The One Year® Chronological Bible (Tyndale, 2013), January 10
A deep sadness envelops Leah and overshadows all that she does. She is unloved by Jacob and everyone knows it. Similarly, a deep sadness occurs, month in and month out, as barrenness hovers over Rachel’s life like a dark cloud. Everyone is aware of her deficiency. Both women live with a deficit: Leah lacks love, and Rachel lacks babies. Ripe conditions for competition. Insecurity always breeds competition!
Women compete with one another for value, accolades, prominence, love, and affection. With every baby Leah hopes to experience Jacob’s love. She wants what Rachel has. The arrival of each of Leah’s babies reminds Rachel of the one thing she lacks: a fertile womb. She wants what Leah has.
Each woman suffers with a sinful competitive spirit and Affection Deficit Disorder.
- Jacob’s affection isn’t quite enough while Rachel’s womb remains empty. Leah has what Rachel wants, the affection of sons.
- A packed nursery doesn’t replace the empty heart of Jacob’s dutiful nightly visits into Leah’s tent. Rachel possesses what Leah wants. Leah craves the affection given by loving husbands to loved wives.
Each woman lives with continual disappointment as she focuses on what the other has. A competitive spirit is borne on the wings of insecurity. Women compensate for the thing they lack (insecurity) by focusing on the one thing in which they excel (Leah’s womb and Rachel’s beauty).
It takes Jacob, the man on the run from God, even longer to come to the end of himself. A beautiful wife, the clamor of other women for his attention, increasing family, and wealth are poor substitutes for what is missing from his life. He too, has Affection Deficit Disorder.
Sadly, each looks horizontally to have their emptiness filled, instead of upward.
A number of truths about longings emerge from this story:
- The dull ache of living outside of the garden of Eden affects the hearts of both men and women. Competition with other women is a symptom of a spiritual problem. An obsession with gaining wealth is a symptom of a spiritual problem.
- The awareness of deficiencies reminds both men and women that no human relationship or work can fill the void inherited in the hearts of all when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit.
- Outward beauty cannot erase sin in the heart; full nurseries cannot empty the heart of sin; and hard work and the accumulation of possessions cannot expunge sin from the heart.
Everyone is born with Affection Deficit Disorder. Some feel it more acutely than others. Women substitute personal beauty, the love and affection of husbands and children for the affection of Christ. Men substitute beautiful women and personal kingdom-building for a relationship with Christ.
Leah has an epiphany at the birth of her fourth son, Judah, “Now I will praise the LORD” (29:35). She discovers that neither husband or sons, but only the LORD, can give her what she longs for. Paul emphasizes the beauty and reality of Christ’s affection, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy . . .” (Philippians 2:1). The Spirit fills the craving hearts of those belonging to Christ with the affection of Christ. He is what the soul longs for.
Questions from today’s reading (Genesis 28:6-30:24):
How does the LORD introduce Himself to Jacob, and what does He promise to do for him?
What two things capture Jacob’s attention when when he arrives at the well in Padan Aram?
What does this reveal about Jacob’s character and agenda?