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Jacob had a little problem. Jacob had wanted to marry Rachel, but had been tricked into marrying Leah, too. But even though he’d been tricked, he was not going to break his marriage covenant with Leah. Marriage is a covenant promise you make before God, and he knew we should not break our promises. So Jacob had Leah as his wife, but he also married Rachel just as he had promised her he would.
But now, Leah had a problem. She was jealous. Jacob was taking care of both Leah and Rachel as his two wives. But he’d worked very hard to marry Rachel, and he did like her more than Leah. Leah let this hurt her feelings, and she got jealous.
It’s true that Rachel had a special gift of being loved by Jacob. But when God noticed that Leah wasn’t loved like Rachel, He gave Leah a special gift, too — children.
Leah had a baby boy. She named him Reuben and said, “God saw I was miserable and felt sorry for me. Surely Jacob will love me now that I have a son!”
(Uh-oh, these are not the right seeds to plant. Leah should choose to be grateful for the gift God had just given her and not be consumed with trying to make Jacob like her more. God warns us that these kinds of seeds will cause bitterness to grow, bitterness that hurts others. Watch and see where this path leads.)
Later, Leah had another baby boy. She named him Simeon and said, “God heard I wasn’t loved, so he gave me this baby, too.” (Oh, no… more bad seeds.)
Then, she had another baby boy. She named him Levi and said, “At last. Now Jacob will really love me because I’ve given him THREE sons.” (More bad seeds.)
Leah was complaining about not being loved, but she wasn’t being loving. True love wants the best for other people, not yourself. If she wanted to be loved, she should have started by just loving other people!
Then Leah had another baby boy. She said, “I’m going to name you Judah, and this time, I’m going to praise God.” (Finally, there’s a good seed!)
Now Leah had four boys, but Rachel had a problem. She was jealous now. Rachel watched as Leah had baby boy after baby boy after baby boy, but Rachel hadn’t had any children yet!
Rachel wondered, “If Leah has all the children for Jacob, and I don’t have any, Jacob might stop loving me. Then Leah will have all the babies, and she’ll have Jacob’s love and attention!”
This is terrible! What should these ladies have done instead? I think you know, don’t you?
That’s right. They should have LOVED each other! They should have been happy for each other! They should have acted as one BIG FAMILY without jealousy or comparison.
Rachel should have been grateful she was loved, and Leah should have been happy for Rachel.
Leah should have been grateful that God had given her children. And Rachel should have been happy that Leah had children.
They let their jealousy steal so many smiles and laughs that they could have shared together, didn’t they? Do you think Rachel could smile and laugh and enjoy Leah’s children with all that knotted up jealous sin in her heart? No.
What about Leah? Do you think she could smile and enjoy Rachel and Jacob’s company with all that comparison and jealousy? No.
And poor Jacob was right in the middle of it all. Neither one of the ladies was doing a good job of loving him, or they would have stopped their jealous nonsense, which was probably making him the most miserable of all.
But all these “little problems” could have been resolved with a whole lot of love for each other. Because Love, Love, Love will fix just about all such “little problems.” Try it!
Rachel told Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die.” This made Jacob mad. Rachel was way out of line. She was completely consumed with having a baby! (You’ll find out later that when we let things like this consume us, it’s an idol in our lives — something that we’ve put in the place of God.)
Jacob scolded Rachel, “I am not God! He’s the one who decides if you have children or not.”
But Rachel kept on being consumed with wanting a baby. She said, “Jacob, take my servant Bilhah as your wife, too, and have babies with her. That will be my way of giving you babies, too.”
So Jacob took Rachel’s servant as his wife, too. She had a baby boy named Dan, and Rachel said, “God has taken away my shame by giving me a son.”
Then Rachel’s servant had another baby boy. Rachel named him Naphtali and said, “I have competed with my sister, and now I have won!”
When Leah saw that Rachel’s servant was having babies for Jacob, the competing continued. Leah gave her servant Zilpah to Jacob, so she could have babies.
Zilpah had two more sons for Jacob: Gad and Asher.
Children, this is so yucky and waaaay out of control! Rachel and Leah weren’t just being jealous of what the other had, but now they were comparing and competing, too! Why couldn’t the sisters just enjoy what they had and be happy for each other? Why did they have to keep track of who had more? Feeling loved or having children are Gifts from God — something to thank Him for, not something to compare and fight over! That is so YUCKY!
And remember, when you’re jealous, it always feels like someone else has the better thing than you! But even if you were to “trade places” with the person you were jealous of, you would still be jealous. Because jealousy is a sin of the heart that can’t be fixed by getting what you think you want. Jealousy is only fixed by turning to God and being Grateful and Loving.
This continued until Leah had two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, and also a daughter named Dinah.
Now Jacob had 10 sons and one daughter. But Rachel still hadn’t had her own baby.
At this time, God considered Rachel and decided to answer her prayer. So Rachel had a baby boy named Joseph. And later, God gave her another son named Benjamin.
You’ll hear more about Jacob’s twelve sons, and especially Rachel’s sons Joseph and Benjamin. But in the meantime, learn a lesson from these sisters:
They thought that what one sister had, the other should have too, but that’s just not true. When you feed jealousy and comparing, and keep track of who has “more things” or “better things”, it only makes you and those around you miserable. Without a heart of gratitude, whatever good things you DO GET, will never be enough for you. Let what God gives you be ENOUGH, ENOUGH, ENOUGH for you, and THANK HIM for it.