January 5, 2022
When the Bible says that “God remembers” it does not mean that He forgot and then hit the side of his head with his palm and said, “Oh yea, now I remember!” “God remembers” is a term that means that God is now acting on behalf of a person or a people in a way that others can see His direct influence. But, have you noticed what kind of people God tends to act on behalf of (remember)?
The middle chapters of Genesis tell us the origins of Israel. Jacob’s name was changed by God to Israel. Jacob’s family could be called the first family of Israel and, there is no polite way to put this: his family was a mess. Jacob left his dad and mom (Isaac and Rebekah) because his dad directed him to find a wife from his mother’s family (which was also part of his father’s family) and traveled back east, where he met his cousin Rachel at a well and rather quickly fell in love with her. Rachel’s dad (Laban) promised Rachel to Jacob but on the night of the wedding, he gave Leah to Jacob instead of Rachel.
From the moment that Jacob meets Rachel, we are cheering for them. We love love stories and we want this one to be one. Jacob serves SEVEN years for Rachel. Clearly, this guy really loves her, but he is deceived and is given her sister instead. When Laban is confronted about his deceit, he brushes it off as a cultural issue and tells Jacob to complete Leah’s week and then he can have Rachel for another seven years of work. So, Jacob does get to marry Rachel after all, but a week after he married her older sister. Both Leah and Rachel are treated like property pawns by their dad. This act of Laban has generational consequences. So, it is messy, but since the reader has been cheering for Jacob and Rachel, it is easy to overlook Leah. Laban did.
Did Leah want to be given in marriage to a man who worked for seven years for her sister? Did Leah want to marry a man who did not love her? Did Leah have dreams about what kind of a life she might have? Did Leah have a choice in this? Rachel was the desired one, the pretty one, the one Leah probably got sick of hearing about, and now this! They are both married to the same man and everyone knows that he loves Rachel. What about Leah? What about the people that life seems to overlook and neglect? When life appears to forget you, it is easy to assume that God has done the same. But, have you noticed that these are exactly the kind of people that God acts on behalf of, and he did for Leah.
“When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb….” (Genesis 29:31) Leah ends up bearing six sons and a daughter. In fact, overlooked Leah is the mother of Judah whose line is the line of kings. Now, Leah is loved by her children and Rachel has none. It is now Rachel’s turn to experience unfulfilled dreams, but “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.” (Genesis 30:22) It is a story that is repeated over and over and over throughout the Bible. God knows those who appear to be forgotten, and acts on behalf of those who are overlooked.
Do you feel overlooked, neglected, forgotten? You may be to some extent, and it may be due to things beyond your control. Life, east of Eden is hard and, at times, feels empty. But, life east of Eden is only for now. The LORD remembers. The LORD acts on behalf of His own. Brothers and sisters, rest in that.
Grace and peace,
Sunday’s text: 1 Samuel 7