- Explore the Bible lesson for Dec. 16 focuses on Genesis 29:16-30.
Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is one of the greatest classic novels converted into a movie in 1939. Scarlet O’Hara, played by Vivien Leigh, and Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable, were the perfect mates for each other. Both were deceptive and manipulative in how they interacted with each other, and both were in search of something bigger than themselves. Rhett’s love for Scarlett was authentic; however, Scarlett could not return the same love for him. Scarlett loved Ashley, who was in love with another woman—Melanie.
The real-life love stories about our children, other relatives and friends, including our personal stories, usually are heartwarming and inspiring. Not being loved in a relationship would be heartbreaking, lonely and without hope that things will change for the better.
What advice, according to Scripture, can we give a person when someone doesn’t love them back?
Jacob’s proposal (Genesis 29:16-20)
Jacob’s arrival in Haran is accepted warmly by Rachel, whom he met at the well while she was tending her father’s sheep. Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud because he was extremely happy to see his relative after the long journey (27:26, 27).
The initial plan for Jacob’s trip to Haran was to take a wife from the clan of Laban. Shortly after meeting Rachel, Jacob fell in love and requested her hand in marriage. Because Jacob came to Haran without offerings for a wife, Jacob agreed to work seven years. Unfortunately, he was tricked by Laban and given the oldest daughter in marriage, Leah. Unlike Rachel, who was beautiful and desirable, Leah was neither.
Believers must be careful to treat others with respect and dignity. All of us are different in some way; however, all of us are alike in that we are made in the image of God. We must examine our hearts closely, especially when we view others as not having a valid place in society. Always remember, God loves all people regardless of their status or appearance. The joy of sharing the love of Christ with the unloved is such a rewarding experience for the believer.
Laban’s deception (Genesis 29:21-24)
Laban followed the custom and rule of the country in which Leah, the firstborn, should marry first (29:26). It did not matter if Jacob was angry or hurt as a result of being tricked in marrying Leah. Besides, it was seven years earlier when Jacob tricked his father and stole Esau’s birthright. Perhaps, the time has come for Jacob to reap some of the bad seeds.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7-8). We can all rest assured the word of God is a promise to all of us concerning sowing good or bad seed. We will reap a harvest based upon what was sown—whether good or bad.
Are there any good or bad seeds you have planted and now are reaping?
Seven more years (Genesis 29:25-30)
Even though Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, he offered Rachel’s hand in marriage. Jacob accepted the offer gladly and agreed to the deal. He could marry Rachel after a week of marriage celebration with Leah, upon the condition of working seven more years.
God promised Jacob his offspring would “be like the dust of the earth” (28:14). As Jacob’s love for Rachel grew stronger, Leah was mostly ignored by Jacob. Because of Jacob’s treatment toward Leah, God had compassion on her and enabled her to have four sons—Rueben, Simeon, Levi and Judah (29:31-35). Unfortunately, Rachel was barren and offered her maid, Bilhah, to Jacob to bear him children. Bilhah bore Dan and Naphtali (30:4-8). Then Leah offered Jacob her maid, Zilpah, and she bore him Gad and Asher (30:9-12).
The rivalry and jealousy between the sisters escalated to the point that Rachel, who was still barren, offered Leah an opportunity to sleep with Jacob for her son’s mandrakes—a plant believed to have medicinal ingredients for women to become pregnant. Afterwards, Leah bore two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, as well as a daughter, Dinah (30:19-21). Then the Lord had mercy on Rachel and opened her womb (30:23-24). She bore Jacob two sons, Joseph and Benjamin (35:16-18).
God approves of marriage between one woman and one man (Genesis 1:27). It never was God’s plan for Jacob to have more than one wife. He was tricked into marrying Leah and tricked into taking the maids as wives because of the rivalry between the sisters.
We may try to help God fulfill his purposes through trickery and manipulation. When operating in this way, the end result is always disastrous. Through his grace, he sets us on a right path. Let us thank God for his perfect plan fulfilled in his perfect timing.
Are there any instances of deception in your family? If so, present those instances to God in prayer. He is faithful to his promises and will fulfill his purpose, even when we are unfaithful.
Margie Clayton is minister of education at Berean Tabernacle Baptist Church in Liberty.