Scripture Reading: Genesis 29:16-18; 31-35

The romantic story of Jacob and his two wives never loses its appeal. After fleeing from Esau and meeting God at Bethel, Jacob reached Haran and at Laban’s well he met his cousin Rachel drawing water for the sheep.

It was love at first sight for Jacob and his love remained firm unto Rachel’s death in giving birth to her second child. Going to work for his Uncle Laban, Jacob was offered wages in return for service rendered, but he agreed to serve Laban for seven years on the condition that at the end of the period, Rachel should be his wife.

At the end of the specified period however, Jacob was cruelly deceived by his uncle. As it was a custom of the time to conduct the bride to the bedchamber of her husband in silence and darkness, it was only with the morning light that Jacob discovered that he had been deceived by Laban as he saw Leah and not Rachel at his side. That is why we have this famous phrase, ‘Lo and behold it was Leah’. Laban excused his unrighteous act by saying that the younger girl could not be given in marriage before the first-born, and Jacob covenanted to serve another seven years for Rachel.

Leah is one of the few women in the Bible of whom it is specifically reported that she was not particularly beautiful. Her ‘tender-eyed’ feature was in fact slightly abnormal. Maybe she was a little bit squint. I don’t know. Pastor Lily said probably Leah has no double eye-lid. Honestly I wonder if Pastor Lily said that because she thinks she herself is like Leah because she has no double eye-lid. Leah is definitely not ugly. But she is not pretty either. Some commentator says that Leah’s eye lacked the luster that attracts boys. For some girls their eyes sparkles and boys are hypnotized. Well Leah has none of that. I only know that Leah was intensely grieved by her unattractiveness. She is very ordinary in her look. To put it correctly she has no loveliness.

There are many people who feel that they have no loveliness and they feel that they are losing out in life and it has affected them badly. There are many people who are in the position of Leah whose feature, maybe not the eye, maybe not just the physical body but other traits or characteristic that makes us unattractive to others. It could be our personality, our make-up. Maybe we are just dull people. Coupled with that we have too strong a character that others don’t like to get near us; we are outspoken. Maybe we are too capable. Even our capabilities are a deterrent or a threat to others. Suffice to say, like Leah, we have something aesthetically repulsive about us and for that reason we are always less delightful to others. We are rejected and unwanted.

The name Leah means ‘weary’. Her natural disposition, personality or temperament brings years full of insult heaped upon injury and her trials must have seemed to stretch endlessly. Thus her name is ‘weary’ because wearily she went through life. Leah truly loved Jacob but was not reciprocated. Have you ever truly loved and respected someone and wanted love so much but you never really receive it? She was not loved and even from the one she wanted so much to receive love, only wanted her because she can produce sons. There are people that don’t love you but they want your fruits. They want your blessings. They come to you at times because you are fruitful, because of what you can give to them. They make use of you. Like Leah we are constantly inclined to ask ourselves, ‘Why am I not loved?’ ‘Why couldn’t I be more beautiful’? Isn’t it not a sin to be wanted, to be loved or to want to be beautiful?

Leah was a product of the environment she was in. Laban, her father was an idol worshipper, a paganistic man. Laban dealt deceitfully and she participated in that very deceit probably because of her eagerness to win a love from someone. But we can learn some beautiful truths about Leah:

1 A Miraculous Faith Planted in Leah’s Heart

Scriptures offer a sacred comfort to the Leahs of today. There is an important pursuit we must have in order to achieve the success of Leah. Leah had one thing. She put her faith in God. Somehow God had miraculously planted faith in Leah’s heart. Why did Rachel want so much the idols of her father, whereas Leah would have none of it?

I believe she saw something in Jacob and God had miraculously planted faith in her heart. I pray that this morning, you’ll see something in this church, among the believers and let God plant a miraculous faith in your heart.

Because with that faith, your journey in life is taking on a very different course from any other people on earth and it is going to be very adventurous. Please remember that Leah came from a family that worshipped idols. Her father was not a good man. There was sibling rivalry. There was unfairness in the family. She was being made used of by her father. People used one another in the family. Morality was low in the house. But one day she made a choice. She said to Jacob, ‘Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we not counted of him strangers? For he hath sold us, and hath quite devoured also our money.’

As the daughter of Laban, she should receive some inheritance. Instead her father became antagonistic towards her and cheated her of her inheritance. She was not happy with her father’s treatment of her and she felt used by her father. Leah was a girl who had no loveliness but she became loyal to God. It seems that Leah was a person of deep-rooted piety and therefore better suited to become instrumental in carrying out the plans of Jehovah than her pretty, but worldly-minded, sister, Rachel. She left behind her family, her idols and followed the real God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She broke free from the culture, the environment, the ungodly life of her family. She left her old life.

I see some of you here today. I see you are a person of real deep rooted piety in God. You love God and the church. You have no malice and you are very sincere in your relationship with God. You enjoy the fellowship of the saints and zealous in involvement in whatever kind of works for God. But you are ordinary. I want to tell you that God is quietly preparing you behind the scene to carry out His plan more than any pretty, but worldly minded sisters and brothers around you.

2 Leah Heard the Call of God and Was Given God’s Promises

Her sister, Rachel, supposedly to be more loved, more beautiful and had a higher possibility to succeed in life, brought along the gods of her father. Genesis 31:34 says

Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them.’ But Leah was different. When she left her father’s house, she became like Abraham. She heard the call of God and God’s promises. She also enjoyed the promise of God to Abraham who said, ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Today God is reminding you that you have heard the call of God and His promised blessings. God has called you to start a new beginning with Him and with that is included God’s plan of blessings. There is the frequent reiteration of God’s blessing throughout Abraham’s call. There is also a constant reminder of God’s blessing throughout our journey with God. When Jesus calls, there is no specific detail of what our future will be like. When Jesus calls me, I do not know that I will be in the Philippines but I only know that He calls me here with His plan of blessings. But He does promise that He will take us to be with Him. He does promise forgiveness and inner peace. He does promise that He will be with us through thick and thin. He does promise our ultimate good. But Jesus does not say that it will be smooth here on earth. He does not say that your problems will be solved. Nor does He promise a life of peace and ease. But He does promise rich blessings.

Even if we do not experience the fullness of the blessing, the ultimate fulfillment would come through our offspring. What I am trying to share is that if there is lacking in any completeness of God’s blessing, it will be fulfilled on our offspring. There are the personal blessings and there are the global blessings. True, those who bless you will be blessed. But ‘him who dishonors you (literally disdains (scorn at you, disregard you, despise you) God will curse. That is, there will be heightened, disproportionate punishment for merely disdaining you. Abraham’s blessing became Leah’s blessing. Satan loves to victimize us in depression by putting us in position, conditions and situation or environment similar to that of Leah. But we need to fight back by letting the devil know that we are very special to God. God has been pleased to miraculously plant faith into Leah’s heart and we too have heard God’s call and are given God’s promised blessings.

3 God Working Out His Own Purposes in Leah’s Life

God had begun to work out his own purposes in Leah’s life. He had bypassed Rachel and opened the womb of Leah in her humble estate. Actually by human sight Rachel should succeed better than Leah in life. In terms of beauty, love, qualification Rachel got the best. But it was Leah who outshone Rachel in the end. All in all Leah bore six sons and a daughter, whereas Rachel had only two sons. I have always looked at my friends, my colleagues, my classmates, my childhood friend.

They came from better schools and better family background. They have more, better qualities than I have. But I realize that surprisingly I am doing much better than them. Why? Because God has begun to work out His own purpose in my life. So take heart today, Evangelites – If you have really surrendered your life to God, God has already begun to work out his own purposes in your life. Leah is Jacob’s choice wife. She is the first-born of the two sisters and she is the rightful wife, if we have to distinguish between Leah and Rachel. She is rightful Matriarch who would fulfill God’s promises to Abraham. As Abraham is the Patriarch and Sarah is the Matriarch, so Jacob is the Patriarch and Leah is the Matriarch, not Rachel.

Today if you are in this church, in the house of God, God has been pleased to plant faith into your heart. Yes in the beginning, your faith may be imperfect and still many a times self-centered. We still have many flaws in our character and personality. But all these are immaterial as long as our faith in God is genuine just like Leah’s. Because she put her faith in God, God saw that she was not loved and began to open up her womb. God can see how we are unfairly treated and will begin to make us fruitful. God can see how we are unloved and begin to make us special. Leah began to assume the Abrahamic prosperity that rightfully belonged to her because she was linked to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She was marvelously fruitful, having one son after another. That is the most important truth.

How do we know that she had faith in God and not in the gods of her father’s idol? When Reuben was born, she praised God because God had looked favorably upon her. It means that in her walk with God, it has become a relationship with God. One of the meanings of the name ‘Reuben’ is ‘God has seen my misery.’ Gen 29:32 says

And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction (another translation for affliction is misery).

Brothers and sisters, today if you feel that you have many of the traits and experiences of Leah, God is saying that He has seen your misery. Just last Sunday, I was praying early in the morning because I was very troubled for my own life, my children, my wife and for this church. To put it correctly, I was weary for the long trials and definitely I was miserable. Then I came across the word of God in Lamentation and it was exactly what I was going through and also the cry of Jeremiah was my cry to God. It says

Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us, consider, and behold my reproach.

Then I took the fast craft to Bacolod to preach in the city of Silay. The most amazing thing is that when we started worshiping God, the Spirit of God used the song they were singing and spoke to me clearly that He has seen my misery and He remembers and considers and beholds my reproach. And He will be faithful to deliver me. And His grace will be enough for me. It brought so much comfort to my life. Yes! God knows everything that we go through and has seen it all. And God will start to bring blessings upon your life. Any wonderful blessings, especially the outstanding blessings, we will attribute it to God and truly it is God who was responsible.Leah literally saw the favor of God in her life. She saw that God has looked favorably upon her.

When she gave birth to Simeon she was glad because God had comforted her in the hate of which she had been the victim. Gen 29:33 says

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also; and she called his name Simeon.

Rachel was bitter, envious, and quarrelsome and the full force of her hatred was directed against her sister, Leah. Have you ever gone through an encounter in life, where you are totally the victim? All that has occurred was no fault of yours but you bear the brunt of it all. She was the victim of hatred but God continually comforted her in life. Simeon means ‘the Lord heard that I am not loved.’ Leah truly loved Jacob but the love was not reciprocated.

You really love and respect someone but they simply for no reason don’t like you. Brothers and sisters, some people just simply don’t love you. No matter how much you try, they cannot bring themselves to love you. You thought that maybe it is some character flaw in you. You try to change but still they won’t love you. You thought that if you excel in the things you do they will love you but even that they don’t love you. You have to come to a point in your life where the most important thing is that God loves you. That is what matters the most. You can be despised by people yet you are remembered by the Lord. But it is through Simeon that Leah learned that God knows that she is hated and afflicted. He has seen the affliction and heard her cry.

When Levi was born she rejoiced because now her husband would love her. I believed that Jacob’s attitude towards her and his love for her had increased over the years. Perhaps Jacob by now had become a little more affectionate. Jacob was joined to her as a family. When Joy and Jan were born, Pastor Lily and I were even more closely joined together as a family. We begin to experience the blessings meant for a family. But the higher significance is that Jehovah is joined to Leah and became her husband. Levi means ‘joined’. Jehovah is your husband and you are closely joined to your husband. The church is the bride of Christ and we are closely joined to our husband, Jesus. The emphasis of the birth of Levi is that Leah would see the beginning of her family’s trees and history. Her family was going to blossom into a mighty family. We will see the beginning of the full development of our family as a unit. As Jacob is joined to Leah in forming a family, Jehovah will be joined to us. We will see the growth of our own family.

Pas. Lily just had a dream recently. In her dream was a very big house. She ever dreamed about that big house before where she kept inviting many members to it and there was still room for them. No matter how many members she invited there was still room for more. Now in this recent dream, it was still this same big house where she invited her members to come. Inside the house was spacious living room with many fixtures and furnishings. Members were there. The dining area was big. Joy and Jan were back from Singapore and Pas Lily was busy setting up a big dinner for every one. When the dining table was set, Pas Lily went to call me, Joy and Jan to sit at the table. She remembered her members were also in her house and she went to invite them to the dining table. Then she remembered her own family was in her house too.

Her second sister was already at the dining table, sitting with Joy and Jan. But then she remembered her mother, her eldest sister and her 4th brother. Everyone was seated at the table waiting but Pas Lily would not start the dinner unless all her family was seated. She began to ask where those missing relatives were. Her 2nd sister, Adelyne told her that they were in the room sleeping and she told Pas Lily to leave them alone and not mind them. But Pas Lily insisted on having one big family dinner with no one missing and so she went to wake them up in the room. When she entered the room, she saw her eldest sister lying on the bed and she stretched out her hand to want to hug Pas Lily. Pas Lily hugged her and then beckoned her to the table, which surprisingly she stood up and proceeded to the table, followed by her mum and even her 4th brother. But upon arrival at the dining table, there weren’t enough chairs. Pas Lily insisted that everyone still eat together despite the congestion and lack of chairs and so she ran to the kitchen to find high stools and there in the kitchen were many stools, which Pas Lily carried and happily slot in those stools to accommodate the extra diners.

She even instructed her helpers to set up more plates and fork and spoons for her family members who came in late. In the dream was the thought of having the dinner not only with her real family members but also her church members. No one was allowed to be omitted from the dinner. It was a dinner for one whole big family and in the dream, the one whole big family was her church members and her real immediate family members. Of course when they were about to start their dinner, suddenly Pas. Lily remembered her father and she went round the house looking for him but couldn’t find him and that’s when she woke up. The interpretation of the dream is a good one- that her immediate family (ie her mum and her siblings) will be saved and joined her in the family in the feast of the Lord with me, Joy and Jan and her spiritual family.

There will be room for all of them (represented by the big house). There will be rich blessing in store for them through her (represented by the rich food in the big dining table). The big table represents large provision in the house. There will be goodness and fatness in the house. It represents a feast and for the enjoyment of those sitting on the table. The big dining table also reminds us of God preparing a table before us in the presence of our enemy. Our enemy will be compelled to see how God has provided for us. God will make us so blessed and feed us so well before the eyes of our enemies. It is a proof of God’s divine favor. As for her father, he was already lost. That’s why Pas Lily couldn’t find him.

But the fact is that Pas Lily’s mum, 2 sisters and brother did come to the dining table to join the feasts and this shows that they will be saved and will join Pas Lily’s spiritual family, represented by the members at her dining table. The emphasis of the birth of Levi is the establishment and development of family’s tree and history which is one of rich blessings and growth in all aspect. Brother and sister a Levi is already born in your life. There is already the beginning of the development of your family trees. There will be rich blessings for your earthly family and spiritual family.

But when Judah was brought forth, that was the ultimate blessings. She had defeated selfishness in her heart and had replaced it by a sincere praise when she said ‘Now, I will praise the Lord’. The glory of the Lord is not expressed in Joseph’s name or in Benjamin’. The glory of the Lord was expressed only in Judah. Though all twelve sons of Jacob are important, Joseph and Judah clearly stood out. Both are used by God in important ways. But only in Judah, the son of Leah is given the place of preeminence. Significantly for the four sons, Leah credited the Lord for the birth. There was no doubt in her mind that it was God’s doing. Leah made no plea for love for improved relations with her husband when Judah was born. She had given up. Maybe we had wanted so much love from someone but they are never forthcoming. But though Leah might not ever enjoy Jacob’s love she had God’s love as seen by God giving her four sons. And she was thankful for that. And truly if Leah could have seen down the generations, she would have been astonished at how blessed she was, because her two sons, Levi and Judah would respectively father the priestly and kingly tribes of Israel. Leah’s blood would flow in the veins of Moses and Aaron and David and Christ the Messiah.

Conclusion

Are you a ‘Leah’ today? Remember what repels human eye attracts God. There are two kinds of beauty. There is a beauty which God gives at birth and which withers as a flower. And there is a beauty which God grants when by His grace, this kind of beauty never vanishes but blooms eternally. The unattractive Leah might have repelled others, but God was attracted toward her because of an inner beauty which the lovely Rachel lacked. Behind many a plain or ugly face there is a most lovely disposition. Also God does not look upon the outward appearance but upon the heart.

End of Sermon