Did you know that the Bible gives us an example of dedicated love between a man and a woman who didn’t even know each other? Stick around and we’ll talk about it. Here on five minutes of truth.
One of the key characteristics of the so-called Patriarchs of the Old Testament was that, for the most part, they all had more than one wife? This was true of Abraham, Jacob, Caleb, Gideon, David, Solomon and most likely, Moses. Despite the fact that God had ordered and ordained that marriage be a monogamous union between a man and a woman, many of His most faithful followers engaged in polygamy outside of God’s desire.
The fact that God did not cut them off from His love and His salvation is a true testament to His grace and mercy. It is also important to note that just because God did not seem to overtly punish them (as far as we know) that is not to mean the He gave them a pass or that He had relaxed His rules regarding marriage. It does go to show, however, that His love and grace is enough to still render us useful to Him in spite of our sin nature. That is, in part, what the Cross and the empty tomb were all about. Despite His command, nearly all of the Old Testament “heroes of the faith” engaged in marriages outside the boundaries God had prescribed. Except for one guy.
Abraham’s son, and the son of the promise God made to Abraham, was named Isaac. Many people know this. What many people do NOT know is the story of Isaac’s beloved wife, Rebekah. The only wife Isaac would ever have. The story…is extraordinary.
As Abraham grew old and was facing his mortality, he desired to see Isaac married. However, since Abraham had been obedient to God and had ended up living in a land far away from his homeland, he did not want Isaac to find a wife there. Instead, he wanted his son to find a wife among “my family” so that the promise of God might be fulfilled through his lineage. So, Abraham did what any good father would do…he sent his servant to his homeland to pick out a wife for his son.
Of course I’m kidding. This was a very odd approach to assure a proper wife for his son, but he did it nonetheless. After imploring his servant to swear that he would find a wife for Isaac from among their extended family, the servant set out. After reaching the city of Nahor (named after Abraham’s brother) an interesting thing happened. The servant stopped by the city well and prayed…a very specific prayer.
He requested of God that if a woman came to the well and asked a specific question in a specific way, then that would be young woman he would approach about becoming Isaac’s wife. The Bible reports that, “before he had finished praying”, a young woman named Rebekah arrived at the well and used the exact verbiage the servant had requested of God.
Knowing that God had indeed led the servant to Rebekah, the servant immediately presented her with gifts of gold and asked about her lineage. In an answer that should surprise no one…it was determined that she was Isaac’s cousin…whom Isaac had never met. In fact, it is doubtful they even knew the other existed.
Once the servant met the extended family, he introduced himself as coming from Abraham to find Isaac a wife and how God had led him directly to Rebekah in such a way that it could not be denied that it was from the Lord. And though the family was hesitant to let Rebekah go so quickly and implore the servant to let her linger at home a bit longer, it was Rebekah (who was probably in her early to mid-teens) who said, “I will go”.
Upon reaching Isaac’s home, Rebekah saw him from a distance and having determined who he was, covered herself until their wedding day. The Scripture then says that Isaac, “took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death”. And through it all, Isaac would never love another woman.
That doesn’t mean that they didn’t have issues. All marriages do. There was the entire incident where Rebekah deceived Isaac so that their son Jacob (her favorite) received a blessing that was due to the older brother Esau. So devastated was Isaac about this treachery that it is hard to believe it didn’t seriously impact family get-togethers.
The point is, the relationship between Isaac and Rebekah was completely based on love not as the world defines it, but as God’s Word defines it. The world will tell us that love is a feeling and that every decision based on that love must be related to how we feel.
However, there will be times in our relationship with our spouse where we will not have the associated “feelings”…especially in the midst of an argument or when we are angry. Which unfortunately happens from time to time when we are married. Isaac and Rebekah had never met…never even knew the other existed…prior to getting married. But they both knew that God had ordained this marriage and they both loved each other.
They loved not because they felt it, they loved because they decided to love each other. It was an act of their collective will, not feeling that can change with the circumstances. Love has feelings associated with it…but it is not a feeling. It is the opportunity to decide to love someone whether they deserve it or not. It is the opportunity to decide to love even and especially when you don’t feel it. Isaac and Rebekah decided to do that because God had given them real, true love. As a result, they never loved another. How cool is that?
On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
Dr. Purvis started Growth Project with Robert Houghton after spending 20 years on active duty as a Chaplain in the United States Navy. After many moves and multiple deployments, he settled in Winter Haven, Florida to do God’s will. A glutton for educational punishment Danny has a BA in English from Carson-Newman College, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. He has been married to his wife Kimberly (whom he met when they were 6 years old) for nearly 30 years and they have four wonderful children.