In Genesis 24, the eldest servant of Abraham is sent on a mission to find a bride for Isaac from among Abraham’s relatives back in the city of Nahor, in Mesopotamia. The subject of this chapter is how Rebekah came to be married to Isaac. It’s about Rebekah. It’s about Isaac. It’s even about Abraham. It is not about the eldest servant of Abraham, although it is his actions and words which take center stage. In this “eldest servant”, we have a wonderful portrait of what a faithful servant looks like. It is a picture of how a good and profitable servant of the Lord should be. Let us consider some of his qualities:
There is a remarkable difference between Genesis 24:2 and Genesis 15:2. It seems that they are both referring to the same individual, Eliezer of Damascus, but in Genesis 15:2 he is mentioned by name, while in 24:2 he is not. Why is that? In the first instance, Abraham is contemplating Eliezer as the potential heir of all of his household. Eliezer is the subject at hand; it is about Eliezer. But in Chapter 24, as we mentioned above, Eliezer is not the subject at all.
What a fantastic lesson for the servant of God! How often do we go about our “service” to the Lord, and all the while we are really seeking to glorify ourselves? Our own service to God is no more about us than Eliezer’s service to Abraham was about Eliezer. Abraham knew the name of his faithful servant and doubtlessly recognized and valued him accordingly. But Eliezer did not serve his master in order to magnify himself, but to magnify the one he served.
“And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.” (Gen. 24:9)
Eliezer did not tell Abraham that he would follow Abraham’s instructions unless things got too tough. He did not tell him that he would obey his commands so long as he felt like it. Eliezer made a promise, he took a binding oath that he would remain faithful to the purpose which Abraham had commissioned him.
The servant of the Lord is bound in the same way to the Lord Jesus Christ whenever they first begin to follow Him. Jesus said that once we put our hand to the plow, we are not to look back (Luke 9:62). When we make a vow to the Lord, He expects us to keep it (Numbers 30:2). Commitment is a non-negotiable quality of a faithful servant of the Lord.
“And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.” (Genesis 24:10)
“All the goods of his master were in his hand.” Abraham did not send Eliezer out to find a bride for his son empty-handed. Everything that Abraham had was at his disposal in order that he could accomplish the mission that Abraham had given him.
God does the same thing for His own servants. God has equipped us with His Word, with His Holy Spirit, and with the assurance that whatsoever we ask in His name and according to His will shall be given. Abraham didn’t put everything at the disposal of Eliezer so that Eliezer could enrich himself or impress others. He did it so that Eliezer would have the tools he needed to accomplish his mission. So it is with the servant of God. God does not equip His servants so that they can live a life of ease and luxury; He equips them so that they can fulfill His calling on their life.
“And he said O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.” (Gen. 24:12)
I wonder how many more of our own prayers would be answered if we prayed in this way? We often end our prayers by saying something like “In Jesus’ name”, or “For Jesus’ sake”, but is that what we really mean? Are we really praying for the blessings and provision of God so that we can see Christ glorified?
Eliezer prayed for God’s blessing on him so that he could accomplish his master’s will, not so that he could fulfill his own desires. Should not the servant of God pray in like manner?
“And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.” (Gen. 24:17)
When Eliezer sees Rebekah, he is eager to find out if she is the one designated by the Lord as the one to be Isaac’s wife. He runs to meet her. If this verse were written about the typical “servant of God” today, it would likely read more like:
“And the servant stood and considered whether or not he should go and speak to Rebekah. He thought about it and thought about it, weighing out the pros and cons. He decided to consult the men in his group and promptly organized a committee to determine if meeting with her was in everyone’s best interest at the time. After much deliberation, a vote was taken with the ‘yes’ votes winning by a narrow margin. The servant was advised that he was free to consult with Rebekah on a temporary, trial basis to determine if ongoing conversation with her could be fit into the time and budget constraints of the organization. After getting the go ahead, the servant tentatively walked up to Rebekah, trying to come up with the most effective way to approach her in a manner that she would not feel threatened or be scared away…”
NO, he ran up to her! The prospect of seeing his master’s wishes come to fruition was too exciting for him to delay.
“And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on.” (Gen. 24:33)
Eliezer was likely very hungry at this point, but his service to his master took precedence. The servant of God is faithful when he puts the will and desires of his Lord ahead of his own. He can take no comfort in having his own needs met until he has done what God has called him to do.
“And he said, I am Abraham’s servant.” (Genesis 24:34)
Eliezer introduced himself by saying: “I am Abraham’s servant.” What a wonderful introduction! How great would it be for the servant of God to introduce himself as “a servant of Christ.” Eliezer did not say “I am Eliezer of Damascus, I was educated in Egypt and earned my degree in domestic service from the University of the Nile.”
One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is when I pass by a church’s billboard and see something like:
“First Community Church
Dr. John S. Dough, Jr. – Senior Pastor”
Does the senior pastor’s name and credentials really need to be splattered on the signboard? Is that what is going to draw people inside? It makes me wonder if that church is about Jesus Christ or is it more about Dr. John S. Dough, Jr.? Being a faithful servant of Jesus Christ is the highest aspiration that any person can attain. We should identify ourselves with that above all else.
“And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.” (Gen. 24:49)
Eliezer did not beat around the bush. He presented his case and called for a decision. The faithful servant of God does the same upon presenting the Gospel. He presents it, lays it out for the consideration of those to whom he is delivering it, and then calls for a response.
“And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.” (Gen. 24:56)
Eliezer did not wait around for the convenience of those within Rebekah’s household. He was on his master’s schedule, not theirs. They had already made their decision to abide by his words (v. 50-51). Now was the time for action, not waiting. Eliezer had accomplished the directions that Abraham had given him. Now it was time to return to his master and await further instructions.
These are of course just some of the defining qualities of a good and faithful servant. But they do give us a pretty good illustration about how the Christian’s service to the Lord should look. One final thing we should note is that Eliezer was only responsible for following his master’s instructions. It was not his responsibility to convince Rebekah to heed his words. His obligation only extended so far as presenting the offer of his master to her (Gen. 24:8). The decision to act on it was entirely hers.