God made a covenant with Abraham and said that he would father many nations (Genesis 17:5). This seemed impossible considering he was almost a hundred years old and Sarah was ninety. Sarah laughed at the thought of having a child at such an old age (Genesis 18:12), and then God replied with a statement which brings me such comfort, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son” (Genesis 18:14).
Have a son she did! In her old age she gave birth to Isaac and his name means laughter! God doesn’t always give us what we want just when we think we should have it, but He is never late. Isaac grew, Sarah passed away, and when Isaac was forty years old (20 is the old 40 ~smile~), Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac among his people (arranged marriages was more the custom back then – and an interesting spiritual parallel on other topics!).
The servant returned to Canaan with Rebekah, Abraham’s great niece, and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death (Genesis 24:67). In the same way Isaac’s mother struggled, Rebekah was also barren, and it was twenty years before she conceived. She gave birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob came out holding onto his brother’s heel. (See more about Jacob and Esau in Genesis chs. 25-28, ch. 32, and ch. 33).
In Genesis 28, Isaac sends Jacob to Laban, Rebekah’s brother, and tells Jacob to take one of Laban’s daughters as his wife. In chapter 29, he reaches Laban’s house, and the first time he sees Rachel, he kisses her and weeps openly. A lot of us have stories about how we met our sweethearts, but I’ve never met anyone who said, “This guy came up to me, kissed me, and wept!” Today we’d call the authorities and mark him as a stalker! ~smile~ I’m sure that after a long journey, he was thrilled to find his extended family and especially thrilled that one of Laban’s daughters was incredibly beautiful!
He offered to work for Laban seven years to have Rachel as his wife. Genesis 29:18 said that Jacob loved Rachel. Laban decided it was better for his kin to marry his daughter than some other man, so he agreed to let Jacob stay and work for him for seven years. Jacob felt the seven years was only a few days because he loved Rachel so much (Genesis 29:20). When seven years had passed, he asked for Rebekah to be given to him, but Laban sent Leah (Rebekah’s older sister) into the bridal chamber instead to deceive Jacob. Jacob did not realize what had happened until the light of the next day.
Poor Jacob! He busted his rear end for seven years to marry the woman of his dreams and he was given someone else!
Poor Leah! Why should she have to be married to a man who is clearly in love with her sister?! I don’t have a sister, but I would imagine some affection would be lost on my husband if I knew he was in love with my sister! Laban said that in his country the younger daughter is never married off before the older, but he did offer to Jacob that he could have Rachel in exchange for another seven years of work.
Because God saw that Leah was not loved by her husband, He opened her womb and she gave birth to four sons (Genesis 29:31-35). Then Rachel and Leah’s servants gave Jacob two sons a piece and Leah gave birth to three more children, two boys and a girl. After Jacob had eleven children by women he did not love, God opened Rachel’s womb and she gave birth to Joseph, and eventually, Benjamin.
Sometimes, it seems like we love the way Jacob loved Rachel before we get married, but then change th way we love like Jacob loved Leah after we get married. Before marriage, we see the beauty of our sweetheart. He or she brings warmth to our hearts. But after marriage, daily life takes its toll, communication can fall apart, and criticism may flow like a stream on a steep hill. But, we all desire to be loved the way Jacob loved Rachel. Who doesn’t want to be adored by their husband or wife? Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for a woman who was once adored to begin to feel ignored, undesirable, and unloved. At the same time, it doesn’t take a man who was once revered and respected to feel weak, belittled, and detested.
Jacob was willing to work hard for fourteen years to have Rachel as his wife – that’s some mighty powerful love. When our marriage doesn’t turn out to be the fairytale we expected (no marriage is perfect or even close to it), we slowly begin to lose the affection we once had for our sweethearts if we are not diligent and determined to keep that affection strong.
When difficulties come into your life, remember why you loved your honey in the first place. What was it that made him or her your Rachel? No matter how long you’ve been together, treat your future husband or wife as someone you’d be willing to work seven years to marry (and then another seven years ~smile~). Shower him or her with love, respect, and kindness. Be thankful that you don’t have to work fourteen years to marry your sweetheart, but let him or her know the wait would be worth it. ~smile~
Is your sweetheart feeling like Rachel or Leah?