You may remember the story of how Isaac comes to find a wife in Genesis 24. Abraham, the father of the Jewish people gives his servant the great responsibility of going back to his family and finding a wife for Isaac, the son of the promise. It is through this wife that God will carry out His covenant with Abraham and make his descendants a great people. It is a pretty big deal to be chosen for this job, so much so that Abraham makes the servant swear a serious oath that he will do exactly as he is told before he sets out.
Sometimes when we read these accounts in the Bible we forget that the people involved are just that, people like us, subject to all the temptations and failings that beset us every day rather than just flannelgraph figures of perfection. The servant is a valued servant of Abraham’s household. He is a trusted servant but still a servant and now one who is given autonomy, riches, and a very difficult task to accomplish. Go into a far land and get my son a wife is his orders… and BTW don’t screw up ’cause he will be responsible for lots and lots of kids and a great nation.
The temptation to hightail it out of Canaan and set up a kingdom for himself had to cross his mind at some point, didn’t it? How about the question that never gets asked – how in the world am I to know who Isaac is supposed to marry or why would these people give me a girl for Isaac after you have been gone for years Abe?
To even leave Abraham’s house and set out required great trust by the servant in his master, Abraham and in Abraham’s master, God. You will recall that the servant goes out and finds a well where Rebekah is located. While waiting he prays to God for specific direction on who God intends for Isaac’s and then trusts God when He answers and shows Rebekah. This reveals that the servant takes both his master and God seriously. His step by step reliance upon God to answer and trust in God to show Him is a great example for any of us who follow the Lord.
By the end of the chapter, Rebekah is brought back to the family, Isaac and Rebekah have married and she is providing him comfort after the death of his mother Sarah. Jacob and Esau will follow shortly. This servant has done a great job. He has fulfilled his master’s wishes wonderfully and carried out a difficult task filled with temptation faithfully. His trust in God and relationship with God is something that we can learn from thousands of years later.
You know what the interesting thing about him is though? We never learn his name. Abraham doesn’t say it and God does not record it in the chapter. The servant is faithful to God, follows the direction of God, God accomplishes a wonderful thing through him and he is anonymous. Called just servant.* (I am not even to my point and my pride is already rebelling against it)
This guy is not alone either. Did you ever notice that the angels of the Lord that show up periodically in the Bible are generally not named – Gabriel and Michael being the exceptions. In Judges, before Gideon comes on the scene God sends a prophet to give a message to the people to get them ready for Gideon’s judgeship. This prophet is never named. Though the church has given them names, the Wisemen who travel from a far country and are the first to worship Jesus on earth are never named. They traveled hundreds or thousands of miles and they get no specific press. The shepherds who come and adore Him are not identified either.
Like the servant of Abraham sent to find Rebekah, in each case their works for God are great, they get to see God working and they are important links in His great plan, but no one will ever know exactly who they are this side of eternity. Some of them follow God at great cost in their lives and yet are simply called the servant or the prophet.
In this life it is possible this will be our lot as well. While there are many famous christians or those who people take notice of and admire their work for Jesus, there are many more who do their Jesus following where no one can see, behind the scene or under the radar christains. Those who are carrying out God’s exact plan for their lives, who know that God has called them to do what they are doing and see they are reaping a harvest for Jesus, but it is in a way that the world or even the church does not easily notice.
While there is only one Billy Graham who preached to millions, there are thousands upon thousands of these faithful servants of Jesus preaching the Gospel to a handful, feeding their elderly neighbor or just crying with a fellow believer when times are really tough. These people will never be profiled in their churches news letter much less Christianity Today and yet are doing exactly what their Master directed them to do. They are fulfilling their vital role in God’s awesome plan of redemption in just the way that God intends and see God working but are doing it anonymously.
The question for each one of as servants of God is whether this is good enough for us. Whether it is enough for faithfully serve even if no one here sees. If no one ever notices on this earth what we were called to do by God can we still be content because we are serving the One who called us?
While eeven our neighbors might struggle with our names, God certainly knows each of us intimately, He gave His life for us, and the names of the prophet, the Wisemen and Abraham’s servant . He could write in the margin of Genesis 24 for me filling the name of the servant, everything he ever did in life and talk about every thought that ever went through his head.
Jesus certainly knows each of the men who traveled those long dusty miles to come and bring Him gifts while still a small boy. He could tell us about the time they were before Herod and ducked out after headfaking him after He warned them about Herod.
He knows of the trust, devotion and faithfulness of Abraham’s servant and where it fits into the plan of redemption. God knows who He sent to pave the way for Gideon just as He knows what each of us are doing in His name every single moment of our earthly existence and Jesus is not indifferent to the attitudes and actions of His servants towards Him. When Jesus saw the faith of the Centurion the Bible says that Jesus marveled. His response to many of those He heals during His earthly ministry is to tell them that their faith has made them well.
God sees even the most obscure one of His children and takes note of our faithfulness to Him as we walk through this life. Even if no one else notices, He is there saying well done good and faithful servant – you did this great deed where others who require applause would have failed.
Abraham’s servant is judged trustworthy by His master to be given a greatly important task that requires him to trusts his master’s will and God’s power while doing it. He does it anonymously and faithfully and for all eternity as He basks in the glow of Jesus’ glory in heaven, I am sure that this is the furthest thing from his mind.
*Note – I know that the servant is traditionally called Eliezer based on Genesis 15 but it may or may not be the same servant. If it is indeed Eliezer that is awesome and skip to the next example of anonymous people in the Bible:)