Jacob Deceived

Open Your Bible

Genesis 29:1-35, Genesis 30:1-43, Deuteronomy 21:15-17, Psalm 63:1-4

My family recently subscribed to a new television streaming service, one that walks me down memory lane with beloved after-school TV shows and movies that I watched as a kid. Revisiting those stories, and sharing them anew with my daughters, has been so much fun.

Narratives shape us. Good stories can awaken our desire for eternity, reminding us of the good in the world, while lifting the veil on the darkest parts of the human experience.

I think the story of Jacob and his two wives, sisters Leah and Rachel, checks all of those boxes. It is a story brewed in brokenness and stirred with deceit, envy, and deep sadness. As a kid, I thought it was so very sweet, a little like a fairy tale: How romantic that Jacob loved Rachel enough to work for seven years to marry her!

But revisiting the story as an adult unlocks deeper truths about what I’m reading. Laban used his power to deceive Jacob into fourteen years of labor. Leah was cast aside and considered ugly, while Rachel gloated over her favor with Jacob—that is, until Leah bore sons, while Rachel could not. What a desperately sad story about two broken marriages, rival sisters, and a deceptive uncle who repeatedly manipulated his kin for profits.

Jacob was deceived.
Leah was rejected and unloved.
Rachel was emptied out by envy.
Laban saw profits instead of people.

When Leah bears Jacob’s sons, she names them Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. With each son’s birth, she hopes that Jacob will love her. But by the time Judah is born, she seems to relent and refocus her affections on her God, saying, “This time I will praise the LORD” (Genesis 29:35).

Between Leah and Rachel and their servant women Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob had twelve sons. These twelve sons would go on to be the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel, and from the tribe of Judah, Jesus would be born. This son of the unloved wife would lead to the birth of the Messiah, who would bear the weight of every broken relationship.

The sad twists of this story lead us to look forward to the cross, because it is the only lens that allows us to see the grief and sadness that come from broken relationships more clearly. And yet, the good news of Jesus doesn’t change what we feel when we are mistreated, deceived, or utterly distracted with envy.

Each of those scenarios tears at our relationships with other people, inevitably causing us to see people as less than the image-bearers God created us to be. We wound and are wounded. People become objects, wrong sources of our happiness (like Rachel was to Jacob), transactional sources of labor and economic gain (like Jacob was to Laban), or they make us the victim of our own disordered desires (like Rachel did to Leah).

But Jesus takes all of that–every objectifying, victimizing, heartbreaking, manipulative, broken interaction–and instead, offers us perfect healing and a gospel-paved way to reconciliation. As we read on, Jacob will experience total reconciliation with his brother Esau. While not every relationship experiences that kind of healing in this life, as we seek to treat other people the way Jesus treats us, we can lean on the shared gift of the gospel to be the common ground of grace. It is all we have to offer.

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52 thoughts on "Jacob Deceived"

  1. Marlyne says:

    I thank God for the reading of the word and the profound insight I got from reading the comments. It has truly been a blessing for me this morning to know that even in my brokeness from all the things I’ve been through that God can turn everything around for me. Leah may not have been loved by her husband but her womb was fruitful and she was still loved by God and her children. Sometimes what the enemy makes for bad God turns it around for our good. Knowing that Leah lineage lead to our precious Messiah is just mind blowing at how amazing God is.

    1. Jennifer Anapol says:

      ❤️

  2. Churchmouse says:

    Anyone else think Jacob is a bit clueless? He seems obtuse in regards to the scheming and manipulation of his wives. He should surely recognize this as he has a history in this kind of thing. He had done a bit of scheming in his younger years as well. And he would currently do it to Laban. Yet Jacob has the nerve to say “my honesty will testify for me.” How could Jacob say this with a straight face?

    Are we not like Jacob at times? We see others’ sin so clearly but we minimize our own. We pray lofty prayers with eloquent words when there remains unconfessed sin we keep hidden. We have a public facade we maintain which looks nothing like who we are in private. We say we value honesty and integrity but in truth we tell “little white lies” and we live by “the end justifies the means.”

    Let us get real before the Lord this morning. Let us take time today to name our sins and sincerely repent of them. Let us ask God to reveal any deception we’ve been harboring or excusing. Let us look at the ugly parts of our hearts and minds and purge them right now as we ask the Lord for forgiveness. Let us praise Him because He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Let’s start today with a clean slate. Let us hold out heads high as we declare that our honesty will be our testimony. Lord, help us for we know we cannot do this in our own strength. AMEN.

    1. Nancy Singleton says:

      You hit the nail on the head, Churchmouse! May we be honest before the Lord.

    2. Jennifer Anapol says:

      Amen!

  3. Angie says:

    Brokenness.
    It comes to every one at some time.
    Our pastor often says it will either make us “bitter” or “better.”

    “Jacob was deceived. Leah was rejected and unloved. Rachel was emptied out by envy. Laban saw profits instead of people.” Except, their stories do not end there. For, All-powerful God, chose to insert Himself in the mess and bring Light in the darkness.

    Could we not insert names, (including our own at times) into these verses today?
    _____________ was deceived. ___________ was rejected and unloved. ______________ was emptied out by envy. _____________ saw profits instead of people.
    This world is a broken place. We may be deceived, rejected, and unloved. In our imperfectness we may get sidetracked and allow envy or profits to mess us up.
    Except our story, doesn’t dwell in brokenness. Our story also doesn’t end there (Spoiler alert…God wins…and we are on His team!!!!).
    We dwell in hope.
    The God who formed us, who created us with a plan for fellowship with Him, made a way – though we were sinners/broken, through His very own Son, Jesus, we may be reunited with Him.
    We can dwell in hope. (Psalm 91)
    The stuff that happens to us really hurts (I admit with tear-filled eyes), but, we don’t have to battle alone in brokenness (my hope-filled broken heart proclaims).
    “While not every relationship experiences that kind of healing in this life,” (although that is how I pray), “as we seek to treat other people the way Jesus treats us,” (not dwelling in brokenness, but in the hope of Jesus – seeing others as He sees them), we can lean on the shared gift of the gospel to be the common ground of grace (the gospel-armor that covers me, the grace and love-my weapons of choice).
    I will chose hope. I will chose worship.
    For God is…
    Reverent, kneeling, dancing, singing, open armed praising, trusting – I chose worship for You are worthy O Lord.
    Amen.

    1. Nancy Singleton says:

      And amen!

    2. Jianellie Manalastas says:

      “Except our story doesn’t end in brokenness.” I have really loved the Wisdom that the Holy Spirit has given through you. It’s so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Rachel says:

    Good catch, Christina! I’ve read/studies Genesis numerous times but guess I haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning, because I didn’t even notice. Oops. Way to read with your brain on (as an old pastor of mine used to say) :)

  5. Elaine Morgan says:

    ❤️

  6. Christina says:

    Am I the only one distracted by the fact that Judah WASN’T Leah’s youngest son? She had two more sons after Judah (Gen 30:17,19). Still a wonderful devotional, but I wanted to correct the mistake…

    1. Kate Mills says:

      I notice this too!

    2. Kate Mills says:

      I noticed this too!

    3. Amber Trimble says:

      Yes, I also noticed this and was distracted by it.

    4. Kelsie Hutchins says:

      Wasn’t distracted per se but I did notice that.

    5. Lita Danlag says:

      I noticed this and had to read that scripture again. I was so confused.

    6. Jennifer Anapol says:

      Me too! I guess just an oversight.

    7. Jess Thomas says:

      True, however Judah was the son whose birth turned Leah’s eyes back to God. It was after Judah’s birth that Leah finally said “This time I will praise the Lord.” This is what struck me, reading this and realizing this was the line that God used to gift the world with Jesus, our Savior.

    8. Ewunike Brady says:

      It was her youngest son at the time she declared he was for edifying God…that’s how I perceived it.

  7. Tina says:

    Have I just had a light bulb moment or was this a revelation?

    Jacob had to be deceived by Laban, Rachel and Leah, had to (sadly) play their part in this history, the sorrow that followed for them both, the birth of the 12 tribes, the generations of brokenness, hurt and pain throughout the Old Testament ..
    History repeating itself, over and over, until eventually and FINALLY..

    JESUS…

    ..and from the tribe of Judah (the youngest son of Leah), Jesus would be born. The youngest son of the unloved wife would lead to the birth of the Messiah, who would bear the weight of every broken relationship…

    JESUS puts a stop to THAT history, and begins a NEW history, that involves Truth, Hope, Grace, Redemption, Love in the highest, Healing. Salvation.

    TRUTH. HOPE. GRACE. REDEMPTION. LOVE IN THE HIGHEST. HEALING. SALVATION.

    It’s/we are so, so so so far from perfect..we are still broken, still in need of a saviour..

    But God..

    He gave us Jesus, out of that deceit, that brokenness, that pain, torment, unhappiness, that mockery, that grief and sadness.. that family history..

    God gave us beauty out of the ashes of the past!

    GOD GAVE US JESUS!

    GOD GAVE US JESUS!

    TRUTH.

    HOPE.

    GRACE.

    REDEMPTION.

    LOVE IN THE HIGHEST.

    HEALING.

    SALVATION.

    Amen.

    Happy Monday Beloveds..❤

    1. Julie Ganucheau says:

      Love this revelation, Tina! ❤️

    2. Kathy NewellAllison says:

      Amen and hallelujah!

    3. Mari V says:

      ❤️ Happy Monday to you as well Tina!

    4. Nancy Singleton says:

      Love this! Thanks Tina.

    5. Cheryl Huskey says:

      Thank you for sharing this revelation! Hallelujah!

    6. Camille English Davis says:

      ❤️

  8. Josie Jen says:

    “The youngest son of the unloved wife would lead to the birth of the Messiah, who would bear the weight of every broken relationship.” Wow. Wow. His story is redemption. Because of Jesus, our story can also be redemption.

    1. Bethany Slocum says:

      Powerful!

    2. Laura Posten says:

      Yes!❤️

    3. Laura Posten says:

      Yes! ❤️