Engagement of Noluthando Nhlabathi and Mphakamiseni Duze
Introduction Albu van Eeden
Our hearts are filled with joy that you that are here with us today.
Brethren today is a great day. Our ‘son’ will get engaged today. We are overjoyed for those from Mthaleni and Gordon.
Today is a day for the Lord, His kingdom and His church. It is victory for a child of God; it is a victory for God’s church and for God Himself. Mphakamiseni, you have stayed faithful all these years. People with whom you grew up, people with whom you sang in a choir, fell in the love with the world and turned their backs on God. People fell to your left and right. In spite of this, Mphakamiseni was faithful. Noluthando has also stayed faithful and kept her purity as a young girl.
Mphakamiseni testified that God told him to marry Noluthando. He did not ask her to marry him. He made no contact. He told his counsellor and Baba Mfundisi and someone spoke to Noluthando about how he felt. Then the ball was in Noluthando’s court, she had to confirm what the Lord had said to her as well. She had all the time in the world. There was no need for her to rush with an answer. In some cases, the man has to wait for years before the woman felt that the Lord had confirmed it to her. Noluthando said that God had spoken to her as well and today is their engagement day. I still stand between them. They will be separate, with no contact until the day of marriage.
This is the ring with which they are getting engaged. The ring is a full circle without any gaps. With this ring they promise each other that they will stay pure until marriage when they take their vows to be faithful for life.
I do not know for whom I should be the happiest. We are happy for both sides. We thank the Lord. We thank Him for the power of the Gospel. There is nothing like the Gospel. You can pull it apart, you can mock it, but the Gospel is sweet. Go into the world and see what you will meet there. Look at how the young people live. Where will you find a pure young virgin in this time? But come to the Gospel and you will find her. The apostle Paul says, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation.’ The power of the Gospel of salvation must be made manifest.
There are usually dowry negotiations before the time when the family says many things about the girl, but seldom do you hear that they thank God for the Gospel and that she is so pure because of what the Lord did in her life.
Thank you, Mphakamiseni and Noluthando. The Lord has helped you to remain faithful until this time. We rejoice on behalf of the parents that their children have not brought disgrace upon them or the Gospel.
So, young people, it is possible through the power and the grace of God. A person can remain a pure young virgin by the grace of the Lord. Many take short-cuts. They are unwilling to wait for God’s time and today they shed tears because of it. Things have been destroyed in their lives and they are a shadow of what they were before. We thank the Lord that these young people took to heart the message that Rev Stegen preached of young people who keep themselves holy and pure before God.
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 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, 3 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, 4 but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” 6 Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. 7 The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8 But 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.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master and swore to him concerning this matter. Genesis 24:1 – 9
This is an amazing text. It reflects what is expected of us when we walk the walk of faith.
Abraham had a son in his old age. The parents no longer had any hope of having a child. But they received this son, which God had promised them. In this text Abraham was aged. He reflected on his situation. He considered his son and desired an upright wife for him. There are many women who desire to be married to someone, who are over-eager to get into any kind of relationship. They even advertise themselves.
Abraham desired a wife for his son, but he did not want a wife from the people around him, the Canaanites. He must have had a very good reason for that.
“Put your hand under my thigh, 3 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, 4 but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
Why was Abraham troubled about the people amongst whom he dwelt? What was the problem with these people? God had clearly told him to leave his country and his people and go to the land He would show him. Now he was in Canaan. What was the problem with these people?
Abraham took note of these people. He noted what kind of a people they were, what kind of lives they lived. Did they serve God? What their morals were like? Abraham did not want his son to have a wife from a corrupt people, from people who would teach him evil ways and how to serve idols. He wanted a wife from a family who still acknowledged God, who served Him.
Can you imagine the responsibility on this chief servant of Abraham who had to travel to a foreign land, to a people he did not know at all and look for a wife for his master’s son? How would he recognise her? What would we have done? But he accepted the responsibility to fetch a wife for the only son, the son of the promise. He did not want things to go wrong in Isaac’s life because of a wife.
What concerned the servant was this question: what if she was unwilling to return with him? He took an oath and he was bound by the oath to do exactly as he had promised. Because of Abraham’s faith, he said to his servant: 8 But 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.” Abraham was a man of faith and he encouraged his servant not to be concerned. God would send an angel before him, show him the way, give him discernment. Abraham’s servant left by faith and in obedience to His master; paying heed to his words. The servant took 10 of his master’s camels and it was probably a large group that travelled together on this mission.
Brethren, we need to put our trust in God for not only the things which we can see, but also for the invisible. There are people who are willing to trust God if there are visible signs that encourage them to trust God, but if there is nothing to be seen and they cannot walk by sight then they are not willing to trust God. They went on this journey trusting that God would provide, protect and give them all they needed. People pray but they pray hopeless prayers because they do not have the faith or hope that God will grant them that which they pray for. Why do you even pray if you doubt God and His power and ability to grant you what you pray for?
They left in faith on this journey to a destination of people/family they did not know, a girl they did not know. How would they recognise her? They trusted that God would show them the way. There are many women, how will I recognise the one for my master’s son? What will be the sign? How will it be clear to me that she is set aside by God? Will I see her by the fact that she is like a beautiful rosy peach? Some rush for those beautiful peaches but when they bite into them, they are full of worms. Some people look at many different criteria – beauty, popularity, a good figure. Many walk by sight and the eyes of faith are blinded. They cannot see as God sees.
Abraham’s servant set off with a group of people and camels to Mesopotamia, back to his master’s family to find a wife. All along the way, the servant was in prayer. Young man, if you want to get married, be in prayer before God that God will show you His will concerning that. In marriage, God’s will is more important than anything else, because after that, no matter what challenges you may face, you will remain steadfast because you know that God led you and you do not need to worry about the future. What I love about this servant was the way he prayed. We do not doubt that when we pray, God hears. God will grant us according to our prayer.
When he arrived there, he stood at the spring of water.
12 And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” Genesis 24:12-14
There are many similarities between different nations. We know that it was the custom that at a certain time of the day the girls would walk in a group to fetch water. In this text they carried the water jars on their shoulders, but the Zulus carried them on their heads.
He reached the city and made his camels kneel at the well. He waited for the girls to draw water. See how God worked in this instance and answered his prayer. It was exactly as he had asked. Before he had finished praying, Rebekah arrived at the well to draw water. This is God who brings things together and confirms in a sure way that which is His will.
Notice this, girls, these girls came to fetch water from the well and returned home. They did not meet men on the sly. Rebekah did her duty faithfully, fetching water for the family as was expected.
She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. Genesis 24:16
17 Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. Genesis 24:17,18
She very politely gave him water to drink. Then, 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”
Things came together perfectly, precisely that which he had prayed. She did not only give him water but his camels as well.
Some say that camels drink 100 litres in 10 minutes. How much water is that? This servant arrived with 10 camels. Can you imagine how much water she must have fetched, how much she carried? When you read it, it does not seem as if it was a difficult chore for her. She did it gladly for this stranger and his camels. She was a diligent girl. She was not choosy about the type of work she did. Whatever her hands found to do, she did it gladly. She gladly did it for the man and then served the animals. What are you like? You might be in a hurry to get married, but you cannot even sweep at home. You do not do your own washing. But you are in a hurry to get married. Will your husband be the one who serves you? Even when you are given something to do, you say, ‘Excuse me! No, sorry you cannot expect me to do that work – to work outside in the yard. Let me rather get a servant who can do the work.’ But you are consumed by the desire to have a husband. You want a man.
No, Rebekah was a diligent girl with hands ready to work.
Read Proverbs 31 and you will read what a wise woman is like, what a good wife is like, what kind of a person you must be if you want to get married and how you must look after your household. Where are the Rebekah’s who are ready to work, ready to be sent by the Lord Jesus? It does not matter what it might be, but if God is sending me, I am ready to do it. I do not mind what kind of reputation that work has, but if God is sending me, I want to do it to His glory.
The servant says, ‘Please tell me whose daughter you are.’ She responds and invites him to spend the night at their home. It is important to know where a person comes from. Young men who want to get married, it is important where a person comes from. If you are led by the Lord, He will never lead you into the bush. The Bible says, ‘What fellowship does light and darkness have?’ Darkness ought to remain there. Light and darkness do not mix. It is like oil and water. Why do you, believer, keep company with unbelievers? You say you are a believer, but you do what unbelievers do. You gossip with them - even gossiping about your husband.
Abraham said to his servant 3 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, 4 but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?”
They still had a remnant of the faith. Go to my people because there they still acknowledge God. But you do not care who it is. You cannot discern. You are burned by your lust and want any kind of husband or wife. Some are so troubled by their lusts that they just take anybody and do shameful and disgraceful things.
16 The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known.
Rebekah was a pure virgin. No man had touched her. She was an upright girl who respected her parents and herself. Girls of old who lived pure lives had one aim which was to make their parents happy. Purity is something we should admire and honour. Young men and girls should keep themselves pure and enter marriage undefiled.
Rebekah was a very attractive young girl who was a virgin. She was diligent. I am sure Abraham was very happy with her when the servant returned. She was a young woman who was hard-working and ready to do anything that was required. She was ready to acknowledge God and pray. What do you look for in a young woman? A painted face? One who spends hours grooming herself but when it comes to work, she cannot lift a finger? Young girls, the government feels for you that you do not have jobs and to solve your predicament they will legalise prostitution. Now you can prostitute openly. Then you can add up your profits after a day’s work. Do you want to enter that kind of business? That is a curse and a curse on the land where it is done. If you think things are in a bad state in our country, wait until laws like these are passed and then you will see how it will go in a land where people do not acknowledge God. As a prostitute you will not even receive the money you worked for - a pimp will get it and you will receive a pittance. Africans, wake up from your sleep.
How happy the parents must have been, how happy Abraham must have been. His wife, Sara had passed away, but now he could also depart because he knew that his son, Isaac, would have a good wife. God fulfilled all His promises to Abraham even in this by giving the son of the promise such a wife.
There are some who are willing to help but only to a certain point. Rebekah was humble and committed herself to carry things through to the end. She did not give up halfway. How happy Isaac must have been to get such a wife. How happy the servant was that God gave him success. He could have reached there and they could have declined and then he would have had to return without her, but God was faithful and led the way.
Can God entrust us with difficult tasks? Taking the Gospel to those who are unsaved that they may hear the word of God and be saved from their sin?
Can people entrust you with responsibility? Can they give you something to do and not have to follow up on you to see that it is done? Or do they know it will be done properly? Can you come afterwards and say, ‘I am done, can I do something else?’
God gives all of us the opportunity, whether you have done well or not, to come to the Lord and say, ‘Lord, today I want to repent. I want to be like Rebekah and take after her. By your grace I want to be saved.’ You can remain behind after the service and make right with God. Bring those things you have done which have brought disgrace on yourself, your family and God so that you can live in such a way that you can bring life to those around you.
You who have failed to wait, repent and return to your parents and apologise. Say, ‘I have become what I have because of disobedience to your guidance and instructions. I am sorry for what I did.’
Young people, walk circumspectly, upright and in purity. You bring joy not just to yourself, but to your family and to those connected to you. You are invited. This is your opportunity.
Albu van Eeden
What have we done to deserve it that God brought His precious Gospel in our midst? What we have heard is gold. It was brought to us through a man who surrendered everything to give the gold that he received to us. In 1978 I realised that this is precious gold which I found nowhere else and in no other church. Do not treat it lightly.