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Why have you deceived me? Finish this daughter's bridal week, and then we'll give you the younger one also in return for another seven years of work. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.
Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. And Jacob lay with Rachel also and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. Now when the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb though Rachel was barren. And 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. And 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 born him three sons.
And she conceived yet again. And when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the Lord. A Family of Grace, a Family of Suffering First of all, there are two things you have to know as background of this story.
You have to know that Jacob came from a family chosen by grace and a family filled with suffering. Jacob had a grandfather named Abraham. One day God comes to Abraham and says, "Abraham, look at the world. Do you see the misery? Do you see the cruelty? Do you see the injustice?
Do you see the disease? Do you see the tragedy? Do you see death itself? I'm going to do something about it. I'm going to heal it. I'm going to redeem it all. And I'm going to do it through your family. One of your descendants will be the Messiah. You need to know that, in every generation of your family there will be children, but one of the children will be the seed.
One child will be the messianic seed, the bearer of the messianic strain. And that child should be head of the family, and that child must walk before me, and that child must pass the true faith along to all the family, because, of all those children, one of them will be the true seed, until someday one seed will be the Seed, and one prophet will be the Prophet, and one priest will be the Priest, and one king will be the King of kings and Lord of lords.
But also, in spite of that—and this is a lesson all by itself—this is a family filled with suffering. Abraham had one son, Isaac, and when Isaac's wife, Rebekah, was pregnant and she had two twin sons in her womb, God sent a prophecy to Isaac and said, "The elder will serve the younger. That's the one I've chosen. But out they come, Jacob and Esau, and Isaac ignores what God says. He puts his heart on Esau and clearly favors him and loves him more than Jacob. And as a result, devastation is wreaked on both the boys as they grow up.
Their characters are ravaged by this. Esau grow up to be willful, proud, and with no self-control at all because of the way that Isaac dotes on him and makes him the favorite, and Jacob turns into a liar. Jacob turns into a deceiver. Jacob turns into a manipulator.
Many of you know the story. What happens is, when they come of age, Jacob deceives his father one day. His father is old and blind, and Jacob dresses up as Esau and goes in and gets Isaac to give Jacob the blessing, to give Jacob the birthright, to give Jacob the headship of the clan.
But when Esau realizes what Jacob has done, how he's been deceitful, Esau vows to kill him. And so Jacob has got to run, and he flees far, far away, to the other side of the Fertile Crescent, where his mother's relatives take him in.
His uncle Laban takes him in. Now Jacob's life is over. Jacob isn't sure if it's God that screwed up, if he's the one who screwed up, if his father or his family screwed up. But he'll never fulfill his destiny now. He's got no faith. It's all ruined. He's got no money. He's got no place. He's not in his homeland anymore.
It's all over. So that's the story; that's the background. First of all, Laban—Laban's plot. Laban is the uncle, and Laban brings Jacob in as a sort of charity case, and Jacob's working for him for a month as a shepherd.
And Laban suddenly realizes something. He looks and he says, This guy's a great shepherd. This guy's got management capabilities. And he realizes that if Jacob becomes a foreman for him, he could tremendously expand his operation and he could make a tremendous amount of money, as long as he doesn't have to pay Jacob too much.
So he comes to Jacob and he says, "I'd like to give you a contract. What do you want in order to work for me? As soon as Laban sees this, as soon as he realizes this guy will do anything for Rachel, Laban's got him.
Because in Laban Jacob has met his match; because Jacob's a liar, Jacob's a con artist, and so is Laban, but Laban's been at it twenty-five more years. And as a result, you see, he's much more experienced at this. And so Laban thinks, I got a way that I can deal with two problems at once.
I will use this; I will exploit this man's weakness to deal with two problems at once. Well, what are the two problems? The first problem is, of course, How do I make lots and lots and lots of money? How do I get out of this guy a tremendous amount of valuable skill with very little to pay for it so I can become a wealthy man? But his second problem is Leah. This man had two daughters, and the verse of course you might remember.
I tried to read it slowly, but I probably didn't.
It says, "Now Laban had two daughters. The older was Leah and the name of the younger was Rachel. Some will say she had tender eyes. Some will say she had delicate eyes. Some will say she had broken eyes, because what the word really means is, "a breakable, fragile thing. But it's not that hard when you look at the context. When the text uses the word "weak," does it mean that Leah's vision was weak? Well, if it says Leah's vision was weak, it should say, "Leah had weak vision, but Rachel could see a long, long way.
It's not talking about how they looked; it's talking about how they looked. It's not talking about how they looked with their eyes; it's talking about what they looked like. What it's really saying is this.
These were two girls. These were not women yet, almost for sure. And Laban had two girls here, and one of them had either crossed eyes or protruding eyes, or some kind of eye disorder, but whatever it was she was ugly. And Rachel was gorgeous. One was an ugly duckling who would never become a swan, and one was absolutely gorgeous; and these two girls had to grow up with each other.
And Laban had a problem. Here's where the Bible is brutally frank. And you say, ah, thank goodness we're beyond all this. But are we? Are we? Laban thinks I'll never marry this poor woman off. I'll never marry this daughter off. I have a way to get rich and get rid of the daughter that would be around my neck for the rest of my life. That's the kind of man he was. And so what does he do? Well, it's pretty interesting.
Jacob says, "I'll work for Rachel for seven years. So stay here with me. In other words, he said something that led Jacob to believe he was saying yes, but he would always be able to come back later and say, "Jacob, read the fine print. So Jacob works for seven years and says, "Now I've done my seven years. Send me my wife. And of course, at the time, a wedding feast was a week long. Jacob was happier than most people at wedding feasts because, Now I have Rachel. Now finally something is going right in my life.
Finally, something will console me for all the problems I've always had. And so everybody begins to feast and everybody begins to get drunk. And right in the middle of the very first night in comes the wife, in comes the bride all veiled. And they embrace and they are married, and they go into the tent and they go to bed together.
And the Hebrew literally says and it's a great narrative ploy , "But when morning came, behold it was Leah. It's a custom. You can't marry the younger daughter off before the older. It's illegal here. It's the custom. This is the way we do things. The older daughter has to be married before the younger. You can marry Rachel too, but you'll have to work another seven years for her.
And because of all this greed and manipulation in these deceiving men, Leah is thrown into hell. Leah, who probably could have hardened her heart—had she stayed single for a long time, she could have dealt with the fact that she was unwanted, dealt with the fact that in a world like this she was not marketable.
You say, aw, we're beyond all that. Are we beyond all that? Is our society that different? She might have been able to harden her heart, but because of these men she is now put into a situation where she is married to a man who not only doesn't love her—and many, many people have that—but the person that he does love is also the wife right there.
And it's her sister. And Leah is put into hell. The last verses of this passage are the most plaintive I know of anywhere in the Bible or any place, because every time she names a child when she begins to have children she says: Now … now maybe my husband will love me.
Now maybe I'll have some meaning in life. And she names Rueben because Rueben means, "I'm seen. Now maybe, finally, I'll be heard. Now maybe, finally, he'll cleave to me. Surely now my husband will love me now. And it never happens.
But in the last verse, this is what we read. In the last verse we read, "And finally she conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'This time I will praise the Lord. Six lessons—three are bad news, three are good news. That's how the gospel goes—lots of bad news at the beginning, but then the good news is much "gooder" than the bad news was bad.
Now let's take the first three. There are three things here. Let's do the bad news. There's a lot of bad news in this story. Bad News: Sin does you. Number one: you never do sin; sin does you. You never commit sin.
Sin commits you. Look carefully. People think that when you do a sin, when you break God's law, when you lie, when you use somebody, when you trample on somebody, when you sin, you feel like that's just an event, just an action.
No, it's not. The Bible says that when you sin you don't just do an event and then pass on. You create and you release a devastating power that careens around your life indefinitely.
Look at what's going on here. There are so many examples of this in here. I don't have time to trace them all out. Look at what Isaac does to Jacob. Look at how he favors Esau. Look at what he does to Jacob, and now look what's going on, reverb. Jacob is doing the very same thing to Leah that his father did to him. And not only that, because Jacob does back to Isaac what Isaac did to him.
And eventually, if you keep on going down, the fact that Jacob does this to Leah means that Leah's children hate Rachel's children when they finally show up. And because Leah's children hate Rachel's children, because of the way in which Jacob sinned and deceived, they eventually sell Joseph into slavery and then they deceive Jacob and say he's dead.
And Jacob goes through utter hell. Hell begets hell. Lie begets lie. Sin begets sin. You never sin. You don't do it. It does you. You never sin and pass away. Sin is like a boulder, not a stone; sin is like dropping a boulder into water. The shock waves go out forever. You never get away with sin.
You never get away with it. Anything that's a violation of God's will for how people should live here and how people should live together, you never get away with it. You don't do sin; sin does you. That's the first bit of bad news. Bad News: In the morning, it's always Leah. The second bit of bad news is, all life here is marked by cosmic disappointment. Cosmic disappointment. I want to say something quickly.
Having read this thing and thought about this passage, I want you to know that I love Leah and I am protective of her in this story. But for a minute I have to tell you that she represents something very bad.
One of the most fascinating things in the narrative is the way it turns on you, because here is Jacob saying finally, finally I'm going to have happiness in this life. Finally, finally I've got Rachel. But, behold, in the morning it was Leah.
And there is a very interesting little commentary written by one of my favorite writers, Derrick Kidner, and he puts it this way.
Derrick Kidner says, "But in the morning, behold, it was Leah. This is a miniature of our disillusionment experienced from Eden onwards.
He's saying this is a miniature, a fact that everybody in this room needs to know, and that is this: No matter what your hopes for a project, no matter what your hopes for marriage, no matter what your hopes for love, no matter what your hopes for a career, no matter what you have hopes in, in the morning it will always be Leah. No matter what you think is Rachel, it will always be Leah. Nobody ever put it any better than C. Lewis in his chapter on hope. He says: Most people if they really learn to look into their own heart [and that's what I'm urging you to do right now] most people if they really learn to look into their own hearts would know that they do want and want acutely something that cannot be had in this world.
There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love or first think of some foreign country or first take up some subject that excites us are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning can ever really satisfy.
I am not speaking of what would ordinarily be called unsuccessful marriages or failures of holidays and so on. I'm speaking of the very best possible ones. There is always something we have grasped at. There's always something in that first moment of longing but fades away in the reality.
The spouse may be a good spouse. The scenery has been excellent. It turned out to be a good job. But it's evaded us. In the morning it's always Leah. Now the reason you have to understand that is because it's painful to overhear people's lives.
You notice what I said. I didn't say overhear people's words, because people don't say these things out loud. But you hear it in their life. You hear it. I overhear it when I see people's choices.
I overhear it when I see people's attitudes, when I see what they're doing. And that is this. You overhear people saying, essentially, Oh, I'm going to have such a career. I'm going to get myself a hunk. I'm going to get myself a babe. And I'm going to live in this place, and I'm going to live in this place, and I'm going to live in this place.
And I am going to have a life. This is a miniature of the disillusionment which is our lot from Eden onwards. Eventually, it is definitely going to come through. Eventually, you're going to see it. And when you do there are only four possible ways of responding to that. The fact is, if you are a woman and you want to get married, you need to be smart about your dating.
This means avoiding certain male types, but it also means recognizing what you are doing wrong in your dating and whether the type of woman you are putting out there to the male population attracts or repels them.
To figure this out, you can start by considering the list below and whether you, at times, are any of these quite unattractive female types: Miss "Bossy Pants": This woman usually can't help herself; she has bossy in her DNA.
When a man first meets her, he might think this character trait is cute, for awhile. However, once he starts to feel like he is in grammar school being told what to do by his second grade teacher, he will give this woman her walking papers. However, even though a man might be intrigued by a hard to get lady in the beginning, as soon as he decides that he is interested in her, all he wants is an honest straightshooter.
If this woman doesn't remove Battleship from her repertoire quite quickly, she will be shown the door before she can even sink his vessel.
She is the type of woman many men are the most leery of. Of course, there are some men who love this woman because of their own insecurities. She claims that she loves her guy just the way he is, but little by little, she chips away at just about everything about him. First, it's his wardrobe, then it's his taste in music. However, when she gets to his friends and his hobbies, she is usually kicked to the curb. Miss "Suspiciously Jealous": This woman is on edge all the time because she is very distrusting.
Many times, she has been burnt in the past, so she is on guard for anything that looks or feels wrong. When a man first meets this woman, he sees her as a damsel in distress and wants to reassure her that he is nothing like that guy in her past. However, once she accuses him one too many times, he will have no choice to leave her because he can't go through his life being prosecuted for somebody else's crimes.
At first, he is flattered that she is so into him, but very quickly, he feels overwhelmed and suffocated by her. As a woman, you must have something going on in your own life so that you are not just waiting by the door for him to come home.
Miss "I Have Daddy Issues": This woman usually dates older men and deep down is looking for a father figure, not a boyfriend or husband.