This classic tale of love and deception reveals new truths about God’s character and His ways with us. (Genesis 28-29)
We see that Jacob had some issues with deceit in his heart… as evidenced by his efforts to steal Esau’s birthright over a pot of stew and tricking Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau. It’s not a surprise that he fled Canaan under a death threat. At that point in his life, he was far from being a stellar model of character and faith. But (I love the word “but” in scripture – something very interesting is always about to happen!)… But God met him at Bethel, gave him the vision of angels on the ladder to heaven, and confirmed that ALL the covenant promises belonged to Jacob. Jacob – the trickster who has made such a mess of his life and family relationships that he is fleeing – Jacob is the one to inherit the covenant. He surely did not deserve it!
God is full of grace – unmerited favor, granting us what we do not deserve and cannot earn. Jacob is changed by this personal encounter with God at Bethel. He begins a journey of spiritual growth.
God is also just, and has a sense of humor. Part of Jacob’s character development comes in the form of Laban’s trickery and the whole wife-switching mess. I love the irony of the deceiver being deceived. “Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked; for what a man sows, that he will also reap.” Gal 6:7
God has compassion on us, He is Lahai Roi as Hagar named Him, “the God who sees me”. Leah had a tough life – she was not beautiful, under-valued by her family, and unloved by her husband. She did not have a lot of choices in life – I cannot imagine what she was thinking when Laban told her that she would be clothed in the bridal garb instead of Rachel!?! And where was Rachel that day anyway? Leah carried with her a broken heart and undoubtedly a poor self-esteem… but in her tears (and I am sure they were many) she choose not to be bitter, she chose to cling to God. We see the evolution of her relationship with God in the names of her sons… and we see that she finds peace in her soul with the birth of Judah, her fourth son.
God is patient, desiring that we grow in maturity and depth of character. Rachel seemed to have it all – she was young, beautiful, deeply loved by her husband, and probably a bit of a social butterfly. Yet God chooses infertility for her, a challenge that will bring her much heartache. It is her opportunity for her character development and for her to deepen her relationship with God.
Surely God’s ways are not our ways! Yet I draw comfort from a truth that is overwhelmingly evident in this passage – God’s purposes will be accomplished. “The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand…” For the Lord of hosts has planned and who can frustrate it? His hand is stretched out, who can turn it back?” Is 14:23,27
Isn’t that how God works with all of us? God meets us in the proverbial wilderness and reveals Himself to us personally, calling us to a relationship with Himself. After the wilderness God propels us forward to the next phase in our spiritual walk. -Live Relationally, p. 184