Genesis 29
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Taught by experience to be patient. His own craft reflected in Laban. Lessons to be learned.

I. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TEACHING OF GOD IN THE INNER MAN AND HIS LEADINGS IN PROVIDENCE. Jacob learned what he needed to learn - dependence, self-humiliation. Saw the evil of selfishness; understood that the Divine purposes must not be identified in our thought with our personal feelings and desires. We must wait on God to know what his will is.

II. THE INDEPENDENCE OF GOD'S GRACE. The chosen instruments not chosen for their own sake. Often that which displeases us is our special help. Leah, not chosen by Jacob, bore him sons. Rachel, whom he loved, was barren. Even in such mixed soil as these characters the seed of Divine life will grow. Leah gave names to her children which betokened an increasing faith. Jacob's willingness to serve was a gracious victory over self, preparing him for higher filings. Thwarted man is taught to wait upon God.

III. PRACTICAL LESSONS ON THE RELATIONS OF THE SEXES AND MARRIED LIFE, &c. The misery of all that interferes with the sanctity of affection and its supremacy. The certainty that lack of candor and truthfulness will be fruitful in evil results. The importance of right feeling in sustaining religious character; how difficult, where the relationship is not founded on affection, to maintain truth, purity, and a lofty standard of life. We must try to see disappointments from a higher point of view. God may withhold what we desire, but only to give afterwards a fuller blessing. - R.

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel, &c.

I. THE INWARD SPRING OF THE OUTWARD LIFE. Power of the heart over the will, over the circumstances, over flesh. Time measured by the motions of our thought. The world needs to be taught that the material rests on the immaterial.

II. THE SERVICE OF LOVE THE CONSECRATION AND CONSUMMATION OF HUMAN ENERGY. Christ the highest object of affection. The life of his servant compared with the life of selfish caprice.

III. THE GREAT EXAMPLE OF LOVE SUGGESTED. Jacob a type of Christ; Rachel, of his Church. He served for her. His love made obedience, even unto death, his delight.

IV. SPECIAL TRIAL HAS ITS SPECIAL REWARD. Jacob served doubly for Rachel; but his service was amply paid afterwards, although for a time the veil of disappointment hid the purpose of God. While Leah, as the mother of Judah, was the true ancestress of Messiah, still it was in Joseph, the son of Rachel, that Jacob's heart was satisfied, and that the history of the kingdom of God was most manifestly carried on and its glory set forth. As in the case of Sarah and Rebekah, so in that of Rachel, the birth of the representative seed is connected with special bestowments of grace. - R.

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel. On the surface this is a step in Jacob's training, in the fulfillment of God's promise at Bethel. It shows a new feature in his character. We see not the man of cunning devices, but one full of pure, self-sacrificing love. Fourteen years of service willingly given to purchase, according to Eastern custom, his bride. But Jacob's love suggests the deeper and purer love of Christ for the Church. Rachel a type of the Bride; a shepherdess and "fairest among women" (Song of Solomon 1:7, 8); sharer of the sufferings of the Church (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18; Revelation 2:17). For the Church's sake (Ephesians 5:25) Christ "served (Philippians 2:7); became a Shepherd (John 10:11); with his service and life-blood, obedient unto death," he purchased her (Acts 20:28), to unite her to himself forever.

I. THE LORD "SERVED" BECAUSE HE LOVED HIS CHURCH. In condescending to unite himself with human nature; in bearing the infirmities of childhood and state of subjection; in bearing the contradiction of sinners and the wrath of God. And still in standing and knocking (Revelation 3:20); in bearing with half-hearted believers (2 Peter 3:9); in pleading with and for the wayward (1 John 2:1; 2 Corinthians 5:20); in seeking and following individual sheep. The love which led to this was free, not deserved or purchased. Rachel brought no dowry to Jacob. The Church has of its own no spiritual wealth (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23). The Bridegroom had to sanctify and cleanse it. By nature unholy, at variance with God's will; yet, knowing this, he loved it (cf. Romans 8:35). For love to Rachel Jacob gave the labor of fourteen years. For the Church Christ grudged nothing - gave himself. Sacrifice a mark of true love. How many will not sacrifice anything - will not leave a gain, a companion, an amusement - to "win Christ." In the garden his human nature shrank from the bitterness of the cup, but he persevered. Why?

II. THE LORD "SERVED" THAT HE MIGHT UNITE US TO HIMSELF. Marriage, the closest earthly tie, used as a type. No mere removal of condemnation satisfied that love, nor even our being made happy; he became such as we are, that we might become such as he is. The Church is his Bride (Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 21:9), sharer of his kingdom (Revelation 3:21; Revelation 20:4), of his blessedness and glory (John 17:22-24). And this belongs to its humblest and weakest member. A union in this life (Song of Solomon 2:16; John 15:4); peace in committing all cares to him, even our own steadfastness (John 10:28; Romans 8:35; Hebrews 13:6). A union after our departure more close (Philippians 1:23). Here we see dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). The conditions of mortal life hinder clear visions (Exodus 33:20), The law of sin in our members hinders perfect union. Then no impediment (Luke 23:43). Union perfected after the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:7). The body, which now limits conscious union, shall then minister to its completeness. Not till then shall we be perfectly like him in his human nature.

III. HE "SERVED" THAT WE MIGHT HAVE CONFIDENCE IN HIS LOVE. Jacob's love not shaken by time, or by the deceit practiced upon him, a type of Christ's. Often forgetful, often faithless, we might well think, How dare I trust to a love so often neglected? But his love is not wearied out (Isaiah 49:15). He has graven us with the nail-prints on his hands. His word is still, "Look unto me;" trust my love (Psalm 37:5). - M.

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