International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 3, 2016
Purpose: To seek God’s influence in relationships, even when they are marred by human manipulation and selfishness
Bible Lesson: Genesis 29:15-30
Background Scripture: Genesis 28–30
Key Verse: Jacob slept with Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban seven more years. (Genesis 29:30)
Genesis 29:15-30 (CEB)
(15) Laban said to Jacob, “You shouldn’t have to work for free just because you are my relative. Tell me what you would like to be paid.” (16) Now Laban had two daughters: the older was named Leah and the younger Rachel. (17) Leah had delicate eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and was good-looking. (18) Jacob loved Rachel and said, “I will work for you for seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter.” (19) Laban said, “I’d rather give her to you than to another man. Stay with me.” (20) Jacob worked for Rachel for seven years, but it seemed like a few days because he loved her. (21) Jacob said to Laban, “The time has come. Give me my wife so that I may sleep with her.” (22) So Laban invited all the people of that place and prepared a banquet. (23) However, in the evening, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he slept with her. (24) Laban had given his servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her servant. 25 In the morning, there she was––Leah! Jacob said to Laban, “What have you done to me? Didn’t I work for you to have Rachel? Why did you betray me?” (26) Laban said, “Where we live, we don’t give the younger woman before the oldest. (27) Complete the celebratory week with this woman. Then I will give you this other woman too for your work, if you work for me seven more years.” (28) So that is what Jacob did. He completed the celebratory week with this woman, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. (29) Laban had given his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her servant. (30) Jacob slept with Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban seven more years.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
If you are looking for a lesson on ethics, this is not it. There are very few heroes in the history of Abraham’s family.
Our text is about deceit and plotting against each other. Abraham himself was a deceiver, on at least two occasions he introduced his wife Sarah as his sister. Isaac let himself be deceived by his wife Rebekah and Jacob, in order to steal the birthright of Esau. Jacob was a deceiver and had to run away from his brother.
I would suggest you read the suggested chapters from the background. It will help you understand all that is going on.
Jacob, at the suggestion of his mother goes back to Ur where Abraham and Sarah started over a hundred years prior. Before the Lord called Abraham to a new land. Rebekah sends Jacob to her brother’s place. Her brother Laban, is a very successful herdsman, who happens to have two daughters.
Jacob falls for Rachel immediately, and her father promises Jacob a bride if he works for him for seven years. Unfortunately, Jacob is deceived by Laban, and on his wedding night after a lot of wine, Laban sends in his older daughter Leah to consummate the marriage.
The next morning Jacob is very disappointed to wake up with Leah instead of Rachel in his bed. The father of the bride is willing to forgive Jacob and offers a solution to the problem. “Finish your week of celebrating and then I will give you Rachel, if you stay and work for me another seven years.
If you read the story to its conclusion you will see that Jacob ended up pretty good by the time his fourteen years were up.
Along with each bride came a handmaiden, and since Rachel had trouble conceiving, she offered her servant to Jacob. So Jacob ends up with two wives and two handmaidens. The twelve sons of Jacob come from four different women. Most notably Leah was the mother of Judah and Levi, two very important tribes. Rachel bore Benjamin and Joseph, also two very important sons. This also explains the animosity against Joseph, Jacobs first son from Rachel.
The story of this family is really about how the Lord worked his will in order to start a nation set apart by Him. A nation that would bring salvation to the entire world.
I guess my hymn for this week would have to be “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” but maybe with a new meaning, Jacob had to work fourteen years to get the bride he wanted, we can think of each year as a rung in that ladder.