At some time or another we all wrestle with insecurity. Insecurity acts like emptiness. It’s a place where we feel inadequate, like something is missing. Sometimes our insecurity can cause us to cross lines we normally wouldn’t cross. We try and cover over a perceived lack, fill the void in our life, go on a quest for what we perceive to be missing. We can look for fulfillment in things like money. We may or may not have a lot of it. When things go well, we buy something. When they don’t go well, we buy something. Money becomes our fix. We sooth over our hurts with a new stereo, set of sunglasses or even just compulsive shopping spree at check out center at Walmart.
Some of us look for fulfillment in a relationship, we think that if we find the right guy or the right girl that it will fix whatever is broken so deep inside of us. We go from relationship to relationship, or we go on in a doomed relationship because we are scared to face life alone. We make compromises to please the other person, just to stay in the relationship.
I want to tell you a story about Leah. Leah had a big insecurity in her life that caused her to make big compromises. She was lonely and the people who were supposed to love and support her, like her dad, didn’t have much confidence in her. Leah just wanted to be loved and one day someone gave her the opportunity to take a short cut to have all of her dreams come true. She just had to cross a line. The kind that once you cross it, you can never come back. I don’t know how Leah felt about crossing the line, but I know that she did it… She wanted to be loved that badly. She would do ANYTHING to fill the void in her life.
It all started when her cousin Jacob came to town. He was on the run from his own family. It seems as though he had screwed over his own brother. It came time for Jacob’s father to pass on the family blessing. The family blessing, everyone knew always went to the older brother. It was a little tricky in this case though because Jacob and his brother Esau were twins and so Esau was only older by a few minutes.
Long story short, while his brother Esau was out getting things ready to receive the blessing, Jacob crept into their dad’s tent and pretended to be Esau. It wasn’t hard to deceive their dad, since his eye sight was bad, and they were in the back of a dark tent. So Jacob get’s the blessing… now blessings are the kind of thing that can’t be taken back. So when Esau finds out he is furious and threatens to kill Jacob.
So Jacob is on the run. He goes to visits his mom’s family which is where he runs into Leah, ahem… or rather Rachel, Leah’s sister. He meets her by coincidence at a well and so overcome with emotion that he has actually found is mother’s family he kisses her and says, “don’t worry I’m your cousin!” Don’t get upset. It probably wasn’t on the lips, a kiss on the cheek was a form of greeting in the Middle East and Jacob’s uncle extends the same greeting to him (Gen. 29:13)… as for the cousin thing, incest wasn’t considered taboo yet, it was actually preferred like being a royal (families wanted to keep their bloodlines pure).
Jacob stays a month working with Leah’s family and finally his uncle try’s to offer him something. So Jacob strikes up a deal… Check this out:
Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. (Genesis 29:15-20 ESV)
This is a really great love story if your name is “Rachel,” but this is a story about Leah. Do you see a hole beginning to open up in her heart? Do you see it beginning to form? All her life, since she was a little girl, like little girls do, she dreamed that one day that a prince would show up for her. He would love her! Then one day a prince does show up, but he’s not there for her. His heart pines for her younger sister!
A comparison takes place. He has looked at Leah! He rejected her! He has rejected her for her eyes! She had weak eyes. It’s written here in scripture for all to see. No guess work here. No trying to figure it out. We all know Leah had weak eyes. I wonder what this did to her self-confidence? You know back then “modest was hottest” and like many parts of the Middle East today women wore veils in most places… what’s the one thing you can still see on a woman with a burka? … The eyes! Leah is forced to parade and actually frame her biggest physical flaw around in public in a society that would have literally covered everything else. Only the people inside of Leah’s family would ever be able to see her for more than her eyes.
I don’t know if they had mirrors back then but I imagine that if they did Leah spent so much time looking in the mirror trying to figure out what to do about her eyes. It seems like every woman has a little part of them that they are self conscious about, a part of themselves that they are hyper-critical about, you might not know that a woman ever thinks that her earlobes are uneven, hips are too big, neck too long, middle toe is longer than the big toe (guys are generally more conceited and think things like… Man I look good)… But Leah’s eyes weren’t something that she alone wondered about. They were something that everyone knew. I wonder if her dad had said things like, “We will never find Leah a husband with eyes like that.” Her eyes were completely beyond her control.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. (Genesis 29:21-26 ESV)
So for seven years Leah watches this romance between Jacob and Rachel progress. She witnesses every time he brings the flowers in from the field, every deep gaze, every hand hold and something inside of her says, “I want to be loved like that!” It’s a good feeling. It’s a right feeling. But Satan is the master manipulator and can entice the heart to covet what does not belong to us. I wonder if Leah ever pretended to be Rachel? I wonder if she ever pretended that the flowers were for her?
Then comes the day of the wedding and Leah’s father offers her a solution to her problems. “You want to be married don’t you? Well today is your day. I know this man thinks he is marrying your sister, but today he is actually marrying you! All you have to do is play along until morning.”
There is that line we talked about and Leah’s toes are right at the edge of it. I don’t know if she was resistant to the idea? She may have been so defeated that her dad would stoop so low. Not only is He deceiving Jacob, but he is basically saying, “the only way Leah will ever get married is if we trick someone into it.” That has got to sting. Maybe she was so envious watching the romance between her sister and Rachel bloom that she went to her father and demanded it… The bible is silent here, but we do know that for whatever reason Leah crossed the line that night.
I don’t know what they did with Rachel? I don’t know if they locked her away in a closet somewhere crying while her soon to be husband made love to her sister? I don’t know what it must have been like to be Leah sneaking into a dark tent, pretending to be someone she’s not? I don’t know what lies she sold herself to make her think that this was ok? But I do know that she did it. And there in the most intimate moments between two people she offers herself to him. I don’t know if there were tears of remorse for what her sister might feel toward her after this night?
Maybe she sold herself the lie that once he enjoyed her body he would forget about Rachel and he would love her? Maybe she thought she would have trapped him somehow, after all the marriage would be consummated, he would legally be her husband… Marriages are the kind of thing that can’t be taken back. He would have to love her!
But then morning comes and all is made known… her dream quickly unravels into a nightmare. Are there any more damning words in all of scripture than these, “and behold, it was Leah.” The guilt, the disgust, the betrayal, all wrapped up into her name. Jacob wakes up and instead of holding her closely, he runs out to have an argument with her dad. He has been tricked, he has been deceived.
Laban an intelligent man notes the irony here for Jacob. “In our country we take care of the first-born, first.” This reminds Jacob of how he usurped his brother. About how he too entered a tent pretending to be someone he wasn’t. Deep in the back of a dark tent, where the light is dim, the shadows deceive and the eyes are easily tricked into seeing what they want to believe. Jacob himself had used this play to steal a fortune and now Leah had used his signature move to secure a husband. So another deal is struck
Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years. (Genesis 29:27-30 ESV)
Leah’s dreams of being loved come crashing down. She has become a permanent third wheel. She is married to a man who will always be more in love with her sister. He will always look at her as the one who tricked him. He will never trust her. The love story for her sister get’s compounded because now Jacob was willing to work fourteen years for her… not just seven. Add to that the fact that their love story survives the deceit of Leah and her dad! Leah is still unloved, her heart still broken.
When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a 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 bore a 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. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. (Genesis 29:31-34 ESV)
Back in this day, the ability to have kids was a sign of divine blessing. Leah is quick to conceive children and she thinks that her status as a mom will help win her husband’s heart. Not only does she have children, but she is giving birth to little boys… The tent is now full of “little Jacobs.” Surely she thinks that Jacob will see which wife is capable of producing these little men in his image and he will love her. Three times she gives birth. The first two times there is a call out to God, “Because the LORD.” She see’s these kids as a blessing from God AND as a way for her husband to love her.
Have you ever tried to bargain with God? Her heart aches, “God if you just get him to love me, I’ll raise these boys right. I’ll serve you. Please God let him see past that night, past the hurt, past the hate. Heal our marriage. God I want him to love me! Use these boys to help him love me.”
With the last of the three there is no more reference to God. Her true motives have come out. No more masking it. She sees her children as the ticket to her husband’s love. Maybe the only reason he comes back to bed anymore is to produce more offspring? She is valued only for her ability to produce children. She is not a treasure, but a means to an end… And this is how she begins to see herself, someone to be loved not for who they are, but for what they do.
Do you see the progression in the statements here. With the first son, she is looking for love. With the second, she is looking not to be hated. With the third she just wants an attachment… something…anything!
What do you do when your whole identity is wrapped up in something, but leaves you unfulfilled? What happens when you get what you wanted (a husband) but it’s not what you wanted (he doesn’t love you)? What happens when happily ever after isn’t so happy?
Finally there is a moment in Leah’s life where she comes to a place of brilliant clarity. At the end of a long road of searching, desperately wanting and coming up short she finds a place of contentment. She finds her identity in a place that cannot be shaken or taken from her. She finds peace.
And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.
(Genesis 29:35 ESV)
Do you notice the difference here? This time, it’s all God. She has found a place to be content. No more, “maybe my husband will love me.” She has found her identity in God alone. Her good days and bad days aren’t based on how Jacob treats her anymore. She’s found some freedom here. The birth of this son causes her to utter and cry out what amount to, “Soli Deo Gloria… to God alone be the glory.” Leah has learned a secret.
Your heart will never truly be satisfied until it is satisfied in God alone. As long as you are trying to make bargains with God you will always end up desperate and wanting. You will think and scheme of ways to get what you want, make compromises, and do things you swore you would never do… but you will never be satisfied that way.
The prophet Jeremiah said it like this:
for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13 ESV)
A cistern was like a well. Imagine going back over and over again to a water facet for water… the only catch is it is not attached to any plumbing and therefore there is no water. It is just a fixture, it cannot satisfy! That’s what the prophet Jeremiah is saying here. We’re going to the wrong facet! You will never be fulfilled by things like money, clothes, or even relationships. Those things weren’t made to fill you up. The only way to find true peace and fulfillment is through a real relationship with God alone.
The Psalmist said it this way:
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.(Psalms 37:4 ESV)
The only way for your heart to have what it desires most and truly be satisfied is to desire the right thing. There is a reason that earthly pleasures are temporary in nature. You were never meant to be truly fulfilled by these things. You were meant to be fulfilled in God alone. Our hearts know that they lack and they are thirsty. Thirsty for a relationship with God, but we try to cram them full of small temporary things hoping that it will satisfy, but it never does.
Now you may not know this, but Leah was a princess. She wasn’t a princess through her father, but rather through one of her sons. You see this fourth son Judah would start a tribe and from his children’s children there would one day come a king David and according to the line of David there would come the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s King Jesus himself.
Leah didn’t know it at the time, but all the while that she was wrestling with the insecurity that comes with weak eyes and watching a torrid love affair unfold between her sister and her cousin, she was God’s choice. He loved her more than she ever could have imagined. While she was pinning for the love of Jacob, she was already deeply loved. And maybe she already knew that in a head knowledge sort of way, the kind of way that you dismiss and say, “Well that’s all and good but I still feel deeply lacking.” God was just waiting, waiting for her to come to him, as he knew she would, no more begging him to fill her empty facet with water… This time coming to drink from the well he had already provided. The well that was deep enough to meet her every need.
Jesus Said it like this:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
So I feel compelled to ask you. Where are you going to get filled up?