Is this a story of what goes around comes around? Jacob had stolen his brother’s birthright and blessing, and then fled to the land of his kinsman, Laban. Now, in an interesting turn of events, Laban cheats Jacob out of his marriage to Rachel by giving Leah to him instead. Maybe this is a story of recognizing that nothing comes easily, even to God’s people through whom God’s blessing would flow. Jacob had to work incredibly hard to secure for himself the kind of life necessary for being the vehicle of blessing for the world.
Is the work worth it? When God’s work is at stake, the hard work is certainly worthwhile. Sometimes I wish I could sit back and do nothing, and let the blessings of this world wash over me unearned. But if I did that, I would never develop an appreciation for the blessings. It is in part because the blessings require work on my part that they are precious.
If I’m completely honest, I have often found that serving food in local shelters is very hard work for me. I don’t like to see that people live like that. I don’t want to know that my own lifestyle contributes to others living in poverty. But I do it anyway. And in the end, serving others blesses me more. It’s hard work – not physically, but psychologically – but the reward of being touched by the lives of the people I meet there is absolutely worth it.
While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them. Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father. When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. (Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.) So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He served Laban for another seven years.