God Hears You Too!
Today's devotional will be on a woman we may overlook - Leah from Genesis 29-30. If you gleam anything from her story know that God hears you too!
Genesis 29 New International Version (NIV) Jacob Arrives in Paddan Aram
Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well. 4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied. 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered. 6 Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?” “Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 7 “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.” 8 “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.” 9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father. 13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. 14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.” 22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant. 25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” 26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” 28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. Jacob’s Children 31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,[b] for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” 33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.[c] 34 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.” So he was named Levi.[d] 35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[e] Then she stopped having children.30 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!” 2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” 3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.” 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.[a] 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.[b] 9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!”[c] So she named him Gad.[d] 12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.[e] 14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night. 17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.[f] 19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.[g] 21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah. 22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24 She named him Joseph,[h] and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” Ben Roset
I admire my friends with more than two kids. I have two kids and some days I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water! They handle the chaos of their family demands with a smile and a realness I never quite get. Sometimes I think the Lord throws in an extra dose of patience for these women as I find myself questioning my sanity with two! In a recent spat with my husband I remembered Leah from the Bible. It's one thing to have an argument with your husband here and there, but it's another to not have his heart. Leah was the older sister of Rachel. Her story begins when a young man by the name of Jacob arrives. He is actually her cousin! He quickly finds interest in her younger sister. Their father makes a deal with Jacob. He is to work 7 years and then he will have the hand of Rachel in marriage. Jacob keeps his end of the bargain and works 7 years. Like any true romantic it only felt like "days" as he loved Rachel so deeply. The day of his wedding has finally arrived. He wakes the next morning to embrace his bride only to discover her sister Leah in her place. Outrage must have filled his soul. This confuses me as well because surely he had to have seen her face or something in the midst of his wedding night bliss, but none the less, he's now officially married to Leah. He demands justice to receive an additional 7 years of work for the hand of his true love at the end of his wedding week with Leah. Jacob agrees. At the end of the week, Rachel becomes his wife. They seal the deal and the Bible says his love for her is more than for her sister. As I focus in on Leah I think her story can resonate with women in all phases of life. Verse 17 tells us Leah had "weak" eyes and her sister had a great figure and was beautiful. What a thing to be remembered for. The Torah introduces Leah by describing her with the phrase, "Leah had tender eyes" (Hebrew: ועיני לאה רכות) (Genesis 29:17). It is argued as to whether the adjective "tender" (רכות) should be taken to mean "delicate and soft" or "weary". The commentary of Rashi cites a Rabbinic interpretation of how Leah's eyes became weak. According to this story, Leah was destined to marry Jacob's older twin brother, Esau. In the Rabbinic mind, the two brothers are polar opposites; Jacob being a God-fearing scholar and Esau being a hunter who also indulges in idolatry and adultery. But people were saying, "Laban has two daughters and his sister, Rebekah, has two sons. The older daughter (Leah) will marry the older son (Esau), and the younger daughter (Rachel) will marry the younger son (Jacob)." Hearing this, Leah spent most of her time weeping and praying to God to change her destined mate. Thus the Torah describes her eyes as "soft" from weeping. God hearkens to Leah's tears and prayers and allows her to marry Jacob even before Rachel does.
I think there is significance in the Bible's description of Leah. How would the Bible describe you? Maybe like Leah, you have also had many days and nights of tears. I don't think Leah's tears necessarily ended after her wedding night, as she felt unloved. Her story is one of encouragement for you too.
First to those who are hopeful, waiting for their prince charming to arrive. Sometimes life has a few surprises doesn't it? Prior to Jacob Leah was that woman. The oldest sister was customarily married first. How her heart must have longed and pickings were SLIM! So to see Jacob must have been a dream come true. Maybe Jacob was an answer to her prayers? There must have been a question lingering into her heart after that first wedding night. Why Lord? Why not me? Why can't you allow him to be content and love only me? Can you imagine being forced into a marriage where truthfully you weren't wanted? There is something from Leah's story we can learn from. Every person mentioned in the Bible was put their to help those of us now learn from. A few things can be gleamed from the story of Leah. Leah was a real person like you or I. She had real feelings, wants and desires. Her heart was full of hope. Maybe yours is to. Maybe you find yourself in a difficult situation like Leah that you can't necessarily get out of, but you determine to make the best of it. Maybe loneliness fills your days and nights. I imagine Leah experienced great loneliness knowing full well she was second choice if chosen at all. That must have been difficult. No one likes to be second choice. Maybe she questioned God. Didn't He love her to? What about her need for love and affection? Often I see married couples so infatuated with one another I feel somewhat sick as that is not my love story. My love story resembles a warn book at times. We are comfortable and at times more distant than I'd prefer. We lack a lot of common interests, but work at things out of commitment. I feel lonely at times when I think of what I'm missing. I think Leah's story is beautiful as many women can relate to it. For those of you not married, you can relate to waiting. Waiting for your true love and learning contentment even if he doesn't come on your terms. Maybe Jacob wasn't her first choice and she felt cheated at times. Then for you married gals. Oh man the conversations I've had with many married women over the years. I would have never married him had I known this or that. He's just changed it's not the same. When loneliness takes over the love your marriage once shared- Leah can relate. Her marriage was founded in loneliness. It's interesting to note the Bible doesn't state how she was a horrible wife to Jacob, but rather the Lord saw her heart's desire and knew what she needed so he opened her womb. Maybe he's opened your womb as well. Somehow babies are a nice distraction.
Leah is the mother of six of Jacob's sons, including his first four (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah), and later two more (Issachar and Zebulun), and a daughter (Dinah). According to the scriptures, God saw that Leah was "unloved" and opened her womb as consolation.
As I studied this I saw a correlation that maybe means nothing, but I found it notable. Leah was the mother of 7 children. Six boys and a girl. It's almost as if the Lord gave her a child for every year Jacob would then work to win over her sister after their marriage. I'd be fiercely jealous, sad and defeated. I'm sure she must have felt that way, seeing Jacob cheerly wake up to tend whatever jobs he was needed for that day. It would be a daily reminder every day for seven years that she wasn't enough for him! I'm sure thoughts went through her head that if she just tried harder, or was better in this area or that he wouldn't need her sister after all. We all bargain at times don't we? Maybe her heart grew bitter or maybe the Lord comforted her with the love of child to keep her distracted. Children are overwhelming, but also such a blessing and she had 7! This was one thing her sister didn't have over her. Leah is an example to those mama's who feel overwhelmed by their kids. Whether you have one or ten she encourages you to raise them as the Lord opened your womb as well. He knew what character qualities each of the boys needed to lead the tribes. He knew which ones needed to be molded by Leah. He knows what He was doing giving you your children. There are things only you can instill in them that will help them accomplish their God given purposes in life. You see God see's our entire lives where we only know the present. He adds a comma where we might see a period. Did Leah know she'd go on to mother half the sons that would later make up part of the twelve tribes of Israel, no probably not. She simply remained obedient. She listened to her earthly father's directions and trusted her Heavenly Father's wisdom despite it maybe being in odds against her own desires.
As we get settled into 2019 take Leah's example as a single person, wife and mother and learn from it. Let her life guide you in areas of your own where you feel a little disheartened.