Monday, April 27, 2015

Leah, the Unloved Wife

Dear Christa—
Names were very significant in ancient times. They were often indicative of a person’s personality, but for Leah, the names she gave her children and her accompanying comments reflect the ebb and flow of one woman’s life experiences. Note the progression:
Reuben: “It is because of my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”
Simeon: “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”
Levi: “Now at last my husband will become attached to me.”
Judah: This time I will praise the Lord.
Her children through Zilpah, her servant:
Gad: “What good fortune.”
Asher: “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.”
Leah’s later children:
Issachar: “God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband.”
Zebulun: “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.”
Dinah: The only daughter apparently didn’t merit a comment.
At some point, probably with the giving of the maidservants, it became the battle of the sisters. Although Leah was winning by a landslide in the birthing match, it seems to have changed little between Jacob and her.
Jacob slept with all four women, but he loved Rachel. And, even in their times of discord, it seems obvious that his heart belonged to Rachel and Rachel alone—the woman who welcomed him at the end of his journey to Paddan Aram. The one he was willing to work 14 years for. The one who was willing to sacrifice her life to give him one more son.
And, even beyond her death, his love for Rachel surely stung like a slap every time Leah saw his expression when one of Rachel’s sons entered his presence. We don’t know what Leah’s role was in deceiving Jacob on his wedding night; but one thing seems certain, none of it turned out the way she’d dreamed.
Vows and obligations in marriage are important, even essential, but nothing takes the place of a husband's love.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Genesis to Now: The Women

Dear Christa—
From Genesis to Now: The Women
The end of Chapter 29 sets up the conflict between the sisters Leah and Rachel because they are both married to the same man. Both bear a burden: Leah desires the love of Jacob and Rachel desires children.
Our pastor of years ago, Dr. Martin, used to say that marriage is designed to result in children, unless that is not possible. There is something uniquely wonderful in two people bringing forth a child. It is truly the result of two becoming one flesh. No wonder it seems like a miracle. For Rachel, having Jacob’s love was not enough, and desire for a child caused contention between them.
So, as if having two wives to deal with weren’t enough, Jacob ends up with three, then four. Although having all those sons was considered a blessing, I can’t help feeling some sorry for him. And, I can understand the situation of each woman:
Leah: unloved, regardless how many boys she produced. She’s developed a nasty regard for Rachel as seen in her remarks over the mandrakes:
“Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband?”
Seriously? Had she forgotten the details of her “un”wedding day?
Living in disappointment for so many years had colored her world to see things totally differently from reality. It happened to Leah. It can happen to us as well.
Rachel: barren, wanting a child so desperately. To be barren can be a married woman’s greatest burden. There is just something inside so many who want that baby, all cultural pressures aside. It robbed her of happiness, and the stress became a point of contention between her and Jacob, who really only had eyes for her.
Then, there are the servant concubines. Perhaps, we should feel the most for them—there being little regard for their feelings by either their mistresses or Jacob—simply baby machines for the wealthy, these two. We would consider it absolute abuse in this day. Yet, at that time it was acceptable practice, and to be a servant girl was exactly that—a servant. It’s hard to even remember their names.
Life can bring great disappointment, and somewhere along the way, it will. How do we respond to the deep burdens of our souls? Like Leah, we can conjure a past that’s punctuated with falsehoods. Like Rachel, we can blame others. Like the concubines, there can be little we can do. Yet, there is One who hears the groaning of our souls.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16).
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Genesis to Now: Gen. 29:1-35

Dear Christa—
In Godly Girls we do a one-day lesson on Leah, “the unloved wife.” I’ve always had a soft spot for Leah. She wasn’t attractive. She couldn’t see, and her day was long before the time of contact lenses or even a pair of glasses, for that matter. She got her husband through deception.
Jacob hadn’t chosen her. Yes, he would keep his vows; he would provide for her; he would meet his obligations. He may have even cared a great deal for her.
But, he did not love her. Leah could no more earn Jacob’s love anymore than we can earn God’s.
For love is something that can only be freely given by the lover, and Jacob only truly loved Rachel.
It seems to me that a wife’s greatest desire is simply to be loved by her husband. Maybe that’s part of what God was talking about when he told Eve that the woman would desire her husband.
It’s easy during the children years to get distracted. Children take a lot of work. Throw in a job, financial issues, illness, and who knows what else, and after long years of being together, people can keep their vows, provide for each other, meet their obligations, and even care a great deal about each other, what about love?
In our day, there aren’t other spouses to compete with, but there is a lot of stuff. Married couples should ask themselves who they’d want to be with more than anyone else in the world. Hopefully, the answer would be each other.
--the parishioner who doesn’t do anything.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Dear Christa—
Rebekah was a schemer. She might have been beautiful. She and Isaac may have been happy together. It’s notable that it doesn’t appear Isaac took any additional wives. But she was a schemer nonetheless.
And, I’d say she came by it quite naturally from what we see of her brother Laban later.
Rebekah is the impetus and accomplice when Jacob wrestles the blessing out of Isaac. But, eventually scheming has a way of turning on us.
It isn’t long after the misdeed that word comes to Rebekah that Esau plans to kill Jacob, her favorite child, once his dad is gone. One scheme leads to another, and the next thing we know she’s packing him off to her brother’s to save his skin.
A master manipulator she tells Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living” (Gen. 27:46).
It is likely, as we’ll see, that the daughters-in-law were a thorn in the side, but Rebekah orchestrates Isaac’s decision to send Jacob to Laban.
It’s easy to manipulate situations to come out how we think they should. But, that’s not God’s way. The manipulator and schemer are always on the edge, always stressed out about how things will turn out.
God, however, calls us to rest in Him, to pray without ceasing, to always give thanks.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
It’s so easy to fall into conniving, and as with Rebekah, God does work life out the way He intends. Yet, He calls us to rest in Him.
Rest or stress—What seems more appealing?
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything