Before you read: after he had the dream at Bethel, Jacob moved on until he arrived at the land of “the people of the east”. There, by a well, he met some shepherds from Haran who knew his uncle Laban. As he spoke with them, Rachel came to the well to water her father’s sheep.
Read Genesis 29:9-30
It seems that Jacob inherited his trickiness from this side of the family. No surprise there since his mother, Rebekah – who helped him with the goatskin – is Laban’s sister.
The tables have turned. Jacob, who tricked his brother out of his birthright and blessing, now gets tricked himself. He worked gladly for seven years to earn Rachel. Then, on the night of the marriage – amid confusion, drinking, and darkness – at the last moment Laban sneaks Leah to Jacob instead of Rachel. Jacob sleeps with her, ecstatic in thinking he finally has his beloved Rachel, and awakes to the shock of seeing Leah there beside him.
He’s outraged. “What is this you have done to me!?” He doesn’t want Leah, never has. He wants Rachel.
(Poor Leah! But you know what? God is writing her story, too. He hasn’t abandoned her.)
Laban, cool and unruffled, tells Jacob it’s not the custom to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. ‘We don’t do that.’
‘But not to worry,’ he adds, ‘just spend a week with Leah, and I will give you Rachel as well – and of course you’ll have to serve me another seven years.’
Esau would love this.
I think God is dealing with Jacob’s sin, after all: instead of lectures, he’s giving object lessons.
God cares about Jacob. He has placed the promise of Abraham over him, given him a glimpse of Heaven, and now brings him to this place of difficulty and deceit. It’s a bit like what he did with Abraham: first gave him wonderful promises, then made him wait 20 years, bringing him through all kinds of difficulty.
It’s deliberate. God knows that time and trials do something to us, something important.
When we don’t get what we want the dragon comes, tempting us to doubt God and take matters into our own hands. It’s what he always does.
Abraham needed to learn to trust God, despite the dragon.
Now it’s Jacob’s turn.
We all get turns.