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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

April 20, 2016

Genesis 29:28:35

  1. Recapping from last week. The deceiver is deceived! He's met his match in Laban. As Jacob had deceived Isaac by taking advantage of his inability to see, due to poor eyesight, so Laban deceived Jacob by taking advantage of his inability to see in the dark tent. Earlier, Jacob had deceptively pretended to be the older brother, and now Laban tricked him by replacing the younger with the older sister. Leah deceived Jacob as Jacob had deceived Isaac. Jacob was behaving like his parents, who each favored one son above the other, by favoring one of his wives above the other. In both cases, serious family problems followed. Esau was forced to live with the results of Jacob's deception; now Jacob is forced to live with the results of Laban’s deception.

  2. Verses 28-30. Jacob would have to work seven more years to get the wife he wanted. From Jacob’s perspective, he had been ripped off and cheated by Laban. However, from God's perspective, those fourteen years saved Jacob from the murderous intentions of his brother, Esau. Jacob's rejection had to hurt Leah deeply. No one likes rejection! How would you feel if, after your weeklong honeymoon, your husband married someone else... much less your sister? Jacob is learning that he will reap much for his deception. Jacob’s “reaping” doesn't end here. Laban later would take advantage of him by changing his wages (31:41), even as Jacob had taken advantage of Esau with his birthright. Jacob deceived his father with regard to his favorite son (Esau) by covering his hands with goat skins. Jacob later would be deceived by his sons regarding his favorite son (Joseph) when they dipped his robes in the blood of a goat (37:31). Jacob had sown deception; he would reap deception. God uses the consequences of sin to shape His people. God will use this time to teach Jacob some important lessons. God puts Jacob in a spiritual “time-out” chair in Haran. For 20 years Jacob had lots of time to consider the course of his life. All parents understand this. Most of us use the “time-out” chair because it gives our children time to think quietly about what they have done. Or perhaps you send your children to their room. That serves several purposes-including the you going to jail for child abuse! -but foremost among them is giving your children a chance to slow down, cool off, and begin to think. As long as Jacob was in Beersheba with his mother, he could get away with almost anything. But in Haran, Jacob is in foreign territory. God's got him in a place far removed from his comfort zone, a place where Jacob is forced to think about his life. That's what God does with us. For the most part, godly character is not developed in the good times of life, but in the bad. Godly character is developed in your life as you respond positively and creatively to unjust treatment. Isn't that what Romans 5:3-4 tells us? Was Jacob treated unfairly here? Yes. Without question, Laban took advantage of his nephew from Beersheba. Was it fair for Laban to switch sisters on Jacob? No, it wasn’t. What was the price Jacob had to pay? An extra seven years working for uncle Laban. Was that unjust? Yes. Then why did God allow it? Because God knew that was the only way He could develop godly character in Jacob’s life. Sidenote-- When Jacob comes to Haran, he is penniless, homeless, and alone. When he leaves 20 years later, he is a rich man, with two wives, two maidservants, eleven sons, a host of servants, and an abundance of cattle, sheep, and donkeys. On one hand, God is using Laban to teach Jacob valuable lessons. On the other hand, God is keeping his promise to prosper Jacob and to raise up descendants who will carry on his name. Through adversity-and in spite of much personal difficulty--God is keeping His promise. In the wisdom of God, Jacob is being prospered by God at the very same time he is being disciplined by God. The result? Jacob has nothing to boast about when he leaves Haran. God has done it all. He will only be able to say, “God did it in spite of me.”

  3. Verse 31. Our story begins with two desperate housewives. One is desperate for love; the other is desperate for children. These women are sisters and both are married to the same man. Ladies, can you imagine this scenario-you and your sister married to the same man? To make matters worse, your husband prefers one of you over the other. Furthermore, each of you is desperate for what the other has. From the start of this story, the tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Leah, who joined in her father's scheme to deceive Jacob, discovered that just because you sleep with a man doesn't mean that he will love you. She went along with the trick of her father thinking that once Jacob slept with her he would love her. But she was wrong. Moses records that Leah was “unloved” (lit. “hated”). This does not mean that Jacob hated her or didn’t love her; rather he loved her less than Rachel. He simply wasn't “in love” with Leah; he was in love with her sister, Rachel. As a result, the God who favors the underdog caused Leah to bear children first. He opened her womb while He kept the womb of Rachel closed. God intervened in Leah's life because He “is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18). Leah becoming a mother ensured that her stock would rise in Jacob's estimation, as well as the estimation of her family and society in general. This was God's protection plan for the less-loved Leah.

  4. Verse 32. Leah's first born son was Reuben, which means “see, a son.” His name actually shows what was going through Leah's mind. She is saying, “| have a son! Notice me!” Leah saw Reuben's birth as confirmation that the Lord loved her and she made the assumption that now Jacob would notice her and love her as well. But this was not to be the case. Jacob was so much in love with her sister, Rachel that he would not notice or see her. Ladies if you have to make him look, he is not really looking. A man has to want to look. Instead of noticing her child she is only looking for a man to notice her.

  5. Verse 33. Leah names her second son Simeon, whose name means “hear or listen.” Now, obviously, she desperately wants to get Jacob's attention. So she's saying, “Listen up man, here's another son. I'm going to name him “Listen” so you will pay attention to me. But, of course, Jacob still doesn't love her. Interestingly though, Leah credits the Lord for the births of both Reuben and Simeon. She understands that God is sovereign over the womb, so she acknowledges His hand in the births of her first two children, but she fails to see that God has given her children so she could find the love she needed in them and not Jacob.

  6. Verse 34. Leah desperately wants to win her husband's love. She thinks that by giving him three sons he will become emotionally attached to her. But in this particular instance, three times is not the charm. She just wants him to act like he is with her. You don't see me, you don't hear me, at least act like I am your wife. Give me the pleasure of feeling like I am your wife. Give me something.

  7. Verse 35. The next son is named Judah. Judah's name means, “praise.” Now she realizes that her joy can’t be found in her uncaring husband, but in God. Instead of trying to get Jacob's attention she seeks to get God’s attention because he has been the one who has been faithful and caring to her, not Jacob. Instead of trying to get Jacob to notice her, she praises the God who has seen her, heard her, and attached himself to her. She praises God. The last phrase of 29:35 reads, “Then she stopped bearing children.” This is rather strange. In quick order, Leah gives birth to four boys. After delivering her fourth child, she attributes praise to the Lord. One would think the Lord would have given her more children. Why did He close her womb? The answer seems to be that, at this moment of her life, Leah came to terms with the fact that Jacob wasn't going to love her. She was hoping for his love but in absence of that the Lord said, “I love you-will I do?” It seems that, for this season, Leah became content with the Lord being her husband, so the Lord didn't add to her number. Instead, He allowed her to concentrate on Him. Sometimes in life, when we are in tough situations, the best thing is to just focus on God.

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