Posts tagged ‘Isaac’

June 28, 2011

How can I know God’s will? (3)

by Calvin Goligher

With our two basic assumptions in hand, we have already considered the Biblical example of Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24. We move on now to consider a second Biblical example: how Abraham himself came to know God’s will in this episode.

We do not read of any direct revelation to Abraham concerning the matter of choosing a wife for Isaac. How did he know that it would be better to find a wife for Isaac from his own family, rather than from among the Canaanites? The key to answering this question is in verse 7, where Abraham speaks of God not only as “the Lord God of heaven,” but also as the one who said: “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” Abraham knew that Isaac was God’s child of promise to him, through whom God would bring to pass all of his promises to Abraham. Abraham would have an innumerable offspring through Isaac, and Isaac was the “seed” through which all the nations of the earth would be blessed (22:18).

Abraham also knew that God would give “this land” to Isaac, his seed. If Isaac and his offspring are to possess the land, two conditions must be in place. First, Isaac must live in “this land.” This is why Abraham was so adamant that his servant not bring Isaac back to Haran. Second, Isaac and his offspring must be distinct from the Canaanites who then possessed the land; otherwise, his seed would never drive out the resident nations in order to possess the land themselves, as God had promised (15:16-21). This is why Abraham was equally adamant that Isaac not marry a Canaanite woman.

Abraham’s example gives us some insight into how we are to know the will of God. He did not make decisions without any thought for their consequences, as if they did not matter at all. Rather, he made an enormous effort to find not only a wife for Isaac, but the right wife. We notice also that he did not have an angel appearing to help him with every decision he made. Rather, he made his decisions concerning a wife for his son on the basis of God’s previous, and more general, revelation.

Like Abraham, we look at what God has already revealed in general, and apply the principles of His word to know His will in our particular situation.

June 22, 2011

How can I know God’s will? (2)

by Calvin Goligher

Having considered two basic assumptions that must inform our effort to know God’s will, we move on to look at a Biblical example of a person seeking and knowing God’s will.

In Genesis 24, Abraham sends his chief servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. He did not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman, and thereby make allegiance with the wicked Canaanites of the land. Instead, he told his servant to go and find a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s extended family back in Haran. Abraham assured him that God would “send his angel before thee” to guide his search (7). The servant agreed, and set off for Mesopotamia.

As he drew nigh to the city, he stopped by the local well. As he waited there, he prayed that God would lead him in a particular way: he asked that the girl who offers him and his camels water would be the one that God had “appointed for [his] servant Isaac” (14). Rebekah came along, and offered him and his camels water. Sure enough, Rebekah fit the bill (she was a relative of Abraham).

The servant’s explanation to Rebekah of what had just transpired is well-known: “I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (27). The servant’s example is important. He was already doing what he knew to be the general will of God for him—obeying his master in seeking a suitable wife for Isaac. God then answered his prayer to lead him more specifically to the woman he had chosen.

Thus we see our two basic assumptions at work in the way the servant sought God’s will. He understood that God wanted him to make a good decision, and so did not treat the matter lightly or proceed carelessly. Rather, he prayed that God would enable him to “get it right.” Also, he understood that good decisions reflect God’s revealed will. He did what he already knew to be God’s will, and prayed that God would, in a sense, take care of the rest.

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