Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah,
who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's
brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. (Bereshit/Genesis
Some time ago my wife and I were out on one of our weekly dates.
Before leaving the house, I was pondering taking a drive around a
particularly nice part of town that my wife hadn't yet seen as we were
still relative newcomers to the city. I myself had recently been there
to visit a diplomat that I knew (that happens when you live in a
country's capital), and thought that my wife would enjoy the area, with
its lush shrubbery and grand homes. We started the evening by going for
a walk at one of her favorite spots. By the time we were done, I was
having second thoughts about my plan. It was getting late; I was tired;
we already had enjoyed a nice evening; I wondered whether my wife would
actually enjoy visiting that neighborhood. Should we, shouldn't we, I
deliberated. "Oh why not!" I thought. And off we went.
As we drove up and down what was still to me an unfamiliar part of
town, it was indeed impressive. I was wanting to show my wife the
diplomat's house, but I could not recall the exact name of the street or
house number. We continued to drive. As we did, one block looked a bit
familiar, and down the street I saw a man inspecting a large shrub. It
was a strange site. Why would a gardener be working Saturday night? As
we approached, it was my friend! After we greeted each other, he invited
us in, resulting in a lovely visit. More than that; he really needed to
talk - and there we were. And to think we almost didn't go!
Some may call this sort of thing a coincidence, which Merriam-Webster
defines as "a situation in which events happen at the same time in
a way that is not planned or expected." That's a pretty accurate
description of what happened. We didn't head out that evening with any
intention of meeting my friend. Nor did he step outside briefly in an
attempt to flag me down. We just ended up being in the same place at the
same time. Of course our being in his part of town, not to mention
driving by his house, increased the likelihood of bumping into one
another. But we almost didn't go. I couldn't remember exactly where he
lived, and he mentioned that he had never gone out to look at his bushes
like that before. The timing of it all is pretty amazing, and the
resultant blessing of the evening to all involved makes it more so.
That none of us planned or expected any of this is undisputed. But
might have there been Someone else involved? I can't prove it, of
course; but I think God had his hand in this. Ever since I first came to
know Yeshua over 38 years ago, these kinds of "coincidences"
have been a somewhat regular occurrence - not every day, but enough that I
have come to expect them.
While from our perspective, these are coincidences, if God is
involved in the way I think he is, I prefer to call them "divine
appointments." I reserve this terminology for the more meaningful
encounters such as the one I have described. I wouldn't necessarily
ascribe the same sort of heavenly intentions upon surprise brief
meetings of acquaintances in unexpected locations that we all experience
from time to time. It's only when I have a sense that circumstances have
blended in an extraordinary way to bring about a most unusual, but
This is exactly what happened to Rebekah in this week's parsha (Torah
portion). She was going about her regular daily routine, fetching water.
She had no idea what was in store on that particular day. She didn't
know that a stranger had just arrived at the local well; nor was she
aware of the prayer he was finishing up as she was arriving at the
scene. She didn't know that her kind actions in response to the
stranger's request would set her life on an unexpected course that would
not only dramatically affect her, but the entire world through her
becoming a Matriarch of the people of Israel.
One of the things that astounds me about divine appointments is the
place of human participation within what appears to be divinely
orchestrated circumstances. Could Rebekah have said, "No"? She
was certainly given the choice whether to go with Abraham's servant and
marry Isaac or not. Could my wife and I have decided not to go to the
part of town where my friend lived? There is no way to determine the
hypothetical past, of course. But in the moment of decision, if it is
truly God who is orchestrating these unusual events, does it matter what
we do? The answer is clearly yes. It doesn't take a philosopher to
figure out that if we didn't go where we went we wouldn't have gone
there. Same with Rebekah. But we did and she did. The rest is history;
of course it is, because that's what happened.
But how does each person's decisions and actions bring about the
unusual, dramatic and meaningful circumstances we're talking about? They
don't. We are oblivious to what is transpiring until it happens. Enter
God. Somehow God takes the actions of humans and orchestrates amazingly
beautiful results. I have no idea how he does it. And, frankly, I don't
care. I am just so glad that I get to be part of it.
Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible,
English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a
publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All