When you look at the relationship between Leah and Rachel, on the surface you may feel bad for Leah because you read of Jacob’s great love for Rachel. Read Genesis 29. Rachel was younger, “had a lovely figure and was beautiful,” while Leah “had weak eyes” (v. 17 NIV). Plainly put, “Jacob was in love with Rachel” (v. 18 NIV).
Despite her love of Jacob, Rachel sacrificially remains silent so that Jacob would marry her sister Leah first. It was not a custom to have the younger child marry off before the eldest. Though Leah was “not loved” by Jacob as she desired, God soon blesses her with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Note, Judah is the line that leads to Jesus.
These two sisters certainly had their moments, and more children followed to form the twelve tribes of Israel; Leah bore six of the twelve. Though Leah lacked the love of Jacob that she desired, God provided her a huge family and wealth. She is mentioned in Ruth 4, along with her sister, as building the house of Israel. Eventually she would be buried beside the man she adored, in the cave with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah (see Genesis 49:29-33). God was with her and her children. She was loved by Him. She was not for lack. God loves you too. Today, rest in His love. You, too, are not for lack.
“When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, He enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.” Genesis 29:31 [NIV]
“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” – Psalm 127:3 [NASB]
Waiting is hard. We are not patient people. I know I am the kind of person that wants to get things done right away. When I see something that needs done, I do it. When I see a problem, I dive in to try to fix it. I don’t like to dilly dally around.
The Lord is showing me that waiting is crucial in life. God created the earth with rhythm and balance. We cannot do everything. We shouldn’t try everything. We need to instead rest in Him and trust that at just the time, He will move and things will come to be just as He has planned and promised. Never in the Bible do you see Jesus rushing around like a chicken with His head cut off. Yet, when we closely examine our own lives, we often note we are too much action and not enough wait. We are too much noise, not enough silent moments with Him.
With Abraham and Sarah, they were promised a child but they didn’t wait. Sound like anyone you know? Then God revealed more of His plan to them, letting the two know that the promised line would come through their soon-to-be child Isaac who would soon make an appearance. Sarah laughed, but “this happened at just the time God had said it would.” Patience allows us to experience the peace God always meant for us to enjoy. Patience stretches our faith. Patience allows us to see God move in awesome ways. Today, remind yourself that God’s Word tells us there is a time for everything. Trust His timing.
“She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.” – Genesis 21:2 [NLT]
As I read through Genesis, I love to read about Abraham and Sarah and the promise God made to them. In Genesis 21, it states that the Lord visited Sarah. In verse 1, we read, “The LORD visited Sarah AS HE HAD SAID.” Then it continues, “And the LORD did to Sarah AS HE HAD PROMISED.”
We live in a world of brokenness, and this includes broken promises. We can so easily name handfuls of people who have let us down. I bet you are thinking of someone who didn’t do what they said they would do or what they promised. Who hasn’t been let down?
But things are different with God. We cannot (though so many try) define Him by our own human limitations and imperfections. He is perfect. He is holy. He is faithful. And He is a promise keeper. So as you are reading your Bible, remember this—that God keeps His promises. He does as He says. He does as He promises. His word is solid as a rock—His Word is Truth.
“The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised.” – Genesis 21:1 [ESV]
Getting Started: Discussion of Count the Stars Simile
First tell children about some similes – brave as a lion, crazy like a fox, slow as molasses. Visual illustration: molasses poured out slowly.
Genesis 15 says “look up at the sky and count the stars… so shall your offspring be.” – As many people as stars.
Can you count the stars? Do you know how many stars there are in the sky? What does this mean? (You can also show your favorite constellation to intro to these questions).
Craft / Activity
Watered down glue / glitter / black or dark blue construction paper / brown or beige construction paper
Cut the brown / beige construction paper as a small land mass before class.
Spread the watered down glue on the papers. Put the land mass at the bottom of the paper. Sprinkle glitter on the paper. Be sure to have a small box to catch the glitter that falls from the paper.
On the land mass, write “Count the Stars” – Genesis 15:5
After doing the activity, begin digging deeper into the lesson (this allows for the papers to dry and for children to have another visual learning experience).
Genesis 12:1-5 – God’s promise to Abram
I will make you into a GREAT NATION
I will make your NAME GREAT
You will be A BLESSING
… ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH WILL BE BLESSED THROUGH YOU.
(New Home – Great Name – Family)
Abram (75 years old) – left Haran with Sarai and Lot.
Genesis 15:2-6 – Count the Stars
Abram asked what the Lord could give. He had no children. The Lord said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars –if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 18:10-14 – Sarah Laughs
Three men visit Abraham and food is prepared. They explain that Sarah would have a son. Sarah laughed. Is anything too hard for the LORD?
Genesis 21:1-7 –Isaac born
The Lord did as He promised. Abraham and Sarah had a son, Isaac, God has brought me laughter. Abraham was 100 years old.
Discuss what this means to us. Discuss blessing. Discuss abundance.
Closing Verse: 2 Corinthians 9:8
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
What does this mean? What are we promised?
Every one of us makes mistakes; every one of us is flawed. I know I can fill pages and pages of paper listing mistakes I’ve made if I took the time. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that God can use us no matter how flawed we are or how long the mistake list. God made us out of dirt—there’s no doubt He can work with whatever mess we’ve made to be used for His glory.
Look at Abraham. He was called a friend because of his great faith. He was promised blessing, land, and to be a great nation because of his great faith. But he was flawed. He lied about his wife being his sister twice. He did not wait for God’s plan for Isaac to unfold either. Yet, God used him and he became a father of many nations.
Stop looking at what you did wrong, the missteps you took, the mistakes you have made. Walk forward in faith and allow God to turn your mess into something beautiful for His glory. We all have flaws. It’s our faith that matters.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 [NIV]
God’s timing is the timing that matters. In a world where we are so timed focused, trying to shove as much as we can into the time we have, and trying to plan out every second of every day, God’s timing is still the timing that matters. He is in control, and if we try to take shortcuts to get where we think we are meant to be, or even to get to where God has shown us to be, we will find that God is still in control. We cannot rush His blessings; we cannot rush His plan.
God made a promise to Abraham, but He did not specify the details. After years past and Sarah still had not had a child, she considered making sure that God’s promise came true. She gave Hagar to Abraham so that God’s plan would be satisfied. Ishmael was then born. Clarification was made by God in light of the impatience shown by Abraham; he would have a son from Sarah, and this would be the son who would continue the chosen line. There was no shortcut. There was no “taking things into my own hands” type of situation that would work. God’s timing was the only timing that mattered.
Now Reuben, the son of Leah and Jacob, discovered mandrakes. When Rachel got wind of this information, she wanted to bargain with Leah for the mandrakes. The mandrakes were believed to help with fertility and Rachel wanted a child of her own. Up until that time, she had no children. Jacob’s children were all from Leah, Rachel’s sister, and both handmaids. The deal was simple: if Leah would give the mandrakes to Rachel, Leah could spend the evening with Jacob. Leah wanted so badly to be loved by Jacob so she agreed. Unfortunately, the mandrakes didn’t work for Rachel. Her plan didn’t succeed. Once again, we cannot rush His blessings; we cannot rush His plan.
Eventually Rachel had a son; in fact, she had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph assumed the position of first born son when it came to the family blessing, receiving a double portion of the inheritance. Joseph was used by God to save Israel. Sarah also was the mother of many nations, as she too, had a son, Isaac, who was Jacob’s father. Both of these stories ended with the fulfillment of God’s Word, but neither of these situations occurred on human timing. God’s timing prevails. He is in control.
You may be at a time in your life when you are wondering why God is leading you in a particular area after all of these years. You may be considering when the big blessings will come. Perhaps you are losing patience. Just remember, you can make attempts to reach where you think you are to be, or where God has shown you will be, but ultimately it’s all in God’s hands. Patience can sometimes be difficult. It’s important to rest in the character of God. He is faithful. Trust Him. Don’t rush.