There’s a group that continues to grow in number. A group of people who share in their hopelessness. They are called SMP..samahan ng mga malalamig ang pasko. Now if you are part of this samahan, and when you read the end of Genesis chapter 24, you would say the infamous phrases like “Sana All”..you wud say, ah, “May forever” pala. You know, but the story of Genesis chapter 24 is not to give hopelessness ‘no, rather to really give us all hope and that is what we will see, in The Servant’s prayer and the Master’s wedding. We’ll see that in Genesis chapter 24. Turn with me there and read with me verses 42 to 44 and then 57 to 67. We’ll read 42 to 44 of Genesis chapter 24. This is the servant’s prayer when he narrated what happened to Laban. He said – “I came today to the spring and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you are prospering the way that I go, behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,” let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’ That’s the prayer and this is the fulfillment..verses 57 to 67, they said – “They said, “Let us call the young woman and ask her.” And they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.” So they sent away Rebekah their sister and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,“Our sister, may you become thousands of ten thousands, and may your offspring possess the gate of those who hate him!” Then Rebekah and her young women arose and rode on the camels and followed the man.
Thus the servant took Rebekah and went his way. Now Isaac had returned from
Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
So we read in verses 42 to 44 how the servant again was narrating already to Laban that he prayed to God that he may meet a woman who will serve him and the camels also water. And as the story progressed, we saw how THAT actually happened, right.The servant met Rebekah, and then Rebekah introduced the servant to Laban and Bethuel, the father, right. The servant knew that it was indeed the providence of God. It was the work of God. Although there was a bit of hindrance, a hindrance between, because Laban and the mother requested for a delay if you rememer. Sabi nila, teka, ten days muna bago mo dalhn si Rebekah sa Canaan but as we know, the servant stood firm and told them that they have to immediately return. And so, in verses 57 to 67, we see how the command of Abraham, in verse 1 pa lang up to the prayer of the servant was brought to fruition. Laban and the mother allowed Rebekah to decide and Rebekah simply said ‘I will go’ And then by the grace of God, binless pa ni Laban at ng kaniyang ina si Rebekah. Of course this is a, this is a prophetic blessing pointing to the many descendants of Isaac and Rebekah and also how the descendants of Isaac and Rebekah will win over the enemy. How the people of God will possess the gates of the enemy..meaning how they will conquer the land of Canaan. And so afterwards, Isaac brings Rebekah to Canaan, Isaac brings Rebekah into the tent of his mother showing how Rebekah will now be the matriarch and then they got married. Now if you look at the entire chapter Genesis chapter 24 as God’s plan. From the time when Abraham called the servant; di ba verse 1 pa lang tinawag ni Abraham ang servant and then commanded him to go to Haran. And then at the end of the chapter we see it being fulfilled already. Isaac and Rebekah got married. And in-between, during that journey as the story progress from verse 1 to verse 67, we see how it benefited a lot of people. It benefited the servant. As the servant saw the work of God, he worshiped God. He saw the providence of God, he worshiped God, it benefited him. He most likely had his faith strengthened as well. Now he knows his God more because of what he saw. But it’s not only the servant who benefited in this journey from verse 1 to 67. We see Isaac as well, being comforted. And we know that ultimately God’s plan didn’t terminate, it didn’t stop in the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah.We know that God ultimately, God’s ultimate plan was to give Abraham an offspring. And through the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, comes Jacob and the nation of Israel, who will then produce that capital “P” capital “O” Promised Offspring who is Jesus Christ. So God has that one plan of redemption. To give us Jesus who will redeem sinners and be in glory with them and THAT one plan alone truly benefits sinners, yes. And yet as the plan unfolds, as this plan gets completed we see the multifaceted purposes of God…the servant benefited, Isaac benefited in this wondrous one plan of redemption with multifaceted purposes. Tignan natin ang wisdom ng Panginoon. Tignan natin ang kabutihan, ang pagiging all-knowing ng ating Panginoon dito. We see the multifaceted purposes of God, how this also benefited sinners. At ganoon din sa atin ngayon. We know that one plan of redemption. And yet, nagbe-benefit tayo sa mga multi-faceted purposes ng Panginoon sa atin. He has one single purpose, the redemption of men and yet it is mulit-faceted. And we will know these multi-faceted purposes later on. My message this afternoon is that God’s one plan of redemption and its multi-faceted purposes benefit His people. Ang nag-iisang plano ng Panginoon sa kaligtasan at ang iba’t ibang layunin nito ay pinakikinabangan ng Kanyang bayan. Again what are these multifaceted purposes that we can see in Genesis chapter 24? Firstly, there’s the prayer that changes. And secondly, there’s the wedding that comforts.
Let’s look and consider the first one. Prayer that Changes.
So, Abraham’s servant prayed for God to provide a wife for Isaac. Kasi inutusan siya ng head of the family, si Abraham, the patriarch. He commanded the servant to look for a wife, not in Canaan, but in his kindred, in the land of Haran, where he came from at maghanap ng asawa doon, at ibalik niya sa Canaan. And so si servant, ano ang ginawa niya? He prayed. He prayed to God. And the kind of prayer he prayed goes like this, ‘Lord, if a woman fills my jar with water, for myself, and also for my camels, I will know that THAT is the woman whom you are giving to my master.’ Now, while his prayer was like that, he did have an idea that it is God who is sovereign. It is God Himself who, in His providence, fulfils His own will. He said, si servant, he said in his prayer in verse 42, ‘Lord,if now you are prospering the way that I go’..Meaning, Lord, ’your will and not mine’. In Tagalog, Panginoon, ‘kung kalooban mo’. So he understood. Eventhough ganoon, ang tono, ang pagkakasabi niya ng kaniyang prayer , Lord, pag nakita ko ‘to, siya ‘yon, right. Again, in the prayer, the request to God was there and yet there’s a placing of his will, there is a placing of his mind, to what the will of God is. Lord, Your will, not mine. Of course we don’t prays like how the servant prays. Lord, if she sends me a message, I will treat that as a sign coming from you. Lord, if they send me an email, this is the job you have prepared for me. Heto na talaga iyon Lord. Well, malinaw sa New Testament, God said, Jesus Christ said, this is how you should pray, right. Of course, hindi normative iyong Genesis chapter 24. It’s not something that we should imitate. That was in the story, but that wasn’t prescriptive. It wasn’t telling us na guys, church, in the New Testament, this is how you should pray. Napakalinaw ng sinabi ni Christ sa Matthew chapter 6..this is how you ought to pray, right.
Matthew chapter 6 verse 10, Jesus Christ said – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Panginoon, enable Mo ako to do Your will to align my will to yours. For me to desire Your will, Lord. That is Christ’s command for us to pray.
That is..that should be our disposition when we pray. So again, it was NOT the prayer of the servant that made God providentially bring out Rebekah. Hindi sumunod ang Panginoon kay servant. It was not the Servant who made God do what the servant wants. It was God’s purpose all along. The servant did not affect the will of God. If the servant affects the will of God, then God is not God. If God is affected by anything outside of Himself, then He is not God. But He is God. He’s never affected by anything outside of Himself even the prayer of the servant. Just like us when we pray, brethren, we do not affect the will of God or change the purposes of God. Rather, through our prayers, it is God Who changes us. Prayers help us align our will to God’s.
Abraham interceded for Lot, Lord, 40, 40 na lang.. paano kung may 4 na righteous doon, Lord. Paano kung may 35 na righteous doon Lord? He wasn’t changing the purposes of God. God intended to save Lot and his daughters from Sodom. Now after that, Abraham knew who truly God is. That He is the Judge of all the earth. And He is also Mercy..He is also Grace..So that would have changed Abraham that would have sanctified Abraham. Oh this is God! He’s both just and merciful. Again, see how the multifaceted purposes of God benefit His people. The plan was to just look for a wife for Isaac. And yet, during that journey, who benefited as well? The servant! His prayer helped him align his will to God’s. And that’s what prayer does to us, brethren. Now imagine, what happens in prayer is that a created being, a human being, you and I, with a finite mind, finite existence communes with an eternal God. Not bound with time and yet in prayer, we commune with Him. Now let me ask again..do we change the purpose of the eternal God? Or is it God Who changes us when we pray? The eternal God wants us to pray to Him. It’s a command. The Eternal God purposes for us to be sanctified and to be changed, to be conformed in the image of God. And when we pray, it is when we align our own will, our own desire to the will of our Father. Hindi ba’t blessing din, God wants us to pray..hindi lang iyon.
Even God wants us to call him Father, right. And again, we can only call him our Father, if we’re truly part, if we’re truly members of His family. If we have been adopted to His family. Now the question is, are we part of God’s family? Kasi kung hindi, God is not your Father. We have been given that privilege by Christ in Matthew chapter 6..now you can call Him Father if you repent of your sins and come to faith in Me..believe that I lived in your behalf. I died on the cross on your behalf. Then yes, you can definitely call My Father Your Father as well. You have now been adopted to God’s family. But if not, I will say the words of Christ noong kausap niya ang mga Pharisees. You are of your father, the devil. You remain in tha realm. If you haven’t repented of your sins and come to faith in Jesus Christ. And so if you are in that realm. If you are in that family, repent now of your sins and come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Tumalikod po kayo sa inyong mga kasalanan. Hindi ninyo po kayang umalis sa pamilyang iyon. Wala pong ibang mag-iimbita sa Inyo sa pamilya ng Diyos. Hindi ninyo kayang pumasok sa pamilya ng Diyos. Diyos mismo ang hihila sa iyo papunta sa Kaniyang pamilya. Diyos mismo ang mag-a-adopt po sa inyo para kayo’y maging anak Niya. At mangyayari lamang iyon kung kayo ay tatalikod sa iyong kasalanan at maniniwala kayo sa probisyon ng Panginoon, at iyon ay walang iba kundi si Kristo na Siyang nabuhay ng walang kasalanan at namatay din sa krus. At kung kayo ay naniniwala doon, na Siya’s buhay, nabuhay muli, then kayo po ay anak ng Diyos. Na nararapat lang sa inyong dasal, in your prayers, you can definitely..you have that wonderful privilege to call God your Father. So if you are members of the family of God, remember that in our prayers we are being changed. We are being sanctified. We whose existence are finite, commune with the eternal God. So again, who’s the one being changed here when we pray? Who benefits? Certainly it’s not God. Nothing is added to God..nothing is subtracted from God. It is us who benefit when we pray. We are being changed when we pray because we are being conformed to the will… to the image of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Of course when we speak of prayer, of course there has to be Bible reading, bible meditation as well. Hindi pupuwedeng magkahiwalay iyon. How would you know what to pray if you don’t know the words of God? Hindi pupuwedeng you’re praying without knowledge of Scripture. You must pray biblically. You muust read the bible prayerfully. To actually KNOW what the will of God is, meditate on the word of God. So that when we pray, we pray biblical words, we pray uttering the very words of God TO GOD. We align our will to His. Romans chapter 12..Do not be confirmed in the patterns of this world. Rather renew your minds so that you will know the will of God. Read it so that when you pray, you are aligning your will to God’s will. Now, humans are creatures that mimic, we copy. So if our family does things a certain way, usually by spending time with them, we’ll do similar things. Same thing if we spend more time with God in Bible meditation, in Reading the Bible, and then asking for God’s will to be done, then it’s only natural that we would be made more like Him. And so if we are more changed to be Christ-like whenever we pray, then the challenge for us is to be engaged in prayer as a matter of discipline! This is what it means when the Bible speaks of us to pray without ceasing. It doesn’t mean every second. I mean if that is only possible, definitely, but we know it won’t be possible. But be disciplined in your prayer and to be watchful. That’s what Paul said in Colossians chapter 4 verse 2 – Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. It doesn’t mean that you pray ONLY when you are tempted. Hindi ganoon ang ibig saihin ng being watchful, at tipong naghihintay ka lang. Pag dumating, okay, time to pray. I mean, yes, it also means that, but it means that you’ll be disciplined in your prayer that you have been so aligning your will, cultivating that in your prayers. That is watchfulness. It means you pray always so that when you’re tempted you may be ready! You know the will of God and as you cultivate it, you have cultivated such desire of God because you align your will to God’s and praying always is your protection. The more we adore God in our uttered prayers.. the more our hearts are indeed trained… our humility increases. When we pray to God and asking for help for enabling grace for our sins to be mortified for the Spirit to enable us. We will all the more hate our sins. Don’t you want to hate your sins? And when you pray. You are aligning that to God’s will. And God’s will is for us to mortiy sins. And when you say..when you are thankful always to the Lord when you pray, nag-g- grow din ang iyong gratitude sa Panginoon. The problem is that we pray only when we are on the mood to pray. When we feel like it. Siguro if we evaluate our lives, siguro kung bibilangin lang natin iyong mga times na tayo’y nag-p-pray, I would say kung ikaw ay husband, most probably tatlong beses. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kung ikaw iyong nag-p-pray during Kainan. Pero other that that, ikaw ba ay nagdadasal sa Diyos?
Now knowing that it actually benefits us, that God uses prayers as His means of grace for strengthening, for refining our faith. Be disciplines. You know a blind preacher whose name was William Walford wanted to write a hymn to show exactly what God does to the one praying. And I quote, sabi niya – Thy wings shall my petition bear, to Him (God) whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless..and quote. What he meant was in prayers, he expects that his waiting soul would be blessed by the Lord. Blessed to be sanctified, blessed to be changed. He prays expectantly as he prays, he knew that he is aligning his will to God’s. So again, do we spend time in prayer, brethren? Maybe we need to re- evaluate our time, and be more disciplined in our prayers. Kailangan mo bang mag-alarm? Kung tingin mo mas magiging disiplinado ka doon, then definitely, do it! That would be better than nothing at all. Be disciplined brethren. So we see the one plan of redemption, it is multi-faceted in its purposes, and it is for our good. And we see that also in the wedding of Isaac. That is my last point…Wedding that Comforts
So the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah is part of God’s plan. But, one of the multi-faceted purpose, as shown here, was to give comfort to a grieving son, Isaac whose mother, Sarah, passed away. Now when we speak of death, definitely, it’s a depressing thing. And yet their union brought Isaac comfort. Their marriage brought Isaac comfort. Now it is only by the grace of God that He used Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage to comfort Isaac. It is also by the common grace of God that God uses earthly marriages to bring comfort also to us. God is indeed the God of all comfort and He uses the love of our spouse, the companionship, the submission, the respect, the headship, the loving like Christ, the care, the help. He uses all these things to bring comfort to us when we are in distress, when we are grieving. Common grace ito ng Panginoon. But you know at the end of the day, no earthly marriage is perfect. Even the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah wasn’t perfect. Although it gave comfort, it brought comfort para kay Isaac, but it’s never perfect. We’ll see in the next chapters, iyung mga kasalanan ni Isaac at ni Rebekah. Pag— aaralan din po natin Iyan. Two sinners married together doesn’t make a perfect marriage. All earthly marriages fall short of the perfection that the heavenly marriage of Christ and His bride has. There is the greater marriage of Jesus Christ and His church. Such marriages points us to their imperfection because there is a perfect one. There is a perfect marriage, perfect union, greater union. We see that in the call of husbands to love their wives. Kino-compare iyon sa pagmamahal ni Kristo sa Kaniyang bride. Ephesians chapter 5 verses 25 to 27 – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Just as husbands are called to look to the greater love of Christ for His church, Christ loved the church and sanctifies her, until the time when He returns, the bride becomes spotless. That is the greater marriage of Jesus Christ and the bride. Nakita natin ang ginagawa ng greater lover, ng greater husband in Jesus Christ. How He loves His bride. How He gave Himself up for the bride. How He continues to love them by sanctifying them by feeding them with the word. That is the greater marriage. In all this earthly marriages, that are written in the Scripture, just fall short of that great marriage. In fact, all earthly marriages should always look to that greater union. Iyung mga marriages natin, it wont’ have it’s meaning and purpose if we don’t look at that perfect marriage. This simply means that Christ’s love only FOR His bride. That He died for the church on the cross, and He continues to sanctify them to be conformed to be in His image. This means that what brings despair, grief, and afflictions – that’s sin, and death. All of these were defeated and conquered by the BrideGroom in His death and resurrection, for the benefit of the Bride. That is the most comforting truth. If Isaac is comforted by the love that they have in their marriage, hindi ba’t mas comforting para sa ating lahat to see that greater love and greater marriage in that greater union of Christ and His church. The most comforting truth is that Christ defeated sin and conquered death on behalf of His bride. Ganoon ba ang ginawa ni Isaac? Actually, in the chapters next, gagawin din niya ang pareho ng ginawa ng kaniyang ama na si Abraham with Abimelech. We have Christ, the better BrideGroom. We have Christ in the church the better marriage. And that gives us comfort. That is the good news. The gospel. That Christ is married to His Bride. That Christ died on the cross for His bride. That Christ lived on behalf of His bride. Christ rose again so that the bride will also rise in splendor so He can present the bride to Himself and to the Father spotless. That is a greater marriage, brethren. And that gives us comfort. But know that the comfort we have in the gospel does not mean that there will be absence of grief, it doesn’t mean that there will be absence of distress. Rather it means that there’s an objective truth that what causes all of these things, that is sin, it has an absolute end.
That’s what it means. Spiritual distress. There’s an end. Even physical distress, there’s an end to that. Because of what the BrideGroom did. Now it doesn’t mean that there’s no place for let’s say kunwari ang isang tao nag-s-struggle..physical distress, or grief or whatever. Probably depression. It doesn’t mean that there’s no place for medications, of course there is. But the gospel reminds us of the end of all these things. That is why, it is a comfort for all of us. And this absolute truth can indeed give us assurance of peace and hope in our hearts now. So again, see how the multi-faceted purposes of God affects us for the good.
Just as how Isaac was comforted, and that was part of God’s purpose and plan for Him So are we who are in distress, and grief. We too can find comfort not in earthly marriages, but in the gospel…in the heavenly marriage of Christ in the church. Just like the deer that pants for flowing streams, Psalm chapter 42, to find comfort and strength and refuge goes to that stream. Ganoon din po ang ating mga kaluluwa. Our soul finds comfort in the gospel. That is our challenge, last challenge for today. Find comfort in the fact that we belong to our faithful Bridegroom, Jesus Christ! The bride belongs to the Bridegroom. The bridegroom purchased His bride with His blood. Just as the BrideGroom suffered, so too the Bride shares such suffering. But here’s the hope.
Sabi ni Paul sa Second Corinthians chapter 1 verse 5 – For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
There’s an abundance of suffering for Christ. Just as Christ suffered. It is a blessing to be able to suffer for Christ. But Paul says, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. As there’s an abundance of sufferings, there’s also an abundance of comfort from Jesus Christ. See that the Bible shows us that you will find comfort in Jesus Christ. Oh yes, there maybe things that would give us probably temporary comfort. But there’s only one answer that the Bible provides that will give us comfort. And that is only Christ. Huwag nating hayaan na mawala, na hindi natin hanapin ang comfort na ito mula sa Panginoong Hesukristo. There is that objective truth that we can always run to. Whenever we are in distress or whenever we are grieving, oh yes people may help us..companionship or whatever, or brethren in Christ may actually point us to Christ..yes, that’s good. Know that the Bible presents one and only comfort for grief, for distressand that is none other than the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His love fo rus, His love for His bride. And the problem is when we find comfort in other things. When we are blinded by other things and we are deceived into thinking that these things can ultimately bring us comfort. It may be our work, it may be material things, or whatever. But you’ll find out. They do not give satisfaction and comfort to our souls. Look to Christ, brethren. Iyan ang piniprisinta ng Bibliya’ng sagot. Find comfort in Him. At Iyan din ang piniprisinta ng Heidelberg catechism question number 1. They make an absolute claim that the ONLY, (iyon iyung gamit nila na word na “ONLY”) The ONLY comfort. But again, these writers are not saying na okay, there are things that ay give you hope in life..but they’re saying, in fact at the end of all these, you will find that the ONLY comfort in life and maybe in death. And they answer it this way that I am not my own but belong body and soul in lie and in death to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. Mga kapatid, are you struggling with grief? Distress? You know yes, it doesn’t mean that there will be absence of grief. But when you find comfort in Christ, you will reminded that when Christ returns, grief na Iyan, no more tears. That is why even in death, Christ is a comfort. He is the ONLY comfort in this lie and death. You know if Isaac’s earthly union brought comfort to him. What more our belonging, ang pagiging belong natin..our union with our BrideGroom? With the Lamb? Isn’t it comforting to know that our own sins cannot condemn us anymore? Oh, you know your sins. I know my sins last week. I know my sins ten years ago. And if I were to evaluate these sins, and if I be the udge of my own sins, and I will even say I cannot get to heaven. With that kind of sin?
And yet with Christ, these things have been erased. These things have been covered by the righteousness of Christ. Now isn’t that comforting to know that when you wake up in the morning, you don’t think about these things anymore. Mga kapatid, that is the only comfort in your life and death. That sin has no hold on us anymore, has no power against us anymore. Isn’t it comforting to know that death does not have a sting for a believer anymore? That your loved one who believe in Christ who will definitely meet him, meet her..death has no sting! Isn’t it comforting to know that problems in life indeed have an end? Isn’t it comforting to know that the same problems are there? Even God uses them for our good..for us to be conformed to the image of the BrideGroom. Christ, the BrideGroom, only comfort! This is all because the BrideGroom loves the Bride and He gave himself up for her and He sanctifies us. What gives you comfort, brethren, at times of distress?
Even ngayong time na hindi kayo distressed. Are we comforted by mere physical things? You now, mote that it may indeed ‘help’ you forget things, but it will be for a while. Look to the unchanging truth of the gospel, and find comfort in Christ. That’s the beauty of the plan of God. It did not stop. It did not terminate with Isaac and Rebekah happy ending..stop! Genesis chapter 24 that ends..that’s the ending. No! It ends with Christ. They’re married so that Christ will come so that the greater marriage will happen. And again, as the plan unfolds, the multi- faceted purposes of God is revealed to us in His providence. He has One Singular plan according to His infinite wisdom for Christ to be the substitute for His bride on the cross and sanctify her to be conformed to His image. Christ giving up Himself on the cross brings us comfort, Add to that, our prayers to God sanctifies us multi-faceted purposes. Our prayers to God sanctifies us as it aligns our will to God’s.
May the Word of God enrich our knowledge of Him, and may it stir us to live in light of these truths.
Let us pray. Great God and gracious Father, thank you Lord for Your grace and mercy. Thank you Lord for giving us Your Son Who has conquered sin and death. Lord, thank you that He is our only hope and comfort that we will be with You, oh Lord in eternity. That our sins are no more. They are covered by His righteousness. Lord, thank you for a great reminder of what we have in Christ. What He has accomplished for us His bride. Lord, may we continue to live a life that is glorifying to You. May Your will be done, oh Lord in our lives. May You continue to align our will as we pray to You. As we be more disciplined oh Lord in our prayers. Lord, thank you..Thank you for Your grace and mercy in our lives and in the life of this church. We commit to You our time together in Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.