Love Is Blind
“The story is told of the cruel and tyrannical Baron Rascas and his beautiful and kind wife, the Lady of Rascas. When the baron was summoned to the Crusades by his king, he was concerned that his wife would turn to another (either because of his death or his long absence) that he commanded his wizard Malagan, to make her ugly just after his departure and then for the wizard to join him in the crusade so the spell could not be undone. It was done as the king commanded, with the result that the good lady had the face of a horse. Despite her condition, she managed the lands of the baron well during his absence, and the people grew to love her with no thought to her appearance.
After seven years, the baron returned without Malagan and was repulsed by his wife’s ugliness. Without Malagan there was no way to reverse the spell, and his wife was utterly rejected by the baron, who, if it were possible, had become even more insufferable since the wars. Word was sent far and wide offering a reward to any wizard or magician who could reverse the spell. Many tried; none succeeded. One day a poor beggar arrived at the gates and, after gaining admission to the baron’s presence, identified himself as Malagan. He recounted before the entire court how the baron abandoned him when he had been wounded and left him for dead. Years of slavery followed, and he lost most of his skills before he was finally able to regain his freedom. He had now returned to remedy the situation.
When the Lady of Rascas was called into the king’s presence, the wizard’s words proved not to transform the lady to her earlier beauty, but instead, transformed the baron a similar horse-face appearance. It was only in this condition that the baron finally learned to love and cherish his wife and become the kind and caring lord he should have been from the start. The moral of the story has two parts to it: (1) ‘Out of evil came good, out of ugliness, beauty’; (2) ‘he who turns to evil will, at the end, find it turned against him.’”
[Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 595-96].
Love is blind
In talking with couples prior to marriage I always find it interesting some of the statements they make or how they view the person they are in love with
There was one couple that I knew where the man filled out a reference form for the lady and he scored her a perfect 10 on everything (the employer already knew that there was room for improvement, but the boyfriend did not see it that way)
Another young man said that he would be fine with letting the young lady always getting her way after marriage
This just proves that love can blind us to reality and make us say things that we will probably not follow through with
We reap what we sow
Once the honeymoon was over, the young man probably realized that his, now wife, was not a perfect 10 in all areas – there were adjustments that had to take place, and some recognition of reality, in order for the couple to remain married (they are still married today, 24 years and going)
The same thing happened with the second young man – reality sank in and in order for the marriage to work, there had to be give and take on both sides and not one person always getting their own way (this marriage is also still going strong)
Most of us can probably say that we have been blinded by love at one time in our lives
If we have not been blinded by love, we can probably admit that we have reaped what we have sown (whether positive or negative)
We will see today that Jacob was blinded by love, which caused him to miss that fact that Laban deceived him. Jacob had used deception with his father and brother and now he was getting a taste of his own medicine. In everything that took place in this narrative, we cannot miss the fact that God is in control and His sovereign plan will be fulfilled. We can all agree to today, that . . .
BIG IDEA – We reap what we sow.
GOD (Genesis 29:14b-30)
Wages (vv. 14b-20)
Timestamp (v. 14b)
The second half of verse 14 gives us a timeframe
One month after Jacob arrived in Haran/Paddan Aram, Laban pulls him aside to talk about wages
Negotiations (vv. 15-20)
This would have been a little bit unusual in the Ancient Near East, since family members were not usually paid
They were taken care of, as a family member, by the head of the household, therefore, there was no need for them to take a wage
“His initial question is rhetorical, meaning Jacob should not be utilized without compensation lest he be a slave. Yet he cannot establish the standard of payment for Jacob since he is not merely a hired worker either.” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 466-67]
Jacob is not a slave – slaves did not receive any wages
Jacob is not a hired hand – hired hands were given a specific wage
Laban should have realized that Jacob was not going to remain in Haran permanently, but would be returning to Canaan after he found a wife
So, perhaps the offer of wages was to prepare Jacob for his future
If Jacob is going to marry one of his daughters, then he would want Jacob to be well-established
Jacob came to Laban with nothing, which means he would not have the ability to pay a bride price
Maybe Laban was offering a wage to Jacob, so he could begin to save for a dowry
None of this is directly expressed in this passage of Scripture, so we are left to speculate concerning why Laban is offering to pay Jacob, as a family member
From Jacob’s response, we realize that he understands that he does not have anything to give for a bride price
Laban’s two daughters (vv. 16-18a)
The narrator gives us some information about Laban’s daughters, before sharing Jacob’s offer about wages
Her name means, “cow” or “weary”
She was the older of the two
She had weak eyes
This does not mean that she had poor eyesight
The Hebrew word can also mean “soft,” “delicate,” or “tender”
Leah probably did not have bright eyes that sparkled with fire in them
Women with bright, sparkling, and fiery eyes were considered to be beautiful in the Oriental culture [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 183; Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 405]
We have to remember that in the culture of the day, women were covered from head to toe with only their eyes and cheeks exposed
So, their eyes told a lot about them
I imagine that Leah was perhaps more reserved and contemplative, which her eyes revealed about her
Jacob obviously did not find that attractive
Her name means, “ewe” (it is fascinating that Rachel is a shepherdess, taking care of her father’s sheep)
She was the younger of the two
She was lovely in form, and beautiful
I am not sure how the narrator knew that Rachel had a beautiful figure (shape of her body), since she would have been covered head to toe
Other translations say that Rachel also had a beautiful or lovely face, which probably meant that she had bright, fiery, sparkling eyes
One other translation says she has a beautiful countenance, which would have been apparent through the bright, fiery, sparkling eyes
She was probably outgoing, energetic, and fiery in her personality
“Apparently both of Laban’s daughters served as walking commercials for his business operation.” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 246]
Jacob was in love with Rachel (love at first sight?)
Jacob’s offer (v. 18b)
Jacob offers to work for Laban for seven years in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage
This would have been a generous bride price
“In texts from Nuzi the typical bride price was thirty to forty shekels. Since a shepherd’s annual wage was ten shekels a year, Jacob is in effect paying a premium by working seven years, but he is in no position to negotiate.” [Walton, 586]
With the way the housing market is right now, there are individuals who are making higher offers in an effort to try to guarantee that they will get the house – in fact, cash offers are being accepted over all other offers
Jacob wants to make sure that he will be able to marry Rachel, so he offers more than the usual bride price
Laban is agreeable to the terms
Laban tells Jacob that it is better for him to give her to him than to some other man
The cultural practice of endogamy is at play here again – marrying within the family instead of outside the family
Perhaps Laban saw the character and work ethic of Jacob in that first month and realized that he would be a good spouse for his daughter
Laban encourages Jacob to stay with him
Love is blind
Jacob served seven years to get Rachel
The seven years only seemed like a few days to Jacob, because of his love for Rachel
Judy and I got engaged between our Sophomore and Junior year of college and then got married a year later between our Junior and Senior year of college
I don’t remember everything that happened in that year, because it seemed to go by so fast with full-time school and wedding preparations
I’m sure Judy felt the same way
Love has a way of blinding us to everything that happens between certain events
Jacob experienced that with the seven years of service just flying by
We reap what we sow
We see Jacob maturing in his character as he patiently waits to marry Rachel
He was sowing patience and reaping God’s blessing of time passing quickly
This was not the case when it came to Jacob’s birthright and Isaac’s blessing
God used human sinful circumstances to accomplish His plan and purpose concerning Jacob being the covenant carrier, even though it may come sooner than later
While Jacob was impatient, waiting for God to fulfill His promise, we now see that he is sowing patience when it comes to finding a wife
PRINCIPLE #1 – Patience is a virtue.
Have you ever tried to run ahead of God and His timing?
Maybe it was with a relationship, or a financial decision, a job change, or career path
How did it work out for you?
In hindsight, did you wish that you had waited on God’s timing and His plan?
Is there a situation, currently, where you are struggling to be patient?
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Patiently wait on God’s timing and plan for the situation I am currently involved in.
We can trust God to accomplish His plan and purpose in our lives at just the right time – wait on Him, spend time in prayer and reading His Word, and seek the counsel of other believers
Jacob was reaped what he had sown – patience – the seven years seemed like a few days
The wages were set and the Jacob had faithful fulfilled his obligation of the bride price
It was time to celebrate and consummate his marriage
Weddings (vv. 21-30)
Jacob asks for his wife, so he could consummate his marriage – he had patiently waited and now it was time
Laban prepared a feast and brought all of the people together
The wedding feast would last one week, as we will see in verse 27
Jacob is expecting to receive Rachel as his wife and perhaps Rachel is with him during the feast, but something happens after dark
Laban took Leah and gave her to Jacob as his wife
Jacob consummated his marriage with Leah by laying with her (they were intimate with each other)
How did Laban get away with this deception?
Love is blind!
Jacob’s patience had reached it limit and he was ready to consummate his marriage with Rachel
Perhaps in his eagerness, he was not very attentive to whom was in bed with him
There are all kinds of other ideas and speculations
It is very likely that wine was part of the feast and potentially Jacob may have had a little too much to drink, which could have clouded his mind
The bridal attire would have covered the women’s bodies completely and the bridal veil would have covered all but Leah’s eyes
Culturally, the veil may have been worn even during the sexual act
The tent where Jacob and Leah would have spent the night would have been dark or dimly lit
Laban may have had Leah wear some of Rachel’s clothes, which would recall what Jacob doing the same thing with Esau’s clothing at the prompting of his mother
Scripture does not tell us how the deception was carried out, it just tells us that it happened
The narrator gives us a side note about Laban giving his servant girl, Zilpah to Leah as her maidservant
Morning wakeup call
The morning light and a clear head revealed that Jacob had married Leah instead of Rachel
Jacob confronted Laban about his deception – “I thought the deal was to work for you for seven years and then I would marry Rachel, why did you give Leah to me?”
We reap what we sow
While Jacob was maturing and developing as the covenant carrier, he was experiencing a taste of his own medicine
He had sown deception with his father and brother and was now reaping deception
“The nemesis is made all the more pungent by the fact that Jacob is caught in the same device he himself had once used. He pretended to be Esau in front of Isaac. Leah pretends to be Rachel next to Jacob. While Jacob’s ruse was pretending to be his older brother, Leah’s ruse is pretending to be her younger sister. Jacob is deceived as he deceived his father.” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 262]
Numbers 32:23, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”
Galatians 6:7-8, Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
This is true for us also, when we do things that please our sinful nature, there will be consequences for those behaviors
When we do things that please the Lord, we will experience eternal life
God knew what He was doing, through Laban’s deception
PRINCIPLE #2 – God is sovereign and will accomplish His plan.
What is so significant about Jacob marrying Leah instead of Rachel?
Leah’s fourth child with Jacob is Judah
Read Matthew 1:1-16
Do you see the significance of Leah as Jacob’s wife?
It is through the line of Leah and Jacob that Jesus is born
We may not understand all that God is doing through His sovereign will, but we can trust Him to accomplish His perfect plan and purpose for us
Are you struggling to understand what God is doing in your life right now?
Do you need to trust in His sovereign will?
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Trust in God’s sovereign will for my life, even when I do not understand.
Laban already had his defense planned, because he knew that Jacob would uncover his ruse
Laban explains the custom of his people
They do not give the younger daughter in marriage before the older daughter
This custom was not something that was taken lightly, because it could threaten the very core of their society [Hamilton, 263]
Did Laban have this planned the whole time and just waited for seven years to spring the trap?
Perhaps he thought that during the seven year service period, Leah would get married to someone else and when that did not happen, he saw a way to make sure that Leah would get married [Gangel & Bramer, 246]
While that might have been Laban’s thought process, God’s sovereignty superseded his plans
Laban used the custom of his people to defend his deceptive actions, but he also had a proposal for Jacob
“If you work for me for another seven years, I will give you Rachel as a second wife in a week”
Laban required Jacob to finish the bridal week with Leah before he would give Rachel to him
Jacob agrees to the proposal
Jacob honored his marriage to Leah, even though he entered it unaware
“Once Jacob engages in sexual relations with the virgin Leah, the action is irrevocable, requiring Jacob to fulfill his honorable duty to the woman (cf. Exod 22:16; Deut 22:28-29).” [Mathews, 469]
Through this we see the developing character of Jacob
He accepts responsibility for Leah, because he recognizes that marriage is sacred and sexual union is sacred and binding
PRINCIPLE #3 – Marriage and sexual union are sacred!
Jacob certainly recognized this and acted accordingly
Our culture today, including some within the church, have cheapened sexual union and marriage
More often than not, those who are getting married, have already been sexually active prior to marriage and potentially they have cohabited with each other prior to marriage
Christianity Today did research on whether divorce rates are lower for religious people vs. nonreligious people
“Without controls for age at marriage or an indicator for premarital cohabitation, women with a religious upbringing do have slightly lower likelihoods of divorce . . . the annual divorce rate among married women with a nonreligious upbringing is around 5 percent. For religious women, it’s around 4.5 percent.” [https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2021/december-web-only/marriage-divorce-cohabitation-religious-americans-study.html]
When premarital cohabitation is included the rates are still about the same for religious and nonreligious, yet more couples who cohabitate before marriage get divorced than those who do not
What does the Bible have to say about sex before marriage and sex within marriage?
Galatians 5:19, The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
Ephesians 5:3, But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;
1 Corinthians 7:2, But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
Hebrews 13:4, Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
The Bible is clear that marriage and sexual union are sacred, especially among followers of Jesus Christ
We need to return to the standard of the Bible
So, I would be remiss if I did not exhort those, who are practicing sexual immorality, to abstain from it until you are married
This will take a lot of self-control, but that is what Paul challenged the Thessalonian believers to do – control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable
Accountability will be the key – you have to have another person, of the same sex, holding you accountable
It is doable, it is possible, because of the Holy Spirit that lives within every believer, but it will not be easy
After Jacob honored his commitment to Leah, Laban allowed Jacob to marry Rachel as well
Again we see the narrators note about Rachel’s maidservant, Bilhah, who had been Laban’s servant girl
Jacob kept the marriage bed sacred by waiting to marry Rachel until after the bridal week with Leah
Perhaps this particular situation with Jacob and his two sister-wives is what brought about the law found in Leviticus 18:18, “Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.”
As we will see in the weeks ahead, having two sisters for wives was going to cause some problems
Abraham understood the difficulties of having two wives
Multiple wives is not what God designed for marriage
His design for marriage was one man and one woman for a lifetime
We see this unfortunate note at the end of this section that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah (notice that it does not say that Jacob did not love Leah)
Jacob honors his agreement with Laban by working another seven years for him (again we see Jacob’s character developing and growing)
Is there a situation in your life, right now, that you need to patiently wait for God’s timing and plan to accomplish?
Do you need to trust in God’s sovereign plan for your life, even if you do not understand?
As a body of believers, is there something that we need to patiently wait on God for?
Is there something we need to trust God’s sovereign plan to accomplish?
“There's a new reality dating show on Netflix called, ‘Love is Blind,’ that tries to test whether relationships can be successful based on emotional connection rather than physical appearance. Couples are placed in separate rooms for a series of ‘dates’ where they get to know each other without being able to see each other until the big moment when they're ready to get engaged. Then the engaged couples get a month to spend time face-to-face before a marriage ceremony that proves whether a blind beginning can guarantee true love.
The show’s creator explains the popularity of the show in a time where social media and dating apps make so much of outward appearance: ‘Everyone wants to be loved for who they are on the inside. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like, how old you are, what your background is, which class you know, or social structure you feel like you’re a part of, everyone wants to be loved for who they are.’
But is blind love the way to love someone as they truly are? The British writer G.K. Chesterton once wrote, ‘Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.’ Chesterton argued that real love depends on commitment. The way to love someone as they truly are is to vow to love them no matter what comes, and the more one is committed to the vows of marriage, the less blind they are to the real person who desires to be loved.
Source: “Love is Blind” Netflix (February, 2020); Meredith Woerner, “How Netflix’s New Reality Series ‘Love Is Blind’ Works,” Variety (2-14-20); G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (NuVision Publications, 2007), p. 57.