CH 06 NO LOVE FOR FATHER

No Love For Father examines key elements to living a victorious Christian life. What it means to love the world by  studying the life of Isaac and Jacob. How walking in lust corrupted their lives and thwarted their love for God.   

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, NIV

 Choosing a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions we make in life. Choose wisely and many happy years will follow.  A poor choice brings complications and misery into our lives. Jacob traveled to Haran and chose a wife as his father instructed him to, but the lust of his eyes motivated his choice. Ultimately, Jacob’s wife complicated his family’s relationship with their God for generations.

The Hebrew word translated as “love” in the story of Jacob and Rachel is the equivalent of our English word for love which is rooted in sexual desire.[1]  In less than one month, Jacob fell in love with Rachel, and he longed to have her in his bed. Yet, he was able to control his lust for seven years. Clearly, Jacob was a man of great fortitude.  His ability to love contained a characteristic similar to his God’s. Jacob’s love made seven years seem like days. God’s love for us makes a thousand years seem like one day to him.[2]  Jacob possessed the deep capacity for love needed to live the kind of faith pleases God – a faith which “works by love.”[3] Unfortunately, Jacob chose to love like the world loves. 

 LOVING LIKE THE WORLD

Few, if indeed any of us, love unconditionally as God does. God chose to love Jacob before he was born. Therefore, God’s decision to love was not based on anything Jacob had done. God also remained faithful to Jacob when there were many reasons for God’s love to grow cold.

In comparison to God’s love, Jacob’s father chose to love the son who satisfied the lust of his flesh.  Isaac’s conditional love ultimately betrayed the God who chose to love him.  Jacob learned how to love from Isaac’s faith.  Therefore, Jacob lived to satisfy his lust as Isaac did.  Rebekah satisfied the lust of Jacob’s eyes, so he chose to love her. Loving as Isaac and Jacob did drives out love for God.

According to tradition, the Apostle John spent the final years of his life as a chief elder of the Ephesian church.  John perceived that his congregations love for God had grown cold, and he sought to bring the church back to her first love by writing an open letter for all churches that instructed them how to love God. 

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.  1 John 2:15-17, KJV

 The Living Bible says, “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love these things you show that you do not really love God.” Another translation called The Message says, “Love for the world squeezes out love for the Father.”  In other words, when you love the way the world loves; you will not love God “the Father.”

It is not possible to simultaneously love the way the world does and love “the Father” for several reasons.  First, God will not buy our love by giving us whatever we want.  He provides for our needs, not our lusts.  Second, God does not satisfy the lust of our eyes.  Seeing God has produced terror or indifference.  The children of Jacob saw a manifestation of their God at Sinai.  Moses trembled with fear and everyone else fled in a panic.[4]  When Jesus walked the earth he declared, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.[5] Yet Isaiah tells us that Jesus “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.[6]  Finally, it is impossible to love the way the world loves and still love God because no one will boast in God’s presence.[7]  If we love the things that we have done through our own strength and ability, we will find ourselves at war with God. When his presence comes like a fire consuming the works of human flesh, we will resist God and claim the devil is fighting.

 HOPE FOR THE WORLD

Isaac walked in the lust of his flesh.  Jacob walked in the lust of his eyes. They loved the world and walked in the ways of this world.  Fortunately, God so loved the world that he gave his son to redeem those entangled in the ways of this world.  Isaac and Jacob reveal a comforting truth. Our lack of love for “the Father” does not stop him from loving us.  God’s declaration to Moses is a shining ray of hope for the children of promise who are struggling to find their way out of the world and walk in the faith that works by love.

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.  Exodus 3:15, NIV

 More curious than the name God chose to be remembered by, is God’s desire to be remembered from generation to generation by this unusual name; “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob!” God’s name could be paraphrased this way: I am the God of a liar, the God of a man who hated me, and the God of a deceiver. In God’s name is great hope for every generation.  God is who he is because that is who God chooses to be.  Our behavior does not dictate how God responds to us, nor the depth of his love for us.  In another place, God told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”[8] God is who he wants to be and no one can change God with his or her behavior.  In sum, it is impossible to manipulate God.

But about the resurrection of the dead have you not read what God said to you,’ I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Matthew 22:30-32, NIV

 We can make the same mistakes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made and still have hope, because God promised to change Jacob’s name to Israel.  Yet, hundreds of years later Jesus was still calling him Jacob.  We have hope because God’s people continue to be strangers and foreigners in this world like the great men of faith who lived before us.[9]  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob made mistakes, yet each has a trophy in Hebrews, Chapter 11, the “faith man’s hall of fame.”  Before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died, they learned how to have faith in God.  When they understood Abraham’s faith, they learned what it means to love God.  God turned the bad things the patriarchs did into good and in so doing taught us valuable lessons in faith, hope, and love. 

 LUST OF THE EYE

There was nothing wrong with Jacob getting married.  Paul said it is better to remain unmarried, but God is wiser than Paul.[10]  God created woman because it is not good for a man to be alone.[11] In addition to that, “he who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”[12]

There was something wrong with the reason Jacob married, and the way he obtained his wife.  Out of love and compassion, Abraham sought a wife for his son, Isaac, the only child of Sarah who had waited a very long time to have a baby.  Sarah’s death severed the close relationship Isaac had with his mother.  Abraham knew that Isaac needed to be comforted after his mother died.[13]  While Isaac’s mother could not be replaced, the companionship of a woman could.  Abraham made his most trusted servant swear an oath that two things would never happen.  First, that Isaac would not take a wife from the Canaanites.  Second, that Isaac would remain in the land of Canaan.  Then Abraham gave his servant specific instructions. 

 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,”… “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’–he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.  If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine.  Only do not take my son back there.” Genesis 24:7-8, NIV

 Abraham preferred that Isaac remain single than leave Canaan to find a wife. The circumstances that led to a wife hunt for Jacob were vastly different.  Rebekah’s new plan to rectify the disastrous results of her last plan did not include a wife.  Obtaining a wife was merely an excuse to get Jacob out of the house before Esau found opportunity to kill him.  Rebekah told Jacob one thing and her husband something else. 

 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran.   Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides.  When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there.  Why should I lose both of you in one day?” Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women.  If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” Genesis 27:43-46, NIV

 Godly Rebekah knew the will of God, but her ways were not God’s ways and her thoughts were not God’s thoughts.  God’s way creates peace.  Rebekah’s way created hatred between brothers.  She thought she acted in Jacob’s best interest, but she didn’t.  Rebekah was concerned first and foremost for Rebekah.  “Why should I lose both of you,” she complained to Jacob.  “[M]y life will not be worth living” she complained to Isaac. Her selfish plans designed to protect her own interests tore her family apart.

Jacob was seventy years old and still doing what his mother thought best.  He would have fared much better in life if he had stopped fulfilling plans concocted by his mother and sought God’s guidance.  Mother’s last plan was a fiasco, so why did Jacob allow himself to get sucked into another one?  Instead of kindly and lovingly rebuking his mother for constantly interfering in his life, Jacob yielded to the flesh – Rebekah’s wisdom.  When Rebekah complained about the grief Esau’s wives created, Isaac yielded to the flesh as well.[14]

Early the next day, Isaac called Jacob into his office for a fatherly talk that may have gone something like this; “Jacob, my father knew it was important that I marry a godly woman from our family in Haran.  I want no less for you.  You will not marry a woman from Canaan like your brother did.  Pack your bags and go to Haran with my blessings, so you can find a wife who will worship our God.”  Jacob went to Haran and found a woman who worshiped idols, because the way he sought his wife was wrong. 

Abraham sent a servant bound by an oath to do what was best for Isaac.  When the servant approached the city, he prayed. 

 … “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.   See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.   May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’–let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac… Genesis 24:12-14, NIV

 Abraham’s servant wanted more than a wife for Isaac.  He prayed God would lead him to the woman God chose to be Isaac’s wife.  In contrast, Isaac sent Jacob off with his blessing, but no one prayed Jacob would find the woman God chose for him. 

Isaac failed Jacob when he allowed him to leave Canaan. God saw the callous way Jacob’s family treated him and intervened.  He met Jacob on his way to Haran and promised to bring him safely home again.  God could have sent Jacob back to Canaan, but he didn’t.  Jacob needed to be free from the influence of his parents so he could mature. 

TRUTH EXPOSED

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife.  My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.” So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast.  But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her.  And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.  When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?” Genesis 29:21-25, NIV

 When the time came for Jacob to marry Rachel, he ate the fruit of his own way. As the morning light filtered into the marriage tent, Jacob saw the face of tender eyed Leah in his bed. After the screaming match with Leah’s father was over, Laban gave Jacob the woman he loved, but he also swindled him into paying fourteen years of service instead of seven.  Jacob was not the only one who knew how to obtain the better end of a deal though deceit. 

We consider it a tragedy when hateful, hurtful things happen to us.  We seldom see the tragedy when we hurt others.  Instead, we often feel justified.  Nevertheless, there is a clear principle of reaping and sowing in the Bible that God enforces without partiality.  What we do to others has an uncanny way of coming back to bite us.  The bad things that happen to us are often a result of bad seeds we have sown in the life of others, but not always.  There are times we have done nothing wrong yet suffer because others sin.  Jesus had no sin, yet many hateful and hurtful things happened to him.  In this life pain is inevitable because the way this world loves is hateful compared to God’s love.  In the matter of Jacob’s wives, he reaped the deceit he had sowed in the life of his brother and father.

When something bad happens, we should never assume we know why. We should ask God for the truth.  God promised to give us wisdom liberally when we go through “trials of many kinds” if we ask for his wisdom.[15]  Without God’s wisdom, we will make inaccurate judgments that cause us to blindly stumble through life always the victim never the victor. 

 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.  And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.  And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.  And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord has heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also; and she called his name Simeon.  And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons; therefore was his name called Levi.  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.  Genesis 29:30-35,  KJV

 The Bible tells us Jacob hated Leah, but he must have enjoyed his marital pleasures because he never stopped visiting her tent.  She bore four babies in four years.  If Jacob hated Leah the way Webster’s Dictionary defines hate, he would have had a strong aversion to her and been intensely hostile toward her.  Why would Jacob spend so much time in Leah’s tent making babies if he had a strong aversion to her? 

Seven different translations of the Bible say the same thing.[16] Jacob loved Rachel more, which means he also loved Leah. He simply preferred Rachel.  All the translations I surveyed agree that God saw Jacob’s treatment of Leah as hate.  The King James Bible says, “the Lord saw that Leah was hated.” As we have already learned in Chapter 1, God does not see like we see.  What we call preference God called hate, despised, or unloved depending on which Bible translation you read. 

God’s love shows no favoritism. He does not prefer one of us above another. There are many adults still bleeding from wounds inflicted by human parents who had obvious favorites.  Someone might argue that Jesus had favorites because Peter, James, and John were included in experiences from which others were excluded. Beth Moore aptly dispels that argument in The Beloved Disciple.  She skillfully points out how the inner three simply did not “get it.”  Jesus drew Peter, James and John closer because they needed more help, not because Jesus loved them more.[17] Only a man or woman who loves like the world loves would perceive favoritism in Jesus’ actions. 

When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb and let Rachel remain barren.  Thus, the stage was set for this threesome to learn valuable lessons.  Leah needed to know that God loved her and that the world never would.  Jacob needed to learn that walking in the lust of his eyes produces barren, loveless unions. Rachel needed to learn that Jacob’s God is greater than the idols she worshiped. 

When Leah’s first child was born, she thought God had intervened to make Jacob love her.  To Leah the baby was a means to obtain her desire, but she was wrong.  Leah eventually had seven children, yet none of those children ever made Jacob value her more than he valued Rachel.  When Jacob thought Esau was coming to kill him, Jacob arranged his family in the order that he loved them.  He put the handmaids and their children closest to danger, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph the farthest away from harm.[18]

God gave Leah sons, so she could learn to love God.  When Simeon, their second son was born, Leah realized that bearing sons would not win Jacob’s love.  At Simeon’s birth Leah declared, “Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also…”[19]

Leah wanted Jacob’s love so much God’s love was little compensation.  When she awoke with morning sickness for the third time, her hopes revived that a child would win Jacob’s love.  As son number three burst into the world Leah said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”[20]  Leah could have given Jacob thirty-three sons and it would not have made a difference.  Jacob did not understand God’s unconditional love.  In addition to that, Jacob walked in the ways of the world and had no love for “the Father” in him.  Consequently, Jacob could not love Leah the way she longed to be loved.  

When Leah conceived for the fourth time, she lost hope that a child would win Jacob’s love. As she grew great with child, God’s love filled her thoughts. This time she praised the Lord and called her son Judah.  From the tribe of Judah, Jesus arose to satisfy our thirst to be loved. 

 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister.  So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”  Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” Genesis 30:1-2, NIV

 After Leah gave birth to Judah, the truth was exposed. Jacob did not like what the light revealed.  He loved Rachel so deeply that he worked fourteen years just to have her in his arms.  She was more than enough to make him a happy man.  In contrast, Rachel did not count life worth living if she didn’t have a child.  Why wasn’t Jacob’s love enough for Rachel? Why Rachel was jealous of Leah when she possessed what Leah desired? Jacob was angry with Rachel because he knew God had done this and now he knew why.  Walking in the lust of his eyes gave Jacob a barren union with a wife he could not satisfy. 

Rachel lost all hope of bearing a child so she used her servant, Bilhah, to obtain one.  When Bilhah conceived Dan, Rachel ecstatically declared that God had vindicated her, but one child wasn’t enough.  Leah already had four, so Rachel sent Jacob to Bilhah’s tent again.  When Bilhah conceived again, Rachel declared, “I have won.”[21] However, Leah was not willing to concede the battle, so she sent Jacob to her servant Zilpah’s tent.  Two more sons were born much to Leah’s delight.  Technically, Leah could count six children to Rachel’s two.  Who really won?

When one of Leah’s sons brought some mandrakes home, Rachel sold Leah a night with Jacob in exchange for the mandrakes.  God opened Leah’s womb adding another son to Jacob’s ever-expanding family.  After Leah’s sixth and final son was conceived she said, “This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.”  Leah finally understood that the only thing she would get from a man who walks in the ways of this world is honor.   

 Rachel’s deal for the mandrakes revealed the depth of her despondency.  Mandrakes were believed to promote conception; therefore, she would not have given up a night with Jacob if she planned to use the mandrakes as an aphrodisiac.  Mandrakes also had narcotic qualities.  While too much could be fatal, just enough put the user in a euphoric state or in today’s terminology get “high.”[22]  Weary of the struggle with Leah, Rachel opted to spend a night alone dulling her pain.

 RACHEL’S REPROACH

When Rachel hit bottom, she must have found Jacob’s God.  She finally stopped demanding and manipulating to get what she wanted from Jacob and prayed to her husband’s God.  

… God remembered Rachel and God hearkened to her and opened her womb.  And she conceived and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach; and she called his name Joseph… Genesis 30:22-23, KJV

 Joseph would do more than take away Rachel’s reproach.  He grew up to preserve their family in the midst of a famine and teach them how to love again.  Rachel brought shame upon her family when she introduced idol worship into a family committed to love one God.  When Rachel prayed to Jacob’s God, he gave her a baby because he is good to everyone.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good.  He sends his rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  He gave Rachel a baby to undo the reproach she brought upon her family.  

After Joseph’s birth, Jacob decided it was time to strike out on his own and provide for his family.  He waited until Laban left town and told his wives to start packing.  Before Rachel closed her suitcase, she slipped into her father’s tent and stole his idols.  Laban furiously pursued Jacob because he wanted his gods back.  When he caught up with Jacob, God warned Laban to choose his words carefully. Laban said to Jacob,

 I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.  Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s house.  But why did you steal my gods?” Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force.  But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live.  In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.  Genesis 31:29-32, NIV

 Much to Rachel’s horror, Jacob decreed the death of anyone in possession of Laban’s gods.  While her husband and father argued, Rachel slipped away and quickly hid the idols in a camel’s saddle.  She promptly sat on the saddle and broke into a sweat as she listened to her father rummaging through her family’s tents. 

Laban did not find his gods, but he did do something peculiar.  He entered into a covenant with Jacob by calling on the God of Abraham.[23]  Then Jacob promised that he would never harm Laban’s daughters swearing by the fear of his father Isaac.  Why didn’t Laban swear by his idols? Laban’s actions acknowledged that Jacob’s God could be trusted to protect his people.  The covenant between Laban and Jacob may be the only thing that saved Rachel from a fate worse than death when Jacob found out what a fool she had made of him. 

If we love this world by walking in our own lusts, we will become like the one we love.  More than fifteen years later, the stolen idols were still in Jacob’s house.  Returning the idols to the rightful owner would have exposed the truth.  Jacob preferred to live a lie rather than admit his father-in-law was right, even if it meant his family worshiped a lie. 

After God showed love and kindness toward Jacob, Jacob made a demand similar to the one his father-in-law had made. 

 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”  So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.  Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”  So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.  Genesis 35:1-4

 “Give up the idols!” Jacob demanded, and his family obeyed.  At any time, Jacob could have rid his family of idol worship.  One God had answered Jacob in the day of his distress.  One God had been with Jacob everywhere he went.  Instead of leading his family to worship the one and only God who had helped him, Jacob became like the one he lusted for.  Even though Jacob demanded his family to give up their idols, he didn’t give up the idols. He took Rachel’s idols and hid them just like Rachel had done when they fled from her father. Jacob could have destroyed the idols but a man who loves like the world loves has no love for the father in him. 


[1] TO LOVE ‘ahab OT:157, or ‘aheb OT:157, “to love; like.” Basically this verb is equivalent to the English “to love” in the sense of having a strong emotional attachment to and desire either to possess or to be in the presence of the object.  First, the word refers to the love a man has for a woman and a woman for a man.  Such love is rooted in sexual desire, although as a rule it is desire within the bounds of lawful relationships: (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

[2] 2 Peter 3:8

[3] Galatians 5:6

[4] Hebrews 12:21

[5] John 14:9

[6] Isaiah 53:2

[7] Romans 3:27; Ephesians 2:9; James 4:16

[8] Exodus 3:14, NIV

[9] 1 Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13-14

[10] 1 Corinthians 7:1

[11] Genesis 2:18

[12] Proverbs 18:22

[13] Genesis 24:67

[14] Genesis 26:34-35

[15] James 1:2-8

[16] The seven translations surveyed were, The King James Bible, New International Bible, New American Standard Bible, New King James Bible, The Amplified Bible, The Living Bible, and The Message. 

[17] Moore, Beth, The Beloved Disciple (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003),  39-50.

[18] Genesis 33:2

[19] Genesis 29:33, KJV

[20] Genesis 29:34, NIV

[21] Genesis 30:1, NIV

[22] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia and Fausset’s Bible Dictionary. 

[23] Genesis 31:51-53

About Teena Myers

Teena is the Vice Chairman of the Southern Christian Writers Guild, author of three books and a freelance writer.
This entry was posted in Epiphanies of Patriarchs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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