Our Sunday school topic for today focuses on the importance of obeying God because He has a plan for each of our lives.
Handout: Leah's Perspective
1. Ask the students - Have you ever felt rejected? Has anyone ever made you feel unwanted for reasons that were not your fault? Today we will read about a woman in the Bible named Leah who felt the pain of rejection and being unwanted for years. Let us see how she handles this situation and how God handles it as well. Let us read in the Bible, the book of Genesis, chapter 29. Like many, I have read and heard this story many times, and every time in my minds eye, I saw it from Jacob's view point and how he angry and upset must have felt when he is tricked by his uncle. I believe it was hard for all those involved, however, today I want us to look at this situation through Leah's eyes or from Leah's Perspective. Let us read in the book of Genesis, chapter 29 beginning with verse 15.
15. "And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be? 16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. 19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.
20. "And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. 21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. 24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid. 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me. 26. And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27. Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. "
2. Reading on, we find out that in a short time, Jacob also marries Leah's younger sister, Rachel. He works seven more hard years for her. It was a horrible trick that Laban, Leah and Rachel's father, didn't tell Jacob of the custom thus forcing him to work seven more years, that is a story in itself, but right now let's focus on Leah and try to understand how she must have felt in her heart. Here she is, given to this man that everyone knows is in love with her younger sister. Everyone knows she has been given to marry Jacob only because she is older. She knew that he did not love or want her, how heartbreaking this must have been for her. The very next day, after her union with her husband, he is angry and goes to her father, wanting her sister. A day that was supposed to be a happy time for her, a time for celebration, and her husband is rejecting her openly to her father. She knew in her heart that soon he will marry her sister, and she will have to live the rest of her life in the shadows unloved and unwanted and she had done nothing to deserve this treatment. Still with all of her heart, she desires for her husband to love and accept her. She tries so hard to win his love with no success and her heart aches to be wanted. Here is the wonderful part. God, in His love and tender mercies looks down and He sees into the heart of this woman. He sees Leah's pain, and he knows that she has done nothing wrong and that she has obeyed her father, honoring him and the custom, even though it was a hard life for her and a pain to her heart everyday. God sees her and hears her heart's desire and he rewards her for those things with the most precious gift, a child.
Genesis 29:31 When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 32. So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, "The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me."
Still, Leah is unloved. Living in the pain of rejection from her husband even after she has given him a son. It must have been so hard to bear, but she doesn't give up, she still tries to win the love of Jacob. Years she spent in this circumstance, in pain. Notice that there is no record of her being happy but her main focus has been on pleasing her husband and being accepted by him. She has spent these years depending on Jacob to make her happy. There isn't anything wrong with this of course, however, we know that we cannot put the responsibility on anyone else for true happiness other than the Lord. He is the one and only that can bring completeness and wholeness, happiness to our hearts. No person can totally fill this void our hearts have for relationship with the Father. We read on however, and we find that something wonderful happens for Leah, something changes when her forth son in born. Let us continue in verse 35.
Genesis 29:35. And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, (Now will I praise the LORD): therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.
3. See what happens? After her fourth son is born, Leah says, Now I will praise the Lord. She makes up her mind and in her heart she decides to Praise the Lord. She still desires the love and acceptance of her husband, but this time instead of focusing on trying to win love, she looks to the Lord who loves her and she just praises Him. She names her fourth son Judah, which means Praise! Leah realizes she cannot change her circumstances, but that she can change herself and she repositions her focus to the Lord instead of her source of pain. She trusts the Lord and praises Him even though her heart is in pain and she decides to look to Him for her happiness. Reading on we find that God continues to bless Leah with sons and we find that He had a plan for her life all along. We later discover that Jesus, the Savior of the world is born from the lineage of Judah, Leah's son. God was in control, he had a plan for Leah's life and because she trusted and obeyed and did as she should, she lived out her destiny that God meant for her. What a blessing. God comforted and showed favor to Leah, the woman that was unloved and unwanted by her own. Hallelujah, one moment in the favor of the Father makes anything we go through worth it.
4. In the next chapter, it records that Leah gives birth to more sons. We understand that even though she never stops wanting her husband to love her, still she is happy in the Lord. She learns to let God be the source of her joy and her peace. God is so good and like Leah, he sees our pain. Sometimes in life the things that are suppose to be joyous, fails. Plans can fail and disappointments can happen. this is why we must always let God be the center of our focus and our main source of strength and joy, ever praising Him and thanking Him for his love and his goodness and mercy. You may be feeling rejected or unwanted. Maybe even unloved or worthless. Let me tell you today that God loves you and He accepts you. He chose you and he knows, sees, and understands your pain. He can take the unloved, the rejected, heartbroken and hurt ones and he can heal your pain and bring you into the purpose he has for you. He can use you for a purpose higher than you could even imagine, more amazing than you could ever hope or dream of just like He did with Leah, from the lineage of her son Judah came great kings. King David, Solomon, and most importantly the King of Kings, the salvation of the world...JESUS! Be encouraged, you are accepted and loved by Almighty God, that is such an honor.
5. What does the Bible say? Isaiah 46:11
6. Describe the joy and personal reward of humble dedication - and trusting the Lord always.
7. Challenge students to serve others in humility this week
Discuss what might have happened had Leah been disobedient? Discuss the rewards that she has by doing
what was right.
Romans 8:28 " And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and to them who are the called according to His purpose."
Thank you for giving us another opportunity to come together
and study your word so that we can learn your ways and show
love to you. We thank you for all that you do for us everyday.
Help us to always trust you and know that no matter what we
may go through, no matter how we may feel, help us to be content
and look to you for comfort, happiness and for strength. Remind
us that only You can complete our hearts and bring true joy. Protect us,
lead and guide us and help us follow you everyday and We
forever praise, worship, and be thankful to you. We worship you
(In the name of JESUS...Amen.)
January 16, 2015