A Pattern of Prayer, part 1: A Pattern of Need
February 14, 2016 | Genesis 24 (Praying for a wife for Isaac)
Today, you may have noticed, is Valentine’s Day. You can tell by all the pink and red hearts and the candies and cards.
Valentine’s Day has a spotty history, or supposed history, having been established in 496 by a pope who listed Valentinus as a martyr “whose name is justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.”
Although the pope could not say anything about what Valentinus had done, there eventually grew up a variety of legends about a priest named Valentinus who was martyred about 270 AD. Most prominent was the idea that he was martyred for performing marriages for Christians, and that’s the idea that had the most market appeal, so that eventually “Saint Valentine’s Day,” February 14, became associated with romantic and courtly love.
It really has no spiritual significance whatsoever, and the Catholic Church has dropped it as a part of the General Roman Calendar, but it continues to sell cards, candy, and clothes.
As we were trying to figure out how we were going to approach this sermon series, I realized that we would be starting on February 14, and one of the very first specific instances of prayer in the Bible just happened to concern how God brought about a particular marriage in a particular place in time. You may be surprised that it involves camels.
I thought it might actually sanctify Valentine’s Day a bit.
It is no secret that our current view of love and marriage (even before the Supreme Court’s
decision last summer) is historically odd. We tend to think that marriage is the result of being struck by an overwhelming emotion that leads you to realize that THIS IS THE ONE FOR YOU.
But most marriages at most times and places were not romantically motivated — indeed many, many marriages have been arranged by families for various practical and political reasons.
As we look at today’s passage in Genesis 24, we will see an early arranged marriage which
proceeds along different lines — with camels playing an integral role.
* * *
Abraham was chosen to be the father of the nation which would enter the Promised Land and there worship God, and from who Messiah would come. God had called him out of Ur, which is a land far to the east of what would become Israel.
And “called him out” means invited him to walk with his wife and household 600 miles to the land of Canaan. And Abraham, in an amazing display of faith in God, does this thing.
Eventually he and Sarah have a son, Isaac (I’m leaving out some pretty big parts of the story), and Sarah passes away.