Genesis 29 to begin advent, we are going to look at the Old Testament to understand the coming of Christ. And to that end we’ll be looking at the coming of Jesus through the birth narratives of several Old Testament women. Look through the reading of God word. If you would join me in prayer, father of all mercies in your word endless glory shine for your word guides our steps and gives therma to those who seek you. And we ask that you would grant that we would find new beauties in an ever increasing light in them this day.
Divine instructor and gracious Lord, be forever near to us. Teach us to love your sacred Word and to view our Savior here pours in his name that we do pray. Amen.
Genesis 29 beginning in verse 31 when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb. But Rachel was barren, and Leah conceived and bora’s son, and she called his name Reuben for she said, because the Lord has looked upon my affliction, for now my husband will love me. She conceived again and bora’s son and said, because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also. And she called his name Simeon. And again she conceived and Borah’s son.
And she said, now this time my husband will be attached to me because I have borne him three sons. Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and Borah’s son and said, this time I will praise the Lord. Therefore she calls his name Judah. And she ceased to bearing the word of the Lord.
The Bible is a brutally honest book. There’s no photoshopping or airbrushing of its heroes and its heroines. And there’s nothing like this in the religious literature of the ancient world. In fact, in many ways it sounds very modern. For you who are familiar with St.
Augustine’s, confession is his first autobiography. Really the first one. And it was also very unique in the same way because in it he highlighted sins and struggles that he was having, particularly with the issues of lust. And he was a wellrespected Christian bishop. Nonchristian writings were not known for this.
It was overthetop kind of language of how wonderful their hero was. Our great king, the marvelous and mighty magistrate was not defeated and retreated. No, no. He had a glorious and victorious advance to the rear, to the death of all of his enemies. That was a spin.
You heard that even a great disaster was told in such a way as it make it seem like they came out ahead. Not so. The Bible. The Bible gives us a very unvarnished account of the patriarchs and the matriarchs of God’s chosen people. So much so that later rabbis actually tried to sanitize some of these stories to put a more favorable spin on them.
Genesis is filled with sinful people, broken families, connivors trying to manipulate their way in order to get the life that they wanted.
This is also Jesus lineage. It is filled with these less than flattering accounts in Matthew and Luke. We get the genealogies, and several women are included with those. And we see that Jesus descends from Leah through Judah. And Leah, as we just read, is the unloved wife of Jacob from Tamar, a canaanite who seduces her fatherinlaw, Judah, in a very horrendous story, rehab, the canaanite prostitute Ruth, a foreign widow Bashiba, of the King David fiasco, and finally, Mary, the unwed mother.
We don’t have to look outside of Jesus’own family to see the desperate plight of humanity. The saving work of the Messiah is needed by everyone, and that includes his very own. But this is surely good news for you and I. Because we put our hope, our joy and happiness in the wrong things, in the wrong end, they disappoint us. We can search heaven and earth for what we think will give us life.
All the while, we miss Jesus, the lifegiver who is right in front of us. And because the longing of our hearts can ultimately only be satisfied in Jesus, all of our loves must be directed to him. Misplaced love, misplaced desires. We see the failures in all of this, in the people in Genesis and beyond, a failure to see that only the Lord can truly satisfy the longings of our hearts. We too easily give way to lesser motives, lesser loves, lesser desires.
A quick overview of the text and how we got there. You recall, of course, Jacob is the twin brother of Esau. Jacob is the younger, and he deceived his blindfold Isaac into giving him the family blessing instead of his older brother Esau. Now, fleeing from the murderous intent of ESA, jacob travels back to Abraham’s family, where they came from. It’s far away.
It was the very same route that Abraham had sent his servant when he was looking for a wife for Isaac. Rebecca. Things are different now. Jacob is not loaded with gold and costly gifts. He shows up to Uncle Laban’s with little more than the shirt on his back.
And we’re told Laban had two daughters, leah and Rachel. Genesis 29 tells us in verse 17, it says, Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Now, no one’s quite sure what it means to say that she had weak eyes or soft eyes, but the comparison with her sister is enough to set the scene for us. The point is the comparison. Rachel was a looker.
She has 10 million followers on her Instagram. Leah was not her Instagram, just friends and family. And everybody knew this. And we’re told Jacob love Rachel. He said, I will serve.
He’s talking to labor and his uncle. I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel. Seven years go by. Finally, the wedding. Jacob is thrilled.
The love of his life is finally his. But uncle Avon pulled a fast one. He switches out Rachel for Leah in the morning. It’s Leah, not Rachel. And Jacob, of course, confronts his uncle about all this.
And Laban responds it’s not so done in our country to give the younger before the first born. In that telling, I think it’s likely that this reminded Jacob of his own deception. The younger taking what was meant for the older, tricking his blind father. And now Jacob was deceived by the blindness of the knight in the wedding tent. And just like he had done to his father, he’s duped by a swap.
Uncle Jacob then offers Rachel for another seven years of labor. And he’s been married to the two sisters while not outrightly condemned, everywhere we see polygamy in the Old Testament. It is never presented in a good light. It ends in disaster. Like slavery, the Bible contains the seeds of its own destruction because it was never God’s original design from the fall of mankind.
Moving forward, we see a breakdown of relationships of all kinds, certainly of the marriage relationship. I appreciate Old Testament scholar Derek Kinder. He says, to love and to cherish becomes to desire and to dominate. Everything is messed up, and Genesis is just a living out of how bad it gets.
In verse 30 says jacob went into Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah and served Laban for another seven years. When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Hated is probably stronger in English than in Hebrew. Old Testament scholar Von Rad, he points out that hated is actually legal terminology from Deuteronomy 21. It means favored versus unfavored.
Some translations say unloved. Calvin speaking this, he said, when Moses asserts that Leah was hated, his meaning is that she was not as loved as she should have been. Jacob did not treat her with adequate kindness and honor. The Holy Spirit pronounces those as hated who are not sufficiently loved. And in the midst of this, the Lord had compassion on Leah.
He would also have compassion on Rachel later and give her a child. But it’s significant that Leah was not only the first. She bore six sons and a daughter. In verse 32, it says Leah concedes and Borah’s son. And she called this name Reuben for she said, because the Lord has looked on my affliction, from now on my husband will love me.
Reuben has the meaning of putting some of the words together as behold a son or see a son. The names given here are not strict etymologies. They are either words that sound like or related to various Hebrew words. So they’re not a one to one corresponding word. But with Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son, leah hopes that he will finally see her, that she will earn Jacob’s love and affection.
In her heart, she’s saying, I am the mother of your first born child. And she’s so excited she would have been one of those moms who put the sticker on the side of the family camel, you know, baby on board. You’d be like, oh, yes, I am pregnant. Oh, yes, I am. She wanted everyone to know and to see because of how thrilled she was.
But it did not move Jacob’s heart closer to her. She was not seen in the way that she wanted to. She conceived again and bore another son. Because the Lord has heard that I have hated. He has given me this son also.
And she called his name Simeon. Simeon is what it sounds like to hear from shaman. She’s hoping for a certain vindication. The Lord has heard me. He knows I’m unfavored and unwanted.
Things are now going to be different. Now Jacob will see and hear adley. He does not he neither sees nor hears her plight. In verse 34, again, she conceived and born son. Now, this time, my husband will be attached to me because I have born him three sons.
And she named him Levi, similar to attached son number three. This has got to change things. A trifecta, a hat trick. It doesn’t. Nothing changes because Jacob’s heart belongs to Rachel.
He had dreamed. He had longed for a life that did not include getting tricked into a wife he didn’t want. Leah’s heart longed to be loved and accepted for who she was. She wanted to step out of the shadow of her much prettier sister. And in all of this, Rachel is also in despair.
She’s barren. What good are her looks in a society that prizes children above everything else? She might be winning the romance battle with her sister, but she was losing the war of family and descendants. Sure, Jacob is hanging on her arm, but she sees Leah pushing the three seated baby stroller. She hears the sounds of the cries and the coos of the children, and it cuts her very deep.
Jacob was an unhappy man in his home. It was an unhappy household. His fatherinlaw connived him into 21 years of labor that he wasn’t expecting. He got out connived. Nobody here is getting anything that they wanted.
And then we get a bright spot. Verse 35. A flicker of fulfillment comes through. There we read, and she sees conceived again and Boris’s son. And she said, this time I will praise the Lord.
Therefore, she called him Judah. Then she sees bearing Judah can mean something like praise or yahweh be praised. The word praise is included in the name. You see, this time, Leah leaves Jacob completely out of the equation. She has a beautiful family, and she’s aware of the kindness that the Lord has shown to her throughout all of this.
And regarding various pregnancies, we’re told repeatedly in Genesis, the Lord opened up her womb. It was the Lord who provided family and descendants, and Leah is giving thanks for this. And so we see Leah grow through her affliction. Rather than hoping against hope for a change in Jacob, she could just praise God for his gift of grace and mercy to her. Now, don’t make too much of this, because we see just a few verses later, she’s still trying to win the I have more children than you with her sister, but still this is the advancement of where she has been.
There is growth that takes place here. And it’s interesting. At the end of Genesis, chapter 48 and 49, jacob at the end of his life, he blesses his twelve sons. And there we read, a promise of rule is given to Judah. That surprises us when we consider the favor that Joseph had with his father Jacob.
You’ll recall that he was the first son of Rachel, the beloved wife. Joseph was the favorite. But God’s grace given to Leah is that through her lineage the Messiah would come, not through the favored one. There we read, Jacob, make this pronouncement. He said, Judah, your brother shall praise you.
Your hands shall be on the neck of your enemies. Your father’s son shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s cub. The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler staff from between his feet until tribute comes to him. And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
That’s for Judah.
That’s through Leah. And these blessings and these promises still are a long ways off, because even Israel’s first king was not from Judah, but from Benjamin, King Saul, a Benjamin. Benjamin was Rachel’s second and last child. She died giving birth to Benjamin. And Saul was a result of Israel trying to get the king that they wanted, not the king that the Lord desired.
Yet it is true, Judah, that King David would come, and through David, the longanticipated King of Kings and Lord of Lords, would arrive and set the captives free. We hear that wonderful refrain in Revelation five. The elder comes and says, weep no more. Behold the lion of the tribe of Judah. The root of David has conquered Jesus.
Jesus is from Judah.
When the Lord saw that Lee was hated, he opened her womb, and that’s going to Lee also. Meet to Jesus. Now, before we get too carried away with the Lord loves, the underdog lia’s not wholly innocent in all this in some sense, she agreed to the bridal swap. She has her own sins to contend with. She has her own conniving and own manipulation as a part of this.
We read more of this in Genesis. And also the Lord had far more in mind it than just her. His grace is on all of them. The whole thing is a mess, and it takes us all the way back to Genesis. 315 in the Garden, when adminiv have fallen into sin, and the Lord begins speaking to each one of them, and he sets in motion his plan of salvation.
And they’re speaking to the serpent. He said, I will put enmity, I will put hatred between you, the serpent and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. Then it shifts. That’s plural. Then it goes to singular.
He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. From the very first fall came the plan for the one who would come. Escalations tells us in the fullness of time, born of a woman who had set us free from the tyranny of sin and death.
Now we see many things that work in this Genesis account. Jacob, the second born, the deceiver, the struggler, the manipulator. Leah, the first born, the unloved, the struggler, the manipulator. Rachel, the second born, the loved one, the struggler, the manipulator lot in common, at least with the last part. Yet one was coming who would change all this.
See, all of them were trying so hard to get what they wanted to get the life they wanted, the fulfillment of the plans they wanted. And all of them failed. All twelve sons of Israel were marked by the same grasping, the same failing. And all this is a picture of us. We see us in all of them.
And in the midst of this enters in God’s grace through the line of Leo, the rejected one, the unloved one, comes jesus. And that sounds familiar. Wait a minute, that’s oh, Isaiah 53, the suffering servant. There isaiah speaking of the Savior. For he grew up before him like a young plant, like a root out of dry ground.
He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised, rejected by men, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, as one from whom men hid their faces. He was despised. We esteemed him not Jesus. The undesirable Savior comes to those whose only contribution is in the emptiness of their outstretched hands.
That’s their only contribution. I love Martin Luther’s right hand man, Philip millenn, and he said this. He said, you contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.
That’s all we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary. The Lord is the only one who will not let you down. The goals, the dreams, the desires we have the hopes for fulfillment. They only find their fulfillment in him. You see, we are called to be a pilgrim people.
The horizon in front of us is a distant horizon. We are looking to a distant shore. And that tells us that we are to hold loosely the joys of this life. When they come, and they do come, praise the Lord. For he alone is worthy, he alone is good.
And so you can enjoy those blessings that come to you without strings attached to these other things. You can just go, thank you, Lord. And at the same time, when afflictions and hardship come, we can go an infinitely wise and merciful god has put this in my life for my benefit, even though I may not see it. And I can trust that he’s good even there, because I’ve seen from the beginning to the end, he’s got this all mapped out. And Jesus is at the centerpiece.
And no matter what happens, Jesus is right there in the middle, calling us to Himself, calling us to change our hearts that he alone can do, to reorient our desires and our affections towards Him.
And when that happens, then you can truly see these other things that we’re chasing after and put them in the right perspective. Yes, family’s a blessing, sometimes a curse, but clearly a blessing. Yes, we have joys and loves and excitement or good things, but ultimately they pale in comparison to Jesus.
That our hearts would be set not on the things of this world, of what we think will finally fill us up. Because God and his kindness will often put holes in that boat, because it will not take you where you think you should be. In the end, you will be like Leah pining for the affection of a husband who doesn’t love you, hoping for the wrong things. Until God finally reorients her heart to say, god be praise. Thank you for these gifts that you have given to me.
The Lord be prays for these blessings. And through that, the blessing for all humanity comes in the personal work of Jesus. The lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered. As we look to advent, we’re not recreating the first Christmas. It’s already come and gone.
We’re looking to the next coming. When the conquered one returns, that distant shore is brought to us. Then, and only then, will the longings of our hearts be fully satisfied.
The joy that we were created for will be completely met.
And until that time, hold loosely to the blessings of this life, giving thanks and praise for them. Hold loosely the afflictions of your life also giving thanks and pray for them, because in God’s hands, the Master Creator is at work, building in you what he has intended from the beginnings, from the foundation, from the headwaters of eternity, that you were created for Him and you were loved. Pray with me, Father. Indeed, we are so grateful that we are loved in you. And Lord, be confessed.
At times it seems hard to see. It seems hard to hear. The Father, we ask that you would open our eyes to see the wonder of our Savior, Lord, that we would be known fully in Him and through Him. And Lord, we ask that you would forgive us where we have tried to connive, tried to manipulate, Lord, where we have tried to get the things that we thought would bring us life. Father, help us to let go of those to hold tightly to Jesus, our living Savior, and whose name we now pray.
Disclaimer: Automated Sermon Transcription