Summary: The transformation from Defiant Deciever to Humble Servant is never easy.
How many of you would consider yourselves a role model?
I’ve got an interesting role model for you tonight. Turns out he was married ...
at the same time...
To top it off – at the suggestion of his wives he had a couple more ladies on the side (and his wives were OK with that – in fact they suggested it!) Did I mention his two wives were sisters? Gentlemen do you have any advice for that guy? Or perhaps the better question is would He have any advice for us? Could we learn anything positive from a man like that?
What if I told you that He’s one of the most famous people in history? His name is Jacob – the man God would rename “Israel”. Turn back to Genesis 29:1-30.
As we read this section we’re confronted right off with an issue which will in the next few years become the next step in the battle linked tangentially with the “gay-marriage” debate. If gay marriage becomes mainstream we’re going to be dealing with polygamy next; and I can already hear the argument that “the Bible condones polygamy!”
We need to be ready for that. I need you to keep in mind that throughout the Bible Monogamy is the Biblical ideal for marriage. Genesis 2 contains as it were the first wedding, in it God created one woman for one man. And Ephesians 5-6 detail the ideal family which includes one man and one woman. The requirement for church leadership is for the man to be married to one woman (1 Tim. 3:2, 12; Tit. 1:6)
Contrast that with the patriarchs having multiple wives all the way to King Solomon having 1000 wives (who ultimately led him away from the Lord.) In many places the scriptures report what DID happen without implying that this is what SHOULD have happened.
Jacob, no less than any other instance of Polygamy in the Bible doesn’t emphasize the goodness of polygamy but does illustrate the problems. We’re not told specifically but you can imagine the deep hurt Leah felt – being married to a man who never loved her. So deep was her hurt that she flaunted her ability to have children in front of her sister Rachel who was herself suffering silently because she couldn’t bear children.1
For all of it’s simplicity the passage is another example of how God can take the broken lives we bring to him to bring about his purposes. In the last chapter God told Jacob that he would multiply his descendants. Now God is able to “make all things work together for good...” (Rom 8:28) even with less than perfect circumstances. It’s here that Jacob the new man begins the transformation as God begins to fulfill that promise first through the wives he obtains and ultimately through the children born to him.
Even though Jacob is the visible lead Character; this story is all about God and His work in our lives. The same pattern develops here that we saw in Abraham and Isaac – God makes a promise; then He keeps it. It’s interesting that God is rarely mentioned throughout all of this. But this story is intentionally sandwiched between the promises of Chapter 28 and Jacob’s recognition of God’s guidance in the 31st chapter in which He affirms that God has indeed taken care of him.