How To Change The World
Dennis Miller | Genesis 24
We’ve climbed out of the red (debt), and back into the black (balanced budget). Now it’s time to push into the green–to be people of surplus, overflow and blessing.
Today I want to share with you a delightful Bible story found in Genesis 24. Just to start us off, allow me to read the key verses and then tell the entire story.
Genesis 24:16-20 (NLT):
(16) Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. (17) Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.”
(18) “Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. (19) When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” (20) So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.
Here is the story. Abraham was getting old, and his wife, Sarah, had recently died.
Abraham felt pressure to resolve some important unfinished family business. His son, Isaac, was nearly forty years old, and Abraham had still not arranged for him to have a wife. In that time, fathers arranged marriages. (I know of some modern dads that wish our culture would still do this, or at least give them veto power!)
To make this story sound even stranger to our Western ears, although Abraham was required to arrange for the marriage of his son who is almost 40 years old, he doesn’t make the arrangements himself. Instead, he called in a servant and said, “Would you go find my son, Isaac, a wife?” You can imagine what Issac thought of this”
Abraham made the servant swear that he would not choose a Canaanite woman or pick a woman from among the pagans in the area. His servant must go all the way back to Abraham’s former country and pick a woman from among his own people.
This servant knew that he had a tall order ahead of him: He must go to a faraway land and convince some young lovely woman to leave her parents and disappear with him into the desert, to go to a distant land and marry some guy she had never seen before.
So Abraham’s servant departed ten camels piled high with gifts for this woman, whoever she turns out to be, and her parents. Then he traveled with the ten camels across the desert in a caravan. As he got closer to his destination, he began to think to himself, “This is really crazy!”
By the time he reached the outskirts of the village, he threw up a desperate prayer to God. He said, “God, I don’t want to make a mistake about the woman I choose for Isaac’s wife. I need your guidance. Give me a sign so that I will know the woman You have chosen. Lord, let her be the one who volunteers to do more than I ask her to do.”
He opened his eyes, and Scripture tells us that immediately, he saw a beautiful young woman on her way to the well. He asks himself, “Could this be the girl? Is this the one?” He watched and waited, as she drew a jar of water from the well. Then he hurried to her and asked her for a drink.
Rebekah took the jar of water down from her shoulder and told him to drink. After he does, she said, “I will draw water for your camels, also, until they have finished drinking.” Bingo! This is the girl!
What makes her gesture so significant is this: do you know how much a camel drinks at the end of a long desert journey? One camel can drink between 20 and 30 gallons of water.
Do the math: 10 camels times 20 or 30 gallons. That woman was out there all night long drawing water out of that well – between 200 and 300 gallons of water! Rebekah would have been considered a very kind person if she had just smiled sweetly and given this man a drink of water. Nobody asked her to draw water for the camels.
Also, the text tells us that Rebekah ‘descended’ to get the water, so there may have even been steps to climb down to the spring.
It seems in an odd way that Rebekah is a creature of the New Testament that somehow slipped into the Old Testament. For Jesus came to create a kingdom of Rebekahs. A kingdom populated with a people who, when you ask them to do something, say, “Well, of course, and I will do this for you as well.”
Think of the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. When he said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,” he was saying, “unless you go beyond the letter of the law – unless you go beyond what is asked of you, what is required of you, what is demanded of you, you will not see the kingdom of heaven.”
Just about a decade before Jesus was born the Roman senate had passed a law that read, “In any conquered province within the Roman Empire, solders may compel able bodied men to bear their burden one mile, but no more.”
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5:41, Jesus says, “If some one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. As Christians, we are to go the second mile. Jesus is saying, “Blessed are those who say ‘and for your camels also.’”
Friends, here’s my main point for today: We are not called to just to do the least we can. We are to be totally all in! Do you want to change the world? Be a Rebekah! Would you like to make your faith so irresistible that people follow you to church like bugs to a floodlight? Be a Rebekah.
If you are part of or believe in this Jesus movement here at Ginghamsburg, I want to encourage you to prayerfully consider your commitment to the Lord and Ginghamsburg Church.
Let me put a coin in the meter, park the car for a minute and talk about money. Even though half of the parables of Jesus deal with money or money management; Even though Jesus talked more about money than heaven, hell, or prayer; Even though there are nearly 2000 verses in the Bible that deal with handling money–There’s always someone in the church that says, “I don’t want the preacher talking about money.”
You cannot live obedient before God unless you deal with money as a spiritual issue. You see, giving is much more about attitude than amount.
“The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” -Deuteronomy 14:23
Now the good news is that when you make a commitment today to place God first in your life, when you honor God, he promises he will even get involved in your finances in a supernatural way.
“A generous person will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25
We don’t give to get. That’s greed. But God is going to reward you in some way. He might increase your income, or he might lower your expenses. He might drop a too good to be true car deal right in your lap or he might keep the old jalopy you got running for another 100 thousand miles. Your reward may not be financial at all. It could be something greater.
So, I want to encourage you to give joyfully. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “God loves a . . . “ sad and angry giver, right? NO!!!!! . . . God loves a cheerful giver!!
Now if I gave my wife a Christmas present this year and I said, “Here it is” “I knew you would be ticked off if I didn’t get you something. It sure cost me a lot. Hope you like it.”
Do you think she is going to appreciate that gift? I mean God is the same way. He doesn’t want our gift as much as he wants our joy.
“For your camels also”…Not only am I giving but I’m going the extra mile joyfully!
How to Change the World
Friends, Do you want to change the world? Then be a Rebekah! But at the time, Rebekah had no idea she was in a Bible story. When the servant came up to her, she didn’t say, “Oh, this is a Bible story. I had better be on my best behavior.’” She had no idea she was an answer to someone’s prayer; it was simply out from her heart that she said, “For your camels also.” I like that phrase, don’t you?
And in that moment, Rebekah took her place in line in a grand succession of women, and she became the great-great-great (and many more “greats”) grandmother of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of God in this world.
Watch the full message: