The AMI QT Devotionals for November 27 to December 3 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston. David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, who teaches at a public school.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“God’s Will in Marriage”
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 city of Shanghai has a peculiar event called the “Shanghai Marriage Market.” Think local farmer’s market meets eHarmony. At this meet and greet, parents write the basic information of their child on a slip of paper, and it gets put on display on a wall, along with hundreds of other “advertisements.” Pertinent information includes age, height, job, income, zodiac sign, etc. The hope for parents is that they would meet another parent whose child is a suitable match for their own child. As you might expect, the children mostly despise their parents’ participation in the Shanghai Marriage Market. But it continues to take place on a weekly basis because of the strong desire of parents to preserve their cultural traditions for the next generation.
In our text for today, Abraham is also very serious about whom his son, Isaac, will marry. He makes his lead servant take an oath to go back to his home-country and find a non-Canaanite wife for Isaac. But what was Abraham’s motivation? Was it simply a desire to preserve culture and traditions? Or was there something much deeper going on? (We see a similar thing happen later when Jacob is in search of a wife in Genesis 28.)
For a long time, I didn’t understand why God didn’t want His people to intermarry, particularly with the Canaanites. For a second I even thought, Is God against marriage of people of differing ethnicities? But that didn’t seem right in line with the rest of Scripture. It wasn’t until I read Deuteronomy 7:3-5 that I began to grasp what is really happening here: “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.” God’s primary concern here is holiness. Abraham’s request was not about racial elitism, nor was it merely about preserving one particular culture/tradition; it was a matter of holiness. Abraham understood the power of marriage to transform and influence his son Isaac, and so it was his final mission to help his son find a wife who loved the Lord, and would help move him toward holiness.
A lot has changed since the time of Abraham and Isaac, especially in dating/marriage traditions. But this truth remains: God’s will for us is to move us toward holiness in/through all aspects of our lives. Whether it’s in marriage, relationships, or even our careers, God’s will is that we grow to love Him more through each of these areas. This morning, take a moment and consider if these areas are moving you closer to Him, or further away from Him.
Prayer: God, may everything in my life be used to draw me closer to You. Especially the areas that have the most impact on me, I ask that You would use them to sanctify me. Give me wisdom and discernment to be able to identify relationships/activities that may be pulling me away from You. In all things, I ask for Your grace to cover me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 31
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18: And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Questions to Consider
- According to Paul, why should we obey these commands?
- What do all of these commands have in common?
- What can we learn about the will of God from this passage?
- Paul gives us a clear motivation as to why we ought to do these things: because it is the will of God for us!
- It may not be obvious at first glance, but all of the commands listed here have to do with our character. It seems that God is more concerned about who we are becoming than what tasks we can accomplish.
- Most often, we think the will of God has to do with career path: “Should I take this job offer or this other one?” But this passage says nothing about occupations, titles, or salary. Instead, it says that the will of God is for us to be encouragers, helpers, patient, doing good to all, rejoicers, pray-ers, and giving thanks in all circumstances. Perhaps you are in a season of your life where you are seeking God’s will. If so, may this passage give you a clear place to start!
Often, the hardest places to live out God’s will are the places that are closest to our hearts: our families and/or our roommates. For some reason, it’s much easier to be more patient and kind to people whom we don’t have to see all the time. But it’s these people (families, roommates, etc.) that God has placed in our lives that can have the biggest impact in forming Christ-like character in us. This evening, spend some time praying for those that God has placed closest to you.