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“He [Isaac] went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching.” Gen. 24:63, NIV
We know the story of Isaac and Rebekah and how God brought them together. This verse happens as Isaac is mourning the death of his mother and waiting for news of the servant who was sent to search for a bride for him. It would appear that Isaac was in the habit of meditation in the evenings as he walked through the fields.
Before we look at what we can learn about Biblical meditation from this verse, we need to be clear on what we do not mean. Satan is a master of deception and one of the tricks he uses [especially in cults and false religions] is to use the same word that is in the Bible, but he gives it a different meaning. This is a method of bringing confusion for people think they are talking about the same thing when, in fact, they are not.
For example, Wikipedia quotes from a book titled “Psychology Of Religion And Spirituality for a definition of meditation: "three main criteria... as essential to any meditation practice: the use of a defined technique, logic relaxation, and a self-induced state/mode. Other criteria deemed important [but not essential] involve a state of psychophysical relaxation, the use of a self-focus skill or anchor, the presence of a state of suspension of logical thought processes, a religious/spiritual/philosophical context, or a state of mental silence." The top “hits” on a google search for “meditation” all return thoughts from eastern religions.
Because of this some Christians either shy away from this topic, are confused by it, or think the Bible supports the popular ideas.
In the above definition notice the following statements that are the opposite of true Christian meditation: logic relaxation, self-induced state, self-focus skill, state of suspension of logical thought processes and state of mental silence. These activities can open one up to dangerous spiritual forces whose father is a liar and whose aim is death and destruction.
Biblical meditation is choosing to focus your mind on God. This is not “logic relaxation” or “suspension of logical thought” but a deliberate thinking on an aspect of God’s character, His creation, or His acts. It often involves thinking on a Bible verse or passage over and over in order to come to an understand of its meaning and application. It is both a mind open to the Holy Spirit and logical thought and application. It’s goal is never a blank or empty mind [which dark spiritual forces can write on]. Perfect peace comes from trusting Jesus, not emptying our minds.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast [whose mind is stayed on thee - KJV], because they trust in you. Is. 26:3, NIV
So Isaac was walking through the fields deep in thought and that is the essence of Christian meditation. Deeply thinking.
Atheists and others sometimes mock Christians for blind faith - what they think is believing against logic. But Christians are instructed to think [Ps. 63:6, 1 Cor. 14:20], to reason [Acts 17:17, Heb. 11:19], to consider [Deut. 32:7, Ps. 8:3, Mark 4:24, Luke 12:27] and, of course, to properly mediate. Many passages in the Bible place great value on wisdom and knowledge. Christianity does, indeed, involve faith but it is not blind faith in opposition to facts. It is faith that takes us beyond the mere facts. We know [fact] that Jesus died about 2,000 years ago and we apply the blood shed there to receive salvation [faith]. It is the false mediation practices that want to find peace by avoiding logic and reasoning.
The world tends to run to one of two extremes - being too busy to think and filling every moment with sounds of some kind or trying to empty the mind in order to be at peace. Christians need to avoid both traps. We need to take true "deep thinking" seriously. Sometimes we simply get too busy - even with “Christian” activities that we don’t have time to wait and meditate in the presence of the Lord. We become like Martha. Other times we can fall into the trap of mindless or pointless meditation which leads to pride or disillusionment. We need to be intentional in our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus wants a thinking people. A people who can quiet themselves [not empty their minds] and deeply think on the things of God and the issues of life. It is from there we will find communion with our Maker, a sense of belonging, unshakable peace and a purpose for life.
While he was mediating, Isaac looked up. He wasn’t navel gazing or self-absorbed. He looked up. He saw what was happening around him without losing touch with reality. Unlike Eastern Meditation, we are not the centre. God is always to be the Centre and God always looks out to others. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with our own problems that we forget others are struggling too. They need the love and help of Jesus.
When Isaac looked up he saw the answer to his problem coming. His new bride was on her way. For weeks he had probably mediated and looked up and saw nothing. But he kept going and one day the answer appeared over the horizon. Unknown to Isaac at the time, God had been at work all along.
When we are struggling with disappointment and pain we need to mediate on the goodness and glory of God. We need to see Him as He truly is. In due time, the camels will appear on the horizon. Are we in the position to see them?