Extraordinary No-Names

In the book entitled, Unnamed: Unsuspecting Heroes Singled Out by God, author Chris Travis notes how God often chooses to use unsuspecting, even unnamed, individuals to accomplish significant tasks in His service.  To be sure, there are many unnamed heroes in the Scriptures – from the unnamed Egyptian princess who rescued the baby Moses (Exod 2:5-6) to the unnamed centurion who, wishing to save Paul’s life, thwarted the soldier’s plan to kill the prisoners (Acts 27:42-43). In a recent read through the OT, I was impressed with the contribution of one “extraordinary no-name,” the unnamed servant of Abraham in Genesis 24 who God used to secure a wife for Isaac.  While some suggest this servant may be Eliezer of Damascus, the individual who Abram contemplated making his heir nearly sixty years earlier (Gen 15:2), there is no explicit textual warrant within Genesis 24 for such an identification.  What we can conclude from this chapter is that this individual, an unnamed servant, is in many respects the unsung hero of this milestone event in the life and progeny of Abraham.  As this and other accounts in Scripture indicate – unnamed or unknown does not mean insignificant to God and His service.

As the Genesis 22 opens, we find an elderly Abraham continuing to experience the blessings of God, yet concerned that his son Isaac might take a pagan Canaanite woman for his wife. To avert such a possibility, Abraham entrusts to this servant the responsibility of finding a wife for Isaac from among Abraham’s own relatives in northern Mesopotamia.  While at one level this unnamed servant was merely carrying out his master’s request, the manner in which he does so is noteworthy.

Beginning with his humble submission to Abraham’s authority (v. 9) and a prayerful dependence on the Lord (vv. 12-14, 42-44), this unnamed servant exhibited a host of admirable qualities.  Within this one chapter of Scripture, we see evidenced: his foresight and thoughtful inquiry as to potential obstacles (v. 5); his creativity in formulating strategy (v. 11); his timeliness, resourcefulness, and preparedness for action (v. 53); his earnest desire for God’s steadfast love to be upon his master (v. 12); his prompt action upon discerning God’s working (vv. 15-17, 45-46), yet patience in waiting upon the Lord (v. 21); his worshipful gratitude for God’s provision (vv. 26-27, 52); and his courage in countering potential resistance to carrying out his master’s desire (vv. 55-56). While unnamed and perhaps unknown outside of Abraham’s household, this hero of the faith is quite extraordinary in his service – both to his master Abraham and to his LORD. He faithfully fulfilled the commission that had been committed to him.

In the above mentioned book Unnamed, author Chris Travis considers eight unsuspecting heroes of the Scriptures under the respective category headings: unexpected, unclean, unpolished, unworthy, underestimated, uncertain, unnoticed, and unranked.  Most of us who know and serve the Lord undoubtedly relate to one or more of these generally inauspicious designations and go through life relatively unknown and effectively unnamed.  Yet, the life of Abraham’s unnamed servant is a powerful reminder that God works His great plan through common everyday individuals who sincerely desire to use their God-given talents and gifts in His service.  What may appear as simple ordinary tasks, when done from a heart of service, are, in fact, quite extraordinary because of the One we serve (Matt 25:40).  May the Lord grant us grace so that, like Abraham’s unnamed servant, we may one day hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21). In God’s eyes, ordinary no-names become extraordinary when they faithfully serve the Master.

About Al Huss
I am a professor of New Testament at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA

2 Responses to Extraordinary No-Names

  1. Jim E says:

    Thanks for this…this is one of the greatest stories in the Bible…and is amazing…a story of an “unknown”…I have known many of them in my lifetime…when we are out driving somewhere and I come to a stoplight…and it is green and I sail right through…I most always say, as I have said for much of my almost 70 years, “Just good clean living.”…and an, “Oh sure, Dad.”, comes from my son the backseat…all that in humor, of course…but points to a truth I want to leave…a life devoted to the Lord means something…good things come from it…this servant in Genesis…had a life of “good clean living” v. 12…and it showed in the way he carried out (and the results of) his journey and task…

    All these unknowns, I have known…are about faithfully living and serving Jesus Christ…this particular servant wasn’t aware his service would produce the Savior…but did it like he was…all the unknowns in my life didn’t look to what kind of a name they would leave, because most would leave no name or reputation…except to those they touched directly…and for only “that” generation…but it lives on in the lives of those they did touch…who go on with a life of “good clean living”…I thank the Lord for all those unknowns in my life today…and thank you Dr. Huss for the reminder…

  2. Pingback: Resources for Acts 27:42 - 43

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