The word study on God’s steadfast love continues by looking at Genesis 24; this passage in the ESV Bible includes the first mention of God’s steadfast love in the Old Testament. It’s the story of Isaac and Rebekah, but it prominently features the very loyal Eliezer, Abraham’s 85-year-old chief servant.
Had Isaac not been born, Eliezer would have received all Abraham’s wealth, according to Genesis 15:2. But even though Isaac’s birth displaced him as heir, Eliezer faithfully served both Abraham and Isaac.
Shortly after the death of his wife Sarah, Abraham sent Eliezer to on a 450-mile expedition to Mesopotamia — along with 10 camels and many fine gifts — to find a wife for Isaac among Abraham’s relatives. Abraham’s motive, according to John MacArthur’s commentary, was to keep Isaac from later marrying a Canaanite pagan and perhaps leading the people away from the one true God.
So upon arriving in the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia, Eliezer prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.”
Standing by a spring of water, he went on to pray very specifically that God would reveal the young woman intended for Isaac by her willingness to not only give a thirsty stranger water but also to water the 10 camels with him. John MacArthur points out that this is quite a sizable task — far above and beyond the usual call of hospitable duty. A single camel can hold up to 25 gallons of water. Would you be willing to draw up to 250 gallons of water, one jar at a time, for a complete stranger’s livestock?
Before Eliezer had finished praying, “By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master,” an attractive maiden named Rebekah showed up, answering his request for a little water and offering to draw water for the camels, too. Don’t you wonder how much her jar held? Eliezer’s response was a silent gaze. In His steadfast love, God certainly answered that prayer promptly!
Next Eliezer gave Rebekah a gold ring and two gold bracelets, and she revealed that she was a niece of Abraham and welcomed Eliezer to spend the night in her father’s home.
Realizing God had led him to the house of Abraham’s relatives, Eliezer bowed his head in worship, saying, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His steadfast love and His faithfulness toward my master.”
Rebekah’s brother Laban enthusiastically welcomed Eliezer and the camels. Food was set before Eliezer, but he refused to eat until after he identified Abraham as his master, explained his mission to find Isaac a wife, and pointed out how God had already blessed the trip. He aimed to finish his task promptly and requested to return home with Rebekah.
He said to Rebekah’s father and brother, “Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.”
They responded favorably, so Eliezer gave more jewelry and fine gifts to Rebekah, her brother and her mother. By now his food must have been quite cold, but he did finally eat! And the next morning he took Rebekah and went on his way back to the land God had promised to Abraham’s descendants.
The caravan returned, met by Isaac, and Eliezer told Isaac all that he had done. Genesis 24:67 reports that Rebekah “became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
I love John MacArthur’s synopsis of Eliezer and his prayers. He says, “The steward’s prayer manifests not only his trust in God to direct affairs but also the selflessness with which he served Abraham. His patience after prayer, his worship at answered prayer, and his acknowledgment of divine guidance also portrayed his faith.” He goes on to add, “This is the portrait of a committed, faithful and selfless servant.”
Committed indeed! What a precious gift from God to have the servant Eliezer working so faithfully and selflessly to serve Abraham and Isaac by traveling so many miles with such an intense focus on finding Isaac’s wife. God’s steadfast love is revealed through Eliezer and his servant attitude.
I love how this story shows the sovereignty in God’s steadfast love, His complete control of every little detail right down to Rebekah’s willingness to water the camels. I’d be remiss not to mention her willingness to leave her family right away and travel hundreds of miles to marry a man she’d never met. God’s steadfast love is revealed through Rebekah and her servant attitude, too.
Using Eliezer and Rebekah as His instruments, God faithfully fulfilled the promise He made to Abraham and his descendants, and He also comforted Isaac in the loss of his mother Sarah.
To echo Eliezer’s words of praise, God did indeed show His steadfast love and faithfulness to Abraham and Isaac. He did not forsake them. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Abraham and Isaac!