Nov. 30, 2014 Genesis Sermon # 7
Genesis 29:14-30 “In the Morning, Behold, It Was Leah”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Intro: Is there someone in your life who has really hurt you, betrayed you?
If so, have you ever thanked the Lord for that person?
Do any of you feel unwanted, unloved, and ugly? If so, do you believe that God loves you, and that he wants to work His good pleasure in you?
Let’s find the answers to those questions in Gen. 29:14-30.
14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Seven years was an over-the-top generous offer; for this is three to four times the normal bride price. Perhaps Jacob wanted to make sure his offer for Rachel was accepted. Laban noted the big stakes Jacob was willing to pay for his daughter’s hand in marriage, and would later exploit such eagerness. Laban knew he had him, like a fish on the hook, and he could now reel him in.
19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.”
Laban’s reply was vague enough to cover what he did 7 years later; Note that he never actually promised Rachel’s hand in marriage to Jacob.
20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
While seven years seems to us a very long time to be engaged and to pay for your wife, the point here is that in comparison to the prize of marrying Rachel, those years did not seem like a lot of time. (Like the Pearl of Great Price)
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.”
Jacob’s wording “Give me my wife” (without mentioning her name) played right into Laban’s hand, so that it made it easier for him to bring Leah, instead of Rachel.
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. 24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant. Note: Zilpah (and Bilhah, v. 29) would feature prominently in the birth of some of the 12 sons of Jacob.
25 When morning came, there was Leah!
How could this have happened? One, Jacob had probably been drinking a lot, and wasn’t very clear-headed nor keen-eyed as normal. Two, Jacob was “hot to trot” into the marriage bed here, and so he probably wasn’t engaged in any small talk with his new bride. Three, Leah might have been heavily veiled, so Jacob couldn’t get a good look at her, especially at night. Four, Leah and her sisters probably looked at least a little bit alike. So you could see how this switcheroo might have happened.
Now a number of commentators and preachers have made much of this line, “In the morning, behold, it was Leah.” (v. 25)
Derek Kidner writes that Jacob’s rude awakening that he has married the wrong sister” is a miniature of our disillusionment from Eden onwards.” That is, ever since Adam and Eve sinned and brought a curse upon our world, nothing seems to satisfy us.
- S. Lewis notes that: “The longings which arise is us when we first fall in love…or first think of something that excites us… are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can ever really satisfy…There is always something we have grasped at. There’s always something in that first moment of longing that faded away in reality… In the morning, it’s always Leah.”
Both writers are using Jacob’s disappointment with finding that it was Leah, and not his beloved Rachel, in bed with him as his wife, as a metaphor of how life, without Christ, will always disappoint us, much like the message of Eccclesiastes. Your idols will always fail you!
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?” 26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.
Jacob probably thought: “Now you tell me?!” But he didn’t argue with Laban; he kept his eye on the prize (Rachel).
27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” 28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.
Here is the question you are probably asking at this point:”Why doesn’t Jacob strangle Laban? What restrains him?” One reason is that when Jacob said, “Why have you deceived me?” the word translated “deceived” is the same Hebrew word that was used in chapter 27 to describe what Jacob did to Isaac. [What goes around comes around; sowing…and reaping]
One commentator suggests that it must have occurred to Jacob that Laban had only done to him what he had done to his father Isaac. In the dark, Jacob thought he was touching Rachel, as his father in the dark of his blindness had thought he was touching Esau.
Consider what an ancient rabbinical commentator wrote: Imagine the conversation the next day between Jacob and Leah. Jacob says to Leah: “I called out ‘Rachel’ in the dark and you answered. Why did you do that to me?” And Leah says to him, “Your father called out ‘Esau’ in the dark and you answered. Why did you do that to him?” Fury dies on Jacob’s lips. Suddenly he sees that the evil he has done to Esau and Isaac has now come upon him. Jacob sees what it is like to be manipulated and deceived, and so he meekly works another seven years. [This was like an acted out parable, like what Nathan did with David in 2 Samuel 12.]
Often we only truly see the hurt we have done to others… even to God… when we ourselves are hurt in the same way. God can use the hurt and pain we feel as a mirror to show us what we have done to others, and even to God. Examples: we get upset with how others drive and cut in, only to realize that is how we sometimes drive! Or when we are frustrated with our children, then we sometimes see how our Heavenly Father should be frustrated with how we treat Him, as His unruly and uncaring children.
Jacob needed a “Laban” in his life, for 20 years, for the Lord to use as an instrument in shaping Jacob’s character, to help make him know and feel his total dependence on the Lord. Jacob needed someone like himself in order to see and feel how he himself treated others.
Through Laban, Jacob received a large dose of his own medicine of deceiving other people. He now felt what it was to be so deceived out of what was rightfully his. God would develop preserving grace through this, in him.
And Jacob is not the only one who needs this. Who is the “Laban” in your life? Perhaps it is someone close to you. Maybe it is your father in law or mother in law, or your brother or sister? Here’s the big question: Can you thank God that He is using this person to make an eternal difference in your life? I am not asking you to thank the Lord what the sin that person committed against you, but can you thank God for how He sovereignly used that person to work in your life?
If you have a Laban in your life, don’t be bitter and don’t beat them up. Now, you don’t have to let them take advantage of you either, if you can help it; but remember, God can use that person in your life to make you a more Christ-like person… if you don’t become bitter.
Ultimately, we need to look at this deception from the vantage point of decades and centuries, and if we do so, we can see that God, not Laban, had the final word here.
By staying the course (working another 7+ years for Rachel), Jacob would win a greater prize than he could have imagined, in eventually becoming the father of 12 sons, the 12 tribes of Israel, through whom God would bless the world and bring salvation.
God is sovereign, even over the “Labans” of our life. The Lord is amazing, for out of the Jacobs and Labans of the world, he brings forth blessing and salvation to the world!
She is the girl nobody wants; or at least Leah is the girl who is never picked first; she’s the young woman who is always in the shadow of other women; she seems invisible, as men don’t notice her, and women treat her poorly. Leah has an ache, an emptiness, in her heart. And yet the unwanted Leah would become the exalted mother of six sons and one daughter, and from two of them would come the priestly and kingly tribes of Levi and Judah!
When God came to earth in Jesus Christ, he was a son of Leah, through Judah’s line. He became the man nobody wanted. He was born in a manger. He had no beauty that we should desire him. He came to his own and his own received him not. And at the end, nobody wanted him. Everybody abandoned him. Even his Father in heaven forsook him for a time. Jesus cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Why did he become Leah’s son? Why did he become the man nobody wanted? He did it for you and for me!
God chose Leah because He is saying, “This is how salvation works. This is the upside-down way that my people will live, at least in relationship to the world, when they receive my salvation.”
God chose Leah because God chooses the foolish things to shame the wise; he chooses the weak things to shame the strong; he chooses even the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no one will boast in his presence (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
Going back to my opening questions:
Is there someone in your life who has really hurt you, betrayed you? Can you thank the Lord for that person?
Do you feel unwanted, unloved, and ugly? Do you believe that God loves you and wants to work in you, His good pleasure and purposes?