Jacob Reaps His Harvest (Genesis part 50)
Text: Genesis 29:31 – 30:24
By: Ken McKinley
Now last time we looked at how Jacob had come to his uncle Laban’s house. How he had fallen in love with Rachel, and how Laban had double crossed him and tricked him into marrying Leah before he could marry Rachel. And basically; what we saw was a classic example of a man reaping what he had sown. He had lied and tricked his own father, so now his uncle had lied and tricked him. He had dishonored the principle of the birthright, but now he’s been forced to honor it, by marrying the older daughter before he could marry the younger daughter. And so Jacob is being taught some of life’s hard lessons. And the amazing thing in all of this is how God was working in it and through it. If you remember last time, I said, “God is not the author of sin, but in His providence, He knew what Laban was going to do, and even used it, to accomplish His will.” The closest thing I can equate that to, is the game of chess. If you know what your opponent is going to do… if you know how they will act and react, then you can actually plan several moves ahead. In-fact; if you’re good, you can know every possible move your opponent can make, and have counter moves for every one of them, and not only that, but you’ll also know the counters to your counters, and have counters to them as well. And being that God is omniscient (All Knowing), He knows everything we are going to do, and not only that, but everything we could’ve done. And He will use those things to bring about His will, His plans, and His purposes.
And so last week, we saw Jacob get married to both Leah and Rachel, and the last thing we read was that he loved Rachel more than Leah. And this is a pretty sad situation. Because as you read along in the story of Jacob, you see that Leah actually loves Jacob; but it’s a long time before he ever loves her. And I’ve actually seen this in some people’s relationships. One person loves the other, but that love isn’t returned. And usually it’s the woman, who’s madly in love with some loser guy. And while he’s out trying to find contentment, trying to find himself, trying to gain fortune or fame, or his version of happiness, the wife endures an unloving relationship. And it’s sad to see. And that’s what we’ve got here with Leah. More than anything in the world, she just wants Jacob to love her, but no matter what happens, she can’t seem to change his heart or mind.
And this isn’t only a problem that married couples have. There are a lot of young girls out there, who feel like they are unloved as well. And they’re looking for it, and they end up getting used by boys who could care less. And it ends up destroying them. Here’s the fact of the matter, and if you have daughters or granddaughters it’s a good idea to teach them this truth. A man doesn’t have to love a woman to go to bed with her. And going to bed with him, and even having his children, doesn’t mean that he will love you.
So Jacob loves Rachel… and the idea here is that he doesn’t love Leah… not at all. In-fact; the idea is that he kind of despises Leah. That’s what verse 31 of chapter 29 is saying… “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved…” A more literal translation would be to say, “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated by Jacob…” He opened her womb.
Now isn’t it nice to know, that even if we are hated, God still loves us?!
Jacob hates her, but God loves her; and God gives her children.
Her first boy is named Reuben, which means “See I’ve had a son.” And she explains why she named him this. She basically says, “See I’ve had a son, because God has seen my anguish and pain.” So in the naming of her son, Leah is acknowledging God’s involvement in all of this. And if you look down at the names that Leah picks for her kids, you’ll see a continual reference to God. We don’t see that so much with Rachel. But Leah makes a reference to God, but then look… she does right in making a reference to God, but then she says; “Surely now my husband will love me.” So again; she’s got the wrong idea about her husband, and about men in general.
What I think we’re seeing here is that Jacob is not only blaming Laban, but he’s also blaming Leah. She was obviously in on the whole deception as well… but what he’s either not seeing, or not realizing is that Rachel had to be in on it as well. But I think that’s what we’re seeing here. And you know he’s angry, because he’s stuck with Leah, and he never wanted her in the first place. And we can see that in life a lot of times as well. You know… young people get bitter and think that they’ve missed out on life because they had a baby when they were young… or people who think that their spouse is holding them back in some way. I’ve seen it several times while counseling. You know; the husband blames his wife for all of his bad decisions in life… he blames her for holding him back and keeping him from achieving his full potential… and wives blame their husbands for all their bad decisions, and become bitter at their husbands because they think that they could’ve married so and so from high school or college, and oh how much better their life would’ve been then.
It’s kinda like that AT&T commercial where the guy signs his family up for free minutes and the wife automatically assumes that he’s made a bad decision and starts going off on him about how she should’ve married someone else, until he tells her the minutes were free. And the fact of the matter is this. Love isn’t about circumstance, it’s not about finance, it’s not about all the externals. It’s not about having the life that you think your neighbors have. Love is not something a person falls into… that’s lust. A person grows in love, over time, and it’s a choice that each person has to make.
The Greeks had 4 words for love. They had eros – which is what we would call lust. They had phileo – which is literally brotherly love. They had storge – which is a fondness or affection that grows through familiarity, it’s the kind of love that you see between soldiers who have trained together and gone to combat together… (of course this might have an all new meaning now that don’t ask, don’t tell has been repealed). And then finally there was agape – which is unconditional love. It’s the love that God has for us, and the love that we should have for our spouses and our children. Jacob didn’t have that for Leah, and when she gave him a son, she wrongly thought… oh now he’ll love me. “Look I’ve given you a son. Do you love me now?” “No, I love my son, but not you.” And so you’ve gotta feel sad for Leah. She wants her husband to love her.
But the good news is that we see a progression in Leah. Her next son is Simeon; and she again makes reference to God… she says, “God has heard that I’m unloved and has given me another son.” That implies that she had been praying about the situation. And she goes back and forth between these two trains of thought. Between her longing for her husband and her praise towards God. Levi means “attached” and she’s back to thinking that 3 sons will win her husband’s love. But Judah means “praise,” and so we see that she’s back to God now… it’s like she’s tried to get her husbands affection, but now she’s decided to give up on that and just praise God.
I actually know a couple that was in this rut for a long time. They ended up having six boys. She felt like she needed to keep having kids so that her husband would show her affection. And their lives were a mess. Thankfully they’ve come out of that kind of thinking and are instead clinging to one another now, and they’ve come to understand the truth about love.
Well Rachel, is sitting by seeing all of this, and she’s becoming desperate. And no doubt, in her mind, she’s thinking that she’s losing her husband to her sister. And so she gets mad. She says, “Give me children or else I’ll die!” And Jacob’s like, “Hey it’s not my fault. You need to take this up with God.” And Jacob’s actually right in what he says here. It’s not up to him, its up to God. So does Rachel take it up with God? No; she comes up with a plan… very similar to the plan that Sarah and Abraham came up with. She gives Jacob her maid. And like I said before – a man doesn’t have to love a woman in order to go to bed with her. Rachel gives Jacob her maid, and Jacob’s like “Ok, I’ll do this for you Rachel… I’ll take one for the team.”
And this goes back and forth. Leah stops having kids and so she ends up giving Jacob her maid as well. And Jacob… Jacob’s like a dirty old man. He’s with 4 women, and I don’t know if he even sees how it’s tearing his wives apart. They are competing for his affection. They are competing to see who can give him the most children. Then it really gets messed up (Read vss. 14 – 16). Apparently it’s gotten to the point where Leah is having to manipulate Jacob so that he’ll go to bed with her. She’s hiring him out like he’s a prostitute. He’s worth 4 mandrakes. And I hope everyone sees how messed up and dysfunctional this family is. I really want you to see that, because then you can see how great and awesome our God is.
God is going to work in this messed up, dysfunctional family. God is going to bless the unloved Leah. He’s going to bring about His will, regardless of how badly we are messed up, or how badly we mess up. He’s going to bring about His promise. The promised Seed, that will crush the head of the serpent. Turn with me real quickly to Genesis 49:8-10 (Read). That’s the prophecy… that’s part of Jacob’s last words to his sons. And he’s prophesying about Jesus. It’s through the line of Judah that Jesus is going to come. And so, even though Jacob didn’t love Leah, God did. Jacob didn’t honor Leah, but God will. And the idea here is that God is going to send us a Savior to straighten out all this mess we’ve made for ourselves. In the lives of Jacob, Rachel and Leah we can see ourselves. We ruin ourselves, we destroy ourselves, we destroy those around us. We make a mess out of our lives. Even Leah; the one’s who’s praying through all of this, and giving glory to God, gets into sin. And that’s the harsh reality, that we are born in sin, and we have this sin nature, and even as believers we sometimes mess up, we sometimes try to do things our way, and do it in accordance with our will rather than God’s will. And there are consequences for that. It’s the hard way and the easy way analogy that I gave you last week. God will still get you through, but it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be difficult, and at times unpleasant. But He will get you through. He is the Author and the Finisher of your faith, and He that began a good work in you, will bring it to completion.