November 7, 2001
Claudia R. Wintoch
1. Rebekahís Childhood
Rebekah was the granddaughter of Nahor (Abrahamís brother) and Milcah, and the daughter of Bethuel. While Abraham had left his home country and now lived in Canaan, the rest of his family had stayed back. Rebekah lived with her father Bethuel and her brother Laban. Her mother is never by name. She might have been a concubine or servant girl. We can assume therefore that she did not receive all the nurture a little girl needs from her mum. Maybe she felt like she did not completely belong, longing to know that deep love and acceptance of a mother. I think it is probable that she was a servantís or concubineís daughter since she went to the well to get water which was a task the servants would usually do. In any case, she grew up being a humble servant in her fatherís household, a loveable girl that wanted to please everyone. Maybe she longed for love so much that she did everything she could to please people and gain their love and appreciation. Also, we must not forget that her family had stayed when God called Abraham to go. They might have been ridiculing Abraham, since they did not know the living God for themselves.
I myself also grew up in a non-Christian home, having only one parent and later an abusive step-father, longing for love and doing everything to get it from people. As Rebekah found that perfect love in Isaac, a type of Jesus, at the age of 15, Jesus lavished His love on me, when He found me when I was 20.
2. The Call
At the age of about 15 Rebekahís life was to take a turn she was not anticipating. She had grown up a humble, loveable girl, serving in her brotherís household. Like every day, she went out to the well to get water. There was a man there, closely watching her, and she wondered what he was up to. There was something about him, he seemed to have something she was longing for, and she longed to talk to him. Her culture not allowing that, she walked back towards her house, when he suddenly intercepted her course and addressed her. Her heart was beating fast, as he asked for a drink and she gave it to him. In her excitement, wanting to be around this man, a type of Holy Spirit, and to serve him, she offered to give all she had Ė she would draw water for all his camels, giving of all her strength, time and from her heart. She had met ďHoly SpiritĒ and given her all. Then the servant bows down, worshiping and praising God and for the first time she hears about the living God. Now she knows what is different about this man. She has found the living God she had always longed for. Full of excitement, she cannot help but leave her jar behind and run home to tell her family. Her brother comes out and acknowledges the Lord, while Rebekah is standing by, radiating with His glory.
When I was 20, at a sports camp organized by Intervarsity in Austria, I also knew those people had something I wanted, I had longed for all my life. Holy Spirit was stirring my heart and within a few days, I gave my life totally to the living God, the one my heart had always longed for. My face was radiating with His glory as I hungrily took in all about God I could get. Finally I had found that love I had been searching for all my life. And as Rebekahís life, my life would never be the same again; this divine encounter would totally change the course of my life.
3. Getting Ready
Laban, recognizing the Lordís servant, opens his house and invites him in. Through Rebekahís humble and serving heart, blessing has come to her whole household. Holy Spirit is being welcomed and has entered the house, like the woman at the well who opened the door for the people of her village to welcome Holy Spirit into their hearts. Abrahamís servant shares the purpose of His coming and how God had answered His prayer. All the while Rebekah is standing by, listening in awe, full of excitement, overwhelmed as she sees Godís plan for her life unfold. She pictures that father of her groom-to-be, how much he must love His son to do all of this, how much he will love her and how much her groom will love her. She knew she had found her destiny, and it was no question that she would go with the servant. Her brother and mother wanted her to stay ten more days before leaving, to say good-bye; after all, was not Abraham far away, and they would loose their little girl. Maybe they should think about all of this more. But nothing could keep Rebekah Ė now that she knew what lay ahead, she wanted to move on as soon as possible. Her family consents, gives her their blessing and send her on the way.
When I met Holy Spirit, I also opened my heart wide to welcome Him in. I was full of excitement as He showed me my destiny, the way to go, and in my zeal I would have liked to jump right into it all, arriving without the journey in between. However, my family rejected the Lord and cursed me instead of blessing me, because I chose to follow Him. Yet, whoever leaves his family and everything else behind, will receive abundantly more from Him.
4. The Journey
Full of excitement and anticipation, Rebekah gets ready for her departure. She can hardly wait to see her groom and be with Him. The servant puts her on a camel next to his and off they go Ė through the wilderness. At first she keeps questioning the servant about Isaac, wanting to know everything about him. But as the journey gets longer and longer, Rebekah gets tired, starts questioning if she was doing the right thing. After all, she was comfortable back home, with her family. And here she was, in the middle of the desert, with this man she hardly knew, on the way to a man she did not know, a life she knew nothing about. Yet the servant was at her side, caring for her, making sure she was comfortable and even when she started getting more silent, he would share about her groom, so that her eyes would start sparkling again. The servant knew where the oases were and led her there, so she could drink and rest, before continuing on with the journey, being strengthened again. And as they were approaching their destiny, he would tell Rebekah, who suddenly regained all her strength, radiating again, and making her camel go faster.
I myself was also ignorant of the wilderness journey ahead when I said yes to His call. I would have like to arrive at the goal without going through the desert, but He knew better. And Holy Spirit was at my side, strengthened me, protecting me, comforting me and leading me the way. And now that I am approaching the goal, the excitement is increasing, as I am about to see His destiny for my life fulfilled.
5. The Wedding
It was 1857 B.C. when Rebekah reached her new home. Her groom was on the field (Gen 24:63), probably having heard from messengers that her beautiful bride was about to arrive. Full of anticipation he stood on the field, gazing into the distance, to see her coming and not miss it. Finally he saw them! They were here! He starts running towards them and Rebekah questions the servant, whether this was him who so eagerly ran towards them. Her heart beats faster and she covers herself (Gen 24:65), for he should not see her beauty before their wedding day. Yet, she could see him fully and all her expectations were exceeded by far. There he was, 40 years old, a beautiful, mature, loving man. And Isaac led her to his motherís tent, his heart beating fast as well, hardly being able to wait to see his bride.
Then the day of their wedding came Ė her veil was lifted and Isaac saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He loved her from the bottom of his heart (Gen 24:67), knowing she was the one he had waited for all his life. And Rebekah knew that this was a historic day, feeling like a dream come true as she stands next to her beautiful groom God had given her.
Isaac and Rebekah had a wonderful time as they lived in their love for each other. As the years passed, however, they still did not have any children. People started whispering about them, questioning why God would curse them and not give them children. And Isaac and Rebekah sought the Lord, crying out to Him and questioning why He would not give them children. After all, it had been God bringing them together. And there was Abrahamís promise Ė had they done anything to forfeit it? Those must have been tormenting years as they became the laughingstock of the people around them. Grief overshadowed their love for each other. But Isaac would not give up. He prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife (Gen 25:21) and after 20 years of barrenness, she finally became pregnant.
7. Birth of her Sons
All the shame and grief was gone Ė God had not forgotten his servant and his promise. Their position and respect in the community were restored. However, after a few months, fear starts gripping Rebekah as she feels something strange going on in her womb. Having learned to seek the face of her God during the hard years, she goes to inquire of the Lord to know what was going on. And the Lord answers her prayer, giving her prophetic revelation concerning the destiny of her twin sons. As Mary, mother of Jesus, did, she kept that word in her heart, not really knowing what it meant. At the age of 35 (Isaac is 60), Rebekah then gives birth to Esau and Jacob. Again, joy fills her heart and life. Now everything is perfect, Godís purpose and will is being done.
However, as the boys grow up, it becomes evident that Isaac loves the first-born Esau, who is a hunter, while Rebekah loves Jacob, who is staying among the tents (Gen 25:28), spending his time with his mother and learning from her to love the Lord, her God. Rebekahís marriage is overshadowed by the tension and arguments they have over their sons.
8. Geographic Move & Deception
Like the emotional famine in their family, famine comes over the land, forcing them to move to the land of the Philistines in Gerar. Isaac, being afraid of being killed because of his beautiful wife, claims that she is his sister. Rebekahís heart fills with pain at her husbandís denial of their marriage. She wonders whether her love for Jacob has alienated her husband that much already. The Philistines respect Isaac, as they see Godís blessing on him and his family in this difficult time. However, everything that is hidden will come to light, and they find out that he had lied to them concerning Rebekah. Yet God turns it round for good and they are now granted special protection by the king. Rebekah watched everything closely and had learned the lesson of deception from her husband. As Isaacís wealth increases, the Philistines get jealous and scared and ask him to move away. So they settle in the valley of Gerar, where they make a peace covenant with the Philistines.
9. Grief over Esau
Rebekah is 75, Isaac 100, when Esau marries two Hittite women (Gen 26:34). Rebekahís heart is broken. All her life she had tried to put Godís laws into her son, yet he preferred to go hunting instead of listening. Now, Isaac sees Esau the way he really is for the first time and questions whether he should not have listened to his wife at times, letting him sit at her feet and listen to the laws of God. Their common grief bind them together as they pray to God for him. Rebekah is thankful for the new love and intimacy in their relationship and fights with her pride, wanting to tell him, that she had always been right.
10. Deception with Jacob
As Isaacís death approaches, Rebekah remembers the prophetic word received at her sonsí birth. Even though Isaac had to agree that Esau was not serving God or in any way interested in Him, he still loved him and after all, he was his firstborn. Not being able to reason with her husband, who was well over a 100, she remembers how Isaac had deceived the Philistines for Ďa good causeí.† She forgets that nothing is impossible for God, decides not to trust God to bring about His word, but to take it into her own hands. Rebekah devises a plan how Jacob could steal his brotherís blessing. Jacob, loving His mother and knowing her to be a woman of God, he highly respects, obeys her without questioning. With his motherís help, he achieves his goal of deceiving his father and brother.
11. Loss of Both Sons
When Isaac discovers his wifeís and sonís deception, his heart breaks. He cannot bless his first-born but has to speak the word of the Lord over him, which is hard for both of them. Esau is furious and full of rage, threatening to kill Jacob. Rebekah, afraid for her sonís well-being, sends Jacob to her brother Laban in Haran (Gen 27). She is full of sadness as she watches her beloved son leave. But not only does she loose Jacob, she also loses her son Esau, who feels betrayed by his own mother. In his sorrow and anger, Esau finally realizes how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac (Gen 28:8) and, hoping to regain his fatherís favor, and maybe still receive a blessing, he marries a daughter of Ishmael.
12. Rebekahís Death
We do not know the circumstances of her death, whether she ever saw her son Jacob again and whether she ever got reconciled with her son Esau. All we know is that she was buried with Abraham and Sarah in the cave of Machpelah (Gen 49:31). And, that Godís prophetic word to her, that she would increase to thousands upon thousands (Gen 24:60) was fulfilled through her son Jacob.