Today we will look at Leah. If you participated in the Thoroughly Equipped Bible Study, this will be a repeat for you. I just can’t get Leah off my mind, and a review of God’s masterful design in the tapestry of her life is something that I need to meditate on over and over. I hope that is true for you, too!
When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, He enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.
Genesis 29:31, NIV
We must take note of the three simple words in this verse that are filled with truth and meaning: “the Lord saw.” He saw the situation clearly—all the ins and outs, hurt and deceit, bitterness and pain, complicated family dynamics. He saw it all. And He understood it all. He came to the rescue with great blessing and comfort, but Leah didn’t seem to recognize it. Just like us, Leah’s obsession with what she did not have overruled her enjoyment and acknowledgment of what she did have. We have a framed picture in our rec room which states: Contentment is not the fulfillment of what we want, but it is the realization of what we already have. Contentment is a struggle for most of us at some time or another. We pick up on Leah’s deep discontentment by looking at what she named her children.
Her first-born she named Reuben, which meant “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” (Genesis 29:32)
Her second born was named Simeon, which meant “Because the Lord heard that I am unloved, he gave me this one, too.” (Genesis 29:33)
She named another son, Levi, saying, “At last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” (Genesis 29:34) But it was not to be. The focus of these children was not the children, but the focus was trying to win Jacob’s love. How sad is that?! Then throw in a bitter sister, Rachel, who had the love that Leah so desperately wanted, but didn’t have the children that Leah had. I suspect that both would have traded places with the other, so desperate was their longing for what they didn’t have.
We all know the story. God did give Rachel children eventually, both physically and through her servant. One of her sons, Joseph, was greatly used to fulfill the plan of God on behalf of His people. But the struggle continued between the sisters, back and forth, child after child. In my Sunday School knowledge of Leah, that is where I had always left her: still in the struggle. But if we take the time to study just a little bit, we find that Leah wasn’t so forgotten after all. God was orchestrating a great plan and legacy for Leah. The forgotten one, in the end, was the matriarch. The ugly duckling may not have changed physically, but in the spiritual realm she was greatly honored even above the beautiful Rachel.
How do we know this? Because of the generations that came through her. It was through Leah that the Levites, the holy priests of the Lord, came. And most importantly, it was through Leah that Jesus came. In Genesis 29:35 we find that she had momentary peace when she gave birth to her fourth son. She named him Judah, which means “This time I will praise the Lord.” Period. She basically said, “I will just praise God, without trying to change my circumstances, without trying to make things good and right, without trying to win love. I will just praise.” I believe this peace and praise came because deep in her spirit the Lord was whispering, “With this One, I will make all things new.” And so it was. It was through Judah that Jesus, the Savior, was born.
Even after Judah, Leah struggled back and forth with her desire for human love. But in the end, it was Leah that was buried next to Jacob, just as Isaac was buried with Rebekah and Abraham was buried with Sarah. God saw. And He did something about it. And though it took time to see, He was working all along the way.
Where are you today? Do you relate with Leah’s struggle? Do you want something you can’t seem to obtain? Do you struggle with making idols out of good, God-given things, forgetting that the true God is the giver of those things? Do you feel unloved and misunderstood? God sees. He sees all the complexities of your life and He understands. So like Leah, when she got a tiny glimpse of the Savior to come, why don’t you say, “This time, I will praise the Lord.”
Praise has great power. Angels surround the Throne of God in constant praise saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; Who was and is and is to come.” Let’s praise Him like that, no matter our circumstances, trusting that He sees and has done something about it. That is why God sent His Son.
This Christmas season has been unique in that I am not really stressed. I can’t understand it. I haven’t even started my Christmas cards. I have not even come close to being finished with my shopping. I haven’t delivered my annual gifts to my neighbors. I haven’t gotten teacher gifts yet. I haven’t planned or bought or cooked for holiday meals. And I know myself…that should stress me out. But I am not stressed. Not worried about it at all. I will get it all done–probably–well, maybe. But even if I don’t, it just doesn’t matter. What has changed me? Well, I suppose I am seeing things differently.
I am just so grateful to be home, to be with my family, to have our son home–finally. I am grateful that he can walk–and run, and climb, and go up the stairs, and back down the stairs. I am grateful that he smiles–all the time. I am grateful that I hear him laugh–alot. I am grateful that he seems so comfortable here, as if he knows deep down that he was always supposed to be here–that he belongs here. I am grateful that he sleeps through the night–and when he wakes up he calls for “Mama!!!!” I am grateful for my wonderful husband who is still my best friend. I am grateful that he still makes me laugh–everyday–after 23 years of marriage. I am grateful for my five biological kids who have been more than willing to share their parents and resources and attention with two adoptive kids. I am grateful that they adore those two kids as much as I do. I am grateful that Sally has a brother to grow up with. I am grateful for my Lord, who orchestrates my life and that HIs plans are for good and not for evil–even when the days are hard. So, I guess the only difference between this year and other stress-filled Christmas seasons is this: I am grateful this year. What are you grateful for?
A couple of weeks ago, I was alone in the car driving to Oxford to meet my son who is a freshman in college. We had been listening to a scripture memory CD in the car, and the music is so good, I often listen to it, even if the little kids are not in the car with me. Such was the case on this day. The song was word for word of Isaiah 6:1-3.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”[b]
These words are also referred to in Revelation, and I have always used them as a way to praise God. And so they should be. In prayer, repeat those words and you will feel your spirit revived. But on this day, I began concentrating on the words so much that I missed my turn and went 30 minutes in the wrong direction! What had captured my attention so much? It was a simple phrase that I had never noticed before: “And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord…” One called to another. These words of praise were not only directed to the Worthy One, but they were directed to each other as a means of awe-inspired truth and encouragement. I don’t know why that hit me so strongly, but tears poured down my cheeks as I thought about it. Over the past two weeks, I have found myself telling this truth to my friends, saying, “Hey, Robin! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts!” “Hey, Debbie, don’t forget! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!” This time of year, especially, as we celebrate his birth on earth, let’s call out to each other this holy truth! Call someone today and remind them that He is holy, He is in control, He is God and we are not, He is Redeemer, He is Comforter, He is the Lover of our Souls!