In our article last week, we learnt about God’s directive will, which is the first aspect of the sevenfold will of God as highlighted in the book, “The Clock of the Sevenfold Will of God”, written by our late founding pastor, Rev Dr Timothy Tow.
Before the Bible was written, the Lord spoke to His people through dreams, visions, angels or even an audible voice to direct them to do His will. But in our present day, God reveals His will to us through His written Word. We do not need to look to dreams, visions or voices to direct us.
Today, we will focus on the second aspect – God’s cooperative will:
2. Cooperative Will
When we seek to follow God’s will for our lives, He will direct us and grant us success in our endeavours. This divine help and blessing is what we call “the cooperative will of God”.
The Bible records a classic example of God’s cooperative will in the special way He brought Isaac and Rebekah together.
In Genesis Chapter 24, Abraham had commanded his chief servant, Eliezer, to “go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac” (v 4). When he arrived in Haran, Eliezer, not knowing where to start nor what to do, prayed for God’s blessing upon his mission: “And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham” (v 12).
When the servant arrived in Haran, he waited by “the well of water” where “the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water” (v 13). But which of the many women would be the right one for Isaac?
Seeking God’s specific guidance to lead him to the right person, the servant asked the Lord for two clear signs – (1) that the damsel he approached would be willing to give him a drink; (2) that she would offer water to his ten camels as well: “And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master” (v 14).
These kind acts would reflect the damsel’s good upbringing, her diligence, her kind and courteous disposition, her charity towards strangers and her willingness to serve. Eliezer knew that a wife with such qualities as he sought would be suitable for his master’s son, Isaac.
Interestingly, we note that “before he had done speaking”, God had already answered his prayer. Rebekah, the daughter of Abraham’s brother appeared “with her pitcher upon her shoulder” (v 15), and did exactly as the servant had prayed (vv 17-20).
When the damsel offered to water the camels also, and disclosed that her father was related to Abraham, the servant was overwhelmed by God’s amazing answer to his specific prayer. He responded with thanksgiving and worship (v 26). He also acknowledged God’s providential hand in the whole episode: “I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (v 27b).
Matthew Henry elaborates: “God, in His providence, does sometimes wonderfully own the prayer of faith, and gratify the innocent desires of His praying people, even in little things, that He may show the extent of his care, and may encourage them at all times to seek to Him and trust in Him; yet we must take heed of being over-bold in prescribing to God, lest the event should weaken our faith rather than strengthen it” (Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary).
An interesting feature of this narrative is the passive stance of the groom-to-be throughout the whole episode. We are told that Isaac was praying when Eliezer appeared with the bride whom God had chosen for him (v 63). God superintended the process and gave to Isaac a wife of His own appointment.
In this interesting narrative, we see the exercise of God’s cooperative will in the lives of His children. Abraham had commissioned his servant to carry out a delicate task – to find a godly wife for his heir of promise, Isaac. It was a responsibility which Eliezer took very seriously. How would he find such a one among so many in a strange land? Eliezer looked to the God of his master Abraham for specific guidance and help, and the Lord answered him in an amazing way. God prospered the way of the servant and provided a wife of His choice for Isaac.
Do we need guidance in life’s important issues? Let us look to the Lord to lead us. When we desire to obey His will, He will direct us and prosper our way. Pray in faith, trusting the Lord to work out His providence in our lives. He will not disappoint us, but will show us His perfect will. Amen. (… to be continued)