“And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister and said unto Jacob, Give me children or else I die” (Gen. 30:1)
The love that Jacob had for Rachel had been as clearly demonstrated as his distain for Leah, yet Leah was fruitful. She had produced four children while Rachel was barren.
Jacob had been given a heart for Rachel, sight unseen, and had agreed to pay the price of seven years of servitude in her stead. Even when he discovered that he had been swindled by Laban and had been given Leah as his wife, he still maintained his love for Rachel and agreed to another seven years of servitude in her stead. He did not serve in Leah’s place for seven years and then seven years for Rachel, for Leah was not a consideration in his obligation to Laban, but rather the ‘cause’ of his servitude was Rachel. This further emphasizes the love that God had given him for his wife. “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm, for love is strong as death; jealousy as cruel as the grave; the coals thereof as the coals of a fire which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love neither can the floods drown it, if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned” (Song 12:6f). Nothing could deter, diminish or separate Rachel from Jacob’s love.
When these first met at the well, Rachel was gathered together with her sheep, awaiting the opening of the well of life giving water. She, being the ‘ewe lamb’, had been assembled together with her sheep, over whom she had been given the charge to tend and care for, and every day at the appointed time someone, appointed unto the task, would roll the stone away from the mouth of the well. She could not do this herself and it would be imprudent to leave the well open for any and all takers, so, until that one who had been assigned the mission arrived at the appropriate time, she waited patiently for this life essential water.
This day, however, there was no one to help. The cattle had not yet been assembled, the herdsmen were not present and the well was not opened. All her sheep were accounted for. There were no stragglers who had fallen off the pace and wondered off. There were none who had been disobedient and were excluded from partaking of the water. There were no roadside advertisements to the presence of water ahead and she had not set forth any open invitations to passing herds to come and partake of the cool refreshing waters. There was no solicitation for help to move the stone and no attempt to add to her flock. It was complete and gathered together with her. None had been left behind and there was no room for any more. She was patiently waiting with all of her sheep when Jacob arrives at the well in the field and, apprised of the situation, he begins a discourse of greeting by saying, “My brethren, whence are ye?” (29:4).
He does not set about posturing himself or demonstrating his fame or fortune. He does not hand out business cards and give everyone his e-mail address in attempt to establish his importance, his might or his prominence. (Notice he is not traveling with an entourage, an army or any emissaries.) Though he is the heir apparent to the house of the ‘child of promise’ (Isaac) and a descendant of the ‘exalted father of many’ (Abraham) yet he is made meek before these men whom he calls, brethren. There is no small talk about the weather, politics or finances or an attempt to find a common bond through association by name dropping. He did not care about anything else but, where do you come from?
Consider the hand of God in the hearts and minds of these men, who protect this rare and precious commodity of water, as a stranger comes walking up to them just as the time is approaching to open the well. He could have been on reconnaissance for a rival faction, acting as an advance scout to find water, which could be taken by force if needed. He could very well have been a cattle rustler in search of an undefended herd ripe for the picking. Or any number of possibilities which our minds tend to imagine but he was not. He was one sent to this location, to be a participant in the meeting of these parties, at the appointed time, in accordance with the will of God.
“We are of Haran”.
Jacob should have bid them farewell and continued on his way. Why? Because he was sent by his father to Padan-aram unto Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, his mother. Nowhere is the name Haran mentioned but in the narrative of Genesis 11:27 and 22:20. It may be assumed, and maybe properly so, that the lineage of the household was told to the children but it is an assumption since the scriptures do not reveal such. Sufficient to say that this is not one of the names given to Jacob as he left home nor did he have a book of genealogies or some elaborate research organization to provide him with his family tree. He did not have the scriptures, since they had not yet been written, but he had the teaching and the leadership of the Spirit of God which dwelt within him.
“Now these are the generations of Terah; Terah begat Abram, Nahor and Haran” (11:27), “And it came to pass after these things, that it was told unto Abraham, saying, Behold Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor; Huz his firstborn and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, and Chesed and Hazo, and Pildash ad Jidlaph and Bethuel. And Bethuel begat Rebekah;” (22:20-23), “And Isaac sent Jacob away and he went to Padan-aram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob and Esau’s mother” (28:5). Therefore, God gave him the wisdom to know with whom he spoke and the initiative to immediately ask if they knew Laban the son of Nahor and after his condition. They acknowledged that they indeed knew him and directed Jacob’s attention to his daughter, Rachel, coming to the well with her sheep. In a male dominated society, they were given to announce this helpless maiden who was patiently waiting to water her flock.
A closer study of the genealogical record left for us in the scriptures may reveal that these men may not have been the descendants of Haran the son of Terah. Genesis chapter 11 states that Terah had three sons, Abram, Nahor and Haran, and Haran had only one son, Lot and when Haran dies before his father Terah, with the exception of his two daughters, Milcah (Nahor’s wife) and Iscar, no other children are recorded. Lot went with Abram when he left his father’s house and traveled to the land of Canaan, where his family grew to sons (how many is not mentioned) two married daughters and their husbands, two virgin daughters and his wife (Gen. 19). Nothing is recorded about his sons when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah but his daughters and their husbands mocked him when he begged them to leave and were thusly also destroyed. His wife turned back during the exodus and was turned to a pillar of salt; so, he and his two virgin daughters remained in Zoar. The fear of the people drove them out of that village and into the mountains where, after two nights of drunkenness and incestuous debauchery, Lot’s daughters were with child. The elder’s son became the nation of Moab and the younger’s the nation of Ammon, neither of which would have referred to themselves as children of Haran. Therefore it is curious that these men that Jacob was talking with should say, “We are of Haran”.
The Hebrew word Haran (pronounced ‘Ckaran’) means ‘mountaineer’ or ‘one of the mountain’. Notice that Jacob did not ask them, ‘who are you from?’, as if to ask, ‘who is your father?’, but rather, he asked, ‘from whence are you’. He was traveling to place called Padan-aram and his question indicates that he was asking what land he was in. Notice the next question, “Know ye Laban the son of Nahor?” If these had been sons of Haran, Nahor’s brother, then Laban would have been their cousin and yet there is no familiarity in Jacob’s question. They answered that they knew him and directed Jacob’s attention to Rachel, Laban’s daughter, but again no family reference is made. She also would have been kin to them if they were sons of Haran.
These men were the people of the east and of the mountains. They were an intricate part of Rachel’s life as they watched over her protecting her and her flock. It would have been very dangerous, humanly speaking, for a young maiden to come to the well by herself with her flock without protection. Yet every day the flocks were gathered together to be watered and at the appropriate time, these mountaineers, rolled the stone away from the well’s mouth.
What a beautiful type of Christ and His church is presented here. The bride was quietly going about her daily life as she grew and matured into a young maiden waiting her wedding feast. She was under the watch and care of her earthly father’s house, she dwelt in an exalted field and she was protected and aided in her journey by the people of the mountain. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills (mountains) from whence cometh my help” (Ps. 121:1). This dutiful bride fulfilled the life assigned unto her, walked the path set before her and, being set apart from all other maidens of the land, encountered her beloved at the appointed time, when he came to her out of the wilderness, and she had all her sheep there with her at all times.
“And it came to pass, (amazing how many times that phrase appears in the scriptures; things do not just happen, they come to pass as ordained of old), when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone away from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother” (29:10). He saw her, he went to the well and he attended to the flock. She did not seek him out to ask for his help or engage him for his services. There is no record of any conversation between Jacob and Rachel until after he sets his mark upon her by kissing her. This young maiden is completely at ease as she sees one, whom she knows nothing about, coming up out of the wilderness, inquiring about her and her family, then attending to the needs of her flock and finally, unannounced, lights upon her and kisses her. Some courtship that was!
What would people say? Such conduct is unbecoming a chased lady and as for this impertinent gentleman, he insults the prudence of decency with his forwardness and piety. After all, there must be protocol and the propriety of customs, the proven ways of our tradition, which cannot be altered or overlooked!
This is the mentality and logic of the people of the land. It is the tossed salad of the wisdom of man, garnished with the lusts of the flesh and drizzled with a confectionery of the stench of death and decay which attracts the flies of death. It is served on a plate that has been washed in the leaven of the Pharisees, set in the upmost seat where the praise of men adorns the table and it satiates the palate of the seared conscience of Adam. The wisdom of man, the passion of the flesh and the logic of a cluttered finite mind persuade the uncircumcised heart that these things cannot be for they do not fit the molds or operate within accepted parameters of reason, science and carnal understanding. Yet God has said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways” therefore He has ordained the simple things of this world to confound the wise and the weak things to cause the mighty to stumble and fall.
This was not for ‘the people of the land’ and it does not matter what they think. This was a demonstration of the hand of an Almighty Sovereign God, in the manifestation of His glorious will, who has ordered all things fast and sure. No man sent Jacob from his father’s house and brought him across the wilderness and no man united these two chosen vessels together for they had been ordained to be man and wife from before the foundation of the world.
Such joy and adulation must have filled the heart of Rachel. What an exhilarating thrill for this mature, 40 year old, man to seemingly appear out of nowhere, choose her from all the rest and sweep her off her feet in a magnificent display of love. He introduces himself to her and he reveals to her that they are kin. She runs to tell her father the wonderful news. Not a leisurely stroll or a calm walk but an urgent mission of utmost import, which compelled her to leave the sheep, in her husbands well-qualified care, to convey the most exquisitely fantastic story ever told, to her father.
“And when Laban heard the report of Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him
and embraced him and kissed him” (29:13).
All parties in this wondrous encounter were completely prepared of God to perform their assignments exactly as foreordained. Without any formal introduction, Laban welcomed a wayfaring stranger into his home. Jacob explained ‘what great things’ God had done in causing him to leave his father and mother and to journey across the desert. He told him of the providence of God in guiding him and leading him to that exact place and time where he saw his wife and kissed her. To this marvelous story or shall we say, testimony to the glory of God, Laban exclaims, emphatically, “You are my bone and my flesh”.
Many things are conspicuously missing from this discourse which most people assume must have transpired. The most glaring one is that, after the encounter at the well and her report to her father Laban, Rachel is not heard from again until she is grieved because she is barren. She has nothing to do with the accommodations in her father’s house for Jacob. Jacob never asked her if she wanted to marry him and she is not consulted for any of the arrangements for the marriage feast. Laban brought Jacob into his house where he lodged for a month of days as they came to an agreement for the cause of his labour. Rachel is completely passive in all of these proceeding as she sits still and waits the hand of her lord.
It should also be noted that Laban did not set a price for Jacob to pay in order to earn his daughter’s hand in marriage. Jacob had already fulfilled the requirements of the law of God in that he had left his father and mother and had cleaved unto his wife and, even though he knew her not and therefore the two had not become one flesh, she was his wife.
Finally let it be noted that there is no courtship, no engagement, no bridal shower and no wedding ceremony found anywhere in the account of the inspired word. No priest, Rabbi, minister or justice of the peace to pronounce them man and wife and no parchment or declaration to confirm the union or to make it legal. There were no traditions or customs present to encumber the beauty of this event as Jacob said,
“My days are fulfilled, give my wife that I may go in unto her”(29:21).
Laban called Jacob his kinsman and said that he should not serve without cause. He did not say, ‘what will you give me for my daughter?’ for Jacob had come forth, in a type of Christ, having his work before him and his reward, His Bride, with him. Jacob had already identified Rachel as his wife and placed the mark of his kiss upon her. He revealed to Laban the wage or the work that he would do. He did not do this to obtain his wife or to establish the path whereby she could become his wife but because of the love which he had for her, he fulfilled the time of a completed work (seven years) which seemed like “a few days”.
The point that Jacob did not buy his wife, cannot be overemphasized because as is set forth in the type is revealed in the fulfillment of the anti-type. Christ did not come forth to buy the church, His bride, or to make a way for people to come together in order to become His Bride. He came forth to redeem that which was, always has been and always shall be His, back to Himself. He came to build His temple (Zech. 6:13; Matt. 16:18)), which is His body (John 2:21) having all her members already assembled (Rachel and her sheep).
“And it shall come to pass, when thy (David, the beloved) days be expired that thou must go with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee (Solomon the king of peace), which shall be of thy sons and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build me an house and I will establish His throne for ever” (I Chr. 17:11f).
This innumerable host, which no man can number, is a great multitude from every nation and kindred, people and tongue. They have been sealed with the Father’s name in their forehead (just as Jacob kissed Rachel and set his seal upon her) and they stand before the Lamb, who has redeemed them unto their God. They sing a new song saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to our God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). They are clothed in fine linen, pure and white, which is the righteousness of the saints and with palms in their hands they praise God with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9f).
The labor that Jacob committed unto is not specifically spelled out in this passage under consideration but as events continued to come to pass in Laban’s house it is revealed that Jacob took upon himself the work and the burden of his wife (30:31). Not that she was the burden but that the labor wherein she was assigned became his obligation and joy. He came and redeemed her to himself by undertaking and completing that which was required of her and he occupied her station in life. He became acquainted with her lifestyle and familiar, by experience, with the trial and hardships which she endured every day. In this he is, again, a type of the Anointed of God who came forth to fulfill all righteousness by vicariously living her life in the flesh, without sin, and thus fulfilling her obligation of keeping the Law of God blamelessly (Heb. 2:14).
The work which the Father required to be flawlessly completed was the same work for both Adam and Eve in type and Christ and the Church in Anti-type, because they and the work are one. No inference is made here to the keeping of the patterns and types given in the mount, the ministration of condemnation, but rather in the keeping of the greatest of all commandments by which eternal life is made manifest. The righteous servant of God loved the Father implicitly and His Bride did likewise, in Him.
Not that God had set a task before the bride and then, when she could not fulfill it, He turned to the Son to pick up the pieces, straighten out the mess and complete the work. That is the premise from whence comes the theory that God’s plan in the garden of Eden was thwarted when Eve, being deceived by the serpent, could not measure up to the standard of perfection and so it fell out to Adam to be obedient. Then when Adam failed and partook of the forbidden fruit, it was left to God to redesign His plan and do it Himself. Or that God had intended salvation for the natural nation of Israel but when they refused it He change His mind and offer salvation to the Gentiles.
“I am God. I change not; therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed”. (Mal. 3:6)
God had set forth the standard of His law before Adam and because he had his bride in him, being created male and female, it was obligatory upon them both (Gen. 2:16f). There was no double standard in creation, no shadow of changing in the garden and no averting the justice and judgment of God because, He, His purpose and His Word are singular,
“Hear O Israel, I am Jehovah, your God Jehovah and I am one” (Deut. 6:4).
Christ is the head of the church, His bride, and when He became a partaker of flesh and blood it was likewise as she had experienced the same, (Heb. 2:14). When the Spirit of God was upon Him the same Spirit was upon her. Since His name is ‘faith and true’ so is she and since the Father was well pleased with Him He is also well pleased with her. When He lived blamelessly in the fulfillment of the law in righteousness, she fulfilled it also, in Him. When He was delivered up for her offenses she was hid in the secret place of His dwelling (Ps. 91:1), and when He came forth from the grave, victorious over sin and death, so was she raised together with Him, having overcome all things by faith and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6).
He did not come into the world to dazzle, amaze or entertain the inhabitants of the earth. He brought neither credit nor acclaim unto Himself. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief and we hid as it were our faces from Him. He was despised and we esteemed him not” (Is. 53:3). He came to glorify the Father by completing the work set before Him. He came to gather His people together who were scattered as “lost sheep” (Jer. 50:6). He sent His disciples to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6). He came in righteous judgment, not to make sheep, but to separate His sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:32). He preached that He is the ‘good shepherd’ who would lay down His life for His sheep (John 10:11) and when He had risen from the dead, He told Peter to, “feed my lambs” and “feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).
Hence, we conclude, that the work which Jacob performed for those twenty years, as a type of Christ, was not some windfall business adventure to obtain wealth and fortune, or a series of great military campaigns over insurmountable odds for the acquisition of property and lands, or anything that dealt with power or fame of this world, but rather, he became a servant and tended to Rachel’s sheep. “And he (Laban) said, what shall I give thee? And Jacob said, “Thou shalt not give me anything: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock.” (Gen. 30:31)
“Give to me my wife”.
Jacob was sent to take his wife, he had completed the requirements set before him perfectly and now demanded that which was his. She was not classified as his girlfriend, fiancée or wife-to-be, he had redeemed her unto himself and now the time had come for the two to be one.
Could any imagine having to wait seven years? Rachel knew she was already ‘Mrs. Jacob’ and for every moment of those seven years, she forsook all others and patiently waited for her husband, laboring by his side and under his care. What she did particularly during that time is not revealed and, whereby we may speculate about making preparations for their new home and things of this nature, it would be no speculation to conclude that she continued to tend to her flock as she did before. She was both subservient to her father’s demands, submissive to her husband and faithful to Jacob until the time when he consummated the union.
But now, at last, the day had come. No more waiting, the feast was prepared and the invited guests assembled. Although there is no mention of a gown of any sort, Rachel is indeed adorned with all the propriety to identify her as the bride. Every man of the place (city, land or region) in attendance knew who she was, what had transpired for the last seven years and what this feast represented. This was the celebration of Jacob and his wife but the joy of the moment was short lived.
Nothing is said about where Rachel was during the feast or what she was doing other than patiently waiting. There is no indication that Jacob was impaired in any way when Laban gave him Leah or the active or passive involvement of Leah in the charade. There is, however, from the testimony of the sovereignty of God that the deception which Laban perpetrated was in complete accord with the will of God.
This could in no wise ease the pain and anguish that Rachel felt when she discovered, the morning after, that her husband had spent their wedding night with her older sister. She found no comfort in her father’s explanation about the law of the people of the land. She found no solace in tending to her sheep and she could not escape the shame and embarrassment of that day. How had this happened? What had gone wrong? What will the people think? How could my father do this to me? How dare Leah take that which was hers and what will become of her now?
There is no explanation given in the account as to how this deception had been perpetrated or any particular details of the crime. It is impossible to surmise and conclude the whereabouts of all the parties or to accurately assign specific culpability to their actions. Jacob had come for his wife and ended up consummating the vow with another. As we have attempted to shew before, he had every right to sound forth a cry for justice and demand his rights according to the terms of the initial agreement, but instead, he was given to submit to the customs of the law of the people of the land and be merciful to Leah. However, Jacob does not simply accept the situation and abandon his wife for this imposter. For the second time, Jacob approaches Laban on behalf of Rachel but this time with force,
“What is this thou hast done unto me?” (29:25).
Laban had not only disgraced both of his daughters, but he had reneged on the contract he had made with Jacob. He reveals his true nature in Adam as an untrustworthy pharisaical thief who would rather keep the customs of man than be honest to his word. He did not care for truth or integrity as he treacherously betrayed his oath, prostituted Leah and disgraced Rachel. To add insult to injury, he then hides behind the laws of the country as a justification for his conduct,
“It must not be in our country to give the younger before the firstborn.”
It is quite easy to cast aspersions against Laban and to condemn him for his conduct, but remember, these things are written for the understanding of the child of grace, that they, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope (Rms. 15:4). As convenient as it is to approach the bench with Laban in custody and with stone in hand, it must be remembered that this is an indicator of the frailty and corruption of the Adamic nature in his propensity towards customs and traditions. He stands here as a glaring example of the weakness of man which each of Adam’s children, who have been given eyes to see by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, shall look upon and see themselves.
Man needs customs and traditions, rituals and ceremonies as an identifier of heritage, beliefs and legacies. They give him a time to celebrate, a sense of order to select events and a tether line to his families history. Most have little or no meaning of any significance, other than religious superstition and the claim that ‘we’ve always done it this way’ and fewer still can be traced to their origins for a ‘cause’ as to why they are performed. Like the accumulation of decorations over the years verity and truth become a convoluted collection of the vanity of memorials.
The Jews had lost all concept of the covenant in the flesh of circumcision, which God gave to Abraham, but had continued to observe it as a tradition to arrogantly identify them as ‘God’s chosen people’. When the church in Galatia was confronted with this ‘tradition’ they were quickly swept away after those weak and beggarly elements which were burdens that neither they, nor the Jews, could bear. Saul of Tarsus was so inundated with the traditions of the elders that he believed himself ‘blameless’ according to the righteousness of the law and things are no different today.
Many friends, families and dear brethren have parted ways over the observance of or the abstention from observance of customs and traditions. Most have championed crusades for and/or against these ‘holy days’ and ‘venerated observances’ trying to justify their positions that these are necessary in the proper worship of God. This is a vain attempt to worship the God of truth. God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and truth. The teaching of the commandments of man as the doctrine of God, is so that the doer may be found faithful to things highly esteemed of man, either in obedience to or abstention from, rather than the simplicity of the scriptures. “For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the tradition of man, as the washing of pots and cups, and many such like things ye do. And He said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mk. 7:8f).
The commandments of God hang on two commandments (Matt. 22:40), “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might” (Deut. 6:5) and “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:18). There is no room in these commandments for the love of the world with all its pageantry and allurement or the love of self. One is equally at fault for loving the traditions of man as the other who would piously boast of spiritual maturity by abstaining from such. (This was the case in the Corinthian church with the matter of eating meat offered to idols.) Traditions and customs are indeed some of those weights and sins which do easily beset the child of grace in his sojourn of this foreign land, because they are a part of our Adamic being, the antitheses of walking by faith and a reminder of our limitations and frailties.
Laban gave no good explanation for what he had done, save to cop the plea of ‘for tradition’s sake’. Nor did he give any consideration to the ramifications of his actions as he worshiped at the altar of the god of customs. His word was not to be trusted, his house was a den of iniquity and his business was with unjust balances. No credence should be given to his action or any justification to his deceit but, in accordance with the good pleasure of His will, Laban’s conduct is in harmony with God’s predestination of ALL things.
The same must be said for Leah’s complicity in the matter, with the enigmatic presence of the handmaid Zilpah, which Laban gave to Jacob with Leah upon the conclusion of the feast. Each and every critical element completely ordained of God including Rachel’s heartache and despair and Jacob’s response. He accepts Leah, though he never loved her nor ever would, and continues to tend Laban’s flocks for another seven years, while taking Rachel and consummating the marriage vow.
“Fulfill her week” (29:27)
Laban responds to the demand of Jacob in two parts. First he asks Jacob to confirm an oath of servitude and then complies with the original agreement. This is quite interesting coming from a man who has just defrauded his son-in-law by embellishing the terms agreed upon and beguiling him with the appearance of ‘good faith’ compliance to the terms. He has blemished his oldest daughter, who, if Jacob was to put her away according to righteousness, would be considered ‘damaged goods’ for the rest of her life and would probably live out her life as being set apart for the uncleanness found within her. He has soiled the family name by demonstrating the characteristic of being untrustworthy, which undoubtedly could have devastating ramifications on all activities and business of the family for years to come. Finally, he had disgraced Rachel who, being betrothed to Jacob as his wife, could have spent her lifetime as a divorced virgin having never consummating the vow. Now he asks Jacob to, “Confirm the oath” and agree to “another oath of years” (translated ‘yet seven other years’) for which he will, magnanimously accept the labour of his service.
Once again, Jacob is not buying a wife, he is performing her station in life while in her father’s house and in the middle of this willful servitude in which he took upon himself the form of a servant, he confirms the oath to complete her lot. He is working in her place to ‘fulfill all righteousness’ and finish the work he was sent to do, that is, ‘take him (have his dominion over) a wife’. He identifies with her, in all the feelings and infirmities of the flesh, not with prominence or glory, but in the meekness and lowliness of a servant. This is all performed for the joy that is set before him and the unfailing love which he has for her.
Thus another type of Christ is set forth. His bride was in Him from the beginning and His love for her is everlasting. He left her in the house of her (natural) father as she became partaker of flesh and blood. He came for her from up out of the wilderness, from Beth-el, (the house of God) to take back that which was His. Though she is His wife, she was not the first to be made manifest as His wife, although He had fulfilled all righteousness. The first born of this world was first set forth as His bride in the form of national Israel, though He did not love her with an everlasting love. She was not bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh and therefore she is not one with Him and cannot keep the Holy Law. The unfailing love is upon His Beloved and therefore she keeps His commandments, such is not the case of the Israel of this world.
Now, in the midst of the week, He confirms the oath with many (Dan. 9:27) and His Bride is made manifest as His wife. Both the natural bride and the true bride, the spiritual, coexist together (like two rivers flowing side by side) in His house and under His protection. He shows kindness and grace to the natural causing her to prosper and flourish in the likeness of a wife. She is the beneficiary of His goodness and His blessings as she is enlightened to His laws and commandments and she is given to taste of the heavenly gift being made a partaker of the Holy Spirit. She cannot keep His law being of the house of her father and according to the customs of the people of the land and nothing that she does can merit His love. All the while the true Bride, the Israel of our God, sits seemingly in obscurity, having all her sheep with her and her Lord over her. Thus Jesus would say to the children of the natural bride, that the true Bride, His kingdom, was hidden within as a treasure in a field, as a measure of leaven in a whole lump, as good seed sown in his field, as a grain of mustard seed sown in a field, as a merchant man seeking a pearl of great price and as a net cast into the sea to draw out that which is good. Then, after the course of the natural bride had been completed, at the end of the time of her habitation, would He be manifested as “Israel, for as a prince hast thou power with God and with man thou hast prevailed” (Gen. 32:28). Then the “Son of My right hand” would be brought forth, being born from above and the woman was taken away into the wilderness (Rev.12:14) where she would dwell with the remnant. “And at that time shall Michael (‘He who is like Jehovah’) arise, the great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people: (Dan. 12:1).
Rachel had been shamed and most likely was confused about all that was happening around her, but, as the type of the true bride, she received double at the hand of her lord. Jacob completed the service of two sets of weeks of servitude in her behalf being found faithful to the oath. So Christ likewise, being found faithful above all the house, confirmed and fulfilled the oath for His Church. “For you shame, double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion; therefore in their land they shall possess the double, everlasting joy shall be unto them” (Is. 61:7). So, for seven more years, Jacob and Rachel lived as husband and wife serving in the house of Laban, during which came the next installment of heartache into Rachel’s life.
“And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb but Rachel was barren” (29:31).
How could this be possible? It was bad enough that Jacob had spent the wedding night with her and now, as if a sign of approval from the hand of God, Leah has conceived. Rachel had seen the exposure of her father’s treachery, the abasement of her sister and now she had been restored to her rightful place as the true wife of Jacob. The only thing that remained was the divine seal of approval upon this holy matrimony with the blessing of children. But instead of the tokens of reassurance and vindication of her case for all to see, the hand of God is favorable to Leah and contrary Rachel.
There can be no question of Jacob’s virility since his marital consorting with Leah has produced an offspring. There does not seem to be anything that has dissuaded him from these same encounters with Rachel so the problem must be with Rachel. This is an example of the convoluted ideology of man’s logic which mistakenly equates gain with godliness.
Eliphaz, the friend of Job, was trying to sell this bill of goods when he instructed (without knowledge) the infirmed servant of God by saying, “Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto you” (Job 22:21). Getting right with God will be rewarded with an abundance of blessings, filled up and well shaken to overflowing for God would not withhold His goodness from those who love Him and keep His commandments. Not a God who has orchestrated all things together to His glory and honour but one who can be persuaded by feeble action and coerced by the good deeds of man. And as vociferously as the proponents of this position are, so is the animosity toward those who are disobedient and who warrant the wrath of God. The question the disciples asked Jesus, “Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2), indicates this very mindset that calamity in life is the result of a sinful act.
Many today carry on this same philosophy under the banner of ‘conditionalism’ which claims that one may be blessed for obedience and have blessing withheld for disobedience. To apply this line of reasoning to the situation that Rachel is in must, of necessity, result in the conclusion that Rachel must be in error because God had made her barren. Leah then must have been the obedient one since God had opened her womb. After all, “children are an inheritance of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Ps. 127:3). This is once again a perfect example of man’s flawed linear logic trying to explain the wonders of God.
God has ordained all things from before time was created according to the intent of the good pleasure of His will. He does not pick and choose from the events of the day and the action of man, the things which He wants and just ignores the rest, the whole concept of sovereignty demands that everything down to the minutest detail must be in complete unity or nothing will work.
God did not look down from His lofty mount and see an errant emotion, called hatred, being improperly applied to the innocent Leah, by two back-sliding children, Jacob and Rachel, and then conclude that something needed to be done lest this rogue element upset all of which He hoped would come to pass. The barrenness of Rachel’s womb was as in concert with the will of God as was the fruitfulness of Leah’s, and equally so was the reaction that each woman experienced to her condition. The hatred that Rachel felt toward Leah was as much a prescribed ingredient to the situation at hand as was Jacob’s love for Rachel. The thoughts and deeds of all parties involved in this matter were as ordered and sure as was the result. If Jacob’s hatred for Leah had resulted in an abandonment of her, a cloistering of her in isolation or a banishment of her from his presence there would have been no further physical contact and therefore no more children. It would not matter how ‘fruitful’ her womb was for without the seed of man to fertilize her seed at least five of Jacob’s sons would not have been born, including, Judah, whose lineage would bring forth David, Nathan and Jesus of Nazareth.
Likewise it would not matter how much affection Jacob could have given to Rachel, what potions, elixirs or remedies they may have tried or how many times and in what manner they would have come together conjugally because God had shut up her womb. What God had brought together, the seed of Jacob and the egg of Leah, no man could change or tear apart and what God had separated, the seed of Jacob and the egg of Rachel, no man can bring together. This is the predicament that Rachel finds herself in and the affliction she is experiencing when she cries out,
“Give me children or else I die”.
Once again, it would be so very simple to castigate poor Rachel and chide her for her lack of faith. The economy of the world’s religion and the doctrine of the friends of Job would readily develop physical, emotional and pseudo-spiritual programs designed to assist this one. Their message is a convoluted menagerie of humanism, hedonism and self confidence mixed in the caldron with mysticism, witchcraft and sorcery. It tempts the mind with worldly fame, tantalizes the senses with good feelings and rewards the flesh with the promise of a crown and victory when the subject vanquishes the foe and rids the land of the evil beast. All Rachel has to do is ‘get right with God’ and He will reward her diligence. She needs to ‘have faith and trust His word’ while ‘laying hold of His promises’ forcing Him to keep His part of the deal. Doubt is not an option and is viewed as a sign of weakness and sin. Failure will be the result of her lack of faith and her temerity to ‘name it and claim the promises of God’. Victorious Christian living is the key to the treasure house of the riches of God’s goodness. This is the sumptuous fare and imbibing drink of the people of the land and blasphemy before the throne of a sovereign God.
Patience by experience is the reality of the child of grace who is growing in the grace and knowledge of His will (2 Peter 3:18). Trials and tribulations are the soil and conditions which prove the faith and these normally take time. Moses told the Israelites to ‘stand still and see the salvation of the Lord’ as they were entrapped by the sea and it took all night long before they saw the manifestation of His hand. Rachel had waited now about 15 years and had endured much heartache and sorrow before she unleashes her frustration in this purely carnal statement. We cannot say for certain but it seems highly unlikely that a woman could die by NOT having children. Many have died in childbirth and indeed Rachel would eventually be one of these, but, short of a self inflicted death, she was in no danger of dying because God had shut up her womb.
She directs this vituperate tirade at the man who loves her and who would give his all for her. There is no indication that he had neglected her in any way or that her barrenness was held against her yet she demands of him that which he had no control over in any way shape or form. He could not make the seed join with the egg or cause the bones to form together in the womb and he reminds her of this when he angrily says,
“Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?”
And lest we leave this mirror without a complete overview of our kinship to Rachel after the flesh, she follows her frustration and anger with her situation and her castigation of Jacob in complete ignorance to the workmanship of God, with a carnal alternative solution. She takes Bilhah, her handmaid, and gives her to Jacob as a surrogate wife so that her desire for children may be met and her shame removed. She gives us a perfect example of what happens when emotions, such as anger and revenge are not restrained in the decision making process. She so vehemently hated her sister and so desperately wanted children that she ordered her handmaid to humble herself with her husband and, although at first she rejoices in the birth, she can never escape the fact that the son, whom Bilhah bore unto Jacob, was still not her child. Though she held him in her arms and loved him as her own, she was not yet a mother. God caused her to wait about another five years until she was made fruitful and conceived.
Are we to infer that these emotions, which seemed to govern her actions and served to deepen her anguish, had in some way escaped the economy of God’s government? Or should we say that when she became embittered by her circumstances and blinded by these untoward passions, that God quickly utilized them to facilitate His ultimate plan? Or perhaps the popular speculation of ignorance to say that God looked ahead in time and saw Rachel’s reaction to the events in her life and He planned His will around her conduct and feelings? These obtuse utterances may indeed satiate the itching ears of the congregants at Mars Hill but they are not found on the lips, in the minds or of the hearts of the children of the King. They know that the “Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:12f). These feelings and outbursts were, and still are today, another of the many intricate threads of the interwoven tapestry of the irrefutable will of God. The order of the birth of each child was essential historically and as types and foreshadows of the heavenly truths. The righteous house (Reuben) must be first as a type of the house of the firstborn. Hearing (Simeon) is because one is joined (Levi) unto the Father which results in the praise (Judah) of His name. Judgment (Dan) and wrestling (Naphtali) must precede the blessing of God in the assembly (Gad) and the happiness (Asher) of His abundance. The cost of His hire (Issachar), the sacrifice of His Son, and the manifestation of the struggle (Zebulun), the contradiction of sinners against Himself, must be accomplished before God reveals that all these things were because ‘Jehovah added’ (Joseph).
God was not ignorant of these thoughts or had He forgotten Rachel for in the fullness of time, “God remembered Rachel and God hearkened unto her and opened her womb” (Gen. 30:22). Nearly twenty years had expired as she learned “to be still and know that I am God” and, unless we are ‘blessed’ to endure the same, we will never know the feelings of her infirmity. But if the unfailing love of the Heavenly Father be upon us as it is unto all His children, then shall we say with all thanksgiving and reverence of His Holy name,
“It was good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71).
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
The Banner Of Hope
Volume 4, No. 4
November 11, 2010