By Ronny Milliner
There are many interesting Bible characters. It is good for us to study about people in the Bible. We can learn from their mistakes; we should also benefit from their good. As John exhorts, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God” (3 Jn. 11).
There is a beautiful young girl in the Old Testament named Rebecca (we are using the modern spelling to fit our acrostic). Her name meant “a noose.” Some have suggested that her beauty would be as “a noose” to entrap the young men. Let’s notice some important things about Rebecca.
We must begin our study with Rebecca’s father-in-law-to-be, Abraham. As Abraham grew old he became concerned about his son Isaac getting a proper wife. Every parent should be concerned about who his child is going to marry, and he should begin early to teach him the traits of a proper mate. Because of his concern Abraham called his oldest servant and charged him, “You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you shall go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac” (Gen. 24:3-4). Abraham assured the servant, “The Lord . . . will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there” (Gen. 24:7). It should not surprise us then to find the servant engaged in prayer to God when he arrived in Nahor (Gen. 24:12-14). His request basically was for God to show him who He would select for Isaac’s wife. “And it came about before he had finished speaking, that behold Rebekah . . . came out with her jar on her shoulder” and did exactly as the man had prayed (Gen. 24:15-19). Rebecca was the answer to the servant’s prayer.
Young people, you could be the answer to your parent’s prayers. They are praying for your salvation. They are praying for your maturity in the faith. They are praying for your marriage to a faithful child of God. God can and will answer their prayers, but He will not do so against your will. Your working with God can cause you to be an answer to a prayer.
After willingly giving the servant a drink, Rebecca said, “I will draw also for camels until they have finished drinking” (Gen. 24:19). Such a task was no small undertaking. The Pulpit Commentary quotes Kalisch as saying, “If it is remembered that camels, though endowed in an almost marvelous degree with the power of enduring thirst, drink, when an opportunity offers, an enormous quantity of water, it will be acknowledged that the trouble to which the maiden cheerfully submitted required more than ordinary patience” (Vol. 1, p. 302).
A good wife and mother will be an energetic worker. The “worthy woman” of Proverbs 31 worked “with her hands in delight,” she purchased a field and “from her earnings she plants a vineyard,” and she made “linen garments and” sold them (Prov. 31:13-19,24). Those women who sometimes have to work to supplement the family income are occasionally criticized by those women who sit around half the day watching their soap operas and the other half on the telephone spreading gossip. Paul condemned those who “learn to be idle, and they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention” (1 Tim. 5:13). Rebecca was not that way.
After the servant had told Rebecca’s parents how she was the answer to his prayer they responded, “The matter comes from the Lord; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken” (Gen. 24:50-51). Later when Rebecca was asked, “Will you go with this man?” she replied, “I will go” (Gen. 24:58). So she, like Abraham, was willing to leave her home and loved ones behind to go to a strange place simply because it was the will of God.
Oh, for us to have that resolve. We should be ready to respond to any call of God. We need the same attitude as held by the apostle Paul. He wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).
As Rebecca approached Isaac “she took her veil and covered herself” (Gen. 24:65). This act was a sign of modesty. This type of modesty had kept Rebecca pure. Genesis 24:16a said concerning her, “And the girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had relations with her.” Unlike many young women today, Rebecca knew that she did not have to display her body before the world to attract some young man. Unlike many young women today, she brought a pure body to the marriage altar.
Older women need to teach young women to be “pure” or “chaste” (Tit. 2:5). Such teaching will include the type of clothing they should wear, and how to conduct themselves before the opposite sex (1Tim. 2:9-10). The only difficulty is that a lot of older women now days need to be taught themselves.
Genesis 24:67 reads, “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. “
The wise man wrote, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22). A wife who loves her husband (Tit. 2:4), who submits to him (Col. 3:18), and who respects him (Eph. 5:33) will certainly be a comfort to him in every way.
The family of Isaac and Rebecca was a praying family, When Rebecca was unable to have children, “Isaac called to the Lord on behalf of his wife” (Gen. 25:21). After Rebecca conceived and “the children struggled together within her; . . . she sent to inquire of the Lord” (Gen. 25:22). When Rebecca had a problem, she knew to whom to turn. “Her conduct was remarkable for the impatience it displayed, the piety it evinced, the faith it implied” (Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 319).
When we have problems that trouble us we need to call on the Lord. Christians should not be “worry-warts.” Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). So cast “all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
Even with these good traits that we see in Rebecca, she was one who sinned on occasion. One of the sins of Rebecca was showing favoritism to one of her children. Genesis 25:28 says, “Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.”
Parents are “to love their children,” period (Tit. 2:4). We should not show partiality to one above another. If we do it will cause problems. It did with Isaac and Rebecca, and it did later when Jacob did the same thing with his son Joseph (Gen. 37:3-4).
Rebecca was also guilty of the sin of fibbing. Twice Abraham and Sarah had lied about their marital condition because of fear that Abraham might be killed by someone wanting to take the beautiful Sarah for a wife. (Fellows, it isn’t always good to have a beautiful wife!) Isaac and Rebecca committed the same sin in Genesis 26:6-11.
As one sin often leads to another sin, so the sin of showing favoritism to Jacob led Rebecca to plot with her son to lie to Isaac. They worked together to deceive the aged patriarch into blessing Jacob over his brother Esau (Gen. 27:1-29).
She also seemed to be deceptive about the reason why she wanted Jacob to return to her home (Gen. 27:42-46). She told Jacob one thing and Isaac another.
Let us remember that “all liars . . . will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
The Bible does not tell us when Rebecca died. She may have died before Jacob ever returned home. Genesis 49:31 tells us she was buried “in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah” along with Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac.
Look at the life of Rebecca. Are the good qualities of her life found in yours? They should be. Are the bad qualities of her life found in yours? They should not be. If they are, repent. “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.”
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 21, pp. 656-657
November 7, 1985