History seems to repeat itself here. Twice a town well at Haran was the site of significant events in one family’s story. It was here that Rebekah met Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, who had come to find a wife for Isaac. Some 40 years later, Rebekah’s son Jacob returned the favour by serving his cousin Rachel and her sheep from the same well. The relationship that developed between them not only reminds us that romance is not a modern invention, but also teaches us a few lessons about patience and love.
Jacob’s love for Rachel was both patient and practical. Jacob had the patience to wait seven years for her, but he kept busy in the meantime. His commitment to Rachel kindled a strong loyalty within her. In fact, her loyalty to Jacob got out of hand and became self-destructive. She was frustrated by her barrenness and desperate to compete with her sister for Jacob’s attention. She was trying to gain from Jacob what he had already given: devoted love.
Rachel’s attempts to earn the unearnable are a picture of a much greater error we can make. Like her, we find ourselves trying somehow to earn love – – God’s love. But apart from his word, we end up with one of two false ideas. Either we think we’ve been good enough to deserve his love or we recognise we’re not able to earn his love and assume that it cannot be ours. If the Bible makes no other point, it shouts this one: God loves us! His love had no beginning and is incredibly patient. All we need to do is respond, not try to earn what is freely offered. God has said in many ways, “I love you. I have demonstrated that love to you by all I’ve done for you. I have even sacrificed my Son, Jesus, to pay the price for what is unacceptable about you – – your sin. Now, live because of my love. Respond to me; love me with your whole being; give yourself to me in thanksgiving, not as payment.” Live life fully, in the freedom of knowing you are loved.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- She showed great loyalty to her family
- She mothered Joseph and Benjamin after being barren for many years
Weaknesses and mistakes:
- Her envy and competitiveness marred her relationship with her sister, Leah
- She was capable of dishonesty when she took her loyalty too far
- She failed to recognise that Jacob’s devotion was not dependent on her ability to have children
Lessons from her life:
- Loyalty must be controlled by what is true and right
- Love is accepted, not earned
- Where: Haran
- Occupation: Shepherdess, housewife
- Relatives: Father: Laban. Aunt: Rebekah. Sister: Leah. Husband: Jacob. Sons: Joseph and Benjamin
Key verse: “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her” (Genesis 29:20).
Rachel’s story is told in Genesis 29-35:20. She is also mentioned in Ruth 4:11.