This week’s parasha is entitled Chayei Sarah, meaning “The Life of Sarah” and covers Genesis 23:1-25:18. In this parasha we see God’s plan to continue His promises through Abraham’s son Isaac, and a teaching for us on what it means to be servants of the Lord.
We open with the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah at age 127. Abraham mourns her passing, and then negotiates with the local Hittites. He purchases a field with a cave to bury his wife.
Throughout his life Abraham was a wanderer in the land of Canaan and this cave would be the only land he owned before his own death. The Lord had promised Abraham the entire land of Israel, but this would not be accomplished in his lifetime. Yet, Abraham remained faithful that the Lord would fulfill His covenant with his descendants. He knew this covenant was eternal and unconditional and trusted in the Lord’s promises.
In chapter 24 Abraham sends his oldest and most trusted servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for his son Isaac. Eliezer swears an oath to Abraham not to take Isaac out of the Land and not to find a wife among the Canaanites. Abraham knew that he needed a wife for Isaac to continue God’s promises of redemption for mankind. He also knew not to go to the pagan Canaanites, and that Isaac was not to go back to the land they had been called out of. Abraham understood the importance of a wise and God-honoring marriage based on God’s will.
Abraham assured his servant that Adonai would be with him, and his servant swore the oath immediately, departing with 10 camels to the city of Nahor, where Abraham’s brother lived.
After arriving at the city’s well, Eliezer prayed to Adonai to reveal a wife for Isaac. His prayer was that the woman who would come and offer to draw water for him and his camels would be the one God had chosen for Isaac. This task would require hours of work but would reveal their kindness and humility. Before Eliezer had even finished praying, the Torah records his prayer was answered. Rebekah appeared and fulfilled his prayer perfectly, and he knew that she was the one chosen by God for Isaac.
He accompanied her to her father’s house and told them about Abraham, his oath, and how God had fulfilled his prayer. He then asked to take Rebekah back with him. Her family understood this was God’s will but left the decision up to Rebekah. In an act of great faith, she agreed to go. After spending the night, he was immediately ready to depart, but Rebekah’s mother and brother wanted her to wait 10 days before leaving. Eliezer knew that this was the Lord’s will and urged them not to delay him.
We should remember this was a man Rebekah had met only yesterday, sent by an uncle she had never known. This uncle who years ago left her family to follow the voice of God and go where He would show him. Yet without any hesitation about leaving her homeland and family she again agreed to go. She demonstrated the same kind of faith that Abraham had shown years earlier. The chapter concludes with Isaac falling in love with Rebekah and marrying her.
Eliezer, Abraham, and Rebekah are great examples for us today. First, in Eliezer we see a true servant of God. When he was commanded to do his master’s will, he immediately complied. At the right time he offered to God a righteous prayer which was then answered. At every point where he could have slowed down, he kept moving forward. Eliezer demonstrates for us faith in action. We can learn from Eliezer that when the Lord calls us, we should be quick to respond. When obstacles or uncertainties cross our path, we should pray to the Lord to reveal His will to us and then act boldly.
Second, Abraham was insistent that his son would not marry a woman from the pagan Canaanites or go back to where they had been called from. Abraham trusted in Adonai’s covenant and knew that the Lord would once again provide for him. He exhibited that definition of faith we find in Hebrews 11 – being assured of things he hoped for, and confident of things he did not see. Abraham’s sincere faith comes from a right understanding of who Adonai is. Like Abraham, we should have faith in the Lord’s promises. Many today, including Christians and Jews, dismiss the unconditional covenant the Lord made with Abraham. Those who share the faith of Abraham and those in Hebrews 11 must know the Lord is faithful to all His promises.
Finally consider Rebekah, God’s chosen bride for Isaac. She is described with many positive qualities including beauty and a servant’s heart, but her greatest attribute was her faith in the Lord. Like Abraham, she left her family and her land to fulfill the calling of God. She was seeking out that better country described in Hebrews 11.
Like Abraham, she did not hesitate in trusting in Adonai, even when not knowing all the details. Like Eliezer, she quickly responded to God’s call, and opposed her family to leave immediately. Three very different people – and yet in one important way they are the same. They were willing to trust in Adonai and act through genuine faith.
The lessons of this parasha are very relevant for us today. We live in a time where we dismiss God’s Will and elevate our own. The war in Israel has especially exposed thinking that is intellectually lazy and emotionally manipulative. Most people, including many professed followers of Messiah Yeshua, dismiss the promises of the Lord. They refuse to follow Him faithfully when it clashes against culture and feelings. Our feelings then become more important than God’s truth. But Chayei Sarah teaches us the opposite. Everyone in this parasha was blessed because of their faithfulness to the Lord’s will and not their own. Whether it is something large like war, or small like conflict between two people, every area of our lives can be transformed if we are willing to seek first God’s will, despite how we or others feel.
I pray that each of us have a genuine faith in the Lord. May we all be willing to follow His will over our own every day. May each of us fulfill the call of the Lord for our lives as good and faithful servants.