Genesis 29-35 describes what I call the battle of Leah and Rachel. This bout may not have started if Jacob had been given to Rachel after working his first seven years for Laban but as the story unfolds, we see a great deal of competition taking place to see if Leah could earn Jacob’s love and increase her status in Jacob’s eyes and to see who could have the most children.
While we may consider this to be foolishness, we need to understand that sometimes we fall into the same trap. If we’re not careful, we may find ourselves trying to out-spiritualize other Christians in order to appear holier or more important than they are by using more spiritual sounding vocabulary or using our spiritual gifts more openly or inappropriately. This can cause friction and disorder in the church. That is not God’s plan. He wants unity among us and he wants us to use our gifts to built up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).
We must avoid trying to impress others and avoid being jealous of their gifts and talents. This is part of our old sinful nature raising its ugly head. Instead of doing this, we need to back off, put this problem to death, confess our sin, and seek to please only the Lord. As we humble ourselves, God will exalt us to the place we need to be in when the time is right.
We need to remember that we represent different body parts of the body of Christ.
Romans 12:4-8 says, “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” NKJV
God did not give us spiritual gifts so we could earn His love because we already have His grace (favor). He made us all important in our own way and God treats each of us differently in order to bring us to perfection. We must remember we’re all at different stages in this process. We may withdraw and try to be a loner in our gifts but that is not God’s plan either because body parts that are separated from the body are practically useless. Even though all of Christ’s body is not always used simultaneously, we often work together with other parts to bring glory to God. As the body of Christ functions, those who excel in the same gifts can help others to bring their immature gifts to maturity through training or mentoring. When I think about Rachel and Leah, I hope Rachel sought advice from Bilhah, Leah, and Zilpah concerning the typical questions mothers face even today. I also hope that Leah knew that Jacob grew to love her too.
As we consider the battle between Leah and Rachel, we must understand that God still used their foolishness to accomplish His purpose of giving Jacob twelve sons.
Genesis 35:22-26 says, “Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: 23 the sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; 24 the sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin; 25 the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant, were Dan and Naphtali; 26 and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maidservant, were Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Padan Aram.” NKJV
Their descendants comprise the twelve nations of Israel which are scattered throughout the world even today. Although it may not seem like it today, the nations of the world will be blessed through them.