Abraham’s Last Request

“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”  (Gen. 24:8).

- Genesis 24:5-9

Immediately after Abraham asks his servant to swear an oath and travel to his country of origin to find a wife for Isaac, the servant raises an obvious question: What if the woman he finds is not willing to return to Canaan? Is Isaac’s marriage the ultimate goal, to be accomplished even if it forces him to live outside of the Promised Land? Or, is it better for Isaac to remain single within the region God gave to the patriarch and his sons? (Gen. 24:5). Evidently, the servant did not have the assured hope that Abraham’s plan would succeed.

However, the patriarch does not share this doubt. In today’s passage, Abraham responds to his servant’s question by telling him that under no circumstance is he to take Isaac from Canaan into the patriarch’s country of origin (v. 6). The Hebrew for “see to it” is used elsewhere to refute ideas considered most shocking. Exodus 34:12 translates the same phrase as “take care” for a stern warning against the unthinkable idea of making a covenant with unrepentant Canaanites. Abraham is absolutely amazed that his servant would even think his heir could reside outside the borders of the land.

The patriarch exhibits surprise because he is certain of the Creator’s promise. Abraham has not experienced the fullness of God’s pledge, but he does know that its ultimate realization is assured. He is not willing to disobey and jeopardize the promise by allowing Isaac to live anywhere besides Canaan. Because this scene should be regarded as his last will and testament (this is the last speech he gives), we can see how Abraham has persevered in faith even unto death. He does not waver, knowing that God will be true to His word even if he is dead and gone (Heb. 11:13–16).

Abraham has lived a long life in which he has heard God’s promises (Gen. 12:1–3; 15; 17:1–21) and seen them confirmed (21:1–3; 23:20). He can therefore trust that still greater things are yet to come. We too can press on in faith because of the Lord’s faithfulness and promises. Matthew Henry comments: “God’s promises, and our own experiences, are sufficient to encourage our dependence on God, and our expectations from him, in all the affairs of this life.”

Coram Deo

So often we can be like Elijah — thrown into despair over our present circumstances even though God has shown Himself faithful in days past (1 Kings 19:1–18). When doubts assail us, we do well to consider the Lord’s faithfulness to us in years gone by so that we can persevere in faith as we wait for Him to complete His good work in us. Take time to remember one example of God’s provision for you in the past and trust Him to provide in the future.

Passages for Further Study

1 Samuel 12
Psalms 18
Psalms 31:5
Luke 1:46–56
Hebrews 2:1–4

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.