This week we are back to our Women of the Bible Series.  Our theme for Sunday’s sermon (June 30th) is Comparison and Competitiveness, based on the story of two sisters, Rachel & Leah.  The scripture we’ll be looking at takes place in Genesis 29 & 30.  It’s amazing how much we can learn from just 2 chapters in the Bible.  There was quite a rivalry between Rachel & Leah.  The struggles they faced could have been common ground for a deeper relationship but instead, they allowed rivalry and jealousy to tear them apart! 

GENESIS 29:  Jacob continued his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples.  There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.  Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?”  “We’re from Haran,” they replied. He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered.   Jacob asked them, “Is he well?”  “Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.” “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered, and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.” While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel, daughter of his mother’s brother, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep.  Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. She ran and told her father. As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him, kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things.  Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”

After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.” Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for Rachel.” Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.”  So, Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her.  Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant. When morning came, there was Leah!  Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then I will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” Jacob finished the week with Leah, and Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. Jacob lay with Rachel and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”  She conceived again.  She gave birth to a son and said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” She named him Simeon.Again, she conceived, and when she gave birth to another son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” He was named Levi. She conceived again!  When she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” She named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

GENESIS 30:12-25:  Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.  Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So, she named him Asher.  During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”  Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  He slept with her that night.  God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” She named him Issachar. Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” She named him Zebulun.  Sometime later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.  Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”  After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland.Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

This is a story of hope to all the second choices who keep trying.  We are indispensable to God, because we aren’t defined by what we can’t do, but by who we are. 

Does any of Rachel & Leah’s story bring to your awareness what “comparison & competitiveness” can look like?

What are the attributes of a jealous person?

Who are you letting determine your worthiness?  The world…yourself….others?

When was the last time you hoped God would see the affliction in your life and do what your heart desires the most?

How does shifting our perspectives toward praise help us accept our situations and not compare our circumstances with others?

Blessings as you ponder,                                                          Makayla Cordell & Pastor Connie