So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. Genesis 29:20-23 NASB
If I were to label this particular article differently, I would title it NEITHER POLYGAMY NOR DIVORCE. You will see why shortly.
Today, I’ll look into something about the way our father Jacob married that serves a lesson for us as we navigate our own Journey. I do not write as someone who has arrived, but as a fellow brother in the journey, who is also learning, sometimes by the hard road of stupid choices and mistakes. May the Lord help us to navigate victoriously in our marriage journeys and so fulfill God’s will for our lives, and even for our marriages. Amen.
So, here are the few things we must note concerning marriage:
A HIGHER PURPOSE FOR MARRIAGE: It is true that marriage is the divinely ordained route for the legitimate satisfaction of sexual desires, but where the only purpose for a marriage union is the satisfaction of sexual desires, then such a union is commencing on shaky grounds. There is no records whatsoever that Jacob saw any higher purpose for his marriage other than the satisfaction of his sexual desires. He had longed for Rachael and looked forward to marriage as a means of satisfying that longing. He just couldn’t wait for the 7 years to be completed. After the 7 years was completed, Papa Jacob walked up to his father in law and demanded that his wife be given him “that I may go in unto her”.
Every night, Papa Jacob was dreaming about his marriage, and all he was seeing was how he will go in unto her. He was not seeing the birthing of covenant children, he was not seeing the eternal purposes of God. In fact, nothing about the marriage showed him as a man in pursuit of a purpose for his marriage. It was simply the satisfaction of sexual desires; and the moment his wife was given to him, he did not even wait to see her well… He just simply went in unto her.
For a generation like ours with its acute sexual problems even among the brethren, the legitimate satisfaction of sexual desires can become a burning issue in the heart of any brother or sister. However, the Lord warns us that this is an error; it is putting the cart before the horse. I’ve never been there before, but our elders say that in marriage, we will drink our full of sex and hence become like the dead man who is tired of sleeping. They say a time will come when sex will not be a primary issue between we and our spouses. Hence, we cannot afford to make this transitory issue a major part of our lives. We cannot make permanent decisions using temporary realities. The overt concern of even brethren today with the size of a lady’s breast, the length of a brother’s penis and all that, is a sgn of a generation that is missing the point. The truth remains that there is quite more to marriage than sex, and all I can pray is that God will open your eyes to see it. (I am including a a topic I did on a missionary couple for further reading).
SEEKING THE LORD’S WILL FOR YOUR MARRIAGE: Well, since Papa Jacob did not even have a relationship with God, he could not even ask God whether it was Leah or Rachael that was God’s will for him. It is true that he was sent to her mother’s place to find a wife for himself; but when Abraham’s servant was sent there, he did not just go looking for what was beautiful to his eyes. He did not simply say that since he is in Abraham’s place, then any good woman can serve. No. He prayed. He sought mercy of the God of Heaven. Even when God answered him, he still paused and waited to be sure it was God. But not Papa Jacob. He simply saw Leah and Rachael, and using the principle of who is more beautiful, he chose Rachael.
I have reasons to believe that Leah was God’s plan for Jacob. Yes. Every indication in Bible reveals that. It was Leah that finally reached the promised land with Jacob, thus it was Leah that Isaac and Rebekah met- Rachel died on the way. Secondly, that Israel exists today rests on the tribe of Judah, from whom the Saviour came in the flesh… And Judah was the fourth son of Leah. She was the woman who birthed the kingly tribe.
Some people think that in marriage, they should chose what they like, and that will be the will of God. You see, sometimes it may be that the person who is God’s will for you, you don’t like him or her yet. You are still in love with someone else, going out with someone else, doing husbandly and wifely things with someone else, but your eyes are not opened. You are still lost in the quagmire of your myopic understanding. You better humble yourself and pray like Job’s friend taught us, “that which i see not, teach thou me.”
Before your choices can become God’s will for you, you have to be submitted to the Divine school of wisdom… You have to come in humility and let God change your mindset; and as you are making marriage choices, be careful and be humble, so that you do not regret at the end.
IT IS A LIFE-LONG CHOICE: Sometimes, when I see how our brethren in the western world make the choice of their marriage partners (especially those who have not become genuine disciples of Jesus), you see clearly what it means when a Divine institution is trivialized. The story line is usually quite funny….“I was 18, he was 20… We fell in love, we dated, then we got married. After few years of marriage, I discovered he/she was this or that, and so after prayerful considerations and seeking counsel, I separated from him/her…. Now I am happily married to the person that I believe is God’s will for me. Then I was naive, now I have grown in the Lord…”
Marriage is a life-long institution… It is not meant for naive people. As long as a society believes that a marriage can be dissolved anytime, or that a man can marry more than one wife (whether serially (marry, divorce and remarry), or all at once (African style of polygamy)), then the making of marriage choices will be severely trivialized.
How else do we explain the fact that a woman was brought to Jacob, and he didn’t even bother to check if she was Rachael and just went in unto her? It shows that he did not fully grasp the eternalness and singleness of the marriage institution. He felt that if things did not work out, he could either divorce the woman and remarry, or he can add another woman to the first woman. However none of these is accepted by Divine standards.
I am not an authority in marriage matters, and I am still forming my opinions on many doctrinal issues of the Church. However, the chatter popularly bandied that a marriage can be dissolved when deception is discovered on the part of any of the spouses do not directly have a biblical basis. I believe it is based on human emotions and feelings.
Why do I say so?
That Jacob deceived Isaac and got blessed did not make Isaac reverse the blessing when he found out that he was deceived. That the Gibeonites deceived Joshua and entered a covenant with Israel did not make the Covenant null and void in God’s sight. That Jacob was deceived by Laban and he married Leah did not make his marriage to Leah to be annulled.
Marriage is an life-long decision, an ‘everlasting’ choice (as far as this life is concerned). There is no amount of carefulness and waiting that you exert while trying to make a choice concerning marriage that is too much. Sometimes, when a marriage choice is before us as young people with our emotions crying for release, we become frustrated when we are asked to subject that marriage choice to elders and fathers and marriage committees. We tend to fight anyone who feels against our marriage choice as our enemy.
However, if we know that marriage is life-long, and that there is no room for divorce, or polygamy (not to talk of adultery), then no amount of caution exercised before entering into that union is too much.
May the Lord grant us Understanding.
POLYGAMY WAS NEVER GOD’S WILL: No man who followed God in the matter of his marriage and desired to do God’s will ever married more than wife. Wherever we saw polygamy practiced, be it in the Bible or in contemporary times, we see a generation that do not seek God’s will for their marriage. David, for example sought the mind of God for every little steps he took as a king, but there is this one area where he did not seek God’s will nor submit to Divine authority, and that was in his marriage and family life. David could never had listened to God and married a second wife. Abraham had only one wife – Sarah (even though he slept with Hagar, but he never married her, and Abraham married his second wife after Sarah had died). Isaac had only one wife, Rebekah. It was Jacob who ended up having 2 wives. He became the first polygamist amongst the patriarchs and maybe opened the way for polygamy in his generation. That God brought redemption out of his mistake does not mean that He was happy about Jacob’s polygamy.
AND SO? After Jacob complained about his ‘forced’ marriage to Leah, he was asked to give one week’s gap before Rachael was given to him, on the condition that he will serve for another 7 years. This was how Jacob spent 14 years serving a man for his 2 daughters, and of course bringing upon himself the myriads of problems that come with polygamy as we would later see.
May the Lord help us to be careful as we make our marriage journeys… That we will not belong to the statistics of those who made mistakes or missed it. Rather, that we will be careful to walk in the perfect will of God for our lives and our marriages.