Genesis 24 (link) is next. Here’s a link to a prior sermon on the passage if you’re interested. Meanwhile, let’s move forward. The story is moving forward and we don’t want to miss it.
Abraham is nearing the end of his life. He knows this—the text records that he was ‘very old’ at this point. Which, by the way, you should probably never call anyone. Not to their face, not behind their backs.
He is aging. His wife is deceased. It is time to put the focus forward: future generations. Abraham has seen God fulfill the promise to provide a son to him, but what about next?
This has to be considered. After all, Isaac is not going to possess the land forever himself, is he? Time will eventually catch each of the patriarchs and send them to the cave of Machpelah. Isaac must have offspring, he must have a heritage of his own.
Which means he needs a wife. That’s the opening phase of building a family, typically, a marriage: husband, wife, and then eventually children. Abraham knows how important this is. The only person to stick with him all the way from Ur of the Chaldees to the land of Canaan was Sarah, his wife.
Throughout all of his journeys, through good things or bad things, Abraham has had her with him. Their commitment to each other has been part of his life, and I can imagine she’s been part of pushing forward his commitment and obedience to God.
He’s also seen the times that the two of them have fallen away from what’s right. The whole sister/wife thing alongside the “here use my handmaiden” stunt were couple activities. Abraham knows the influence for good and bad of a man’s wife.
So he is concerned, perhaps even worried, about Isaac. Isaac is an adult but unmarried. Abraham does not want Isaac to marry from the people of Canaan. He has seen their sinfulness and does not want his son drawn into it.
The story is a remarkable one and great for the reading.
Let’s consider what is here for us:
1. The relationships we have at home are crucial. One can follow God from a divided home, but it’s not a good thing to start with that plan. It’s much better, as far as possible, to start right with a home united to follow Christ.
2. There should be no going back to our old ways. If we are serving God now, we should not return to what we were beforehand.
3. We have to consider future generations. It is an unfortunate thing to find, but it’s fairly prevalent: people who are primarily concerned with themselves. We see it in churches all too often: some please the younger at the expense of the older, while others do the reverse.
We see it in families that build wealth and power to transmit to future generations but fail to transmit values and character. We see it parents who will provide for their children but not consider their grandchildren. We see it when we fix our national problems today by passing the bill on to further generations.
It is not enough to have peace in our time, nor to have security for ourselves. We must make the hard choices now to prepare the way for our successors. They will have enough trouble of their own and in their own time, but it is not for us put them in a position that failure is not an option but is guaranteed.
That’s a portion of the lesson here.