Abraham’s wife Sarah has died. Isaac is the only son left through whom God will make a great nation of people. So, the question naturally arises, “Doesn’t Isaac need a wife if he’s going to have children?” That’s the story we come to next.
The Servant Gets the Bride
Abraham is getting old. So he sends his head servant back to his home country. The point of this journey: to find Isaac a wife from his own people.
But Abraham makes his servant swear two things. First, Isaac must not marry a Canaanite woman. God made his covenant with Abraham and his people, not the Canaanites. Second, Isaac must not leave the promised land of Canaan for this search. God has promised to give Abraham and his offspring this land. Isaac must stay while the servant goes.
The servant agrees and arrives at a well in Abraham’s hometown. In his company are a few other men and 10 camels. Upon arrival, he prays that God would give him a sign as to who he should bring back to marry Isaac.
The sign he asks for is this. He will ask a woman to let down her jar into the well so that he may have a drink. The one who is to be Isaac’s wife will reply, “Yes, and let me get some water for your camels also.”
Before he even finishes his prayer, the servant notices a woman named Rebekah and is struck by her beauty. The servant asks her for water. Rebekah lowers her jar down and gets water for him and offers to water his camels as well. The sign he asked for has been fulfilled.
The servant pulls out wedding jewelry and asks to meet the girl’s family. Upon meeting her family, the servant tells them everything that happened. They cannot deny that God has orchestrated this event and allow Rebekah to go with him to marry Isaac.
Rebekah leaves with the servant, meets Isaac, and becomes his wife. God provided a wife for Isaac from the people of Abraham and brought her to the land of promise in Canaan.
Where is Jesus?
A similar story plays out in Jesus’ life. It’s recorded in John 4. Jesus comes to a well. The well is not in the promised land, but in a land called Samaria. In the same way Abraham didn’t want Isaac going back to his hometown, Jews of Jesus’ day typically did not go to Samaria. However, Jesus is co-opting this story to make a point. So some of the details are different. And the differences show us the point Jesus is making.
The Servant Gets His Bride
There is a woman at this well and Jesus makes the same request of her that the servant made of Rebekah, “Give me a drink.” But unlike Rebekah, who obeys without hesitation, the Samaritan woman is dumbfounded that a Jewish man would talk to her. Jesus, then, flips the whole script by telling her that it is really she that should be asking him for water. But not just any water. Jesus would give her living water that she would drink and never thirst again.
The woman asks for this water, but Jesus must first complete the story of Isaac and Rebekah which is a marriage story. So, Jesus immediately makes it about marriage. He reveals that he knows she has been married 5 times before and the man in her home right now is not even her husband.
The woman is amazed and realizes Jesus is a prophet. So she asks a theological question about location. As Abraham insisted that Isaac stay in the promised land of Canaan and not return home, this woman at the well wanted to know if she and her people were wrong to worship God in Samaria instead of the promised land. Jesus’ answer reveals that geography is not the issue, but belief in him.
Immediately, the woman realizes that Jesus is the promised son of Isaac and Rebekah they had been waiting for. She gathers the town together and many people put their faith in Jesus. Now the woman not only has eternal living water but a new eternal husband.
Why did Jesus orchestrate this situation to mirror the story of the servant and Rebekah? It is to show us that just as God did everything to set up the marriage that would preserve his promise and provide for his people in Rebekah, he has done everything to set up a final marriage between us and him that would accomplish his promise once and for all in Jesus.
It also shows us that both the geographically distant and the morally distant can still approach God through Jesus. This story shows us that God does not only bring beautiful, pure, included, and obedient people, like Rebekah, into his family. He brings in rude, defiled, outcasted, and disobedient people, like the woman at the well. People like you and me.
See For Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit would show you the God who has organized everything to bring you into his family through Jesus Christ, no matter what you have done or where you are from.