He said to them, “Do not delay me, since the LORD has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.”Genesis 24:56
(Another George Dobbs Photo)
Abraham’s oldest and most loyal servant has completed precisely one-half of his assigned task: he has located Rebecca, the God-chosen bride-elect of Isaac, the son of promise remarkably born of Abraham and Sarah in their old age. The servant now purposes to stay on point by completion of his task via a quick return to Abraham and Isaac with his prized beauty. Rebecca’s mother understandably has scruples over such a speedy, “shotgun-styled marriage” of sorts. Rebecca’s opportunistic brother Laban likewise wants to delay nuptials by hindering her return to Isaac for perhaps less than legitimate or honorable reasons. We can easily speculate that perhaps he hoped to garner more gifts of gold and silver from Abraham’s faithful servant before their departure for marital bliss in the Promised Land. (We definitely see in his subsequent future dealings with Jacob in matters pertaining to his daughters, Rachael and Leah, that he is a man given to money, manipulation and deceit. Put the guy in front of a camera and he could have had a brilliant career as a televangelist!)
Abraham’s wise servant having clearly discerned the hand of God, perhaps even recalling his master’s recent charge and assurance that “God will send His angel before you” is having nothing to do with delay. Rebecca is called alongside to affirm her desire with the servant’s intent, which remarkably but not surprisingly perfectly coincides with his plan… “Let’s get the heck outta here now!” Thus a speedy return is determined to be right, and the matter is settled. They immediately leave bound for the Land of Promise in obedience to their perception of the revealed will of a God who has clearly ordered their steps in this matter. Delay is out of the question! Abraham is aged and Isaac is waiting as he mourns the loss of his mother. (A mother’s departure is always painful and untimely even for adult sons. Rebecca’s mother here exhibits another type of pain as leaving and cleaving is fleshed out of and then into the mother-daughter relationship.)
God is interested in our attentive, trained sensitivity to the details of the leading of His Spirit in our lives by our subsequent timely, responsible, obedient faith-walk. God leads or prompts but we still must respond. The call of God’s will does not mean God removes all obstacles nor all adversaries, rather expect them in abundance from near and surprising sources. Some adversaries have valid concerns and need only time and patience to become advocates assured of God’s wisdom in a matter. We also do well to anticipate adversity from those who have some power by virtue of inherited positions of authority.
Perhaps opposition may be experienced from other insignificant spectators who think they have a “dog in the fight” as they stand on the sidelines offering needless and worthless commentary. We are called to stay focused on God’s purpose and glory. Obedience to the will of God always supersedes man’s opinion. On some level I am not required to offer explanation for why I am doing what I am doing beyond the revelation of God and His Word to me in my life. A gracious but firm “sit down, shut up and stand aside,” may become necessary with some of the more obnoxious irritants. I have found I personally still struggle to refrain from commentary about others as God’s wisdom in their life may be contrary to my opinion (or desire). My opinion is not critically significant in most cases. God’s glory in our obedience is. The call to stand and see the salvation of the Lord takes great pains to implement and patience to… well just waiting and standing. (I am sure Moses would validate that it is difficult to stand and wait when an army is bearing down upon you.)
Resistance to the will of God is expected and normative to those whose senses are not trained in matters spiritual. Yes, and we know that resistance to the will of God in the spiritually mature can only be overcome by grace, and this presupposes faith-works in its completion. We do not naturally gravitate toward obedience in response to the call of the cross but by grace alone. Grace eventually teaches us to love and obey the cross as we submit to His will to be done, not ours. We also have and do nothing that makes an indelible mark upon eternity except it be done in faith. God is not interested in glorified efforts of our flesh. Without faith it is impossible to please God. The flesh profits nothing.
When God clearly shows us the way to walk… when God speaks and we hear His voice say, “This is the path, walk ye herein,” at some point hesitation or timidity becomes sinful procrastination that opens the door of rank disobedience. Waiting upon the Lord becomes sinful neglect after we hear Him say, “He has told you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Justice, mercy and a daily dose of relational faith are all safe bets in doing the will of the Father.
We are called to faithfulness in doing God’s will even if we have to go alone and even if we have to turn to the right or left as this faithful man replied to Laban. (I have found lots of Laban’s. Lots of them. They hang out and around serious-minded believers often offering irrelevant commentary calculated to hinder obedience to a lifestyle characterized by a faith-walk. Their way is always best. They often refuse counsel even in the context of Biblical principle clearly laid out. They are easily threatened and insist upon their way or the highway. They love to exercise both real and pseudo-authority by being wordsmiths skilled in manipulation of the masses. They are men of sight, not men of faith.
And then of course the world is filled with obvious unconverted opportunists such as The Donald Trump’s who wear a thin veneer of religiosity for personal gain and power. I think even Liberty University picked up on his pretense. But I digress… Let me return to matters eternal.
A pastor friend once offered a profundity in a sermon in response to the difficulty of a believer being obedient to the will of God in the workplace where rank ungodliness abounds. He said, “What did you think they would do, not tell dirty jokes just because you are there? Did you actually think that they would rather sit around singing hymns? That does not matter and that will not change; you are called as salt and light. You are to be lights in the midst of darkness holding forth the Word of truth right in the midst of them, and when the occasion arises to speak the Word… boldly in love affirm what the Word of God proclaims about a particular situation or abomination. It is then that you might expect the conversation to terminate.” (Andy had a way of saying things that one can never quite escape. And he was so correct on so many things.)
Obedience to the will of God involves a cost. Remember Christ? Remember He said to “Do this in remembrance of Me”? Do you remember what the bread and cup represent? His broken body and blood? Remember too… He did it for joy set before Him as He submitted Himself to the will of the Father as He loved and died for the unlovely.
Abraham’s servant was the point man on mission operating under the auspices of his master’s desire. Jesus of Nazareth likewise operated under the decree of the Father in speedy purposeful obedience which merited the Father’s commendation of, “This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” And this is why we need Him. As we flail about seeking the will of God with occasional aspirations of obedience to it, we often fall short of the mark. At times we even neglect to pick up bow and arrow to shoot at the target of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus to “be perfect as He is perfect.” Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ who has won us an obedience by merit of His perfection of always doing the things in timely manner to validate His credentials as the only begotten of the Father. We stand in Him and in His work alone.
We need Him. We need Him even when we believe we are recipients of the grace to have a good day of speedily doing the revealed will of the Father as we “return to our Master’s house,” to complete the task. Perhaps we then need Him more as we have then become recipients of more grace and have acquired more debt. We know this for sure: God’s will becomes transparently clear as we offer ourselves as living sacrifices with renewed minds, and as we show ourselves as examples of those who believe. How else will the kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven?
The purposes of God were advanced by the diligent effort of this one faithful man to accomplish the given task. He would not relent but knew full obedience to the assigned duty was satisfied only upon his return to his master whom he knew to be a man who owned the promise of God. Eternity hung in the balance of his resoluteness to withstand adversity and reasonable arguments to delay in doing the right thing. He stands in scripture as a model man of God who could not deviate from his mission. We too must aspire to be single-visioned recipients of grace to stay-on-point for the glory of God as we move toward completion of our life mission.