Leah, the Unloved – a Christmas story

I’ve discovered a little known part to a story that often gets overlooked in the amplified fairy-tale type stories we usually like to hear.  At this time of the year, squeezed in between the endless Christmas tunes and the joyous family images we are constantly presented with, there’s a lot of heartache and loneliness for many people.  Even the psychologists have recently stated that too much Christmas music can be bad for your mental health, which reaffirms what many of us already know and feel this time of year.

This a story for all of us – a reminder for some and a hope for others.  It is about Leah, the unloved one.  I have never thought of this particular story in this way before.  If you are familiar with Bible stories, then you have probably heard of the love story between Jacob and Rachel in Genesis 28-29.  Jacob, who is also known as the father of the nation of Israel, is the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham.  Jacob fell in love with his boss’ daughter Rachel at first sight.  She was “shapely and beautiful”, while her older sister Leah had “ordinary eyes”.  It was not the custom back then for the younger daughter to be married first, so Jacob agreed to work for their father for seven years so he could marry Rachel.  After he finished the seven years, he was tricked into marrying Leah instead.  Jacob had to agree to another seven years of labor so that he may also marry Rachel, which he did.  In telling this story, we often focus on Jacob’s love for Rachel and his sacrifice, but what about Leah?  How did she feel?  She was forced into marrying a man who did not love her or want her.

As the story continues, when the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb and she produced four sons, but Rachel was unable to conceive.  Each time Leah said, “surely my husband will love me now.”  But the beautiful Rachel may have started to become bitter, because when she saw that she was not bearing any children to Jacob, she began to envy her sister Leah.  She demanded that Jacob give her children, of which Jacob became angry with her and replied, “Am I in God’s place, who has withheld children from you?”  So Rachel instructed her slave to sleep with Jacob instead, and they had a son named Dan (who is later associated with pagan practices).

Fast forward a little through the turbulent life of Jacob and his twin brother Esau, and his demanding father-in-law, until we get to the end of Jacob’s life.  He eventually has a son with Rachel named Joseph, who has an incredible story all of his own in Egypt, but this little known story is still about Leah.  On Jacob’s deathbed, he gathers all his sons together to tell them what will happen to each of them in the days to come.  As a side-note, Jacob’s twelve sons will become the twelve tribes of Israel, who later fight and split apart into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.  Jacob begins to tell each of his sons their fate – some good and some bad.  But it is Leah’s son Judah who receives the best blessing and prophecy:

Judah, your brothers will praise you.
Your hand will be on the necks of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
Judah is a young lion—
my son, you return from the kill.
He crouches; he lies down like a lion
or a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah
or the staff from between his feet
until He whose right it is comes
and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him.
He ties his donkey to a vine,
and the colt of his donkey to the choice vine.
He washes his clothes in wine
and his robes in the blood of grapes. (Genesis 49)

It is through the lineage of Leah, the one who felt unloved, from her son Judah that the line of David will come and the birth of a Savior, Jesus Christ.  And in the end, it was Leah that Jacob honored in her death by being buried with her in Abraham’s burial site.

Then Jacob commanded them: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite.  This is the field Abraham purchased as a burial site.  Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried there, Isaac and his wife Rebekah are buried there, and I buried Leah there. (Genesis 49:29-31)

If we only look at life from the short view, it can often seem very unfair and full of disappointments and sorrow.  But we must look at life with the long view in mind just as God does.  We are all beautiful in God’s eyes – with true beauty.  God has something special in mind for all of us whether we see it in this life or when we get to heaven.  I believe that Leah was loved after all.  And from her offspring, came Jesus Christ.

31 Days of the Christmas story from Genesis to John: Day 3 – God chooses a tribe

the-lion-of-the-tribe-of-judahblog

Abraham becomes the patriarch of the nation of Israel beginning around 2000 BC. His son Isaac marries Rebekah and they have twin sons Jacob and Esau. It becomes a classic family feud between the two brothers that lasts for centuries, and has a significant connection to King Herod and baby Jesus, which we will see later on in this series.  The brother Jacob is chosen by God, takes the name Israel, and has 12 sons who become the 12 tribes of Israel. The other brother Esau is angry at God, never repents, and his descendants (the Edomites) become a violent nation that is in perpetual conflict with Israel.

From Jacob’s 12 sons, the tribe of Judah becomes the line of King David and is mentioned here in this third prophecy as also being the line of the coming Messiah.

Genesis 49:1, 8-10
Then Jacob (on his deathbed) called his sons and said, “Gather around, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the days to come.

Judah, your brothers will praise you.
Your hand will be on the necks of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
Judah is a young lion—
my son, you return from the kill.
He crouches; he lies down like a lion
or a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
The scepter will not depart from Judah
or the staff from between his feet
until He whose right it is comes
and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him.”

A dying Jacob saw the day of Christ. He lived by faith in a Messiah to come. We can now live by faith in a Messiah that has already come! We can know Him. The prophecy of Jesus Christ is here.

I pray that you will know the peace that only Jesus Christ can bring – an everlasting peace full of true joy that can never be taken away.

 * Merry Christmas *

In Jesus’ Words: A Speech to the Apostles (Matthew 10:5-42)

apostles

Can you imagine hearing a speech like this one that Jesus gave to the twelve apostles?  Today when we go to church, we only want to hear the positive, uplifting messages. Otherwise we may not come back.  Clearly from Jesus’ speech below, He was not just a motivational speaker or teacher.  He had serious business to attend to.  Our very lives are at stake, and he had twelve ordinary men to tell the entire world.

~ Matthew 10:5-42  Jesus’ speech to the Apostles ~

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.  Freely you have received; freely give.”

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts – no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment that for that town.”

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you”.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”

“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight;  What is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofsDo not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.  Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.  And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Three times in Jesus’ speech he says the words, Do not be afraid”.