We are told at the beginning of Genesis, that in the beginning that the earth was formless and darkness covered the face of the deep, and then what happens? God says, “let there be light,” and there was light. So we are told that simply by speaking that God is able to create, and in fact in the first creation story, everything is created simply by God talking. Indeed, the central declaration of faith in Judaism “Hear, O Israel…” Not peak, or believe, but instead listen. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” For us as Christians speaking and language are just as important, because we are told that at the beginning of the Gospel of John, that in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. And who is the word? Jesus. So God talks creation into existence and Jesus is the word, and a God who emphasizes this is not a distant transcendent God, but instead an imminent God who is involved in our lives, and we also see that witnessed to in scripture, especially in the stories of Genesis. God talks with Adam and Eve, and God talks with Cain, God talks with Noah, God talks with Hagar and of course God talks with Abraham. God talks a lot with Abraham. In every step of Abraham’s story not only is God present and active, but God is telling Abraham what to do and what God is going to do in return. God is asking things and making promises. God is intimately involved in everything that is going on in Abraham’s life, and yet in the passage we just heard, which is the last significant story of Abraham, God does not speak. Now after the past two weeks in which we have heard God tell Abraham that he should listen to the voice of his wife Sarah and expel Ishmael and Hagar, and then last week when God calls for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac perhaps we are a little relieved that God is not talking or asking anything.
|Rebekah and Abraham's Servant at the Well|
by William Hilton
Today’s passage is a nice little story. A simple story of a servant going to get a wife for his master’s son. It has a nice beginning, a good middle and even a happy ending because we are told that Isaac loves Rebekah. A nice simple passage which transitions us from the story of Abraham into the story of Isaac. But it’s not like this is an insignificant story. This sets up the rest of the Book of Genesis and the creation of what will become the nation of Israel, and yet in striking contrast to everything that has come before, God is not a primary character. While it’s assumed by the author that God is involved in this process, God does not interact with anyone. God does not have a dialogue with Abraham about what he needs to do or with the servant about what to say or where to go. Nor does God talk with Laban, Rebekah’s brother who conducts the negotiations for marriage, nor does Rebekah hear from God telling her that this is the plan she is to follow, that everything will be okay and she should go with the servant. Throughout this entirely long story, God does not speak. Not once does God become openly involved in the plot. Not once does God utter anything to anyone to let them know that what they are doing is according to divine plan. God is strangely silent.