Posts Tagged ‘Leah’

Genesis 30:19-21 – WHAT TO DO WHEN LOVE HURTS

What to do when love hurts

What to do when love hurts

As I greet him with a smile he looks at me with the confusion of dementia in his eyes and demands that I leave. “I don’t want to talk with you. I don’t know you?” I am a stranger to him, though we have talked as friends many times in the past. In the hall I meet a woman who is walking slowly with the help of a stick. I ask her if she is lost and she tells me that she has never been so insulted in all her life. “I wish all you nosy people would just leave me alone!” she says. I apologise and leave her to sit for a while in the foyer. Through the glass entrance door I see a woman sitting alone and crying. I talk with her about her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease. “He doesn’t recognise who I am anymore and pushes me away” she says, deeply hurt.

I meet people in aged care who experience times when they feel unwanted, excluded, unloved, or even neglected. Times when they feel misjudged or overlooked and sometimes they can choose to let grazes fester and become deep wounds; times when they know an aching emptiness as they see those they care for or love withdraw, reject and ignore them.

The unintentional wounds caused by those with Alzheimer’s disease are felt by those who have known the joys of relationship; those who have loved. It is not really true that love hurts. It is not being loved that hurts. Love is what heals a broken heart.

Leah is not loved by her husband, Jacob, and is vulnerable to the weeping wounds of such loss as he all too often neglects her for her younger sister, Rachel.

God in His grace chooses to give Leah another son to Jacob after a time of barrenness (Genesis 30:19-20) and her broken heart finds expression in the name of her son. She names him Zebulun, which means “dwelling” and “honour.” She chooses this name in acknowledgement that God has not forsaken her and honours her with a sixth son. But in the naming of her son, she also declares her desperate hope that her husband will honour her and finally choose to dwell with her exclusively.

She names him with the tears of her hurt that becry the absence of love “…now my husband will DWELL with me, because I have borne him six sons” (Genesis 30:20 NASB). She is the mother of Jacob’s sons but not the wife of his heart. He will sleep with her but his affections are reserved for Rachel. In her loneliness God also gives a daughter to Leah (Genesis 30:21). Leah calls her Dinah.

Is the desire Rachel and Leah have for children based on the hope of having a share in the blessing of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)? It seems that they have disassociated with God’s promises for what has become a race of jealousy; vying for the love of Jacob and the approval of others.

Rachel and Leah invite me to ask myself the difficult questions – “Are my motivations for a fruitful life based on God’s promises; His Word? Or am I involved in a power play for love and acceptance from others?”  

When you experience the absence of love, in whom will you place your trust? Jesus invites you to place your trust in Him, over and above all other relationships, and to find your identity as a person who is loved by God. 

Don’t misunderstand, close relationships with others are important on this journey we make with God, but my identity is shaped essentially by God’s intentions and not the expectations or neglect of others. The healing grace of God’s love gives me a perspective on all my other relationships in life and enables me to live as God intends. 

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 30:14 – LOVE POTION NOW BENIGN – FAITH AND SUPERSTITION

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us. Image created by Ross Cochrane

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us. Image created by Ross Cochrane

Their words are as poisonous as the mandrakes over which they are arguing. Rachel’s anxiety and grief about not being able to conceive and her jealousy of her sister’s success reaches a culmination as she searches for solutions in superstition.

Rachel begs Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But Leah angrily replies, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?” (Genesis 30:14-15 NLT).

Obsessed and desperate, Rachel wants the mandrakes, the “love plants”, that Leah’s son Reuben has found in the field. Why is a toxic plant associated with love? Perhaps it aligns itself with Rachel’s love, poisonous with jealousy and delirious with desperation.

The Mandrake plant is toxic, causing hallucinations. It’s root system is bulbous and resembles a human figure. Although it has a pleasant smell, the only part of the mandrake that is not poisonous is it’s red fruit. It is called the “love apple” and is considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac (love potion) which could help a women in conception (Wikepedia).

Rachel answers, “I will let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me some of the mandrakes.” (Genesis 30:5 NLT). Steeped in superstitious zeal, Rachel is willing to make whatever sacrifices she needs for the mandrakes. She has already made her servant/slave a surrogate mother. Now she prostitutes her husband’s services. They both know that they can manipulate Jacob to do their bidding.

Jacob hasn’t been sleeping with Leah and Leah doesn’t trust Rachel to follow through with the sleeping arrangements that night for her own husband, so she meets Jacob coming in from the fields and demands that he sleeps with her. There is no romance in her words. She says “I have paid for you with some mandrakes.” Jacob obviously doesn’t care who he sleeps with. He is more interested at this stage in keeping the peace.

Jacob has eight sons now from 3 women. No doubt he realises he is being used by two jealous wives. Nevertheless he spends that night with Leah.

Despite Rachel’s superstitious zeal for the mandrakes in the following days it is not Rachel who conceives but Leah. Leah bears Jacob another son (Genesis 30:17-18). No doubt the guilt of giving her servant to her husband to bear children has played upon her mind because she names him Issachar, which means “reward” “… for she says, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife” (Genesis 30:18 NLT). Leah, like Rachel, seeks to justify rather than admit her sin. She falls into the snare of deceiving herself by trying to involve God in her selfishness. Do I really expect God to reward my plans when I violate His? Does God reward immorality/human trafficking? I don’t think so. God heard and answered Leah’s prayer, not to reward her immoral decisions concerning her servant/slave, but to fulfil his promise to Jacob.

Faith is not a good luck charm. Faith does not beg for a superstitious potion in the hope that something might happen. Reuben grows up with the example of his parents superstitious belief in love potions and Issachar has a constant reminder in his name of his Mother’s attempt at trying to justify her sin. What impression do we leave on the next generation by our blatant disregard of living our lives as God intended. God invites us to acknowledge our sin rather than justify ourselves? We can pray as David prayed – “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…” God’s love potion for forgiveness and fruitfulness in life is found in knowing Jesus.

Faith expects the best and enables me to endure the worst. It builds it’s perceptions on revealed truth, not on false hope. Superstition limits us to imaginary measures to solve our problems. Faith lives a life that points us to hope in the reality of God’s solutions. Christ continually calls us to be immersed in the truth of all that God has promised; Jesus said “I am the Way, the TRUTH and the Life” (John 14:6). 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:4–8 – WHEN LIFE SEEMS BARREN, AVOID THE CIRQUE DE LA CULTURE! 

Roller Coaster Merry-go-round. Image created by Ross Cochrane using Morguefile photos and Paint.net

WELCOME TO THE CIRQUE DE LA CULTURE. Does Jacob have dementia? He’s in his 90’s, doesn’t seem to remember God’s promise of blessing and he seems to have given power of attorney to his wives. It seems he is running away from home to join the Cirque de la Culture (the Circus of Culture).

MERRY-GO-ROUND. He is insecure, unable to make decisions for his own life and family. Jacob seems to listen to everyone else’s blueprint for his life, submissively complying with his wife’s plan, just as he had to his mother’s plan years before. He has already submitted to Laban’s proposal by working for another 7 years in exchange for marrying Rachel. He is obeying everyone but God, ignoring what God has established for a healthy marriage and conforming himself to the behaviour and customs of those around him.

ROLLER COASTER. Rachel’s plan, born of envy and jealousy, may have tempted him into immorality, but this could have been an opportunity for Jacob to do the right thing. Instead, sin is a roller coaster ride with this family, plunging them from soaring heights and turning their lives upside down. The Circus theme park they have entered has no safety standards and leaves behind a string of damaged lives.

CHAMBER OF HORRORS. Rachel’s plan is for Bilhah, her servant/slave, to become a surrogate mother. No choice. Just given. We are not told, but for Bilhah, the abuse must have been frightening, the loss of respect must have been humiliating, and when she becomes pregnant to Jacob and bears a son, the grief of losing him must have been traumatic. Bilhah presents him to Jacob because he legally belongs to Rachel and Jacob (at least she is able to remain with him as her son is raised by his adopted family). Rachel, not Bilhah, names him Dan. Bilhah has no rights even to name her own child.

HOUSE OF MIRRORS.Rachel names Bilhah’s child Dan, meaning “Vindication”. Rachel says, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son.” It seems, in Rachel’s distorted thinking, that God has judged her by not giving her children, but now He is vindicating her to be worthy of children through her surrogacy parenting plan? Do I really expect God to agree with my plans when I violate His? Is she praying or trying to manipulate God, Jacob and Bilhah? There has been no mention up until this time that Rachel has even acknowledged God’s part in her life. Now she dishonours Him by saying that He favours her sin. This mirror is totally distorted!

STRONG WOMAN. Few people have heard of Katie Brumbach.Katie was a circus performer with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for many years and could easily lift her husband above her head with one hand. Katie’s father offered one hundred marks to any man in the audience who could defeat her in wrestling. No one ever succeeded.

Rachel is also a strong woman wrestler. Jacob submits to Rachel’s skill at manipulation concerning her plans for Bilhah. Bilhah has another son with Jacob. Again she must give him away to Rachel. Rachel names him Naphtali, which means “Wrestlings.” She says, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!” Here is the root of Rachel’s motivation; having children is a wrestling match with her sister. Is this about having children or winning at any cost?

God has already promised Jacob descendants. Perhaps what drives Rachel’s plan is that she wants to be included in God’s promise. Unfortunately it prompts her to act recklessly and attribute the results to God. It is our faith and trust in God that pleases Him, not ill-conceived presumption and certainly not trying to attach God’s name to our sin. Hebrews 11:6 “… it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” 

Who is the Ringmaster of this circus? When my life seems barren, my circumstances present to me an opportunity for me to trust in God for fruitfulness. He is not a genie in a bottle giving us whatever we request. He is the Ringmaster, not of the cirque du soleil (the Circus of the Sun) but the Cirque du Fils (The Circus of the Son) and the Cirque de la Foi (the Circus of the faith). As Ring-master He co-ordinates the various events of my life with incredible skill. I need His help to juggle my time on earth successfully. 

Fortunately, God hasn’t finished with Jacob and Rachel yet. Or with me. He is able to turn cursing into blessing, to forgive sin and enable me to have eternal life with Him as I trust in Christ and a fulfilling life on earth as I serve Him (John 10:10). He is able to use your gifts, motivations, abilities, personality and experiences to the full, not to please the crowd, but because you were created for such a time as this. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:1-3- CHECK MATE

Jealousy's Pawn - Image by Ross Cochrane using FilterForge and Paint.net

Jealousy’s Pawn – Image by Ross Cochrane using FilterForge and Paint.net

She begins the game by attacking her husband, who is standing nearby. She is jealous of Leah, her sister, whom she now considers an opponent. She blames Jacob for not concentrating. She needs his support. She is running out of time and patience! The game will be lost! Rachel pleads with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1 NLT).

Rachel has chosen the black and God has made the first move, but she seems to think that she is playing against Leah. She is ready to make her first move, but her strategy is flawed and will serve only to achieve short-term advantage and place her emotions and marriage in danger.

Focused on more than simply achieving equality on the board, Rachel feels she must develop a counterplay to unbalance Leah’s position, to neutralise her gains. She does not know how to lose graciously and she feels that her sister has put her at a disadvantage by bearing children while she remains barren. She knows that she must manoeuvre her resources and bring into play some “interferences” and “underminings” to gain a tactical gain and she is willing to make whatever “sacrifices” are necessary to achieve “check mate”.

The game has reached a critical level even at this early stage. She is flustered, not considering the consequences of her action. She refuses to see the big-picture. She is not aligning her actions with God’s strategy for her life. Her next move is too hasty and unexpected, unconventional, wild, crazy!

“Take my maid, Bilhah, and sleep with her. She will bear children for me, and through her I can have a family, too.” (Genesis 30:3 NLT)Move the pawn! But Rachel, you can’t have Check Mate in one move!

When your thinking is distorted then nothing is learned from the failures of history. Instead, they are repeated. Like Sarah, Rachel tries to manipulate the hand of God by giving her maid to Jacob in order to obtain children. Like Hagar, Bilhah is the Pawn moved around the board by Rachel.

Afterall, surrogacy is an acceptable tactical custom of the day, like polygamy, or multiple sexual partners. I guess things haven’t changed. One commentary suggests that this is why Laban provides his daughters with maids; as a back-up in case his daughters had no children; pawns in a game of Chess! Bilhah will never have full rights as a wife and mother. She is owned and her children are owned.

Today, we would call it human slavery and trafficking. For Rachel it was a part of the strategy, an ill-considered move to gain short-term advantage over Leah. Jacob is also playing the part of a pawn. Why doesn’t Jacob object? No complaints from Jacob. He’s in his 90’s and sleeping with three and soon four young women. He’s suddenly not interested in asking God about it. For Jacob and Rachel, there is an erosion of faith and trust concerning God’s promises. Neither of them seem concerned enough to pray. Doesn’t Check come before Mate? 

Without God, life is lived like a game of chess where we try to remain in control and determine the moves we play, but ultimately we lose. Each move we make effects the lives of those around us and their moves influence ours, but our selfish choices can seriously damage relationships. 

Rachel does not accept responsibility for her actions nor does she consider the consequences of the moves she makes. The invitation is to stop treating life like a game of Chess and begin to look for God’s perspective, His strategies, His plans and take His purposes for our lives into consideration. 

The strategy was planned from the beginning of time; Jesus experiences the jealousy of the religious leaders of his day and just as they think they have defeated Him, He makes His move. They are astounded. Slaves of sin are set free. The pawns have become royalty. Death defeated, sin forgiven, sacrifice sufficient! Check mate! The white King wins! He invites us to share in His victory. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 29:21-35 – CAUGHT IN A TRAP! I CAN’T WALK OUT!

Caught in a Trap - Photo by Ross Cochrane

Caught in a Trap – Photo by Ross Cochrane

“What have you done to me?” Jacob rages at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?” 

Treating Rachel as a commodity to be worked for, a mail order bride on lay-buy for 7 years, he is surprised when he receives the wrong package. Perhaps he had celebrated with just a little too much wine at the wedding feast but “that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her” (Genesis 29:23).

How do you confuse Leah for Rachel, even in the dark. They obviously don’t talk? Or is it that in 7 years Jacob really doesn’t get to know Rachel except for her “beautiful figure and a lovely face” (Genesis 29:17).

Has her father forced Leah to say nothing? Surely Leah could talk, but to do so will lead to Laban being embarrassed by his guests and by the community. Retribution for her will be swift and perhaps brutal. Leah will never escape the life she lives with her greedy father unless she marries this man who will one day inherit a double portion of Isaac’s wealth and take her away. After 7 years she knows Jacob to be a hardworking man and it seems she has fallen in love with him. When she bears him children, she laments that he does not love her. Caught in a trap. She can’t walk out.

Jacob the deceiver is deceived. By pretending to be Rachel, Leah was inadvertently treating Jacob in the same way he had treated his father. As Jacob had pretended to be Esau to obtain his birthright and blessing, now Leah pretends to be Rachel to obtain freedom from Laban. He reaps what he sows. What he expected to be his dream life is rapidly becoming his nightmare. Caught in a trap. He can’t walk out.

Discovering he is married to the wrong woman makes him feel like an old fool, but there is nothing Jacob can do about it, … except to marry Rachel as well. It seems bigamy is an acceptable practice in Haran. He receives Rachel a week later after an agreement with Laban to work another 7 years for her.

Was Leah God’s choice for Jacob in marriage? We are not told. Jacob only sees that Rachel has a beautiful face and figure. Does God approve of this second marriage? No statement of judgment is given, but it is interesting that He gives children to Leah and not Rachel.

The Lord sees that Leah is unloved, but why does He decide to take sides in this matter? Jacob prefers Rachel. Is it that the Lord prefers Leah? Is it only because Leah is hated that He blesses her with children or is there more to it than that? (Genesis 29:31). Perhaps it is also that Leah is a woman of faith and Rachel is yet to believe in the Lord. Jesus would come through a line of believers.

Leah expresses her belief in God through the names of her children, Reuben, Simeon, Levi. She is grateful for children because she is miserable in her marriage. Each time she has a child she expresses her desire to be loved and says, in effect “The Lord has noticed my misery. I am unloved, but now my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:32-34 NLT). We all want to be loved. Many life-lessons unfold in the years to come.

When she names her fourth son Judah (“praise to Jehovah”) she seems to have come to a place where she is content to simply trust in Jehovah, God of the Covenant, to work out His purposes in her life. From Judah the Saviour will come and the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled.

God is Leah’s marriage counsellor and she finds her strength in Him. When our heartaches collide with His purposes, soap operas are transformed into stories of salvation as we learn to trust in Christ. 

Pastor Ross

Image adapted by Ross Cochrane from MorgueFile Photo

Image adapted by Ross Cochrane from MorgueFile Photo

Spider and Trap - Photo by Ross Cochrane

Spider and Trap – Photo by Ross Cochrane

Spider and Dining Table - Photograph by Ross Cochrane

Spider and Dining Table – Photograph by Ross Cochrane