God’s word the Bible doesn’t candy coat the human condition but puts it on display for instruction and edification. God, through His apostle Paul, emphasized this in reference to our handling of the Old Testament. I was encouraged with His use of the Old Testament for edification and instruction today as I read Genesis chapter 29. This chapter describes the culmination of Jacob’s trip to his uncle Laban’s house, his subsequent marriage to Leah and Rachel, and the birth of his first four sons.
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:4-6
1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 4 But with most of the God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 No these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 1 Corinthians 10:1-6
This is a great story with which every believer in Christ should be very familiar. Jacob stole his brother’s blessing through the instigation of his mother, Rebecca, who believed the prophecy given to her by God about her children, that Esau would serve Jacob. To keep from being bereft of both her sons through murderous vengeance against Jacob by Esau, Rebecca convinced Isaac to send Jacob to her brother Laban for a wife from her relatives. Isaac complied, Jacob left, was met by God and sustained by Him upon his journey, and then met Rachel when he made it to Haran. Jacob worked for Laban for the right to marry Rachel, but on the wedding night Leah, the older and less attractive daughter, was given to him instead. Laban promised Jacob Rachel as his wife, if Jacob would fulfill the honeymoon week with Leah, and then work for him for another seven years. Jacob complied, had two wives, and loved Rachel more than Leah. Leah was devastated by his lack of love and, by God’s blessing, tried to earn Jacob’s love through bearing him sons. (Genesis 27-29)
28 Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week. So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also. 29 And Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as a maid. 30 Then Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served Laban still another seven years. 31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 32 So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.” 33 Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. 34 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing. Genesis 29:28-35
The names of her first three sons expressed her ardent desire to be loved by her husband. Ultimately, this would take place, but not at that time. She was still unloved by Jacob. When she bore her forth son her focus was turned from her marriage to her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The name of her fourth son was given as praise to her God, and she looked to Him for His love, and no longer to her husband. Sometimes God blesses us mightily in our circumstances, but the heartbreak we are enduring just doesn’t change or isn’t resolved. What are we to do? We must follow the example of Leah, and turn from hoping for the outcome we cherish, to rejoicing in God our Savior, for He has loved us with an everlasting love and has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God bless us with resolute confidence in His love that is daily expressed to us through His Holy Spirit, in the love of His Son Jesus Christ, and recorded for us in His lovely Word, the Bible.
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let you requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7