An hour ago I listened to a groundbreaking podcast by Timothy Keller, a Presbyterian pastor whose messages are profound. I want to share with you all an amazing story of love as told by the Bible and unfolded by Keller. This is the story of Jacob, Rachel, & Leah:
Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.” So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant. When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”
And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord .” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. (Genesis 29:16-35 NIV)
All this time I’ve only been captured by the verse that said, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” It does show how much he loved Rachel especially after knowing that he had to work for another 7 years because he had to marry Leah first instead. Whew!
However, let’s take a look at Leah. To be frank, she is the ugly duckling, the one people don’t even consider though she’s the older one than Rachel. She had weird eyes too. (Hmmm… Very descriptive)
Anyways, her father Laban set her up with Jacob to get her married. She didn’t refuse because it is according to the custom that she is married first than her younger sister. And I’m sure she was excited to be married to Jacob! I bet she’d be excited to just be married to a man, because nobody picked her! But too bad… Jacob’s in love with her beautiful sister. :( She got hurt so badly. Laban must have lied about the wedding to her too, to not hurt her feelings lah… So I’m sure she was really devastated and heartbroken. Her hopes of having a family and starting her own traditions were gone. Her husband won’t even notice her.
Though they kept on having children, she wasn’t being acknowledged by her husband. She was not loved. It showed in the names of her sons, telling us how she really wanted Jacob to love her. However, God showed His love to Leah. He really loved her, so He opened her womb and cared for her and her sons. Leah connected with God, put away her idolatry of her husband and family, and replaced it with her One true Love, the Father in heaven Himself. She finally said when she bore her fourth son Levi, “This time I will praise the Lord.” She really took out the dearest, deepest part of her hope that couldn’t fill her emptiness this time and just bask in her relationship with God. She embraced the love of God and in return she loved Him more than anything. She was made whole. She finally stopped struggling for love because she had found the one true Love.
I hope this short message stirs up that longing for a deeper relationship with our Father. Only He can satisfy our soul. Only He can bring redemption to all our sins. Why? Because He is Love and He loves us so much that He died for all our sins. Let’s draw near to Him and love Him. Let’s trust Him for our lives and stop struggling with our own plans. He loves us; He is Love; He hopes and plans the best things for us.