In Genesis 24 we read the account of Abraham’s commission to his eldest servant. We’re told in an earlier passage that Abraham had three hundred eighteen “trained servants, born in his own house” (Genesis 14:14). If his eldest servant is any indication, it’s perhaps better to understand Abraham’s training as “raising,” or “nurturing” because we see an undeniable love and devotion in this eldest servant toward his lord. More than that, this servant, whoever he is, share’s the same faith in God as his master. Clearly, the servants in Abraham’s house were not just trained on how to do their jobs; they were nurtured in the faith and practically raised as Abraham’s own.
Nearing the end of his life, Abraham gives this trusted servant a daunting task:
(3) And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
(4) But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
The servant takes on the task, but has some understandable apprehension:
…Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? (Genesis 24:5b)
For Abraham, this was a non-negotiable. He very well could have sent Isaac to the land of his kindred. He could have sent his son with an entire caravan full of gifts and had Isaac himself find a bride amongst his father’s kin. But Abraham stubbornly refused to exercise this option. Isaac was to stay in the Promised Land even if it meant his servant came back empty-handed (Genesis 24:8). Abraham knew what it meant to go all or nothing with God. He’d proven that by his willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s order, trusting that God would preserve Isaac one way or another (Genesis 22:8; Hebrews 11:17-19). Abraham held stubbornly to his faith because he understood that before God there are some things that are non-negotiable. No matter how contrary to popular belief, current social norms, or even what others would call “reasonable,” there are some things that cannot be compromised. Abraham had a promise from God based solidly on God’s truth and there was no moving from that position even if it meant losing everything.
We are living in a time when long-held beliefs are eroding faster than beach sand in a hurricane. And while it is good to take a good hard look at what we say we believe, we need to distinguish what is truth and what is merely tradition. Jesus constantly tore down what the Pharisees held dear because they had raised their traditions to the level of Scripture. What we need to beware of today is not lowering the truths of Scripture to the level of mere tradition. The Bible is God’s truth and there are absolutes in it that we must stand firmly on. Like Abraham, we need to have clearly defined non-negotiables rooted in the truth of God’s Word and when it comes to those things, we need to exercise stubborn faith.