Summary: Even though we sin, God is compassionate and blesses those who call on His name.
Our text today is a story within a story. We are studying Genesis 29-30, the story of the expansion of God’s promise through the descendants of Jacob. The STORY is the life of Jacob. But the story within the story is about dramatic way in which Jacob’s sons are born.
The bookmarks for this section center around the barrenness of Rachel. We begin in Genesis 29:31 where we read that “Rachel was barren.” We end in Genesis 30:22-24 where we read, “The Lord remembered Rachel, he listened to her and opened her womb.” Within the two folds of these markers we find an incredible, even a salacious account of four women, one husband and eleven children.
There are many interpretations on the births of the 12 sons.
Arthur Pink sees the life and ministry of Christ in the naming of the 12 sons.
Some commentators are quick to point out prophetic truths contained in the naming of the 12 sons.
Others use the text to highlight personality studies concerning Rachel and Leah.
But we want to see today the main application of this story.
Even though we sin, God blesses His children and shows compassion toward our broken hearts
This is an “R Rated Story!” Let’s review the essential elements of Jacob’s journey thus far.
Jacob arrives in Padan Aram and instantly falls in love with beautiful Rachel. Never mind that she is his first cousin, a matter far more offensive today than in Jacob’s time.
After a month of work for Rachel’s father - good ole’ uncle Laban, Jacob requests the hand of Rachel in marriage. He has to work 7 years tending sheep to earn this right, which he does gladly.
On their wedding night, Jacob is victim of a conspiracy between Laban and his oldest daughter Leah. Leah puts on Rachel’s wedding dress, covers up with a veil and sleeps with Jacob. Jacob wakes up and is horrified to discover that after seven years of patient waiting, he just spent his wedding night with the less desirable Leah!
In a bargain with Laban, Jacob works another seven years to “earn” the younger sister - 14 years of labor for 2 wives! During this time, the two sisters carry out a baby contest to win the favor of Jacob. He sleeps with both wives and both of their personal assistants and bears eleven sons and one daughter. Conflict is around every corner. This house is a mess!
If this were a movie today, with all the sex and betrayal, you would most tell people not to go and see it! It sounds more like a modern day Television show!
In fact, there are a couple of Television shows that might be usable to give us a title for Jacob’s story:
Instead of calling it “Two and a Half Men,” Jacob’s story could be called “Two Wives and Two Concubines.”
Or maybe Hollywood would base a series on this story and call it “How I Met Your Mothers.”
But the best contemporary twist to this story might be the story line from “Desperate Housewives.” The Genesis 29 version would be called “Desperate Sisters.”
Indeed, these are desperate women. Even Jacob shows signs of desperation.
Our first and most central character is Leah. She is Desperate for Jacob’s Love.
The text makes this very clear. We read,
Genesis 29:30 "Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah."
God saw Leah’s desperate situation and looked favorably upon her. She is blessed with a pregnancy and then a son. The name she gives him reminds us of her desperation. Genesis 29:32 "Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”"
Leah is a MISERABLE person.
She was BITTER for coming in second to her younger sister. It doesn’t take too much of an imagination to see that Jacob’s infatuation with her younger sister was probably not the first time Leah had been overlooked. The description of Rachel and Leah is brief, but poignant:
Genesis 29:16–17 "Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. " "Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful."
Some have suggested that Leah’s “weak eyes” might have meant that she had some form of visual infirmity, or that she was gentle and quiet. Some have suggested that she was an ugly woman. We ought not build too much of a case from this unclear word, but we can be certain that by way of comparison, Rachel was the beauty queen and Leah the runner-up. Jacob was swept off of his feet by Rachel and we can be sure that Leah was not filled with laughter and happiness when her younger sister is given in marriage before she is.