We have been taking a deeper look at people from the Bible and the things that God taught them as they went through their lives. Thanks to the Bible, we can look at their lives too and apply the lessons they learned to our own. So far, we have looked at Eve, Adam, Abel, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Sarah, Lot’s Wife, Abraham’s Servant, Rebekah, Esau, Jacob, and Leah. Today, we’ll be taking a deeper look at Rachel.
As we found out last week, Jacob fell in love with Laban’s youngest daughter, Rachel. He worked seven years for her, which passed quickly because of his love for her, but the night of their wedding, he was deceived and Laban married his oldest daughter, Leah to Jacob instead. Needless to say, Jacob wasn’t happy about that, and I’m sure Rachel was upset as well. So, Jacob worked another seven years for Rachel. This caused Leah to be neglected, due to how much Jacob loved and favored Rachel over her. In return, God blessed Leah with several sons.
Genesis chapter 30 verse 1 says, “Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die!”
When she saw that God had blessed her sister with children, Rachel’s first response wasn’t to pray to God, or to trust that He had a plan for her. Instead, her first response was to get angry and envious. It’s easy to envy what we don’t have—someone else has a fancier house or more vehicles. Or maybe they have the kind of job you want. Maybe there’s a coworker who has the position you want. In my case, I see other authors having more book sales or bigger social media platforms than me, and I have to be careful and watch out that I don’t get envious of them. My other weak area is when I see women with children. My husband and I have been crying to have children and so far, haven’t. In this case, I can understand Rachel’s feelings—when you see women having children and you don’t, envy almost feels like a natural response; as easy as breathing.
But it shouldn’t be our first response.
Do you know what envy does? Envy drives a wedge between you and your loved ones or whoever you’re envying. Envy creates a hole of bitterness inside you, that if not dealt with, will fester and grow.
In Rachel’s case, this envy created a wedge between her and her sister. Even Jacob became angry with her. Genesis chapter 30 verse two says, “And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’”
After that, Rachel’s jealousy caused her to give her handmaid to Jacob. So, when her handmaid had two sons. When Leah saw that, she gave her maid to Jacob, who also had two sons.
What Rachel’s envy did not only created a wedge between her and her sister, but it became a competition almost, to see who could bear the most sons. They competed for Jacob’s love as well and the envy allowed them to become heated with each other. It created a place of anger and selfishness. Leah ended up bearing a total of six sons.
After that happened, God came through for Rachel, despite her mistakes and her envy. Genesis chapter 30 verse 22 and 23 say, “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son, and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’”
How much better would Rachel’s relationship with her sister had been if she had only trusted God, rather than allowing envy to grow inside her heart? Instead, that envy turned to anger and bitterness, but it didn’t stop with the mothers. No, this bitterness found its way into the way that Jacob and Rachel treated Leah’s sons, favoring Rachel’s son Joseph and Benjamin over Leah’s. Leah’s sons saw this and the bitterness passed onto them, creating a huge problem later on.
God knew all of this and loved them still. He didn’t forget Rachel and allowed her to have not one son, but two. Leah had six sons and a daughter. In total, Jacob was blessed with twelve sons, plus Dinah, and even though the envy and bitterness created problems later, God turned that mistake into a powerful, wonderful, and beautiful true story of forgiveness and how He always turns the bad in our lives around for good.
So, the next time you find yourself upset and full of envy, remember that God loves you and has a plan for your life. He will not forget you. Be patient, and wait patiently for Him, even though it’s hard. You are not alone.