GAIJ Podcast Episode 11
Welcome again friends, to a retelling of the story of God’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now in its final stages when we will dive right into the God of Jacob. My name is Mario Diaz of Marios Ministries, and I am so thankful God has brought you near those speakers right now to hear the Scriptures. The Bible tells us faith comes by hearing. So, I am praying for your heart and mind as you listen today.
In this podcast we have left behind all the things we think we knew about God, that frankly, come from movies and fictional books and other extra biblical sources many times, and which can cloud our minds as to our relationship with God.
This is important because we have discovered a God who is personal. Who is near those who seek and obey him. He is involved in our affairs and interacts with us. So, if you’re ready, I’m ready. Let’s get to it.
After Jacob’s deception of Esau, Rebekah decided to send Jacob to her brother Laban’s place because Esau had vouched to kill him after his father passed away. Isaac calls Jacob blesses him and asks him not to take a wife from the Canaanites. A few chapters back (in chapter 26: 34-35) we were told that Esau had taken two Hittite (descendants of Canaan) who “made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. So, Isaac asks Jacob to take a wife from one of Laban’s daughters.
Esau, seeing this, decides he should take another wife that was not a Canaanite, perhaps in an effort to appease his father. So he marries Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son.
Jacob leaves towards Haran but as he is traveling it gets late and he decides to spend the night, put a rock under his head and then had a magnificent dream.
In it, there was a ladder that went from earth to heaven, and the Angels of God were ascending and descending on it! The Lord stood on the top and said, “ I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south and in you and your offspring shall all the famlies of earth be blessed.” Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Jacob wakes up and is stunned, How awesome is this place, he says. He calles it the gate of heaven, given what he saw. He took the stone he used for a pillo and set it up a as a pillar and poured oil over it, and called the name Bethel. And he makes a vow saying , “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
Jacob keeps going and gets to a well outside a city and sees some shepherds with three flocks. He asks them if they know Laban, and they tell him his daughter, Rachel, who is also a shepherdess (how awesome is that!) is coming to water the sheep. She gets there and Jacob moves the rock covering the well and give water to Laban’s/Rebekah’s sheep. He greets her and explains who he is. She is ecstatic and goes to tell her father, who also comes greeting and rejoicing with Jacob. He stayed with them a month.
Jacob had apparently been working hard for Laban as his guest, and Laban then tells him, listen, I know you are my blood, but I cannot keep taking advantage of you. Tell me what you want as your wages for the work you are doing.
Now, Jacob still remembering the charge his father Isaac gave him, asked for Rachels hand in marriage. Laban had two daughters Leah was the first born and then Rachel. Jacob says he will work for seven years for her.
Now, I know this is not how things are done in our day…
Laban agrees. So Jacob serves for those seven years for Rebekah, and it says on chapter Genesis Chapter 29 verse 20 that “they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” But when it came time for the wedding night Laban gave him his daughter Leah. And then in the morning he discovered what had happened.
Now, some of us may be wonder how is that possible. There are several factors we can consider. It seemed tradition had something to do with it, the customary veil and clothing for the weeding night, it was late at night, after a feast where the drinking of wine is customary, and that also may have helped cloud Jacob’s vision and judgement. We also don’t know how much they resembled each other. In any case, Jacob rises and says to Laban, “what have you done? I served you for seven years. Why have you deceived me?”
Now, the irony might have escaped Jacob, but it can’t escape us. Here is Jacob, his very reason for being there is the deception he perpetrated on his father, and now he is going to cry foul when deception is committed against him. Perhaps a lesson was being given there, in mercy?
Laban for his part says, sorry, “it is not so done on our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.” And he says he will give him Rebekah also, if he serves him for another 7 years.
And Jacob agrees to this. He loves her, so he will fight for her…
The chapter also lets us know Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.
This is understandable. But Leah will have a tough predicament. Who will love her? The next verse tells us that God did not forget Leah. Verse 31, “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”
Let us praise this God. A God who does not forget us, in our afflictions, in our troubles. Is there some heartache within you today. You can trust the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All may have forgotten, but he has not. He cares. You can trust Him. He is the same God today, as it was then. He was the same God to Leah, as He was to Haggar. You remember? She called him El Roi, the God who sees me. When she was destitute, completely alone, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in His Providence saw to it that she was provided for—there are always longings within man’s heart.
We just need to open our eyes, in the middle of our affliction, to see His love—God’s compassionate care for us. We all struggle. Everyone person needs to feel noticed. Here you have Rachel who has her husband’s undivided love and affection, yet cannot have children. She longs for what Leah has, she is fruitful in bearing children, and yet longs for her husband’s love, each wishes for what the other has. Both missing God’s unbelievable care for them. His love is present at all times, yet we miss it so often.
We too long for what we don’t have, and, if we don’t get these desires under control they can turn our hearts bitter to the point that all joy will be drained out of us. A word of caution.
Notice the change that will slowly happen in Leah. We see it through the naming of her children. And we will finish with that incredible fact of her fourth child and the incredible Providence of God.
Leah gives birth to her firstborn Reuben (which means “see a son”), “Because,” she says, “the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.”
She then gives birth to her second, Simeon (which means to be heard) because she was starting to see that the Lord was taking care of her. She conceived a third time and gave birth to Levi (meaning “joined”) saying “Now this time my husband will be attached to me.” So you see where her focus is on each name.
But then she conceived again, her fourth, and this time something different happened. This time she said, I will praise the Lord. She called him Judah (which means praise).
Now her focus has shifted. No longer putting her husband first, she now focuses on thanksgiving to that God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who has been sustaining her all along.
This is really an amazing thing. It is hard to express. If you have studied Scripture at all, that name Judah, immediately jumped out at you. But even if you haven’t heard of it before, just with what we have learned today, if I were to give you a guess to pick from Leah’s sons, from which would you say the Messiah will come? Would you pick Reuben (see a son), Levi (meaning joined), Simeon (to be heard), or Judah (meaning praise--- to God, that is).
That’s right, the Christ, the Messiah, will come from the line of Judah. He is called the Lion of Judah.
Friends, I hope your heart just jumps with joy and amazement at what we are reading. If you take this God to heart, you will start to understand that your life matters. What you do matters. What you say matters. Who you worship matters.
My prayer is that your heart if filled up with thanksgiving so that your cup runeth over, as the psalmist wrote, for there is power in the praise and thanksgiving of our Lord. There is freedom and peace. That calm and enjoyment your heart is seeking in so many other things, is found in the Lion of Judah, the praise of God.
Much to think about… until next time.