Jacob and Rachel
A Love Story
Today we recognize Valentine's Day - a day for (married) lovers. It celebrates romantic love, making it a popular day for couples to spend together. Valentine's Day is traditionally associated with red hearts, romance, flowers, candy or other sweet things, and the exchange of cards, called valentines, that express love. The bible is not silent on the subject of spousal love:
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee. Song of Solomon 1:4
There are several 'types' of Loving. However, three stand kinds significantly standout. Agapao (agape), Phileo, and Eros. Their designations create clear parameters for us to follow.
Agapao (verb) is a special word representing the divine love of God toward His Son, human beings in general and believers. It is also used to depict the outwardly focused love God expects believers to have for one another. Agape (noun) is normally seen as the greatest love Ephesians 5:25-32.
Phileo (verb) means “ ‘to have ardent affection and feeling’—a type of impulsive love”. This is the natural, human type of love and affection that we have for a friend and is often defined as “brotherly love.” In John 21:15-16, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him with the agape type of love and Peter responded that he had the normal human phileo type of love for Him. Later, after receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter would be able to genuinely demonstrate agape -type godly love, serving others throughout his lifetime and making the ultimate sacrifice in martyrdom. Philadelphia is the city of love.
Eros (noun) refers to sexual, erotic love or desire. True love, as explained in the Bible, isn’t focused on oneself and one’s feelings or emotions, but is instead outwardly focused on others —wanting to best serve and care for them. True love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind…
Today, we will focus on the latter. The Bible contains some of the most wonderful love stories ever told. One that is an inspiring story of love between a husband and wife is that of Jacob and Rachel. In fact, it is one of the greatest love stories of all time.
The story of Jacob and Rachel is so strong Rachel was never forgotten through the scriptures:
Rachel is the third oldest of Laban's four daughters and the second wife of Jacob. Rachel is known for her beauty, which impresses Jacob when he first meets her. Jacob soon offers to marry her. However, Rachel's beauty also proves to be a liability because it thrusts her into womanhood before she is ready. As Rachel matures, she learns more about the female body and giving birth than any of her sisters. In fact, she becomes a skilled midwife. Her journey can be seen as one from ignorance to knowledge. Rachel dies giving birth to a second son, Benjamin.
Jacob is the father of the twelve tribes of Israel and is a significant figure in biblical history. God later changes his name to Israel from which the nation finds its name. Jacob’s name means “supplanter” or “one who grabs.” In the case of Jacob, he grabbed his brothers heal when we were being born. His brother’s name was Esau and he was born first but Jacob grabbed onto his brothers' heel when we were being born. Esau was the firstborn of Isaac but he lost his birthright to Jacob. Esau is the father of the Arabic speaking peoples today. There was a natural, bitter rivalry between Jacob and Esau and today there is a natural animosity between Israel and the Arab nations surrounding her.
“When Jacob saw Rachel, daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep,
he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep.
Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud.” - Genesis 29:10-11
Poor twelve-year-old Rachel must have jumped out of her skin at the reaction of this grown man towards her.
Jacob was sent by his father Isaac to find a wife from a relative‘s family. He met Rachel at the well and for him, it was love at first sight. He went to the well and when he single-handily moved the great stone cover off of the well, perhaps trying to impress Rachel. You can tell that Jacob didn’t take long before he knew that he loved Rachel as recorded in Genesis 29:10-11: “When Jacob saw Rachel, daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud.” Interestingly, it wasn’t Rachel that cried but Jacob. He seemed to know with certainty that Rachel would be his bride. Rachel ran to her father and told him about the young traveler. Rachel’s father, Laban, ran out to meet Jacob and invited him to stay with him. Jacob stayed with Laban’s family and within a month, he had fallen deeply in love with Rachel and determined to marry her. In order to marry her, Rachel’s father convinced Jacob to work for him for seven years and he could marry Rachel. Jacob agreed. Jacob loved Rachel so much that he labored for her for seven years, “but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Gen 29:20). Love sometimes makes things in life more bearable as it did for Jacob.
When Jacob and Rachel’s family moved on from Bethel, they stopped over in a dusty little village for Rachel to give birth. The small town of Bethlehem Ephratah, which became the source of several key figures in the Bible. The bible notes "as the place where the matriarch Rachel died and was buried by the wayside" (Gen. 48:7).
When Jacob and Rachel’s family moved on from Bethel, “Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty….and as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin” (Gen 35:16-18). Ben-Oni means “son of my trouble” but Jacob, now called Israel, named him Benjamin, which means “son of my right hand.” This may have been due to Rachel’s being Jacob‘s favorite wife or his “right hand“ to him and so Rachel‘s son was given the name of Benjamin, which means “son of my right hand.”
Ruth 4:11 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:
1 Samuel 10:2 When thou art departed from me today, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulcher in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?
Matthew 2:18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
God allowed mankind to have such a relationship with each other from the beginning due to their needs (Genesis 2:18). However, the overarching theme is for mankind to love God and in all of His glory (Matthew 22:37). That is - God offered us a comparison to what love portrays with each other in order to express our full essence towards loving Him through His son Jesus Christ.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Matt 22:37
Isaiah 41:13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Psalm 143:8 "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life."
Romans 12:9-10 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."
Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
Proverbs 3:3-4 "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man."
1 Peter 4:8 "Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins."
Bishop George L. Lockhart has been pastoring for over 19 years