A Successful Servant (Genesis 24)

James G. Hutchinson, Dundonald, N.I.

IF we view Gen. 24 in a typical or dispensational way, we see the servant as a picture of the Holy Spirit; but for our present purpose we look upon him simply as a servant whose example we might well follow, and if we desire this to be true of us we shall surely take careful note of what God has said about this man.

He was Trained

All successful service must be preceded by a period of training, and this man was trained in the best place—in the house of his master. Nomadic Christians are not con­templated in God's Word—every one should have a spiritual home, and 1 Tim. 3. 15 indicates to us that the local church is the House of God and this is the home for all Christians. In the N.T. God makes no provision for any other, and whilst many good people are found and much good work is carried on elsewhere, it is the privilege and responsibility of saints to cleave to what God has ordained, and by all our activities and energies build up what God has pleasure in.

In the home the servant experienced something of the presence of God. He gained a knowledge of God, and can anything be more important ? A knowledge of God caused Abram to walk as a true pilgrim, turning his back on all the attractions of Ur; it was a knowledge of God that caused Joseph to flee from sin and " keep himself unspotted " ; a knowledge of God made Moses as bold as a lion and utterly uncompromising in Pharaoh's presence; a know­ledge of God encouraged Paul in Corinth. People who know their God shall be strong and do exploits (Dan. 11. 32).

In the home he experienced circumcision. If the former taught him the value of God, the latter taught him the worthlessness of the flesh. Before Elijah took Elisha to Bethel or Jericho in service for God, he took him to Gilgal the place of " cutting off."

" The flesh profiteth nothing." The servant must learn that the energy, activities or arrangements of the flesh are of no value in the service of God. What matters is God's Presence and Power.

He was Sent

A sense of being sent by God is important. If one merely goes to a place to do a work because a need exists it is very good, but how much better when one has the conviction he is sent by God to this place for this work. It is conducive to steadfastness, continuance and courage in the work. His sending was a definite matter (v. 4); his instructions were explicit, " Thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac." It was also a solemn matter (w. 2, 3)—solemn to himself as well as to his master; this task was not taken on in a light-hearted, careless spirit ; he was " made to swear by the Lord, the God of Heaven." Paul when writing to Timothy impressed upon this young servant the solemn nature of the task, and so says, " I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels " (1 Tim. 5. 21). Serving God in any sphere, whether in Sunday School, tract distribution, or preaching, is a very great privilege. It is also a great responsibility. His sending was an important matter. Not only was the honour of his master to be affected thereby, but also the lives of Isaac and Rebekah, to say nothing of his own life. How careful we would be if we realized that the manner of our service will affect the honour of our Master (for time and eternity) and our own lives.

    He was Equipped

He was not sent out empty-handed or unprepared ; he was fully equipped. We could perhaps think of many things that would have been useful to furnish him for service and perhaps be very far removed from God's thoughts.    What had he ?

He had a knowledge, of God's Power. He knew Him to be the God of the impossible ; One who could bring life out of death—a son to Abram and Sarah when they were both as good as dead (Rom. 4. 19). How valuable would a greater knowledge of God's power be to us.

He had a knowledge of his master's Purpose. He knew exactly what his master had in mind ; not the calling and bringing of all from Mesopotamia, but taking out one to be a suitable bride for his son. While we should by all means get the gospel to as many sinners as possible, the fact is that the world will not be converted but God is taking out a people for His Name (Acts 15. 14).

He had a knowledge of the son's Possessions. These were the things used to win the bride. Not only was he equipped with them but had them in such order that he was able to produce them at the right time and in the right way so as to win her. The riches of Isaac, presented in an intelligent way (v. 53), caused her to leave all and cross the desert to him.    So Paul, 1 Cor. 1. 22-24.

He was Prayerful

The fact of his being trained, sent and equipped did not make him independent. The Greatest of all Servants, the perfect One, who was in His Father's dwelling-place, who was sent and who was fully equipped, took time to pray (Luke 6. 12). The servant's prayer is interesting. It indicates that he sought guidance as to what to say, and to whom and when to say it; he put his master's interests first, not merely that the woman should be blessed, or that he should have a reward but that God would " show kindness to his master " (vv. 12 and 14). He looked for signs of interest (v. 14), i.e. of God working in her heart, and whilst he did his best he left the work in God's hand, and brought no pressure to bear upon her. We should do much the same—do all we can and be on the look out for signs of interest, but it is wise to leave the issue in God's hands lest unwittingly we play into the Devil's hands as he " sows the tares."

He was Successful

His hope must have been high when he saw signs of interest (vv. 14, 15), and even more so when he saw the young woman accept the things of Isaac (v. 53), but how great his joy when she said " I will go " ! Success had crowned his efforts. It was worth all the training, the sending, the praying ! In success we note he was humble— no blowing of trumpets. He bowed his head (w. 26, 48, 52); he attributes all to God {vv. 27, 48, 56) as did Paul and his fellow-workers when they " rehearsed all that God had done with them " (Acts 14. 27). But withal, he had to give account, not to those to whom he was sent but to his master—account of his time, travels, actions and things committed to him; but so faithful had he been about it all that he was even eager to get back to do it. He did his master's work, for his master, in his master's ways. He was successful, the master was pleased and his master's son was satisfied.

May we all so serve that when the Day for giving account comes we shall not be ashamed, but rather hear our Master say " Well done."