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God Gets the Glory…Great Things He Has Done

“And Abram and Nachor took to themselves wives. The name of the wife of Abram was Saray and the name of the wife of Nachor was Milkah — the daughter of Haran who was the father of both Milkah and Yiskah. And it came to pass that Saray was infertile and had no child of her own.”

(Genesis 11:29-30)

 

I suppose that there are no great surprises in the various spellings of familiar names — again, transliteration is not a precise science and there are many agreed upon spellings of these names that do not reflect the literal transliteration from the Hebrew into English. Saray, is better known to us as Sarai, whose name means, “My princess.” Milkah is the daughter of Haran, which makes her the sister of Lot. Milkah (or Milcah) means “Queen.” It is interesting that, based on names, both Abraham and Milkah marry women whose names denote royalty. Milkah has a sister named Yiskah, or Iscah in our English Bibles, whose name probably is derived from the word for “to look” or “to look at.”

And now we have the family line laid out before us as well as another tidbit — Sarai was barren and could bear no child. Perhaps that is the reason for Abram taking in Lot, his nephew, when his brother dies. We do not know the answer to that particular question. What we do know is that God is waiting until Abram’s father dies (and thus Abram becomes the covenant head of his home) and then is going to begin doing mighty things in this man’s life. The wait is for another purpose as well — so that the only explanation for this man’s success could be attributed to God.

How we like to have our successes attributed to our persons. Yet, how much better it is when our successes are attributed to the one from whom the success originated! For any good success that I might have is only because of the grace of God and the hand of God working in my life. It is all about God and his work from beginning to end — I am not my own. How often we fall on our faces because we do not recognize that truth and how often we allow our bloated egos to become so puffed up with pride that we become a blight even to ourselves and need be laid low all over again. Oh how the “mighty” have so often fallen. Loved ones, cling to God, trust his leading, but also ensure that you understand that any good credit belongs to God alone. We are but tools in his hand — may we be always sharp and ready for use.

Praise God, not Man

“Then I asked her saying, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Nahor whom Milkah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her hands and I bowed and worshipped Yahweh. I repeatedly blessed Yahweh the God of my lord Abraham who led me in the true path to take a daughter of the brother of my lord for his son.’”

(Genesis 24:47-48)

 

Eliezer’s retelling now comes to a close, but notice what it is that he closes this dialogue with: praise to God. He could have closed his account by saying, “and she brought me to you…” or  “and she showed me here to her father’s house…”, but Eliezer closes with the most important thing: “I gave praise to God.” In fact, the verbal form used when it speaks of Eliezer’s “blessing” Yahweh is in the Piel construct, which reflects a repeated action. His words might have been, “Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, oh Lord…”

Loved ones, I also hope that this is your response to the hand of God working in your life — that God is rightly honored for bringing about such good things and for leading you on the true path that leads to his glory. Sadly, our response is not to do so or only to do so as an afterthought. Often we desire the glory for ourselves and do not give honor where honor is due. As my friend and I were discussing just last night, the only good in me is the good that God is doing in me; may He get the credit for he is the agent at work in my life.

First Cousins, Once Removed…

“She said to him, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milkah, whom she begat to Nachor.’ And she said to him, ‘We also have a great deal of straw and fodder with us and a place to lodge.’”

(Genesis 24:24-25)

 

As it was hinted at in Genesis 22:20-23, Nahor, Abraham’s brother, also has borne children. Nahor had eight sons with his wife Milcah, the last of which was a son named Bethuel (prophetically meaning “His Daughter is God’s”). Bethuel then fathered a daughter named Rebekah, the granddaughter of Nahor and great-niece of Abraham. Soon she will also become Abraham’s daughter-in-law. The household and the lineage are now assured and confirmed and the wedding plan can move forward from here. She also comments that her father’s house has ample provisions to host such a party (camels and all), informing us of the wealth of Abraham’s brother’s family. Certainly a poor family could never have hoped to have the space and resources to host a contingency from Abraham such as we have here.

Much can be made out of the stress placed on marriages within a family, though the practice sounds a little strange to our western ears. In this particular case, Rebekah is Isaac’s First Cousin-Once Removed and in most western contexts, they would be allowed to marry anyway. We should also note on a purely biological level, Abraham is still closer to Adam and Eve than we are and thus his DNA (and hence the DNA of Nahor) is not as corrupt as our own (thus the longer life-spans) and thus the detrimental effects that come today as a result of marrying one’s kin should not be seen to be a significant factor (remember, Cain, Abel, and Seth married their sisters…).

More importantly in this case, Abraham is ensuring that Isaac’s child will still be part of the lineage that goes back to Shem through his father, Terah. Remember, too, Terah was also given a call by God to leave his homeland, though the call and ultimately the promise, would be fulfilled through his son, Abraham. Isaac too will follow this principle and send his son, Jacob, back to his homeland to find a wife from the house of Nahor, but that is an account for another time. No corners are to be cut, Isaac must have the granddaughter of Nahor as a wife.

How quick we usually are to compromise with God’s provision for us and his plan for our lives. We do not expect great things from God and thus we do not see great things taking place in the world around us. It has been said that the Christian faith is an “expectant faith,” may indeed we live and act upon such expectancy as we engage the world (and our call to disciple the world) with the Gospel.