“There are four keys of which God has his hand, he entrusts neither with the angel nor seraphim; the clouds, the heart, the grave and the womb.”
We rarely take note of how patterns of spiritual warfare can affect the lineage of a family tree. Many are the times we assume that since it affected a past family member then its normal when it occurs again. In this case, we learn a pattern trickling down Abraham’s genealogy. Third generation of infertility catches up with Jacob’s second wife who was Rachel. The first precedent is observed when Abraham and Sarah struggle for years to have a child. Despite his wife’s doubt, God who is gracious fulfils His affirmed vow to His faithful servant. At the appointed time, the promise manifested, and they had their son Isaac in old age. However, at some point before the birth of Isaac. Sarah weary of waiting, exercises her own ‘wisdom’ based on a sceptic heart. She tries to help God in speeding up the process. Hence, offering Abraham her servant Hagar. Genesis 16:1-2 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” At the end it is clear that man-made plans are never concrete as the results are birthed from a short-sighted perspective. Ishmael is born, his existence later breeds rivalry between the two women. The next couple we see to battle the same fate are Rebecca and Isaac. Genesis 25:21 “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. Jacob and Esau came after twenty years of waiting.
Later in line we meet a memorable love story between Rachel and Jacob. This story is unique because the element of true love is displayed leaving no doubt. Genesis 29:20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Nonetheless, the plot takes an interesting twist; whereas after time had elapsed and Jacob went ahead to lay claim on his prospective wife. Just like he deceived his father in giving him Esau’s blessings, his father in law duped him and handed over Leah instead. Realizing that there is no way out, he willingly agreed to work for another 7 years in exchange for Rachels hand. The depth of Jacob’s love for Rachel is undeniably deeper and beyond human explanation. The bible further describes it as the love that grew greater after he made her his wife.
However, despite her outer beauty which ‘alludes to the shining of her countenance’. Rachel’s inner beauty comes into question when she faced with the struggle of infertility. She knows she is in position of power unlike her sister Leah she has Jacob’s heart. Genesis 29:31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Even though Leah could bear children, her marriage to Jacob was loveless. Roots of bitterness, strife and envy is buried inside Rachel’s heart which is directed towards her unloved sister. Her attitude seems perplexing, she has Jacobs heart and all the toiling Jacob is doing is because of her. While her sister on the other hand has nothing other than her children. Personally, this is a situation that would break any woman’s heart. To know for a fact that the father of your children has no affection towards you. Worst of all, is that he prefers another woman and, in this case, your own sister over you. It is the kind of rejection that bleeds one’s heart dry. God who is JUST sees all this and blesses Leah so that it can all balance. But Rachel’s mindset prevents her from having a happy life, she is desperate to be satisfied with becoming a mother. Jealousy and rivalry are bred between the sisters, this competition comes out evident through the naming of their children.
From a human perspective with all our fleshly desires, apart of me understand Rachel predicament. However, with more spiritual insight and wisdom allow me to say that Rachel was short-sighted, ungrateful and driven by human ambition of wanting all the glory. She lacked compassion; it was either all or nothing. My understanding is that both ladies had no option as they were bound by customs and tradition. Their father Laban had the power to exercise who gets married first, plus nowhere do we see any indication of Leah wanting Jacob. I doubt Leah or Rachel could overrule their father.
One thing stands out; Jealousy where an absence of contentment cripples the soul. Lack of satisfaction on Rachel’s part eventually mirrors the same pattern of conversation between Jacob’s grandparents Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 16:1-2). Genesis 30:1-3 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” 2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” 3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.” She was not just content with Jacob’s heart alone, she wanted desperately to rival her sister. This is revealed more on how she named the children of Jacob and her maid Bilhah. One can deduce that she was after her sister more than her husband. She painted a picture of how you can surpass me after all this… It’s a competition and I must win. From Rachel you realize physical beauty in nothing without a pure heart to accompany it. She never even loved her sister’s children. she was more concerned with what she lacked; her judgement clouded what she already had. Her spotlight was hers and hers alone. Instead she offers her maid so she can have her ‘own’ children. Eventually God remembers her, and she gives birth to her first son Joseph. But still, she lacks gratitude even before God who has been merciful to bless her. She instead names her son not with praise but with an entitled spirit ‘God will add her’. That was her expectation that God will fill her quiver with more arrows … Given her time of wait her first instinct should have been to dedicate her son to God but even at the point of delivery she still yearned to surpass her sister. We later see childbirth kills her at the birth of her second son Benjamin. I believe her approach towards her cup was half empty. Such a heart can never give thanks and praise to God. They are filled with pride for their reputation. The motive behind them asking for a blessing is to gloat towards others. They can have a whole world at their feet but will still be envious of the little their neighbour has. They have a spirit willing to die yet have what will glorify their reputation. Her physical beauty did not match her heart, which matters most.
When I look at Rachel am reminded of Hannah’s attitude while waiting. I see two ladies in similar situations however one with spiritual insights while the other is walking in flesh. The story of Leah verses Rachel is divinely ordained by a God who is most wise, holy and just. Eventually He brings out the good out of the evil. It is good to note that many of us strive for what we think will awe us just like Rachel’s heart. Thus, missed opportunity to rest in the contentment; misplaced worship hoping to find peace.
“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back; lengthen your cords,strengthen your stakes.
3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.