Summary: As we continue our Genesis series, we examine Jacob's marriage to Leah and Rachel, and how God was working through all of it.
Working for a Wife
Text: Genesis 29:1-30
By: Ken McKinley
Well before we start getting into our sermon this morning; let’s have a quick re-cap of what’s been going on in Jacob’s life. If you remember, he got his brother to first sell his birthright for a bowl of stew… then he got his brothers blessing by tricking his father. All of his lies and deception didn’t go over too well, so he was sent away to Haran, to find a wife, and to escape his brother. And on the way, he had a dream, where God spoke to him and God Himself confirmed the blessing upon Jacob.
And that brings us to our text this morning. And I’ll just tell you right now, God has a plan for Jacob, and He’s going to really start refining Jacob. And in this instance, God’s refining fire is a man named Laban. And this is something we see throughout the Bible. God uses circumstances, situations, and sometimes people (both pagan’s and Christians) to straighten us out.
So… Jacob arrives in the vicinity of Haran. He’s probably been on the road for about 3 weeks or so, and he comes to this well, and there are already shepherds sitting around it with their sheep. And so he asks them where they are from, and once he finds out they are from Haran, he asks if they know Laban. And as providence would have it, Laban’s daughter Rachel just happens to be approaching to water her father’s flock.
Now I’m sure that Jacob had probably heard the story of how his grandpa Abraham sent his servant to Haran to find a wife for his dad Isaac. And I’m sure he probably heard about how God directed the servant, and led him to exactly the right place. But now he’s actually getting to see God work. He had probably heard that story a hundred times, but now… now he’s actually getting to live out his own story and he’s actually getting to see God moving to ensure that His will comes to pass. But… just because Jacob’s getting to actually see this happening, that doesn’t mean that he understands it to be God’s providence; because remember, Jacob is pretty carnally minded. And so Jacob probably doesn’t even consider how God has led him to this place, and how God has orchestrated it perfectly so that at just the right time Rachel would be coming to water the flocks. And the reason I say that is because we don’t see Jacob react like we saw Abraham’s servant react. If you remember; when Abraham’s servant arrived in Haran and he found Rebekah he worshiped and praised the Lord. He gave all the glory to God. We don’t see anything like that coming from Jacob here.
In verses 9 – 12 we get to see when Jacob and Rachel first meet. And it’s almost like love at first sight. And so Jacob rolls the stone away from the well so that her sheep can be watered. And not only does he move the stone, he water’s the sheep. So basically; Jacob is doing what his mother did for Abraham’s servant. Some commentators say that he was showing off… or that he was trying to make a good impression, and maybe he was, but I think that he was just so smitten with Rachel that he wanted to do nice things for her. In verse 11 Jacob kisses Rachel, and we’re told that he lifted his voice and wept. And again; this isn’t necessarily worship, like we saw with Abraham’s servant. It is joy. Jacob is happy that he’s found what he’s looking for, and he’s probably pretty happy that Rachel is easy to look at. So Jacob’s probably pretty happy, but there’s no praise or thanksgiving recorded here.
And the kiss isn’t an affectionate or passionate kiss… it’s a customary thing. We see Laban greet Jacob a little later on in the same way. In-fact, they still do this in the Middle East, especially when it’s a joyous occasion. Jacob does it because he’s excited and joyful that he’s made it, and Laban does it because he’s happy that his sister bore Isaac children so that he didn’t have to give back the bride price.
So Jacob goes back home with Rachel. He meets his uncle Laban, and he stays there for a month. And at first; everything seems great. You know, he’s with his mom’s family. He’s met the girl he knows he wants to marry. His uncle has put him up and given him a place to stay. But it’s not going to last.
In verse 15 Jacob and Laban make a deal. Jacob says he’s willing to work for Laban for 7 years, if he can marry Rachel. And Laban agrees, but then he cheats Jacob and gives him Leah for a wife. In other words, Jacob is starting to reap what he has sown.