abraham entrusted everything he had to the care of his senior servant.

The senior servant managed all the wealth of Abraham. He may have been Abraham’s confidant, and he may have enjoyed serving because his master Abraham was righteous. When God blessed Abraham, God’s blessing included the senior servant to have joyful commitment of serving him.

His servants observed how God has favored him in everything he did. When Abraham rescued Lot and people of Sodom from invaders, it was told that trained men in his household joined him. Meaning, they were prepared to serve in whatever circumstance. When Abimelek said that God is with Abraham, they may have heard it as confirmation of what they observed.

It says in Genesis 21:22, 22Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do.”

It was not mentioned but we can only assume how the senior servant earned the trust of Abraham. It doesn’t matter much. What matters is that Abraham entrusted him the responsibility to find a wife for Isaac.

Isaac to have a wife was necessary in the fulfilment of God’s promise of descendants. Abraham trusted that God will provide a wife for Isaac. When he ordered his senior servant to get a wife for Isaac, Abraham trusted that God would do wonders even in the life of his senior servant.

Previously, after Abraham obeyed the Lord to sacrifice Isaac, he was informed that the family of his brother Nahor had multiplied. Abraham wanted Isaac to have a wife from his relatives and not from Canaan, why?

Did Abraham establish matrilineal system? What is matrilineal?

Matrilineal

Matrilineal traces inheritance or ancestral descent or kinship through maternal or mother line. Isaac’s line was traced through Sarah. Abraham had other children but his wealth was transferred to his son with Sarah, and his other sons did not receive inheritance similar to Isaac.

After Isaac married Rebekah, they had twin sons, Jacob and Esau. The right of the firstborn was given to Jacob who married women from the side of his mother Rebekah. Jacob’s brother Esau married Canaanite women.

Among his 12 children, Jacob gave inheritance priority to his children with Leah and Rachel who were relatives of his mother Rebekah.

Jacob’s children were given priority in narrative of the fulfillment of Abraham’s descendants and not to Esau who had Canaanite children.

Nonetheless, his decision to get wife for Isaac from his relatives implies that Abraham practised faith in practical ways. In Proverbs 18:22, 22He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.

Finding wife for Isaac was God’s blessing to Abraham. God’s blessings continued to the next generations. Abraham trusted that a wife for Isaac was part of God’s blessing. He trusted his senior servant to find a wife for Isaac. He did not doubt that it’s the will of God whoever was willing to come.

2. Will

The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”

Pause for a moment! Imagine yourself asking your servant to find a spouse for your child. Would you do it? You must have the faith of Abraham to entrust to somebody the future family of your child, right?

Abraham was born in the land of Ur, the present day Kuwait.

From the time he left the city of Ur, Abraham never returned to Ur again. His senior servant asked, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land?” Why did the servant think of such possibility?

When Abraham, his wife Sarah, his father Terah and his nephew Lot left Ur to go to Canaan, his brother Nahor did go with them. Nahor might have good life in Ur. It says in Genesis 11:31, 31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.

Why did Nahor stay behind? Did he assume that life in Ur is better than Canaan? Did Abraham’s servant know why Nahor stayed behind in Ur and did not want to go to Canaan? If so, he might have thought that Nahor can easily influence his family not to go to Canaan. After all those years that Abraham left Ur, not one among his relatives came to Canaan.

Interestingly, Abraham’s servant offered an alternative if ever his plan won’t materialize. He suggested a plan B but Abraham readily dismissed it.

Many among us, who are not familiar with God’s will, can identify with Abraham’s servant. We have plans A, B, and C, to make sure that our plan will be carried out. We plan but don’t necessarily trust that it is God’s will. Is it practical practice of faith to prepare for alternative plans?

God doesn’t prepare alternatives, why? God’s plan cannot fail. His plans will always be accomplished. He does not require us to do things just for the sake of accomplishing something. Don’t be pressured about it.

As believers, we need to know the will of God, and follow it.

It says in Romans 12:2, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The requirement of knowing God’s will is transformation of mind. We are not supposed to follow worldly strategy like: preparing for alternatives. Within God’s will, alternatives or plan B or plan C is foolishness to the Lord.

It says in Ephesians 5:17, 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

It is considered foolishness or not wise decision to do things outside God’s will. The Creator has designed what’s best for His creation. The will of God our Creator is the best life that we can ever experience. By faith in Christ our Creator, we receive new life. We should forget the old lifestyle.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, It is God’s will that you should be sanctified. 

And in Colossians 1:9, Ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.

To be sanctified is to be purified from old self. To be sanctified and to know God’s will are possible only when Christ’s Spirit prevails over our life.

God sent His Spirit into our heart for us to know His will through His word.

It says in 1 Corinthians 2:11-12, 11 No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

The Spirit of Christ we received when we put our faith Jesus is the same Lord that promised descendants to Abraham. There are many blessings God has freely given us and we can learn what Abraham did to receive God’s blessing for us to access the blessings the Lord has prepared for us.

In practical blessedness, Abraham steadily fixed his heart on God’s word.

3. Word

“Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.

To trust and hold tightly onto God’s promises is practical blessedness.

Abraham looked forward to the fulfillment God’s promises. It is God’s grace at work in his life. Abraham never doubted God’s word. When he told his servant that God has already sent an angel so that he will get a wife for Isaac, Abraham showed confidence that the result is God’s will.

Abraham’s lifestyle was a practical application of Romans 8:28-30: 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

To be conformed to the image of Christ is to obey God even it means to sacrifice for it. God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Did Abraham sense some sort of loneliness? I think so! But, the gladness of obeying God was more prevalent than the thought of losing his son.

Joy of obeying God is practical blessedness that comes with faith.

To have faith in Christ is reborn to new life in Him. This new life is practically shown in obedience to God with gladness and not grudgingly. When Christ’s Spirit produces fruit in us, joyful obedience comes naturally.

Abraham ordered to get a wife for Isaac but rejected the alternative that his servant suggested, why? By trusting God’s promises, Abraham had exemplified how to follow God’s will. Isaac may have been observing also.

If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

Well, the servant asked a valid question earlier. It’s practical reality!

Abraham implied that if the woman won’t be willing to come, it was not the problem of the senior servant. Why did Abraham assure the servant of his release from oath if everything fails? Did Abraham consider that if the woman won’t be willing to come, it may not be the will of God?

Abraham never expected his plan to fail. He actually said that God will send His angel to make sure that the servant won’t fail. But why did he assure the servant’s release from oath, if Abraham was not expecting failure?

Abraham assured the release of his servant from oath just to satisfy the curiosity or the concern that the servant had raised. He showed that there’s no pressure in following God’s will. Just follow the instruction, and wait.

Coming to Canada

In 2008, my wife had a surgery from stage 3 cancer. When we were preparing to come to Canada in 2009, my wife had undergone some additional medical exam to make sure that she was cleared from cancer.

While waiting for the result, my wife said, “If my medical exam fails, you can go ahead and I will follow later.” But I firmly said, “If you won’t join us, then, we will just postpone it. And if you are not medically cleared, then, we won’t go. It may not be God’s timing.”

I did not entertain any doubt that we may come to Canada because God has given me multiple signs that He wants us to be here. I may not have specifically asked for signs but God knows that I needed His assurance.

To obey the Lord gladly without hesitation or doubt, to follow His will cheerfully is a practical application of blessedness. I believe that when I was called as a pastor, God wanted my wife to be with me. I have proven that if I make major decisions and wife agrees, together, we are blessed.

It says in 1 Peter 3:7, 7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

God includes our spouse, His will, and His word in His blessings.

For singles, find a spouse within God’s will, and heed His word.

If you cannot find your spouse here, learn from Abraham.

It maybe God’s will. Go back to the country of your parents!

Someone might be waiting for you there. Who knows?

<‘))):< ltsii/2018 >:(((‘>

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