Monday night was my first Women’s Conference at Church by the Glades. The speaker was Kelly Minter, who had a recently published Bible Study and book called “No Other Gods: Confronting our Modern-Day Idols.” On Monday night, Kelly spent about an hour sharing the story of Leah and Rachel from Genesis 29 and 30. I’ve grown up in church and heard this story more times than I can remember, but always told from Jacob’s perspective. Kelly shared this story from the perspective of Leah and Rachel. As the Bible tells us, Jacob wanted to marry Rachel and agreed to work for her father for 7 years for the right to do so. When the time came for the marriage, dad “slipped in” Leah (the older and probably less beautiful daughter) as the bride. When Jacob discovered the switch, he was already married to Leah, so feeling cheated he goes back to their father and makes another appeal for Rachel. Dad says ok, in exchange for another 7 years of labor, he can have both Leah and Rachel.
As the Bible says, Rachel was clearly the more desired wife by Jacob. But her womb was barren and she was unable to produce children. Leah on the other hand, had no problem. The Bible spells it out like this:
When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. (29:31)
After giving birth to Jacob’s first son, Leah says: The Lord has noticed my misery, now surely my husband will love me. (29:32)
And she gave birth to a second and a third son and Leah said: “…surely my husband will feel affection for me since I have given him three sons. (29:34)
The story continues on until Leah eventually gives birth to 6 sons and after the last one, she says: “…surely my husband will treat me with respect.” (30:20)
While Leah was Jacob’s first wife as the story goes, she was not loved by him. And as her life continued and her hopes for love were not fulfilled, her expectations decreased each time. Her final hope was that her husband would at least treat her with respect. How often do we down grade our expectations with the hopes of getting at least something of what we want?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Rachel was truly loved by Jacob, but she was barren and did not conceive children, which made her very angry. Her words to Jacob in Chapter 30, verse 1 are “Give me children, or I’ll die!” And when this does not work, she gives her handmaiden to Jacob to conceive children, so that through her handmaiden she could have a family, too. (30:4) As the story continues on, Rachel sees her handmaiden’s children as her own and thus God has given her the family that she has always wanted.
Kelly draws some interesting perspectives here in relation to our study on things we worship. Things or people or relationships that become our “gods.” What is it that we treasure so much, that it becomes so important in our lives that it gets in the way of our relationship with the one true God?
For Leah, it was Jacob’s love and affection. Something she didn’t have and may have never obtained. You can see her desperation for it throughout the story in Genesis 29 and 30. No matter how hard she worked or how many children she produced for him, at the end, she was merely hoping to obtain his “respect.” What she failed to realize is that God’s love and affection for her was more than Jacob’s love could ever give her, but for Leah, she was so focused on Jacob (and earthly love) that she was too blind to see the love God had for her.
For Rachel, it was a family. She already had what Leah longed for…the affection of her husband. But the “idol” that she “worshipped” was the desire to have a family, her own children. And when she could not produce a child of her own, she decided to alter God’s plan and provide her handmaiden to produce a family for her.
This point that Kelly made really brought things home for me. How often does God ask us to wait, or tell us no to something that is not in His plan for our lives? And how often do we use our personal resources to alter the course of that plan and obtain it anyway? What idols/things/desires are in my life, that are keeping me from the perfect will of God?
Maybe it’s the perfect house, or the perfect job or the perfect relationship with someone who we might consider the perfect person. But what if God has a different and better plan? Are we willing to set aside our desires to trust His better plan for us? Or will we charge ahead with our own skills and resources to fulfill the desires of our hearts?
Kelly brought us to Matthew to see the end of Rachel and Leah’s story. The lineage of Jesus as found in Matthew 1:1 came through the line of Judah (the son of Leah). While Jacob’s desire and love may have been for Rachel, God used Leah’s marriage to Jacob to give birth to Judah and as you read through Matthew 1, an ancestor of Jesus. While it may not have been Jacob’s plan, his marriage to Leah may have been God’s perfect plan after all.
Note: These thoughts and views are my reflections (and remembrances) of Kelly’s time with us and how God used her words in my life. If you’d like to find more out about Kelly’s ministry, please go to her website at: http://www.kellyminter.com/