Genesis: The Beginning
Jacob Chooses a Wife 1-28-16
READ: Genesis 29
Yesterday, in our reading, Jacob has a vision or dream from the LORD while he is resting in Bethel (translated “house of God”). In this dream, the LORD appears to Jacob and reaffirms the promises of the Abrahamic covenant that now belongs to him. Today, Jacob continues his journey to Haran where he will be looking for a wife.
God tells Jacob in the dream he will be with him and we see that truth manifest as Jacob travels toward Haran and runs into shepherds at a well who know Laban; God is connecting the steps for Jacob through divine appointments. In fact, while gathering at the well with other shepherds—waiting to move the stone till all the flocks have arrived—Jacob meets Rachel, Laban’s daughter, as she brings her father’s flock for water. Please note Rachel is a diligent shepherd for her father! Get the picture of the shepherd’s gathered at the refreshing well; there are many male shepherds and there is Rachel. (NOTE: I’m laughing, because during my Walk to Emmaus I sat at the table of Rachel honoring my sister shepherd).
The meeting at the well with Jacob vs. the meeting at the well with Eliezer years earlier reveals two very different servants of God; Jacob is not seen as trusting God through prayer, but Eliezer is all about prayer and worship. Humble prayer makes a difference as we will see. Jacob moves the stone so his uncle’s flock can be watered and then turns to kiss Rachel. Mary paraphrase: “Let me show you my great strength darling; now reward me with a kiss!”). Through tears Jacob explains to Rachel he is her cousin. Rachel runs home to explain the situation to her father, Laban; he quickly comes out to meet Jacob and bring him home. I wonder if Laban thinks there will be gifts coming with Jacob like there were with Eliezer when he came looking for a wife for Isaac?
Jacob stays with Laban a month and works for his room and board. Laban wants to pay Jacob for his labor, but Jacob is not interested in money. He wants Rachel for his wife, so Jacob offers to work seven years for no pay if Laban will give him permission to marry the younger daughter, Rachel. “Agreed!” replied Laban. Jacob has Laban’s word.
Seven years go by and it is time for Jacob to marry Rachel. So Laban gathers his family and friends and prepares a wedding feast. “But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah (his oldest daughter) to Jacob, and he slept with her” (v.24). When Jacob wakes up the next morning he is one surprised man, because laying next to him is Leah, Rachel’s sister! When Jacob confronts Laban and accuses him of deception, Laban tells Jacob it is their custom to marry the oldest daughter off before the youngest.
Do you get a sense that Laban is a trickster? Doesn’t it sound like God is allowing Jacob to taste or reap the harvest of the seeds of deception he has sown in the past? As Jacob took advantage of his father’s blindness to trick him, Laban uses darkness to trick Jacob. Remember, the LORD told Noah and his descendants, “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold, and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” Jacob has spent years sowing seeds of deception into the lives of others and as God set forth the sowing and reaping principle in the earth those seeds Jacob planted have sprouted and are ready to harvest/eat. Laban deceived Jacob and meant to bring him humiliation; he showed no remorse. How would you like to have Laban for a father-in-law?
Laban agrees to give Rachel to Jacob the following week if Jacob will work another seven years to pay for her; Jacob agrees. Laban is all about the money isn’t he? Jacob has met his match in Laban and is served up some painful lessons! The deceiver becomes the deceived. Yet, we see Jacob is growing in his God image and character, because he honors his word to Laban and works for seven more years.
Leah is not loved by Jacob the way Rachel is and she is miserable. So the LORD allows her to become pregnant four times and she gives Jacob four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi (priestly line), and Judah (Messianic line). God truly cares about the brokenhearted like Leah; she will never realize it in her lifetime, but God will honor her seed in the lineage of Judah (whose name translates “praised”).
God will bring good connections into our lives as we desire to walk with the LORD in integrity. “Stop being deceived; God is not to be ridiculed. A person harvests whatever he/she plants” (Galatians 6:7 ISV). Blessings for your day…