Genesis 29 – March 7
There are few things in a fictional story that are more satisfying to the reader than when someone receives the exact same kind of pain they have doled out to others. However, this sort of turnabout is typically something we see happening to the villain. That is part of what makes it such a pleasant trope in entertainment. We love to see the bad guy get his comeuppance. In Jacob’s case, it is actually the protagonist who learns that what goes around comes around. He finally encountered someone that was more sly, more dishonest, and slick with words than himself. Let’s consider three beautiful realities that are manifested in this chapter.
- The Lord humbles the proud.
Jesus said in Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Over the next couple of chapters, we are going to be watching a process by which the Lord humbles Jacob. His transformation is certainly not due exclusively to wisdom gained by age. If that were the case, then Laban would similarly learn these lessons. The Lord is systematically breaking down Jacob’s pride. God allowed Jacob to get a taste of his own medicine so that he might recognize the great pain that his own sin had inflicted on others. Later when Jacob meets Esau, it appears as though Jacob has the ability to genuinely apologize because he understood the extremity of his own actions. Laban’s lie was just the first in a series of the Lord’s tools to chip away at the deeply rooted pride in Jacob’s heart.
This should serve as a warning for us. In both James 4:6 and in 1 Peter 5:5 we read that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” You might not be on the receiving end of a mirrored version of your own sin like Jacob did in this chapter. But be assured, God is good at humbling people who think too highly of themselves. According to Scripture, you have two choices. Either God can humble you, or you can humble yourself. Both James 4:10 and 1 Peter 5:6 tell us that only those who humble themselves will be exalted by God. Humbling yourself does not mean debasing yourself, hurting yourself, mocking yourself, or falsely putting on an heir of outward humility. It means having an accurate view of who you are before God and an accurate view of who you are before other people. It means deflating your ego and realizing that you are not God. It means not viewing yourself, your desires, or your needs as superior to others. It means that we are to be Christlike in the way that we are other-focused, servant-hearted, and compassionate. If you have pride harbored in your heart, today is the day to kill it.
- The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” We occasionally see this compassion and kindness of the Lord displayed corporately to groups, such as the nation of Israel. For example, the Lord told Moses during the encounter at the burning bush, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings.” (Ex. 3:7) In our chapter, we see the Lord show immense kindness to Leah. “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” (Gen. 29:31) Not only should we make note of the fact that it is the Lord who gives the wonderful gift of children.
We must also acknowledge that He saw the horrible position that she had been placed into due to no fault of her own. We are told that she had “weak eyes,” which could either mean that she had limited vision or that she had a lazy eye (or eyes). Many scholars hold to the latter due to the fact that Jacob’s love seems to be driven solely on appearances according to verse 17. Leah did not ask to be married to Jacob, she had no choice in the matter. She was not loved by her husband emotionally. (Duet. 21:15-17 describes a marital situation much like this one and refers to someone in Leah’s position as “the unloved wife.” If there is anyone who has ever been in that category, it was Leah.) Even though Jacob worked seven additional years to marry Rachel, the wedding was only seven days after his wedding to Leah. (He “purchased” her marriage on credit.) Leah was certainly daily made aware of her inferiority in the eyes of her husband. Every single day must have been a special form of torment.
As far as we can tell, nobody cared. Nobody, that is, except the Lord. Sometimes you, like Jacob, get yourself into a mess of your own making. But sometimes, like Leah, you are thrust into trials due to no fault of your own. You might feel like nobody sees your plight, but the Lord is with you. Just know that He always does what is the absolute best for you.