God’s Gift Of Love

Introduction

Favorite love song? Favorite love story?

Describe the plot to EVERY Hallmark Christmas movie?

What makes a love story interesting? They invite us into the reality of love in a broken world. They often remind us that our love is imperfect as well.

God gave Jacob a gift of love (Gen. 29:13-20)

13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak,but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

There is something within us that seeks to be loved. God often grants that to us through His grace.

In what ways does God bring love into our lives?

Although God graciously allows love to enter into our lives, it is imperfect and flawed. The flaws we experience in our earthly love reminds us that perfect love is found only in the gift of Jesus.

It must be noted that this love was a providential gift of God. Love is not something given to us through luck or chance. It is a gift of common grace from the Lord.

“This timing was the work of the loving sovereign God who was leading all the way (cf. 24:27). The fact that the meeting took place at a well is significant because a well was often associated with God’s blessing (cf. 16:13–14; 21:19; 26:19–25, 33).”*

What does God’s gift of love do for Jacob?

It changes our perspective. It motivates us.  It sustains us. We see this expressed in our relationships with others–spouses, parents, children, close friends–but we see it more clearly, more beautifully, more powerfully in Christ.

God’s love is persistent through trials (Gen. 29:21-30)

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast.23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. 24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 25 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?” 26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.”28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.)30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.

Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall after the honeymoon night?

Ironically, the deceiver,  Jacob, was deceived by his new father-in-law.

What are the parallels between this story and the story of Jacob stealing Essau’s blessing? — motif of the firstborn, the exploitation of desires, deception

“Jacob’s anger was to no avail. Now, as the object of trickery, he would understand how Esau felt. Laban offered a technicality of local custom: it is not right to marry the younger … before the older. Those words must have pierced Jacob! In his earlier days he, the younger, had deceptively pretended before his father to be the older brother (chap. 27). If social convention were to be set aside, it should be by God, not by deception. Laban’s stinging words were left without any comment; the event was simply God’s decree against Jacob.”**

 

Why would God want Jacob to experience this deception?

God shows love to the unloved (Gen. 29:31-35)

31 When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.32 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.” 33 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. 34 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. 35 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.

In the previous verses, we usually focus on the pain of Jacob, however, v. 31-35 give us a glimpse of Leah’s suffering though this process.  Leah is innocent in this endeavor, she simply followed the wishes of her father and the custom of her day. Yet, Jacob did not love her, he loved her sister. It’s the exact opposite of a Hallmark movie. You can see her anxiety through the names of her children.

Reuben – “See, a son!”

Simeon – “One who hears”

Judah – “Praise the Lord”

Leah understood her children as being a gracious gift from the Lord in the midst of difficulty.

The greatest act of love by God toward humans isn’t the giving of earthly goods but the giving of Himself in Christ so that we might become reconciled to Him. 

This is uniquely Christian. Other world religions do not have a God who loves them in the midst of failures, but our God does!

QUES: How do we as believers show love to those who may feel unloved?

* Allen P. Ross, “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 75.

** Allen P. Ross, “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 75–76.

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