“I want you to swear to the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” Genesis 24:3-4
Isaac, of course, is a crucial player in the covenant God made with Abraham.
A nation that was to bless the world was now dependent on his descendents, but he was 40 years old and unmarried.
The last great act of Abraham, recorded in Scripture, was to find a wife for his son from his own people.
Under oath to follow Abraham’s instructions, his chief servant set out for Ur of the Chaldeans.
Nearing evening, he arrived at the outskirts of the town of Nahor, where women were drawing water from the well. He prayed that God would show Abraham kindness in giving him success in finding a wife for Isaac, and asked that the girl who gave him a drink and offered to water his camels be the one that God had chosen.
Before he had finished praying, Rebekah, the granddaughter of Abraham's brother, approached with a jar on her shoulder, gave the servant a drink, and offered to water his camels.
He watched her closely as she made the numerous trips, filling her jug from the well and emptying them into the trough until his camels had had enough to drink.
The servant saw for himself that God had led him to a girl of good character, but of utmost importance was finding a girl that was in the covenant family, sharing Abraham’s faith.
The servant was welcomed to spend the night in Rebekah ‘s home, where he became acquainted with her family.
He told them the events of the day exactly as it happened and they believed that this was from the Lord.
They gave their blessing for Rebekah to become the wife of Isaac, and Rebekah, having also consented, left the next morning with Abraham's servant back to Canaan.
In our modern day, it would seem highly unlikely to find a spouse in this way, but the same principle that applied to Isaac finding a wife are just as relevant today.
We are all made up of spirit, soul and body, and a good Christian marriage grows in that order; first, a spiritual oneness, united together in Christ, and then a oneness of the soul where personalities of both partners learn to grow in harmony together.
Out of that, comes a physical union and the quality of that union depends upon the quality of the oneness of soul and spirit between husband, wife and God.
Charles explains ten important factors derived from this story that are of immeasurable value when seeking a life-long partner.
1) There is a time when it is right to marry.
From Isaac’s descendents, God would raise a nation and Abraham had decided the time and circumstances were right for him to marry. In our own lives, we need to be ready and prepared, not rushed and pressured. Are our circumstances well aligned with a good and proper time to cross over the threshold into a life-long commitment?
2) Who we choose to marry should be among God’s own people.
In Isaac’s time, that meant someone from within the Covenant relationship with God, but in the New Testament, that becomes someone who is in Christ.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”
To be yoked with an unbeliever, the pull will be in different directions, with different values and purposes.
It is far easier to pull one down than to pull one up, and to choose to marry an unbeliever is risking the natural consequences of disobedience to God.
3) Allow God to be involved in the process of finding a spouse.
The two most important decisions we make in our lives is who will be our master and who will be our mate?
Even though you have not yet met who you are going to marry, God is already at work preparing that person as well as yourself.
God definitely has a plan in this area of our lives, and when we bring God in, He will, in His time, guide us to that life-long partner ideally suited for us.
4) There comes a time to look for that special someone.
In the Song of Solomon, he says three times, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
You’ve chosen to marry, the time is right, you’re trusting God to guide and it’s time to waken up love.
You start to look wherever God leads you.
5) Though you still have not come face to face with your prospective mate, you pray for him or her.
Pray that they come to know the Lord if they haven’t already. Ask the Lord to lay on your heart in what areas you could be praying for them.
When you meet this person, your praying will have brought a special rapport, giving a comfortable sense that you already know them.
6) Look for character.
When Abraham’s servant asked Rebecca for water and she offered to water his camels too, he was looking for character, for signs of kindness and generosity.
To marry on the grounds of physical attraction is a recipe for disaster.
Of course, we will be physically attracted to that person, because we love them and so we love the body they’re in. But to have good looks the main ingredient, is simply the icing on the cake, but not the cake! That is found in the quality of the character.
7) We need to get to know the person we choose to marry, and not as a potential spouse, but as an individual in their own right.
Neither partner should be an extension of the other. They need to be who they are, and not conform one to the other.
It’s building a friendship together with different experiences and outlooks that add vitality to a marriage.
8) Get to know the family.
Though we don’t marry the family, our mate is the product of his or her family.
She or he brings a history with them and family can write all over the blank pages about that person, some of which is indelible.
It has formed who he or she is, what their fears and joys are, their expectations and goals. The dynamics between the father and mother in the home are very important. They become embedded and will likely be carried over into your marriage. And most importantly, you need to know the spiritual history and experience of God in the family, because you need to be compatible in that area.
You may be at different stages in your walk with God, but you’ll learn to grow together in spiritual oneness.
9) It is vitally important both sides recognize the guidance of God independently of each other.
Your parents or friends don’t make the decision about who you marry or when. Wait until it’s right for you.
No matter how upstanding and God-fearing a person is said to be, you receive your own guidance from God separately on both sides.
The girl knows God has led her to him and the guy knows God has led him to her.
10) Rebekah ‘s family had asked her if she would like to go with Abraham’s servant back to Canaan to become Isaac’s wife.
It always helps when the girl says “yes”, and Rebekah did. Both partners need to be willing and committed to a life-long journey together.
There are three fundamental ingredients that make for a lasting wholesome marriage;
A ‘mutual respect’ for each other; a ‘mutual trust’ in each other, and out of that will flow a ‘mutual love’ for each other.
And above all, Jesus needs to be brought into the fold of the marriage.
Scripture tells us a chord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
God ordained marriage and is therefore committed to it.
In union with Him, we can be sure that He will lead and direct us to that special someone suited to us, not only in joy and comfort, in good times and hard times, but ideally suited to the plan God has for our lives.