GOD EXALTS THE ONE OTHERS DESPISE
When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Genesis 29:31
How Leah suffered when she was given to Jacob in marriage! She was allowed no vote in the decision. She was simply a pawn in her father’s greedy scheme. Yes, she got to become the wife to the husband her sister loved. That might seem like a victory but was it really? Think of the week of wedding feasts and festivities where everyone celebrated her marriage. Her husband was in mourning because he woke up to find her as his wife. To add to the agony, she will have to endure another week of wedding festivities when Jacob finally marries Rachel and truly rejoices. There will be no way to block out the sounds of this future celebration.
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” Acts 4:11 God sees the ones others despise and he exalts them. The verse for today says that God ‘saw’ that Leah was hated. The word for ‘saw’ is the same word Scripture often uses before God intervenes for the oppressed. He ‘saw’ His people just before He liberated them from slavery. And how God blessed her. She gave birth to sons who would become the twelve tribes of Israel. And the most notable was Judah – whose greatest Son was Jesus Himself.
Are you the least of your siblings? The least in the lineup of in-laws? The least remembered in your family’s inheritance? Continue reading
WHEN I FEAR I’VE WASTED YEARS
And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Genesis 29:25-26
I don’t know if you have ever felt like Jacob or not. He fell in love with Rachel, asked her father Laban for her hand in marriage and was told that he could purchase her dowry for seven years of labor. There was no reason to doubt Laban’s word. He was family and seemed sincere.
Jacob worked joyfully and anticipated the day he could marry Rachel. He expressed that the labor and effort he sustained for seven years were ‘as one day’ ~ so great was his love for his bride-to-be. Then the plot takes a sickening turn. Laban deceives Jacob. Underneath the wedding veil is not Rachel but her sister. He has been tricked and seven years of his life is gone. Is God the redeemer of lost years? That is the question.
Have you ever signed up for something that would be of great cost to you – only to find out later that information was withheld? You might have made a different decision entirely. Some marry under false pretenses. Continue reading
SOWING REPENTANCE – REAPING MERCY
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. Genesis 29:21-13
On Maundy Thursday, I pray that I am writing to others who cherish the sacrifice Jesus was required to make so long ago. Are you mentally, and emotionally, walking the path He took from arrest to crucifixion? If so, the next 4 days will be filled with intense feeling. It always provides time to reflect on what would be my punishment and condemnation if Jesus hadn’t heard my cries of repentance and extended mercy.
What can any person expect who doesn’t see his sin, repent, and ask God for pardon? I can’t help but think of that as I see Jacob reap what he sowed. Jacob took advantage of his father’s blindness to deceive him. Laban took advantage of the cover of night to deceive Jacob. God instituted a sowing and reaping world and however I break God’s law against others, I will bear the consequences of another breaking God’s law against me.
What is missing from the story of Jacob is repentance. He didn’t own his sin of deceit against his father and brother. He didn’t confess it to his mother. He fled home to spare his life from the wrath of a spurned brother. History was repeated.
It’s easy to say, “I’m sorry.” Harder yet to really mean it. Continue reading
THE FUEL LOVE PROVIDES
So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. Genesis 29:20
This is one of the rare moments in the Bible where sentiments about romantic love are expressed. Does love at first sight exist? Yes. Is there such a thing as people just ‘clicking’ when they meet? I believe so. It happens in friendship. Why not romantic love!
Jacob so loved Rachel that working for seven years to acquire her as his wife was hardly a sacrifice. If we were to ask Jacob about it in today’s vernacular, he might reply, “It was nothing!” And we know what he means. When I love to do something, the time that expires as I engage in the activity is irrelevant. Hours go by as if they were minutes. This is how I feel as I do many things; record in the studio, engage in the graphic design of new marketing materials, organize drawers and closets, even explore colors, textures, and fabrics.
There are people that I love deeply and serving them also seems effortless. I wouldn’t think twice about sacrificing in some way for them. I love to see them happy no matter what it costs me. Continue reading
DOES LOVE AUTOMATICALLY RUN IN THE FAMILY?
As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month. Genesis 29:13-14
Jacob announced who he was to his uncle as Laban threw his arms around Jacob, confirmed that he was his own flesh and blood, and feigned a depth of affection that wouldn’t materialize when tested. Did Jacob let his guard down when he was embraced? Probably so. That’s what we tend to do when we are among family. It will turn out that Laban is generous with Jacob but only in a way that is self-serving.
In this fallen world, love is just flawed. No one loves perfectly. Family relationships are messy and sinful human nature acts out constantly. What makes the road so treacherous is that love can exist one minute and disappear the next when it requires something in the relationship that is too steep. A generous person becomes stingy in a moment over the right issue. Continue reading
EVIL AND THE GLORY OF GOD
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. Romans 9:17-18
The Egyptians oppressed the people of God for 400 years. Great evil was perpetrated upon them. The Hebrew people were beaten, suffered injustice, and everything else that makes up the stuff of slavery. Rage and hopelessness simmered beneath the surface of every soul. They took on the mindset of a slave and just accepted whatever came their way.
Can God be glorified when suffering exists? Are those who perpetrate such evil subject to the sovereign hand of God? The comforting answer to both questions is “Yes!” Continue reading
PAIN IS NOT THE ENEMY
Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your word. Psalm 119:67
Afflictions come in many shapes and sizes. The prodigal son’s pain brought him home to his father with humility. Paul’s thorn in the flesh fostered humility and dependence on God. Prodigal affliction brings God’s children home; sanctified affliction deepens the faith of the saints. Continue reading
A KISS OF JOY AND SURPRISE?
Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. Genesis 29:10-11
It wasn’t all that long ago that I lived expecting God to disappoint me. I was sure that what I deserved, and what I was worth, dictated His provision of something meager. When God poured on favor and blessing instead, I cried for joy and with great surprise. Many times over.
Today, while there may be times I’m disappointed in God’s timing of a provision, I know it’s not because I’ve fallen into dis-favor. Continue reading
HAVE I COME AND BELIEVED?
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Jesus uses the concepts of coming and believing often when He speaks of the new birth. Here, He ties it to two other concepts so that I don’t miss the message. Coming and believing is like eating and drinking.
- One day, a culinary expert sat at a table laden with food. It looked like a feast and the presentation of the food was exemplary. She spent some time walking around the table, inspecting the many different dishes that were being offered. She waved her hand over the dishes that were steaming in order to take in their aroma. She tried to imagine how they might taste. Though the fragrances of the herbs gave her a hint, she couldn’t be sure until she tasted. At another point, she tore off a corner of a fresh loaf of multi-grain bread in order to feel its consistency. “Ah yes, crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside.” Her experience with the food was that of an inspector. She came, she smelled it, even felt it, but never ate of it. When she left, she did write a beautiful article about it but, ironically, her stomach was empty.
- One day, a young lady received an invitation from a young man who lived nearby to come and enjoy a beautiful summer’s evening on his porch swing. She was fond of him and quickly accepted. He sought a relationship with her but his desire was not reciprocated. She was simply bored and didn’t want to pass another evening at home. So, for an evening, they made polite conversation. He invested his heart and spoke to her with words that revealed his deep affection. She also did a lot of talking, but from a distance. She wanted to talk politics, probe his background, and even discuss the beautiful porch swing they were sitting on. (He had made it himself.) She learned a lot about him that evening but did not experience him nor form a relationship with him. To do that would have meant abandoning the role of ‘interviewer’. Though he loved her, she could not say that her heart was his.
To come to Jesus, and to believe on Jesus, means that I abandon intellectual pursuit of Him and eat/drink of Him. I take Him in and invest a heart response to His heartfelt invitation. Nicodemus came inquisitively. He had a most enlightening conversation with Jesus, but he left empty. For most of my life, I was troubled by the number of people who seemed to know so much about the Bible but didn’t speak of Jesus in a way that revealed passionate, firsthand experience. Can I be a Bible scholar yet have no relationship? Tragically, yes. Continue reading
THERE ARE SOME WHO ARE NOT
“We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:70-71
Peter spoke on behalf of the group. “We have believed.” “We have come to know…” Yet because Jesus knew the hearts of men, he knew that one of them was not a true believer. I feel certain it was shocking for Peter to hear that one of them was being referred to as a betrayer. Continue reading