In this week when we celebrate love, “Wings” has dedicated these days to couples. These couples didn’t wear halos. They were normal people, living in the difficult circumstances of normal life. Not one story is a picture of perfectness. But each story is, in some way, a picture of the love of God, and includes types of the future Savoir, Jesus Christ. The couple who is the subject of our discussion today is Jacob and Rachel. There was nothing about this relationship that is typical of the ideal couple in today’s social patterns. Yet, these two were the parents of Joseph, who through much hardship became a Prince of Egypt. He saved his family most of whom rejected him, when they might otherwise have perished from famine. The whole family story (Genesis 29- 31) is full of types of the love of God for his beloved Israel, his chosen people, and of Jesus who came, not just to the Jews, but to the whole world. But was this marriage built on love?
To me this story has always been the exemplary story of just how much a man can love a woman. And it is the picture of the long-suffering love of God for his earthly family.
When Jacob fell in love with Rachel, it was almost at first sight. He knew within a month he wanted to marry her. He agreed to serve her father for 7 years in order to make her his wife. Through the deceit of his father-in-law, Jacob was forced to work another 7 years to make Rachel his wife. He married Rachel only a week after being tricked into marrying her sister Leah. But he worked hard and under ridiculous circumstances to pay the price of 7 additional years, which her father demanded.
The sweetest verse in this whole story is verse 20:
And Jacob served seven years for Rachael; and they seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had to her. Genesis 29:20 KJV
This is the love God has for us. It isn’t meant to exemplify an ideal picture for couples on Valentine’s Day. There is no ideal picture. There are no ideal love stories. There are no fairytale marriages. God wants us to know that only one love is stronger than time. He is always willing to work for the object of his affection, each soul he would woo to himself, no matter how many years it takes to win them.
This is also a story of God’s purposes for our lives. We may never know what God’s long-term plan may be, but he can take any situation and bring blessing to us and to future generations. God blesses the children of the unloved mothers too. Through no fault of his own, Jacob was tricked into marrying Rachel’s sister. Although he never loved her like he loved Rachel, he trusted God to build his family through her as well. It is from this mixed up family that the 12 tribes of Israel were generated. And one of Rachel’s sister’s boys was Judah. This was the tribe through which Jesus’ ancestry can be traced, all the way to Mary and also to Joseph. How much did Jacob love Rachel? Enough to look to the future and make a commitment to that plan, suffer through hardship and betrayal, and stand his ground. How much does God love us? Enough to look to our future and make a commitment to that plan, suffer with us through hardship and betrayal and stand his ground! All the years to God seem but a few days. We have only just begun to get to know the extent of his love.
Father, thank you for loving me like Jacob loved Rachel. Thank you for this example of how you have a plan for our future, and the future of our children. Help us see past the deceitful people in our lives to the bigger picture. Help us not be so hurt by the turmoils of reality that we give up the pursuit of love relationships. Give us a mindset that overrides the here and now, and draws on faith that you are able always to bring something wonderful when everything fails to be as we expected. AMEN