A Clear Calling

Often goes hand in hand with faith.

Genesis 24:1-9 (ESV)

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter.

Abraham is in the land God has given to him and his offspring and he’s determined that they stay there – but he doesn’t want Isaac to marry one of the locals. So he sends his most senior servant off to fetch a bride from his relatives in Mesopotamia. The servant is required to swear to this task by putting his hand under Abraham’s thigh – obviously some kind of special oath.

But the servant worries about the woman’s willingness to leave her homeland to marry someone sight-unseen. Abraham makes it clear that keeping Isaac in Canaan is the top priority and the oath is voided if the woman won’t come to Canaan. If that happens, Isaac may marry a local.

The servant’s concerns set up the right perspective for the rest of the chapter. This mission is far from a sure thing. What happens next is an exceedingly improbable sequence of events, though any successful mission is improbable. God’s hand in this will be obvious.

More importantly, Abraham knows that God’s hand will be obvious. He confidently tells the servant that the LORD will send his angel before you – but doesn’t say what the angel will do. He also doesn’t lay out a contingency plan for how long the servant should keep trying or how many different women he should try to get to come to Canaan. He just says that if the woman is not willing to follow you, come on home.

Abraham’s confidence here is striking. It almost looks like he has some kind of inside information. Faith often looks like that.

Faith often is that.

One of the keys to a vibrant church is people following their calling. Rarely do people feel qualified to do what the LORD asks them to do, but if they feel called, they’re ready to go.

Pray that God will make His will clear so that each of us will be emboldened to follow our calling.

Clear calling was foundational to Abraham’s faith.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:


Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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