By Mandy Smith, Crosswalk.com
The story of Leah, Rachel, and Jacob is quite a dramatic love triangle. I urge you to read it for yourselves from the Word, but to help you understand where I am coming from here in this article, I'll briefly summarize how it all gets started.
The Story of Rachel and Leah
A man named Jacob begins working for Laban. He notices Laban's younger daughter Rachel and falls in love with her.
After Laban asks Jacob what his wages should be, it is noted that “Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, ‘I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.’” (Genesis 29:18).
When those seven years are over the father then plays a big switcheroo on Jacob and gives him the older sister, Leah, instead on his wedding night. After figuring out what happened, Jacob is then married to Rachel a week later but only after he promises to work another seven years for Laban.
There are many lessons we can learn from this story, but to me, it's the emotional undercurrent that I am most fascinated with. The rejection, jealousy, and the desire to be pursued are emotions that are still familiar in this modern day. Let’s take a look at 3 of the ways Leah and Rachel’s story can teach us about the security we can only find in God.
1. What God Considers Unfading Beauty
Have you ever felt left out, looked over, or rejected? It can be clear that Jacob’s negative reaction to waking up with Leah as his bride, and not his desired pick Rachel, was taken by Leah as a flashing neon sign of rejection. To be fair, it was Laban that is to blame for this wife swap, but I know as well as you do that Leah felt looked over.
In the Bible, she is first described as having “weakeyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.” (Genesis 29:17) If the only adjectives used to describe me in a story were that I had weak eyes, well, I wouldn’t feel very good about myself.
How does this sit with you? Do we still tend to prioritize the qualities we notice about ourselves or others on physical characteristics first? “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4).
I am grateful for this verse as it reminds me that what God sees as greater worth to the kingdom is not the outward beauty but the heart within. I like to take care of myself and, while I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I also know that my body and physical strength will fade with time. As we will see as this story unfolds, the sister with the more outward adornment isn’t as strong on the inside as she hoped.
So, what do we take from this? Security only found in our outward appearance with no internal strength of faith and endurance will not last the good fight.
God makes no mistakes and although our human eyes will find pleasure in one person more than another, and for good reason (ex: marriage), we must not bank on our attractiveness to be all that we stand on.
As we will see for Rachel, the security one would expect a person to have that is deemed lovely and beautiful was temporary as her jealousy grew.
2. Jealousy Blinds Us to God’s Blessings
Jealousy is an ugly emotion and something that we all can, unfortunately, relate to. Jealousy can creep up into any type of situation and does not just affect one type of person more than another.
In the case of Leah and Rachel, I think it’s safe to say that both of them had to deal with the ugly side of jealousy by feeling it themselves and being on the receiving end.
Starting with Leah, we see at the very beginning that she is not only described as the less attractive sister but also that her father used the fact of her being the oldest and still single sister as reason to trick Jacob into marrying her first.
I can’t put words into her mouth or thoughts into her head, but I think it would be safe to say that Leah may have had some jealousy at the attention that her younger sister received over her.
It was noted that Jacob’s “…love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah.” (Genesis 29:30).
Because of this, God gave special attention to Leah, and enabled her to have four sons.
Because of Leah’s blessing to bear Jacob children, this in turn, created jealousy inside of Rachel. “When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’” (Genesis 30:1).
Does this resonate with you? You pray for something, wait earnestly, receive the blessing, and then the ugly monster of jealousy says, “It’s not enough!”
God did bless Rachel with conceiving a child but because she wanted more, as jealousy had its way, she became pregnant again. Unfortunately, Rachel died in childbirth.
Did jealousy ultimately kill Rachel? That’s between her and God, but it does seem her rage to one-up her sister in heirs took her life in an awful downward spiral.
We learn from Rachel that if we aren’t grateful for the blessings we have, and trust that God is enough, jealousy will always make us want more, insatiably.
3. God Pursues Us, even if No One Else Does
As a woman, we are designed to be pursued. It’s by God’s design that our hearts race when we are pursued in a romantic relationship by a man that our heart also desires.
As we see in Jacob’s deep desire for Rachel to be his bride, he worked for Laban not just 7 years, but 14 years even with a big switcheroo played on him in the middle. I am sure that made Rachel feel like the queen of the ball that a man desired her that much.
On the opposite side, we can only imagine the deep longing that Leah had to be wanted by Jacob. She bore him multiple children and it was clear that each time she would hope that he would finally want her as he did Rachel. “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.” (Genesis 29:14)
This probably hits pretty close to many of our single hearts. Watching other women being pursued, taken care of, and loved by a man that is the physical manifestation of love here on earth can be hard.
Feeling overlooked or not good enough can be a deep hurt and can snowball into feelings of being less than, forgotten, or the fear of not being wanted just because you haven’t been picked yet.
I love how God had a special place in his heart for Leah. You see, God enabled Leah to have four sons because “… the Lord saw that Leah was unloved…” (Genesis 29:31). God saw the rejection that Leah faced, and knew what having sons would mean to her.
He saw how she was not loved as she deserved to be and because of her age or lack of suitors she was married to a man that desired someone else… her own sister. Her security eventually turns from a human to her heavenly Father. He stills pursues her heart, even if no one else did.
The blessing we see in Leah’s life is that her dependence on Jacob’s love and attention slowly turns toward God.
We see this when she was naming her fourth child, Judah, “She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” (Genesis 29:35).
God’s Plan for Security - What We Can Learn from Leah and Rachel
In this story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel we see how God worked through this family to bring about His will by their sons eventually making up the twelve tribes of Israel. What sticks out to me is that things aren’t always as they seem.
In the case of Leah, she was rejected, dealt with the emotions of jealousy, and deeply desired to be pursued. What she realized was that though her own sister Rachel was wanted and pursued, Rachel herself had her own demons to deal with including jealousy and anger. A husband didn’t fix that.
Leah found her security in her Lord and no one could take that away.
May we be reminded that God’s plan for our lives doesn’t always end up with us being the star of a romantic comedy, being the most popular, or named the most beautiful.
We won’t be promised a pain free life but what we are given is so much more. Security in God’s love, His pursuit of us, and the desire to use our lives for His glory can manifest into a love story that is far more special than anything you could see on the silver screen.
And on that we can be secure.
Mandy Smith is a joyful 30-something single living in GA. She is a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist. Her loves include Jesus, her family and friends, creativity, playing guitar and singing, coffee, laughing, and of course, writing! You can read more of her writing on her website www.myjoyousheart.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Ridofranz