Robert Jeffress - Finding The Perfect Mate
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". When two people who are engaged in a romantic relationship look into each other's eyes, how can they truly know whether they're meant for one another? Of all the major decisions we make, choosing a mate is one of the biggest. So what are the factors that should play into that decision of this magnitude? My message is titled, "Finding the Perfect Mate" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
I saw a bumper sticker one time that said, "Help lower the divorce rate, stay single". You know, that would be funnier if it weren't true. I'm sure you're aware of the latest divorce statistics last year, 44% of marriages ended in divorce. And what is really troubling is that that statistic, the rate of divorce is hardly any different at all among professing Christians. Christians divorce at the same rate as non-Christians do. Why is that? I think one reason certainly is there are a lot of Christians who don't know what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage. They don't know that the Bible says only in the case of desertion or adultery if somebody free to divorce and remarry. That's one reason. But I think another reason is many Christians are ignorant about what the Bible says about how to select the best God's choice for your mate.
And that's what brings us to Genesis chapter 24. Today in our continuing study of the life of Abraham, we've come to a chapter that describes how Abraham found a bride for his son, Isaac. If you have your Bibles turn to Genesis 24. You're going to learn today four practical principles for finding a wife. Now I know some of you aren't in the market right now, but your situation may change and you may be. And even if you'll never select another mate, you have children and grandchildren who need to hear what is found in this passage. Genesis chapter 24.
Now it's interesting, Genesis 24 is the longest chapter in the entire book of Genesis. It's interesting that more space is devoted to this subject of finding a mate than any other topic in the book of Genesis, except the flood. There is more space to devoted to finding a mate than there is about the creation of the universe in Genesis 1, about the Tower of Babel or the fall of mankind into sin. Why is it? Why does God spend so much time talking about finding a mate? One reason is God is very interested in whom his children marry. Remember before God created government, in Genesis 9, before he created the church, in Acts chapter 2, he created the family, and the foundation of a family are the father and mother, the husband and wife.
Today, marriage is not held in high esteem. It begins in Genesis 24. "Now Abraham was old, advanced in age, and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that Abraham owned, 'Please place your hand under my thigh and I'm going to make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live.'" Abraham was old, I mean really old by this point. He had just buried his wife, Sarah. Abraham was 137 years of age. Remember, he and Sarah had given birth to Isaac when Abraham was 100.
So by 137, he's lost his wife, he has this son whom he can't give to leave home. He's 37 years old and still living at home and unmarried. And he said, "You know what? If this covenant thing is gonna work out at all, I'm not the only one who has to have a child. Isaac has to have a child". He doesn't have a child, he doesn't even have a bride yet. It's time to get with it. So Abraham gives his servant Eliezer the charge to go out and find a wife for Isaac. This was in the days before match.com or eHarmony. You had to do it this way. So Eliezer gets ready to go, but Abraham says, "Now here's the one principle you have to follow. You can't choose a pagan wife. We're living in Canaan, the promised Land".
By the way, who lived in Canaan? Canaanites, very good. Seven years of seminary I learned that it's Canaanites lived in Canaan. Now, the problem with the Canaanites was that they were pagan. They worship many gods. And so Abraham says, "I don't want a wife from among the Canaanites, among whom we live. Go back to the home country, you'll have a better chance there". Notice verse 8, what Abraham adds. "If the woman is not willing to follow you, then you'll be free from this oath".
Now, he wasn't saying, if you can't find a believer, go with plan B, a unbeliever. He was just saying, if you can't find a woman who meets this requirement, then we'll trust God to bring it about in another way. And that leads to key number one, for finding a mate or making any wise decision. Know God's principles. You know, the most important thing to do if you're gonna make a decision? Prayer is not the first thing to do. Prayer is not the most important thing to do. Prayer is important, but knowing God's principles are more important. Know what the Bible says.
Now, he made that commitment, Eliezer. He said, "I will only find a believer". And so he sets out on the 500-mile journey from Canaan back to the home country of Mesopotamia. And he ends up, Eliezer ends up in the city of Nahor, which is close to Harran where Abraham spent a long portion of his life. Now, Eliezer is looking for a bride. Where does he go? The first stop he makes is at the well, a spring. Why does he go there? He's looking for a woman. You know, it reminds me of the old joke about the woman who was talking to her friend. She said, "My husband is driving me absolutely crazy". And the friend said, "Well, what do you mean"? Said, "He is obsessed with fishing. Every afternoon when he gets home from work, he runs into the bathroom, takes off his clothes, puts on his fishing waiters, jumps in the bathtub and starts fishing out of the commode". And the neighbor said, "Well, that's horrible. Have you taken him to the psychiatrist yet"? She said, "I don't have time. I'm too busy cleaning fish".
Well, you know, there's a principle in that old story, and that is, if you're going to fish, go to where the fish are, go to where they're biting. And it's the same thing with Eliezer. He was fishing for a young girl who could be a bride for Isaac. So where would he go to find a woman? Well, he decided to go where all the hot chicks in Nahor went. Literally, all the very hot, warm people who were thirsty and wanted water, the women would go to the well, not only to satisfy their own thirst, but they had the job of hauling water back home. You see, in those days, in Abraham's days, was the women who did all of the manual labor. Oh, for the good old days. Wouldn't that be great?
Well, that was the culture back then. So if you wanted to find a single woman, you would go to the well at Nahor, and that's exactly what he did. So he went there, but guess what? There wasn't just one woman hanging around the well, there were multiple women there. He had options. And that's the thing about determining God's will, whether it's for a marriage partner or for some other decision. Most of the time we just don't have one decision or one choice, we have multiple choices, and that's when we've gotta know what God's will is. You know, there's an interesting verse in 1 Corinthians 7:39. It's talking about widows, those who lose their mates and want to remarry.
And Paul said that's absolutely fine. He said in verse 39, "A wife is bound as long as her husband lives, but if her husband is dead, she's free to be married to whom she wishes, but only in the Lord". In other words, as long as they're a believer, you can marry whomever you want to. You've got multiple options, but the point is, you want to know God's best, the best choice. And that leads to principle number two. If you're trying to make a wise decision, engage in prayer. Look at verse 12. "And Eliezer said, 'O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please bring me success today, and show loving kindness to my master Abraham".
Did you know that outside of Abraham's conversation with God about Sodom and Gomorrah, which was more of a conversation, this is the first recorded prayer in the Bible, came from a servant who wanted wisdom and success in what he was about to do. Now you have to ask the question, where did Eliezer learn how to pray? Well, he watched Abraham. He saw that Abraham walked with God. Don't ever underestimate the impact you have on other people, on your employees or your boss or your coworkers or your children by the things you do. Some things are better caught than taught, and that's true of prayer. He observed Abraham praying, he emulated that. He prayed for wisdom.
You know, over and over again, the Bible promises if we will seek wisdom, God will give it to us. You know, the only person more interested in your finding God's will than you are, is God. He wants you to know his will. Proverbs 3:5 and 6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and don't lean in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God and he will make your path straight". Or John 14, verse 18, Jesus said, "I am not going to leave you as an orphan in this world. I'm not gonna leave you all alone to fend for yourself. If you ask for wisdom, I'll give it to you". So he engaged in prayer. But I want you to notice something he did beside praying. And that is he exercised practicality. He exercised practicality.
Now, let me show you what I mean in verse 14. Look at this prayer, he said to God. "Now may it be that the girl to whom I say, 'Please let down your jar so that I may drink.' And the one who answers, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels also,' may she be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac, and by this, I will know that you have shown loving kindness to my master". In other words, God hears what I want. Here's the sign I'm asking for it. The first girl who says, "I'm gonna give you water to drink Eliezer, and not only that, I'll water your camels". She's the one.
Now, it sounds like Eliezer was asking for a sign, doesn't it? That sounds like a sign to me. But what I wanna show you in this passage is Eliezer's sign was really wisdom in disguise. When he says, "Whoever offers to give me water and my camel's as well, let her be the one". First of all, an offer to do that would be a demonstration of kindness. And it was very important for whomever was going to be Isaac's wife, the head of the new household after Abraham passed on to be somebody who was kind, but she also had to be somebody in great physical shape to make that 500-mile journey on the back of a camel back to Canaan. To water ten camels would take a lot of strength.
You know, Dr. Henry Morris, the late Dr. Morris, in his Genesis commentary notes that a dry camel can take 20 gallons of water. If you've got 10 camels, that is 200 gallons of water this woman would have to draw and put in the cistern. That would take a very healthy woman to do that. So what I'm showing you is that really this wasn't an unrelated sign, this was wisdom in disguise. By the way, reason, and practicality alone is not the reason to do something. I realize sometimes God calls us to do things that don't seem to make sense. Remember he spoke to Abraham and said, "Abraham, offer your son, your only son Isaac".
That contradicted wisdom. But the point I'm making to you is this, if you are obeying God's principles, if you have prayed and you've got two choices for you, one that seems to make perfect sense and the one that makes no sense whatsoever, choose wisdom over nonsense. Choose practicality over impracticality. There's some people out there that get the idea that, "Oh, God's will must be the most ludicrous, senseless foolish thing I could possibly do. I'm gonna be a fool for Christ". No, if you've got something before you and you've got the choice between the practical and the impractical and your obeying God's will, choose practicality over impracticality.
Verse 21. Now notice what happens. Here is the woman, she's done exactly what Eliezer prayed, but verse 21, "Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence to know whether the Lord had made his journey successful or not". Isn't that just like most people, like us? Sometimes we pray and pray and pray for something, and when God gives us the answer, we wonder now, is this really God's will or not? That was Eliezer. Is this really the answer? Even though she met all of the criteria. Finally, Eliezer's good sense took over. Verse 26, "Then the man bowed low and he worshiped the Lord. And he said, 'Blessed be the Lord the, God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his loving kindness and his truth toward my master. As for me, the Lord has guided me in the way to the house of my master's brothers.'"
So Eliezer finds Rebekah, he puts her on the camel, they hightail it 500 miles back to Canaan. She meets Isaac and they live happily ever after, right? That's not how the story quite ends. You see, Eliezer now that he found Rebekah, had to ask permission of Rebekah's family. Now look at their response in verses 50 and 51, "Then Laban and Bethuel replied, 'The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here's Rebekah before you take her and go and let her be the wife of your master son as the Lord has spoken.'" Everybody seems convinced after hearing the story, this must be God. Everybody except Rebekah's mom, she still has a question. She says, "Well, couldn't our daughter stay with us for ten more days since we'll never see her again"? Eliezer says, "No, the Lord has spoken. We must go".
By the way, where did Eliezer learn the principle to obey God immediately? He learned it again by his employer, Abraham. When Abraham was told by God to circumcise himself and the servants, Abraham obeyed immediately. When God said, "Take your son Isaac to Mount Moriah offer him as a sacrifice". Abraham obeyed immediately. That influenced Eliezer. But there was one last thing they had to do before they left, they had to get Rebekah's response. Verse 58, "Then they called Rebekah and said to her, 'Will you go with this man?' And she said, 'I will go.'" Remember in verse 8, Abraham had said, "If she's unwilling to go, then we'll have to find another way". You know, Eliezer had done everything right. He obeyed the principles, he engaged in prayer, he engaged in practicality, but ultimately the decision was Rebekah's. "Do you want to go"? And she said, "I will go".
And that leads us to the fourth principle and finding a mate or making any decision that's according to God's will, and that is trust in God's providence. Trust in God's providence. I read a book years ago called, "All You Can Do Is All You Can Do". It's a great title for a book, but it applies to God's will too. After you have done everything you know to do, after you've sought to find what God's Word says, after you have prayed, after you've tried to be practical, you have to go ahead and make a decision. You need to go ahead and make a decision. And if you have made a mistake, that's when you trust in the sovereignty of God. And so after 500 miles, she finally makes it back to Canaan. Meanwhile, we're told in verse 63 that Isaac was out in the field working, surveying the horizon, waiting and waiting for Eliezer to return with the bride and curious to see who it would be.
So notice what happens. Verse 64, "Rebekah lifted up her eyes and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel. She said to Eliezer, 'Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?' And the servant said, 'He is my master.' Then she took her veil and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother's Sarah's tent, and he took Rebekah and she became his wife and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother's death". You know, I think the order is interesting there. She became his wife and then he loved her. Now, don't make more of this than I intend for you too. But you know, in our culture we put so much emphasis on there's gotta be that magic spark. When I meet the right when the violins will start playing and the fireworks will explode in the sky, and that's how I will know. You know, many times it's love that comes after we make the commitment.
Now, I understand there has to be a spark there. There has to be an attraction, there has to be a love. But once we make that commitment to somebody else, sometimes the love grows and grows and grows and grows after the commitment, not before the commitment. That's exactly what happened with Isaac and Rebekah. You know, we could end the story here and we would have learned some important principles about knowing God's will. We will have discovered an interesting chapter in the life of Abraham and the formation of that nation of Israel, but it would be negligence to stop here without pointing out the obvious. This story is real, it's historical. These are real people, but they are also a type of foreshadowing of an even greater story. Abraham is a type, he's a picture of God the Father who is seeking a bride for his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaac, Hebrews 11:19 says, "Is a type of Jesus Christ who is waiting in that far country, waiting for his bride to come home". Eliezer is a type, a picture of the Holy Spirit of God whom God sends to woo and invite people to become the bride of the groom, Jesus Christ. And Rebekah is a type of the church of Jesus Christ. Individual believers who have said to God, "I will, I do trust in Christ, and we await our journey back to heaven to meet the groom". That's the picture you find in this great story. And it's why Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You believe in God, believe also in me, for in my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would've told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again to take you under myself, that where I am there you may be also".