Oh how Jacob loved Rachel. How he loved her so much more than he loved Leah. And the Lord saw and opened Leah’s womb. But Rachel was barren. So began the tale of two sisters. One was beautiful; one not so beautiful. One desired; one not desired. Both, though, were recipients of their father’s deception. One man. Two women. One fruitful. One barren. Life took a turn for Leah and Rachel the day their father chose to marry off his elder daughter despite the promise he had made to Jacob. How did the sisters respond to the hand they had been dealt? How do we respond to the circumstances of our lives?
Leah desired to be loved by Jacob. Sue shared with us a few days ago how Leah responded to the situation she found herself in. It bears repeating here as we look at these two sisters. “It would have been so easy for Leah to grow bitter, discouraged and even angry at God, but when she gave birth to her fourth son, and it was apparent to her that her prayers might never be answered in the way she desired, she refused to surrender to discouragement. Instead, she gave her son a name that triumphed over her desires. She named him Judah, saying “This time I will praise the Lord.” What an amazing transformation!”
Rachel, on the other hand, had a far different reaction to the circumstances in her life. She was loved and desired; something her sister so desperately wanted. Did you notice that we are never told that Rachel loved Jacob? She had so much in that she was so loved. Yet, for Rachel, it wasn’t enough. “When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” (Genesis 30:1) Poor Jacob! What could he do about the situation? “Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:2) Were Jacob’s words an opportunity for Rachel to turn her eyes upon God? Did either of them really stop and consider in that moment to seek God? Jacob didn’t pray for his beloved wife as his father had prayed for Rebekah, his mother. Rachel, like Sarah before her, chose to take matters into her own hands. She wanted what her sister had. I think these words that Rachel spoke after her maid conceived and gave birth to Jacob’s second son are so telling. “Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” How sad! It didn’t need to be so.
Their relationship became a competition. What a glimpse we get into Rachel’s heart. The Lord did have plans to give Rachel children. “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.” (Genesis 30:22) What if Rachel had chosen differently? What if she had chosen not to envy Leah and to rejoice alongside her sister? Oh yes, that is easier said than done. The inclination of the flesh would be to envy but the flesh doesn’t have to reign and rule. Oh how different it would have been if Rachel sought the Lord’s help to overcome her feelings. The story of Rachel doesn’t get better. She steals her father’s household gods and lies to her father. We never do see a woman who has a depth of relationship with the Lord as we see in Leah. How very, very sad.
How are you responding to the circumstances the Lord has allowed in your life? Are you responding in the flesh as Rachel did or are you allowing God to transform you as Leah did?
Let’s end our study of these sisters looking at this blessing given to Ruth many years later. “May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel.” (Ruth 4:11). Together they built up the house of Israel. Oh how much better if they had been truly together in doing so. What blessings would have been theirs to experience together in the journey.
Join us Monday for a look into the lives of Dinah and Tamar.