Faithlife Sermons

God's Faithfulness and Power

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Genesis 29:31-30:24
Leah- Reuben, Levi, Judah, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun
Zilpah- Asher, Gad
Rachel- Joseph, Benjamin
Bilhah- Naphtali, Dan
How awkward would it be to watch a tv show about Jacobs married life? Remember that he loved Rachel, but was tricked into marrying Leah. Now he has both of them as his wives, but who do you think he will show favor to? If you were in the same situation, do you think you would be able to love both spouses the same way? Remember you did not even want the first. I am not sure I could love the one I was tricked into marrying. I could care for them, I could take care of them, but love and cherish her like a woman should be? Probably not.
Jacob was in the same boat. He was bound by a covenant to a woman that he did not want, while being also bound by a covenant to a woman that he desperately wanted. He clearly chose to uphold his marriage with Rachel, and kind of let Leah slip by the way side. The bible says that Leah was hated. That could be translated as hated or unloved. Regardless Leah was pushed far to the side, a stranger in her own house, the elephant in the room, undesirable. God took notice of this. Just because Jacob did not favor Leah did not mean that God was not going to favor and bless her. He opened her womb, but closed Rachel’s.
Leah had 4 sons while Rachel remained barren. Having sons in this day and age was more significant because they were the ones who would possess land and carry on your families name. A woman was also seen as more valuable if she birthed more sons rather than daughters. The Lord clearly blessed Leah with a grand amount of sons. The sons were given names that surrounded the circumstances in which they were brought up. Reuben-look a son, Simeon-heard (heard prayers), Levi-Joined, Judah- Praise (She praised God that she had children, and this is the house that produced Jesus.)
Now it is Rachel’s turn to be jealous. She becomes angry with her husband and demands he give her a child. As if he had any control over whether she became pregnant or not. Both Jacob and Rachel we frustrated at the lack of control that they possessed over this situation, but they knew a way around it. Just as Sarah had done with Hagar, Rachel gave her hand maiden to Jacob to bear her children. A thing that they would say was that the barren woman was going to “bear _____ on her knee.” This meant that during birth the pregnant woman would sit on the knees of the barren woman, and the barren woman would symbolically give birth to the child. (On a side note how sad would it be to be the hand maiden and have to sleep with the man of the house, carry his child, and then after that child ripping out of you you must give it up to the mother.)
This gives Leah an idea since it had been a while since she bore a child. She gives Zilpah to Jacob and he bears children for Leah through her. She had a few more children, and then comes this quirky story. As Reuben has gotten older he is out picking mandrakes for his mother (Mandrakes were supposed to have reproductive purposes). Rachel is in need of some so she asks if she could have a few. Now Rachel was still the favorite, and still the loved wife of Jacob which makes Leah angry and upset. She offers a trade with Rachel. Rachel can have the baby making mandrakes, if Leah can have Jacob for one night. Rachel accepts the deal, and Leah sleeps with Jacob that evening. Producing another child.
Rachel has yet to bear a biological child. Despite her efforts with maid servant, despite the mandrakes, she still remains barren. Her only option, which she should ave done at first, is to cry out to the Lord. He is ultimately the only one who can help. So Rachel cries out to the Lord and He hears her cries from heaven and He opens her womb. She bears a son, and she names him Joseph. We all know how important he will be as he ages.
This was God’s plan all along. He was going to bless Jacob as he had promised, and he was going to prosper him as he promised, and he was going to give him a offspring that would one day become a nation, so obviously his heirs would have to do well also. This was the kick off of the Hebrew nation, this story right here, and is it not a wild one. We have deceitful marriages, unwavering love for one party, but undesirable feelings for another, jealousy, anger, frustrations, bitterness, arguing, bartering, it is a whole soap-opera wrapped together. But God’s plan came together in the end. Had things of gone differently on the home front, God’s play still would have come together. Had Jacob loved Leah too, God’s plan would have come together. If you take the servants out of the story, God’s plan would have come together. If Jacob would have been the perfect all around husband, and Leah and Rachel would have gotten along, God’s plan still would have come together. Eventually through this line God will bring Jesus Christ. His ultimate plane.
Despite our best efforts to make a mess of things, God remains faithful to His word, and faithful to His plan. In the end, His will will be done, and His plan will be accomplished. We just have to join Him, have faith, and steady the course.
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