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I thought as we meet together on these Wednesday nights when I can be with you, I really enjoy the opportunity to be here. I assume that there are times when I'm here and you'd like to ask me a question about the Church or about something, and you don't get that opportunity very often. So, maybe as we can do it, if we have a little bit of time when we get together, we can have a little opportunity for you to do that.
If anybody has anything on their heart they want to ask me; any questions you've got in your mind about the Church or about something I've said, I want to be open and available, or just about anything that may be of some concern to you; something that's legitimately been on your heart. This is not, 'let's see if I can think up a question and stump John.' That's not hard, but if there was something on your heart, it does give me the opportunity to know what's going on. And yes?
Audience Question: (Inaudible)
Are we gonna' see God when we get to heaven? Are we gonna' see God in His full glory? Are we gonna' see Him in His full glory?
My understanding is no. I think we'll see a lot more than we can see now, but if you go back to 6 Isaiah, you have the cherubim there in the presence of God and with six wings and with two they covered their faces. And I think because they are created beings and we are created and then recreated beings, there will still be some limitation to the reality of God which we can comprehend.
In 33 Exodus, God says, "No one can see me and live." We will know, as we are known, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13, "We will be made like Christ." That is to say, we will have a glorified and resurrected body of the same nature as His, and yet, we won't be Christ. We won't become God.
So, there will still be some separation between what a man is, even a glorified man or a glorified woman and what God is. And there's still going to be an incomprehensibility to God. So, we'll be able to apprehend a lot more of God and not be consumed because our sin will be set aside. But, as to whether or not we will be created in glory to the degree that we can embrace all the fullness of God, I would find that hard to say yes to, because if we could completely absorb all the fullness of God, we would be equal to God. And I don't think, though, we will be like Christ, that is to say we will have a glorified body like He has a glorified body. We will not become God. And so there will always be something immense and something transcendent about Him.
We will still be spatially identifiable. That is to say, there's a place that He's preparing for us and we'll go there, and we'll be like the glorified Christ. And we'll have, therefore, the limits of our own glorified humanity, whereas God will be immense as He's always been immense and fill all of endless reality. So, there will be an incomprehensibility to God, I think.
Audience Question: (Inaudible)
Doesn't say anything; doesn't say what's gonna' happen to the children at the rapture.
Audience Question (Inaudible)
Well, she's saying what about babies at the rapture? And some people have said that if the parents are Christians, the babies will go in the rapture. Well, some people do say that, but, the Bible does not say that. It doesn't say anything.
So, the best assumption that the dead in Christ will rise first, and then we which are alive and remain -- We being those who believe in Christ. Children are not even discussed. So, the assumption would be that those children -- There's nothing that tells us they're gonna' be raptured; the assumption is they're gonna' be left. Then, they will have the opportunity, if they grow to the age of accountability during the time of the tribulation, to believe.
If they have not reached an age of accountability by the time the tribulation is over, they would be treated like anyone under the age of accountability. I think God would treat them with grace and mercy and take them to glory, rather than judge them.
But, I know that's a burden for a lot of people. And that's a very difficult issue because the Scripture doesn't say anything about it at all. It doesn't say anything about it, even if you say that's one of the reasons I don't want to be pre-milk, because I don't want to leave, and have all my kids who are under the age of 12 or whatever left here on the earth. Some people don't look forward to the rapture because they worry about that.
But, you would have the same problem no matter when, if you said, "I want to be post-tribulational and I'll just believe the Lord will come and setup His kingdom." Well, you have the same problem, 'what's He gonna' do with the children?' And the answer at that point is that they would be taken into the kingdom if they were -- if they believed. And if they didn't believe, they wouldn't, but if they were below the age of accountability, we still don't know what God does with them. So, there's really no answer to that. But, whatever God does will be loving and just. And that's where it has to reside.
Audience Question: (Inaudible)
He's asking about living wills. Ed is asking about living wills, and you don't want any heroic efforts to preserve your life if it gets down to that. You want to write out something that says when I reach a certain point, pull the plug.
And basically, the Bible really doesn't speak to that issue specifically, but the assumption is, and I think it's a very, very strongly grounded assumption that man is created in the image of God. And therefore, assuming that to be true, we would then assume that everything should be done within possibility to maintain the life of an individual.
Obviously, there comes a point, and if I talk to medical doctors they'll always tell me the same thing. They'll always tell me once you get a flat EEG, you might as well pull the plug because your heart may stop and it can be kept alive and you're alive, but, when the brain goes flat, there's nobody home.
Sad to say, there are some people who want to keep the thing running because it's clicking over the dollars like your gas meter. It becomes an economic issue. But, I think it's a reasonable decision for anyone to make that when they've reached a point where the quality of life is absolutely marginal and all you're doing is sustaining someone's bodily functions, past the point where their mind is functioning, that it's reasonable to say they want to pull the plug.
That's a far cry from euthanasia which is to take older people who aren't making a contribution, or ill people who aren't making a contribution and just leave them there to die. I think we have to do everything we can to preserve life. I mean, if we take life, according to 9 Genesis, then we should give our life. That's how sacred life is. That's the law of capital punishment and God is very, very clear about it.
Jesus even said to Peter -- Peter pulled out a sword and He said, "Those who take up the sword; die by the sword." And what he meant by that was, if you take a life, Peter, they have every right to take your life, so you're playing in a very dangerous area here, by doing this, because it can cost you your life.
And I think God is there saying that life is to be preserved because it's created in the image of God. So, we want to do everything we possibly can, but I think it's very reasonable to say when I get to a point where it is clear that I can no longer; my EEG is flat; or I've gone beyond the point of any redeemable level of humanity that I don't want to be kept alive.
And most medical doctors can talk to people about what that point is. I get with Christian people a lot who ask me that question. They've got a dying mother, father; when is it proper to do that? And generally speaking, sensitive Christian people, when they work closely with the medical folks can discern when a person's past the point when there's any hope for any kind of recovery, other than just sustaining people on a machine. Okay?
Audience Question: (Inaudible)
Yes, he's asking for an update on Fred Barshof, first of all, then Pat Howell and his family in South Africa. Fred is basically dying and it's just a matter of days. I've been trying to get over there but I can't get there, 'cause I don't have the time; I can't find the time when I'm not speaking somewhere or preaching or whatever and I can't get there.
Hawaii's on the way to no place. It's the opposite of everything, so I haven't been over there. But, Gary Ezzo just came back a few days ago, and he said Fred is now -- They're taking him off all chemo and he said Mary has really accepted the fact that he's gonna' go and be with the Lord and she's doing well through all this.
Fred is great and wonderful, confident, happy, joyous self and is giving a great testimony for the grace of Christ in the face of all these doctors and everybody working with him. It's a matter of time. They put him on some steroids now which enables him to go up and down the stairs where he lives.
He's been using his little computer that we gave him to write out some stuff that's on his heart, and what he's writing is something that I think is gonna' be extremely significant. He is writing all of his thoughts and all the things that are in his heart as he faces death. So, that's gonna' be a wonderful legacy for all of us when it's done. He's writing about how to face death and what God's grace means to him in the face of all that. He will probably fade off into heaven, having not finished his last little piece of work on that computer because he's fiddling with it all the time.
But, we just continue to pray for them as they go through this time. I've heard that they don't expect him to live through the month of July. So, when I get back from Canada -- See, I have to again over to Atlanta for that Sixth Christian Booksellers Convention and then I have to preach a couple of places in Alabama and Michigan. So, I just -- I'm trying to get over there and I hope I can see him. If not here, I'll see him in heaven.
With regard to Pat Howell, Pat is having a tremendous time. He sends us regular faxes that are like five, six, seven pages of single spaced, tiny little type. He is a very, very wonderful guy. He is a tremendous guy. And God is using him there in a great way to work with church leaders.
The original plan was to get that church started called Grace Community Church of Campton Park and that church has kind of gone its own way, and another church has started that needs his help more, and so he's involved in that church. And it's really started off of our tapes and radio program.
So, it's -- And then he's traveling around some with Peter Gruner who represents Grace to You in South Africa, and meeting with pastors. He feels that I need to come there, so now it looks like I'm gonna' have to go in '94 down to South Africa again and minister.
April 27, 1994, will be the, really the great day in the history of South African modern history because that's the day when they're gonna' have an open election. And basically, the NAC will win because Blacks, tribal Blacks outnumber the rest of the population 70-percent - 30-percent. The ANC will win. The ANC, by the way, is Mandela, which poses a very interesting situation.
Mandela, you know about him from the media, but what you may not know is Mandela was in prison for being a terrorist. He murdered people; he used the ring of fire, where you put a tire around somebody's neck and light it on fire with gasoline. And that's why he spent so many years in prison, because he was a terrorist. I mean he was a murderer, mass murderer.
And most of that stuff has to do with -- it isn't really a racial thing. It's the Xhosas. They say it when they click the Xhosas and the Zulus, are these two huge tribes of tribal Black people who have fought for centuries and they're still at it. And the primary war is between the Xhosas and the Zulus.
It's going to be interesting because the ANC is Zulu. And if the ANC win and Zulu people become those who are in power, the Christian people that I know over there, the people in the Church that I know love Christ. As I told you earlier, we've been working with a wonderful Black church and a Black pastor that is a partner with what Pat Howell is doing over there.
There is a real love between the Blacks and the White Christians there, Afrikaans Christians and English speaking Christians. And there's another group called colored, and those are non-tribal Blacks that basically come from other parts of the world. They may even come from Europe or somewhere.
And then the second largest population of Indians is in Durbin, outside India. So, you have all of these various factions, but the real war is between these two huge Black tribes. And when you see the riots and the wars going on, that's what's going on. And when the police step in, that's what embroils them in that, as they try to sort out who's doing what.
So, when the ANC comes into power, whether the Xhosas are gonna' tolerate that or not, who knows. What very well can happen in South Africa and it's sad to think about. South Africa's a magnificent country, magnificent, beautiful, very, very up-to-date, modern in many, many ways; very dear, gracious people. I met people -- We had people in our conferences of every one of those racial groups.
Christian people don't have any problem getting along. It was wonderful. But, what is happening in South Africa, if you look at Rhodesia, you can see basically the same thing happened there. The English came in; it went from being a Third World country to being a very, modern Western country. And then communism came in and the communist agitators came in and overthrew the government and now it's gone all the way back to being a Third World country again.
So, in South Africa what you have is a brain drain going on. They call it a brain drain. What that means is that everybody who's at the top end in terms of teachers, leaders, doctors, dentists, nurses, are leaving. And so you have a terrible situation because all the people who provide the resources academically and medically, and in terms of leadership and the businesses and all of that stuff, are leaving. The sad part of it is this stuff is all agitated by communism, by communist infiltrators just like all through Africa.
We've been watching it for the last 30, 35 years. It's the same kind of scenario. Saw it in South America and you see it there. So, it's really sad, but, Pat feels that this is the time to come. Well, I was originally supposed to be there the last two weeks in April, over the election, but they felt that wouldn't be a good time because who knows what's gonna' bust loose. And if things do break loose, it could interfere with the meetings. So, we're rescheduling that, but Pat says there's a certain feeling that Mandela's concerned about this stuff. He's smart enough to know if he drives this issue too far, he'll drive out all the resources of the country and all he'll be left with is a massive war between these tribes. So, it's a great, great concern.
All we can do is go over and try to minister to all of them, and the only hope for that country, and Pat reiterates this, is the Gospel of Christ changing lives. And that's why our little role in radio is so very important because for years, you see, no Black person could ever go in Afrikaans church. And apartheid, while understandable, because for example, if you're de Klerk and you're gonna' have a meeting -- They would have a meeting with some of the tribal people. One of the rules they had was that you had to leave your spears outside the room. So, you're talking about somebody who's got a PhD. and somebody who's carrying a spear. And them coming together to try to discuss things, I mean, it's a slight disadvantage for the guy without the spear, you can understand.
So, the cultures are so far apart, it's not simply a Black/White issue. There are Afrikaans speaking people, which is a Dutch German derivative. There are English-speaking people. There are Indian-speaking people. And then there are all these tribal people with all these different languages, and then there are what's called the colored people that are non-tribal Blacks, very fine people, much like the Black people we would know in Southern California, like we have in our church, like some of you folks.
And all of this mishmash is sort of caught up in these tribal wars, but Apartheid didn't help. And the Dutch Reform Church, which is the Afrikaans speaking church, they wanted to preserve their culture, but in preserving their culture, probably had a right motive, they went about it the wrong way. They cut; they literally isolated the Black people. And there's no question about the fact that there were injustices, no question.
And many of the church leaders now know that, and they want to admit that, but they would like to have a negotiable settlement, but that's not gonna' happen. They're just gonna' -- The tide is just gonna' come running over them.
And many of them have to said to me, it's a really tragic, tragic thing, but it's very understandable because of certain deprivations and things like that. So, Pat's there at a strategic time trying to orchestrate the movement that needs to happen there, which is some people coming out of those old-line Afrikaans churches and starting brand new Bible teaching, Bible believing, Christ exalting churches. And he wants to get that started somewhere, and if we can just get a couple of those things started that really go.
See, what's happened is Kenneth Hagen has come in there; dumped $5 million; built a 5000 seat church in Johannesburg, and the 'Charismania' thing is going crazy over there. So, somewhere between the Dutch reform and the Charismaniacs, you've got to have a basically biblical kind of church and that's what Pat's working on, though it's a great challenge. Yes?
Audience Question: (Inaudible)
The best thing I can recommend to you is get my book 'Faith Works'. It's just out; you can get a copy in the bookstore. And if you didn't bring your money tonight, just tell them to put it on my bill. Don't you all ask me questions that have that kind of an answer, but, just tell them you want the book 'Faith Works' and you read it. It'll give you all the answers you need. Vince?
Audience Question: (Inaudible)
When are we gonna' have another Friday night prayer time? I don't know. We're working on that now. We've had a lot of changes in our staffing and that's one of the things that kind of has been set aside.
By the way, along that line, not set aside, just hasn't gotten in the planning because of the changes, we need to do that and we will do that. Again, I'm not in all the staff meetings and stuff, but I think maybe Kerry Hardy who's come in to do our biblical counseling and our prayer room ministry kind of thing, may have that on his plate and he's pretty new.
By the way, just along that line, you need to pray for Herb Klingen, bless his heart. You heard him pray Sunday and you can see the stroke has affected him. Well now, something went wrong with his hearing and he's got shingles, which are very, very painful and even affect your eyes. So, I called him.
Another member of our church, Ben Loll; I've got to go right away, as soon as I'm done here, to the hospital because he had emergency bypass surgery. He's came to us from Boston University; teaches business at the college, just a great guy. In fact, he's from India, but just didn't want to forget to say that because I'm gonna' have to hurry at the end. Yes?
Audience Question: (Inaudible)
Did I see like any prophetic signs while I was in Israel? Well, we saw a lot of things. But, no I can't say that there was anything that I said, "Oh, wow! I know where that fits; that rock or that deal." But, I'll tell you the thing that is just overwhelming is the fact that Israel is there. The Jews are there. And I mean they're there to stay.
And the fact that God is bringing them back to their land is absolute gilt-edged indication that He's not through with Israel. And what that means is there is coming the salvation of Israel and the kingdom for Israel. I mean, they are in their land and I don't see how it would be conceivable for anybody to remove them. They're so sophisticated. Unless the whole world all at once ganged up on them like anti-Christ will do.
When you're there, you're just overwhelmed at how they are there, and they're imbedded and ingrained in the land and they live for the land. They live in very modest houses; they have very modest furniture. Their life is very simple; they dress very simply. Life is survival and they will die before they will allow anyone to take them away from their land. They're there.
But, at the very time that they're there, they're in terrible conflict. The whole city of Jerusalem, for example, is in conflict because on the one hand you've got the non-religious nationalistic kind of zealot Jews. And just like in the ancient times, and on the other hand, you've got these radical Hassidic Jews who will stone you if you walk through their neighborhood on Saturday. They'll drop rocks on you because they're still carrying out the Sabbath law.
So, there's a tremendous amount of conflict there, internal conflict, and a great, great need for the Gospel. There's not a great openness to the Gospel. I was told when I was there, from some people who came to me and pled with me, and said, "Please send us someone. We need someone in the city of Jerusalem who is teaching the Bible. We have a church here but it tends to be 'Charismatic' and we need someone with a Bible teaching, Bible preaching ministry here." But, it'll come and I believe, as we know in the Book of Revelation, there's gonna' be a kingdom for Israel. I think that's the predominant thing that you see there.
There are a number of other things like Jesus' prophesized the destruction of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. And He said it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you; if the things that had been done in you, had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would've repented."
And when you go to where Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum are there's nothing there. And to me, it's one of the most lovely spots anywhere in the world. It sits up on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in little hills up there and it would be a place where you -- it's so idyllic; a place you would dream to live, and yet, there's no one there, absolutely no one. It's absolutely barren.
The whole of Galilee is barren with the exception of Nazareth and Tiberius, there's nothing in the whole of the upper Galilee area, where Jesus spent all His time. He just cursed the whole place because of their unbelief and you see that very vividly there.
Well, let's look at the word of God together. We have a little bit of time and I thought tonight I might take you back to 24 Genesis. We don't need to spend a lot of time on this, but 24 Genesis -- By the way, I want to make one other announcement.
I'm thinking about all kinds of things, just in case anybody asks. At the Elder's meeting last Thursday night we had a lot of things that we talked about. One of the things that we talked about, and I'll just pass this on for your information and you can share it as you go along, was Gary Ezzo presented to the Elders a new scenario kind of for his own ministry. What has happened to him over the last 10 years has been amazing, as that ministry has just grown and grown and grown.
First it started out as a ministry of Grace church and then it was in southern California and then it was California and then it was America and now it's all over the globe, Growing Kids International. So, Gary and Ann Marie felt that in order to manage that ministry because it's a massive thing. I mean, they keep producing books and tapes and videotapes and he's in demand to speak, that it would be better if he transitioned from being a staff elder, employed by the church to just being a lay elder and drawing his salary out of that ministry and out of what people give him when he goes to speak because he needs to be gone so long.
The elders were just really affirming in that, that obviously God has opened the door for that thing and it's all over the world, and Gary wanting to be faithful here, says, no, no, no, all the time to other opportunities. So, they felt that the right approach was to just transition from being a staff elder employed by the church; staying on the elder board; keeping the ministry here. Everything is gonna' keep going the way it's going, but then that frees Gary up from being in this office to being wherever he needs to be for the development of that ministry.
It should be obvious to all of us that the whole process of the dissolution of the family is the single greatest disaster in our day. There's no question about it. In fact, John Stead was reading to me today out at the college. We were talking and he was reading me an article from 'The Spectator' in which this analyst was saying that if men don't have the opportunity to use their leadership skills, the normal male desire to lead and rule in the family, they'll take it to the streets. Quite an interesting article on what happens when males are frustrated in the normal place where God has intended their leadership and their drive and to be used.
So, I think we've seen a breakdown of the family. It's obvious that people are hanging on Gary's skirts like 10 gentiles on a Jew saying, "Help us with our kids." And so he felt that it would be -- It was just demanded of him.
He's going on radio now and he keeps -- they're getting more and more stations on the Moody Network. So, it's really taken off. He might be praying, too, we need to bring someone in to cover the areas that he's not gonna' cover. He'll keep doing the parenting, the children, and all of that, but, we need to cover other areas of our family ministry. So, pray for him and Ann Marie, too. It's a little bit of a step of faith, but he knows we all love him so he's got a safety net.
Let's look at 24 Genesis. I thought maybe tonight I'd just share with you some of the characteristics of a servant. There are a number of places in the Bible you can go to learn about servanthood.
By the way, we had a wonderful thing -- I might as well tell you another thing. We've needed a financial vice president at the Master's College and we've needed one for a long, long, long time. I think we've needed one since I came there in '85, somebody to really oversee the finances and somebody whose a very gifted guy.
In the last few months, we've been talking to a man by the name of Joe Davis. Joe has been for the last 10 years, the Financial Vice President for Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll. And as of yesterday, he called me and said he's coming to the Master's College. We are just ecstatic about it.
He sent me a little deal, a fax, and he said here are my responsibilities. Responsibility 1, he said, "To be a servant. To teach other people to be a servant and to model what a servant is." That's really wonderful because servant leadership is what Jesus used. Isn't it? He didn't come to be ministered unto, but to be what? To serve and give His life a ransom for many, the servant leader.
Well, there's a wonderful model of a servanthood in 24 Genesis. It says in Verse 1, and we'll just kind of buzz through the chapter and I'll leave you with some highlights. Abraham was old, advanced in age, and the Lord had blessed Abraham in every way.
And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned. We're stop there for a minute. This guy's name was Eliezer and he was the chief steward, or the chief servant. He was in charge of all the resources, all the supplies, and all the people. He was in charge of personnel and he was in charge of materials.
His name is given back in 15 Genesis. Back in 15 Genesis 2, Abraham said, "O, Lord, God," Abram, not yet changed to Abraham, "O, Lord God what wilt though give me since I am childless?" Remember? He couldn't have any children? Sarah was barren. And he said, "The heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus."
Now, was Abraham a wealthy man? Yeah, very wealthy man. He would be in the Forbes 400. He was extremely wealthy. And he had a servant by the name of Eliezer. Now, if you don't have a son, guess who gets the whole inheritance? Chief servant. Okay?
So, Eliezer was standing in the place of the firstborn son with the right to inherit everything. Now, I'll go back to Chapter 24. So, Abraham calls in Eliezer, the oldest of his household who had charge of all that he owned, and someday would have it all. Let's stop there and add one point.
There's the first thing you learn about Eliezer right here if you want to put down some marks. I'll give you about 10 of them, maybe more. The first mark of a servant is unselfish humility, unselfish humility. I'll tell you why. Abraham was about to ask Eliezer to do something. He was about to ask Eliezer to go find a wife for who? Isaac.
Isaac, the child that maybe if you were Eliezer you would hope would never be born. Why? Because you're gonna' lose your inheritance. That's right. Everything is gonna' go to Isaac and nothing is gonna' come to Eliezer that once would. And yet, he's a faithful servant. He's still there. Isaac has been born; Isaac has grown up and Eliezer is still there, faithful to his master. If he gets the inheritance, fine; if he doesn't get the inheritance, fine. That's the servant attitude. I'll serve you. I'll serve you when you promise me the inheritance; I'll serve you when you promise me nothing. Right?
And then he says this to him in Verse 2. Interesting. "Please place your hand under my thigh." Now, that's an interesting gesture. But, men would do that. It was a somewhat private, intimate gesture to do that. And you'd say, "Well, why in the world is he doing that?" Because that was the old way in the East that you sort of sealed a covenant. When you wanted to affirm your promise and you wanted to demonstrate the genuineness of that promise, you gestured in that intimate way; very private.
And he says, "Put your hand under my thigh and I'll make you swear by the Lord the God of heaven and the God of earth that you'll not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live."
Here's the second thing about a servant; he has an unconditional commitment to the Lord. Now, Abraham knew Eliezer and he knew well enough that Eliezer was a godly man that if he swore by God he wouldn't violate his word. Right? Here was a man who had an absolute unconditional commitment to the Lord. And he says, "I want you to swear by the Lord the God of heaven and the God of earth."
And Abraham knew that if he in fact did that, he would keep his vow because he was very serious obviously about the Lord. That's the way it is with servants. They serve, whether they get an inheritance or not; they serve because it isn't any human person they serve really, it's the Lord God Himself that they serve.
Down in Verse 9. "So, the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter." Third thing about a servant, he's obedient to God's ways. He's obedient to God's ways.
Look at Verse 3, second half; "You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of Canaanites among whom I live, but you shall go to my country and to my relatives and take a wife for my son Isaac." Now, this is being obedient to God's ways, you remember, because when they came into the Promised Land, God forbade them to intermarry with the Canaanites. Right? That was absolutely forbidden.
That would've been the easy road because they were right around, they were there. Esau, 26 Genesis 34 was 40 years old. He married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite." Here's Esau doing exactly what God said not to do and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebecca.
One of the sons did the very thing that God said not to do; in fact, he did it twice. He married two women, which is polygamy and God looks down on that as iniquity, and then he married Canaanites and it brought grief to his parents because parents were committed to what was right; they had been taught that way by Abraham and certainly Eliezer as well. So, he's obedient to God's ways and he will not compromise that.
Verse 5. "So, the servant said to him," he knows what he's supposed to do. He's supposed to go find Isaac a wife and he's supposed to go all the way back to Abraham's country and 'my' relatives. And here, of course, he means a distant kind of relative. Today we talk about it's illegal to marry your relatives, and certainly it is in ancient times, any kind of close relationship would've also been against God's standard.
But, there were distant relatives that you could select a wife from and was permissible. You remember, too, people in ancient times lived in tribes and some of those tribes were relatively small.
So, he says, "Go to my country; to my relatives, and take a wife for my son." Now, where did Abraham come from? Remember the county's a long ways. The servant said, "Now, look, I'm gonna' go there, and suppose a woman will not be willing to follow me to this land? I mean, I'm gonna' find a woman; I'm gonna' say this is the girl. Everything about her about is right. But, she says, 'I'm sorry, I'm not coming.' I mean, if you think I'm going from one of the counties, all the way down to the land of Canaan to marry some guy I've never seen, you got another thing coming.' This is a long trip; I don't know him. I don't know what kind of guy he is or anything about him, and why should I go that far?
And so he says, this is a very obvious thing to assume. So, he says, "Should I take your son back to the land from where you came?" Abraham said to him, "Beware lest you take my son back there." Don't you dare do that? Why? Because the promise through Abraham was to continue in the land of Canaan and he didn't want to jeopardize that.
That's the fourth thing I like about a servant. He anticipates difficulties. I mean this is a thinking guy. I mean this is the obvious reality. This could happen. That's true of a servant. He not only is unselfishly humble and unconditionally committed to the Lord and obedient to the moral standards that God has ordained, but he anticipates the difficulties.
Verse 7. "The Lord the God of heaven who took me from my father's house and from the land of my birth and who spoke to me and who swore to me saying, 'To your descendants I will give this land,' he said, Abraham said to him. "He'll send his angel before you and you'll take a wife for my son from there, but if the woman isn't willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath, only do not take my son back there."
The lesser of two evils is a single son; got to stay in the land. "So, the servant placed his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning the matter." I love this.
Now, this guy knows women pretty good, and he knows fathers just as well. So, he took 10 camels from the camels of his master. That's a fortune in camels for most people. And set out with a variety of good things of his masters in his hand. What he did was load 10 camels with stuff for the father of this girl he's going to find.
And he went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. Mesopotamia is obviously back in the area of Babylon, Iraq. "And he made the camels kneel down outside the city at the well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water."
Women always went to the well to draw water in the evening, always, because it was cool, and that was always their job to bring back the water. You still see it today in those parts of the world, in the wilderness areas. Here, we would suggest that a servant demonstrates initiative.
Abraham doesn't give him a big plan. He just accepts the responsibility and puts the plan together on his own. I tell you, I look for people who have a servant heart and one of the things I always look for in anybody that I want to work with, whether it's here at the church, at the college, or at any ministry I have is give me people who demonstrate initiative.
I don't need people who find problems; I need people who solve problems. I can remember saying to one guy that was working along with us in one of our ministries, "Please don't come to me with another problem. I appreciate your concern. Next time you come to me, come to me with the solution, and tell me how you solved the problem." I don't need people to discover problems. I need people to solve problems. That's the sign of leadership.
I can work with a person for a very brief amount of time and tell you whether they have leadership ability or not. And what it all boils down to is do they initiate solutions? Because life is loaded with problems and capable people, gifted people, God has designed those kinds of people to be leaders and one of the things that they do is they recognize problems and they have initiative and they develop solutions.
It's very difficult to have leaders who don't initiate things on their own. You always have to keep pushing and propping up. Here was a guy -- No wonder this guy was the top servant; no wonder he was the chief steward; no wonder he went right to the top. He had initiative. He wouldn't come to his master and say, "Okay. I'll do it; what do I do?" He would come to his master and say, "I'll do it and here's what I'm gonna' do; here's the plan," and lay it out.
He developed a thorough strategy. That's another thing about servant leadership, effective leadership, the strategy is well thought out. All right.
Verse 12. "He said, O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today." He's praying now and talking to God. But notice, the affinity he has for Abraham. He looks at God as the God of Abraham. He's not even so bold to claim him to be his own God, although certainly he was, but he says, 'the God of my master Abraham'.
I would just note for you that if you had the time, you could run through the chapter and find every time he uses the word 'my master'. You'll see it down in Verse 35, 36, 37, 39, 42, 48, 56, 'my master'. That tells me about him.
He doesn't say, 'O Lord, the God of Abraham; he doesn't say the God of your child Abraham.' He identifies himself lovingly with this man. He's lost his inheritance. He's been given a very difficult task, but his love for Abraham is unwavering. Such loyalty. Let me tell you something, folks, this is another mark of servanthood, loyalty, loyalty, loyalty.
Abraham wasn't a perfect man, but this was a loyal servant. Abraham made his share of mistakes but, this was a loyal, loving servant. Furthermore, he perceived the sense of divine call. He says, 'O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show loving kindness to my master Abraham.' Lord, please give him what he wants; be loving to him; be kind to him. This is a loyal man.
"Behold," he said, "I'm standing by the spring." He's already arrived now in Mesopotamia and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. "Now, may it be that the girl to whom I say please let down your jar so that I may find drink and who answers, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels, also', may she be the one whom Thou hast appointed for Thy servant Isaac. Then I'll know that You have shown loving kindness to my master."
He wants the best for Abraham and he wants the best for Isaac. Isn't that wonderful? He's lost his whole inheritance. He's been given a very difficult task and all he wants is God's best, Abraham's best and Isaac's best. The woman isn't for him; the inheritance isn't for him; even God is the God of Abraham. What a servant.
You could say another mark of servanthood is he seeks success for the sake of others. Show loving kindness to my master. Frankly, what he asks is that's a pretty heavy responsibility and have some girl come and you say to her, "May I please have a drink?" Could you put your jar down so that I can drink?" Today she'd probably say, "Stick it in your ear, buster. Fetch your own bucket. What do you think I am your servant?"
In that day, you might assume that she would say, "Oh, sure, I'll share a little water with you, sir." But, to say I'll water your camels, also. 10 camels with cavernous water containers in their backs? And she's got to get all this stuff out of a well; put it in the jar; dump the jar in the trough and fill up 10 camels? Give me a break. But, that was his test.
Verse 15. "Came about, before he had finished speaking," but see, he knew the Lord had to do this, didn't he? Sovereign God. "Rebecca, who was born to the Bethuel, the son of Milka, the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor came out with her jar on her shoulder." Now, its one thing to find a girl who'll give you water; it's something else to find a girl who will give you water and your 10 camels water.
Verse 16 is too much. "The girl was very beautiful." I mean, how much can one girl have? "A virgin and no man had had relations with her. And she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up." So, she's already down in the spring. Right? I mean she's down somewhere in a spring that's bubbling out of the ground; she's filled this thing and she's climbed back up.
Typically, some of you were in Megiddo with us on the trip. You remember that the spring was outside the city, outside the area? That was often the case. This is probably not a sophisticated city here, but very often the spring would be down somewhere and they might even build some kind of a stone thing around the spring to protect it from enemies and elements and animals, or whatever, if they wanted to do that very often that was the case.
And she would have to go down, maybe descending down a hill or down some stairs that had been made out of stone, and then come back up with this jar. So, she comes back up.
"The servant ran to meet her and said, 'Please let me drink a little water from your jar." And you can understand if she said, "Buzz off. Go down there and get your own water. This is a long trip." Some of you remember how long a trip it was, right? Remember we went down to the bottom of the well in Megiddo?
How many steps was that? Do you remember, Gwen? 290 steps or something like that, down and up. Anyway, "She said, 'Drink my lord.' She quickly lowered her jar to her hand and gave him a drink." What a woman! And beautiful, too. Where are these women? My, how the world has changed!
"When she had finished giving him a drink she said, 'I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking." This has got to be a fantasy. "So, she quickly emptied her jar into the trough," get this, "ran back to the well to draw." Why is she running? Because the camels are thirsty. "And she drew for all his camels."
Verse 21. "Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence." Yeah, I guess. I'd be gazing at her in silence, too, with my mouth hanging open. "And he was looking at her in silence to know whether the Lord had made his journey successful or not."
Another thing about a servant is he's patiently discerning. He could've made a snap judgment, but he just patiently watched. "And it came about, when the camels had finished drinking, they'd filled up, the man took a gold ring weighing a half a shekel, two bracelets for her wrists weighing 10 shekels in gold, and he said, 'Whose daughter are you? Please tell me. Is there room for us to lodge in your father's house?' She said to him, 'I'm the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milka whom she bore to Nahor.' And she said to him, 'We have plenty of both straw and feed and room to lodge in."
"Then the man bowed low and worshipped the Lord. This is the girl." Right? What a sweet girl! Gracious, hospitable, kind, she must've been athletic. She must've been a marathoner. This is the middle of the desert; she's running back and forth, hauling the jugs of water to fill up 10 camels, down and up. Incredible. And, she's beautiful, and he said, Verse 27, "Blessed be the Lord the God of my master Abraham who has not forsaken His loving kindness and His truth toward my master. As for me, the Lord has guided me in the way to the house of my master's brothers."
What do you want out of it, Eliezer? I just want to do the job. And the Lord sent me to the right place; somebody from the same tribe, that's what I was supposed to do and the Lord guided me. That's all I wanted. That's another mark of servanthood. The servant measures success not by personal gain, but by the task accomplished.
Verse 28. "Then the girl ran." I don't know how she could run after running back and forth from the well and climbing up and down to fill up these 10 camels, but this is some athletic girl. "She ran, so excited." How could you be excited about having just done that? You can imagine that somebody might've come into the house and said, "You know? I met this guy at the well. I'm telling you, mom, the guy made me give water to all 10 of his crummy camels. Now, he's coming home with me. We got to house him; we got to feed him; mom, this guy is really stepping over the line."
She runs in and she's all excited. Rebecca had a brother whose name was Laban and Laban ran outside. They all run. This is a running family. This bunch is really in a hurry.
"And it came about that when he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister's wrist and when he heard the words of Rebecca, his sister saying, 'This is what the man said to me,'. He went to the man and behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. And he said, 'Come in, blessed the Lord. Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house and a place for the camels?" This may be the greatest act of hospitality in all of the Bible.
So, the man entered the house. Look at this, this runs in the family. "Laban unloaded the camels; gave straw and feed to the camels; water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him." Now, mark it, he not only had 10 camels, he had a bunch of men, too. They all had to drink. They all had to sleep and they all had to eat.
Verse 33. "They set food before him." Listen to what he says. "I will not eat until I have told my business." Another thing about a servant, nothing interferes with the task, nothing, even the simplest, personal issues of life.
"No, no,' he says, 'I appreciate it. I can't eat until I finish my task.' He said, 'Speak on." They don't even know why he's there, but they know he's from Abraham. "Now,' he says, 'The Lord has greatly blessed my master. He has become rich," or great in the Hebrew. "He's given him flocks and herds and silver and gold and servants and maids and camels and donkeys." He measured well; not stocks and bonds.
"Now, Sarah my master's wife bore a son to my master in her old age, and he's given him all that he has." Interesting that he said that, isn't it? Because it was all his once, wasn't it? But, he's given it to my master's son.
"And my master made me swear saying, 'You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I live, but you shall go to my father's house and into my relatives, my own people and take a wife for my son.' And I said to my master," he always calls him my master.
"Suppose the woman doesn't follow?" This guy's down to details, isn't he? He's saying the same thing over again. Very precise. "And he said to me, 'The Lord before whom I have walked will send His angel with you to make your journey successful. You will take a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father's house, then you'll be free from my oath when you come to my relatives and if they do not give her to you, you'll be free from my oath.' So, I came today to the spring and I said, 'O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now Thou wilt make my journey on which I go successful. Behold, I'm standing by the spring and may it be that the maiden who comes out to draw and to whom I say, 'Please let me drink a little water from your jar,' and she will say to me, 'You drink and I'll draw for your camels, also,' let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master's son."
"Before I had finished speaking in my heart," that's a silent prayer, "Rebecca came out with her jar on her shoulder and went down to the spring and drew and I said to her, 'Please let me drink." Is this guy exact? Is this incredible? Word for word. I love the precision of his servanthood, don't you? It's not sloppy; it's not messy.
"She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder." It's not exaggerated, not embellished. "Drink and I will water your camels, also,', so I drank and she watered the camels also. Then I asked her and said, 'Whose daughter are you?" He's going through every single detail.
"The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son whom Milka bore to him and I put a ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists." A ring where? On her nose; not in her nose, not hanging from the middle, but it was customary. Now, when you get all bent out of shape when your daughter comes home with a ring in her nose, just don't let her see 24 Genesis 47. But, in those days women would put a ring in their nose and that was someway to indicate beauty.
We still do the bracelets on the wrist, but we're not so high on the ring in the nose, although they still do that in the East, I mean, way in the East.
And then he goes on, "I bowed low and worshipped the Lord and blessed the Lord the God of my master Abraham who's guided me in the right way to take the daughter of my master's kinsmen for his son."
"So now, if you're going to deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me, and if not, let me know that I may turn to the right hand or the left." Just tell me what you're gonna' do so I can make my next move. Just totally committed to the task; no frustration; very confident. Just tell me what you're gonna' do so I can make my move. I love this.
He's not, 'oh, boy, what's gonna' happen if they say no?' He's just saying tell me what you're gonna' do. Very decisive; that's another thing about effective servant leadership. It's decisive. Answer me so I know what my options are and I can make my move.
Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, 'The matter comes from the Lord so we can't speak to you bad or good." What have we got to say about it? It's all God. "Behold, Rebecca is before you, take her and go. Let her be the wife of your master's son, as the Lord has spoken."
"Came about, when Abraham's servant heard these words, he bowed himself to the ground before the Lord." Another thing about the servant, thankful. His thanks is not related to personal gain. It's related to the task. And he's not just saying 'Thank you, Lord.' He's bowed down; he's prostrate; he's on the ground. What a wonderful man.
"And the servant brought out articles of silver." Now, they start unloading the camels, folks. Boy, I have one daughter left to marry. I think I'm gonna' take the guy who proposes to her to this chapter and see what I can get out of him.
"The servant brought out articles of silver, articles of gold, garments, gave them to Rebecca. He gave precious things to her brother and to her mother." I mean, he starts unloading 10 camels full of treasure.
"Then he and the men, who were with him, ate and drank and spent the night." And I say why did they do this? What was this called? It's like dowry, wasn't it? In ancient times, the members of the family made a major contribution to life in the family. Right? You lose your daughter; you lose your water carrier. Right? Yeah, your workhouse. It's not like people today who say, "Boy, will I be glad when my kids leave, because all they do is spend my money."
In those days, when your kids left, you had a problem because you lost your workforce. And so the way they compensated for that was the man who took the wife compensated the family in some way, so that they could fill the void, as well as demonstrating some love and affection through the kindness of things given just for the sake of the joy of the thing itself.
Finally, they decided to eat because the thing is settled. "When they rose in the morning he said, 'Send me away to my master." That's enough; we've done it; we're out of here. He didn't say, "It's been a long haul can we hang around for four days and rest?" No, he's out of there.
Very persistent in God's plan, very persistent. That's another marker of servanthood. "But her brother and her mother said, 'Let the girl stay with us a few days, say, 10, and afterwards, she may go." This is not an unreasonable request, is it? Is it unreasonable to say, "Hey, this is my daughter. This is my child that you're taking her away to somebody I don't know to some place I don't know. Can you give me 10 days?"
"He said, 'Do not delay me since the Lord has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master." Don't delay me. This is a divine mission I'm on; God is in charge of this. I have to go." They said, "Well, we'll call the girl and consult her wishes."
And they called Rebecca and said to her, "Will you go with the man?' She said, 'I will go.' Thus, they sent away their sister Rebecca and her nurse, with Abraham's servant and his men. And they blessed Rebecca and said to her, 'May you, our sister, become thousands of ten thousands and may your descendents possess the gate of those who hate them." That's an old, ancient saying.
Your descendants possessing the gate of those who hate them means to conquer their enemies. You want to know something? Rebecca did become the mother of thousands and ten thousands didn't she? All the Jews alive in the world today have come through that wonderful line of Isaac and many of them are obviously through Rebecca.
"Rebecca rose with her maids." She doesn't go alone either, folks, she's got all this entourage. "And they mounted the camels and followed the men."
"So, the servant took Rebecca and departed." I just would also add that another characteristic of servant leadership is it sees the job through to the end. I love that about people, finishers.
"Now, Isaac, had come from going to Beer Lahai Roi, he was living in the Negev. You know where the Negev is, the southern desert, down toward Egypt. "And Isaac is down there and he's out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes. Look and behold, camels were coming." How do you know camels are coming? I'm telling you right now, folks, I have driven the road from across the Jordan Valley, across the Dead Sea, up the hill from where Abraham stood when God showed him the Promised Land, over there into Jordan, Amman, and you can go straight south into Edom, down to Petra, which is east of where he was.
But, we were driving down there on a bus, and we looked off in the distance, and we saw this horrendous cloud of dust. Must've been up in the air 200 feet. And I looked over there and I said to the bus driver, "What is going on over there? Is there some explosion?" And he said, "No, camels." Sure enough, we stopped the bus and this thunderous bunch of camels came across the road and that's what all that -- So, when it says that Isaac lifted up his eyes and looked and behold camels were coming, they could've been a mile off.
"And Rebecca lifted up her eyes and when she saw Isaac," the King James says a funny thing. Any of you have King James? She lit off a camel and somebody said it's the first place where smoking is mentioned in the Bible. It doesn't mean that.
"She dismounted and she said to the servant, 'Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?' And the servant said, 'He is my master." Isn't that beautiful? Isaac, too, was his master.
And you know something? This is another thing about a servant. There's a certain healthy sense of pride in belonging to his master. People have asked me a lot recently about slavery, and is it wrong, and in and of itself, one man working for another man is not wrong. That's the way the world is designed.
In any structure, slavery or not, one man abusing another man is wrong. But, here was a servant who was really owned by his master and nothing made him more proud than to belong.
"He's my master.' So, she took a veil and covered herself." You'd think she had taken it off, but she covered herself. "And Isaac met them," and that's implied between Verse 65 and 66, and he's got to be looking right at that veil and trying to see through it. What in the world does she look like? What if?
Verse 66 is funny; first before anything, he's got to report again. So, now we start all the way back at the beginning. "Abraham came to me and he said, 'Put your hand; and then we had to go; and then we went to the well; and then this happened." And Isaac is saying, "Right, sure, uh-huh, sure, good, oh wonderful, Eliezer, yes, I see, Eliezer. Yeah, sounds good." What does she look like?
So, we could conclude that he gave a full account of his duties. And then it doesn't tell us what we want to hear; doesn't say she took off her veil and he flipped or anything like that. Just says, "Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent and he took Rebecca and she became his wife and," what? He loved her.
Well, first time it talks about loving, yeah, for a man and wife relationship, right. He loved her. I mean, that's like the gravy on the deal.
"Thus Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." What does that mean? That means there was a woman in his life. Who needs a mother, in that sense? A man has a woman in his life, it was very important, and that's his mother until he comes to the point where God gives him a wife. Right?
Well, you'll never forget Eliezer, will you? What a guy. May the Lord give us such servants; bright, articulate, faithful, dutiful.
Thank you, Father, for our time tonight and for Your word and thank you for the model of this dear man who loved; who loyally loved Abraham and who loyally loved the very son who took away his inheritance; who was a man who never really wanted an inheritance. He wanted to serve. He didn't want to own anything, apparently, he didn't mind just taking care of what somebody else owned.
He just wanted to do what was right and what was loyal and what was faithful and he was so committed to the fact that this was Your will, O, God for his life. And his vow was really not to his master, though he loved him, but it was to You because he knew You'd put him there.
Lord, help us to know that wherever you've placed us is where our service must be rendered and may it be always rendered to You. Thank you in Christ's name for even the privilege of being called Your servant in Jesus' name, and everyone said Amen.