“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.”
“…and he also loved Rachel more than Leah.”
“Now therefore, my husband will love me.”
“Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved…”
“Now this time my husband will become attached to me…”
“Now I will praise the LORD.”
Billy Graham once said “the mountains are great for vision, but in the valley is where the fruit is grown.” Leah’s story is one of (brief) time on the mountain, followed by many years in the valley.
Take the time to read this story, I mean really take the time. Put on Leah’s sandals for an hour or three and think what she thought and allow yourself to feel what she may have been feeling and I believe you’ll begin to see what Brother Graham meant.
Leah, the one whose name means “tender eyed” was a bride and although it seems this story may only apply to the women in the church, looking closer we may see that it applies to us all.
Rachel means “Ewe” which speaks of a sheep able to reproduce. She’s mature.
“Tender eyed” could mean that she had soft eyes and there was tenderness about her. It could also mean that she was frail as a person and needed to be handled with tenderness. Most translators say that “tender eyed” meant that she was rather plain; not having been graced with her sisters’ ravishing good looks, Leah was perhaps “hard on the eyes.” I tend to think the last one would be a better perspective, although I don’t personally care for it.
In the Body of Christ, His bride, there are more Leah’s than there are Rachel’s. It’s not a judgment, it’s simply a fact and when I say this I don’t mean to imply that this also doesn’t apply to the men. Male or female, in a way we won’t understand until heaven, we men are Leah’s too and as much His bride as our female counterparts.
We are, for the most part, “hard on the eyes” and we surpass the depths of being just plain. There isn’t much about us that makes us lovable and the affects this has on us adds sorrow on an already heavy burden of being “tender eyed.”
The desire to be loved has been with and “in” man since creation. Sin may have corrupted most everything else about us, but the one thing left after the Adam-bomb fell in Eden is our desire to be loved. With that, we all have a deep need for something else which could be thought of as love’s “twin sister” and that is…acceptance. Accepted for who we are, just as we are.
At this very moment there are 6.5 billion people on this planet and absolutely every one of them have a “deeper than can be described” need to be loved. It’s the “he has put eternity in their hearts” of Ecclesiastes 3:11.
We know there has to be more to life and love than just this, and although we may not know it, it’s Him we are craving. Sin, that wretched choice to be independent, sends us looking for love anywhere and everywhere and from some one other than He who is love and He who has ensured that (sin excepted) there is still within us a desire for love.
There is nothing greater and nothing more potent than love. Our unsaved neighbors will kill for it, steal for it and lie to keep it. There isn’t a moral boundary so sacred that they’ll not cross it if there is love to be had on the other side. We all know this to be true, we’ve been there.
Some of us have crossed that boundary and although it was sin, God has been gracious and our mate made the crossing with us, back to the other side. Most of us have had to say “good bye” to the one we had hoped was our soul mate and cross into the kingdom alone.
Leah crossed the threshold of marriage honorably and in purity. Just as we did when we first came into the kingdom; our sins were washed away by the blood of the Lamb, we were robed in His righteousness and have been made clean (purified) by the washing of the water of the Word. We became the Betrothed of the Beloved and look forward to our own wedding day.
Look back at Leah’s life and see if you can’t see your own in hers.
To a Hebrew woman, a Jewish wife it was considered a curse if the wife didn’t bear children, or to put it in other scriptural terms, if she didn’t (you may want to hang on to something), if she didn’t “bear fruit.” Sound familiar? I’m sure it does. It’s a message said in either thunderous tones or lightning like condemnation that we are to bear fruit and it’s echoed throughout Christendom.
Now, I realize that Jesus said almost the same thing, but I suggest He said it in a different way than most of us say it today and He, the author of the Word, certainly knows the story of Leah and it would seem reasonable that when He spoke of fruit, He had this story woven in the fabric of His words. He also has another secret to bearing fruit, but I’ll let that secret unfold itself for you.
Look again at “tender eyed” and notice two things in her story. Maybe we’ll discover more as we travel together, but for now I see two interesting themes. One theme hints at bondage while the other shouts “freedom!”
Here was a young woman who desired the love of a man. You ladies can perhaps relate to her a little better than us men, but think back to your wedding day. Male or female, the day of one’s wedding is one of the grandest days of our lives.
Days, weeks, perhaps months and years of planning have gone into that one day. That one day when the one you love will be yours in ways they couldn’t have been before. Invitations go out. Families who didn’t know each other gather around and because it’s your day, they act as if they’ve known each other for years. They look, talk and act like they’ve been friends since before you were even born.
Your heart is beating so fast, if it weren’t for the promise of love, you’d probably have a cardiac episode, but there has never been a day when you felt more alive. Your desire to be loved is about to be the dream you’d hoped one day would come true.
The air is vibrant, no, it’s electric, no, it’s magic, no, it’s heaven! If there were ever a day when you could sing more beautifully than the angels who worship God, this is that day.
As wonderful as all of this is, hang on, someone is about to pull the emergency brake on your lover’s locomotive and you are about to run into a wall. It’s not you he loves, it’s Rachel.
Believe it or not, you’ve been there. We all have, some of us are still there. If you are no longer there, can you say “amen” as you continue to read? If you are there now, keep reading, the story gets darker but that’s the way of God. I’ll explain.
When you were first “born again” there was a grand celebration, not just the angels of God were celebrating, but there were folks who gathered around you at church. They talked to you like you’d known each other for years. The air was vibrant and it seemed as if heaven had come to earth. For the first time in your life you really felt as if maybe you could be loved after all, tender eyed as you are.
But, this is where the difficulty comes in.
Now that the wedding, the union, is over, it’s time to “bear fruit.” You are not the newlywed anymore and rather than the pastor/preacher/teacher talking about your husband (Jesus Christ) and you, he nearly demands that you bear fruit. He’ll even use your Husband’s own words to condemn you for not being fruitful. It’s a tremendous burden and unfortunately, the story of Leah is being lived around the world and in more lives than I care to consider.
But, there’s another problem about to surface, in Leah’s life and in ours as well. Rachel is loved and we are not. Jacob loved Rachel because of her outward appearance and it didn’t matter to him that she was barren; it was enough for him that she pleased his eyes. A rich man can park his Mercedes in the parking lot, walk into the church wearing his expensive shoes, designer clothes and even carry his expensive study bible into church and it doesn’t matter if he’s fruitful. He just has the “look.”
There are people among us who are “ewes” but because they have the ability to bear fruit, no one says anything when they don’t. It’s enough that they are mature.
That’s one side of this awful gem, but there’s another facet we need to consider and as unpleasant as the last one was, this one is worse by far.
It’s when we begin to feel like the Lord “loves them more than He loves me.” The rich man may have walked in through the door of “flesh” but Satan walks in through the door of our soul breathing lies, saying “God loves them more than He loves you.” Sending a fiery dart deep into our intellect, will and emotions, this is our soul. He can never gain access to our spirits, but he’ll wreak havoc on our souls until he is exposed in the light of the Word.
Leah is about to do what we have done for years and although this story is getting darker by the minute, there’s a glorious sun about to rise in your heart. Cry if you must, but by all means, keep reading. It gets better, I promise you! The Son is about to rise in your heart!
Because we desperately want and need to be loved and accepted, we’ll do anything. Anything at all. People have died, nations have waged war and children have been abandoned for love. History is filled with story after story of the beautiful and horrible things men and women have done in order to be loved.
Leah’s was an arranged marriage, just as our marriage to Jesus Christ was. We use the word “predestined” and although some like to make this a theological term and thoroughly muddy otherwise crystal clear water with it, predestination means our wedding was prearranged. The Father chose us for His Son before we were born.
The problem is, we don’t know that. Leah was overwhelmed by love; just the thought of being loved was enough to blind her to the fact that her wedding was a mistake. It would seem as if she was so determined to be loved that she never took the time to ask Jacob if he loved her. We do the same thing. We just assume that the Jacob’s around us love us.
We are so used to the “love of man” that we don’t take the time to ask, we just assume we are loved. But, the love of man comes with a price and most of us are all too willing to pay it. The love of God has a price, a dowry, but the Son paid it on Calvary. We may know this with our heads, but love dwells in the heart. It’s not enough to have “coal” in the attic if the furnace is in the basement.
Leah wanted the love of her man. We do that too. We want the people we go to church with to love and accept us. But we begin to get the impression that if we don’t bear fruit soon enough, they won’t love us the same way they did on our wedding day; the day we were born again, betrothed, if you will.
Rachel, the ewe, is able to bear fruit, so…
So, what do we do? We start “pumping out babies” so they’ll love us. We bear fruit, but for the wrong person and for the wrong reasons. But, it’s not what the bible refers to as “fruit that remains” (John 15:16). It doesn’t last long and pretty soon, we are having another baby, so to speak.
Sunday after Sunday we hear that we are to “go and bear much fruit” but no one’s telling us that in order for a married woman (you and me) to bear fruit, we need our Husband, Jesus Christ.
It just comes across the pulpit in a way that makes this “fruit bearing” sound like the gospel isn’t really good news, it’s more like artificial insemination. There’s a wife, but no mention of the union with her husband to produce fruit. We’re just told to do it and if we don’t, well, we must not be real Christians. Tell me the Devil doesn’t go to church!
We’ll tear our bodies up trying with all our might to be loved and accepted. This is the bondage I said had been hinted at. The bible says “the fear of man brings a snare” and this is a snare so many of us are bound by. We fear the rejection of Jacob (the people we are joined to) and we see the maturity of Rachel, so in order to be loved, we put our bodies through one “pregnancy” after another trying to get them to love us.
Leah learned this lesson later than she needed to. But it’s been written so we can certainly learn from it now. How so? And what did you mean by “it gets darker and that is the way of God?”
Leah bore a son whom she named Judah. Judah means “praise” and it’s when we realize that there is one who loves us more than Jacob ever could. It’s Him we praise; “we love Him because He first loved us” and there will come a time when you stop bearing fruit to please the Jacobs’ in your church.
You’ll worship and it will be “the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 says that praise is fruit too. We don’t hear that often enough. Judah may not be enough for Jacob, but Judah/”praise” is enough for Jesus.
Jesus descended from the tribe of Judah and He is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Now you may see that this picture, this story got darker and darker, but there comes a time in the scripture and in our lives when it gets darker than dark; it is that time when the Son rises and we see Him clearly. This is the way of God. Just as a jeweler will lay a black velvet cloth down before he brings out the gem, there are times our God does the same thing for us. The contrast between the two adds to the beauty of the treasure.
So, Leah, tender eyed as you are, leave Jacob to Rachel and spend your time raising Judah. As you worship the Lion of the tribe of Judah, you’ll see the Lamb of God and then what? Luke 1:31, that’s what!
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”
Who’s the ewe now? Well, ewe are!
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I am glad to read this article. The church I attend teaches that the fruit you are to bear, is the people you invite to church,who then receives Jesus as their Savior. If you don't bring a soul to Christ, you are considered to be barren, so you are considered to be less of a christian because you never won a soul (or bear fruit)for Christ. This article helped to clear my understanding.