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. And in the morning, behold, 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?” Genesis 29:21-23, 25 ESV
By far, this is one of the most curious passages in Genesis. Jacob has worked for seven years to earn the privilege of marrying Rachel. Rachel the smoking hot shepherdess, the girl with the sheep tattoo. Seven years this man has watched her, talked with her, lived in same compound with her; all that time dreaming of the day that she would become his wife and they would get a tent at the edge of town and live and love and make babies and the world would be wonderful.
But, in one of the greatest cons in history, Laban pulled the switcheroo on the love-struck Jacob and slipped Rachel’s less attractive, less toned, less everything sister Leah in on Jacob. This is an incredible move by Laban. Truly a move rivaled only by Jacob’s recent cloak and dagger routine to acquire the family blessing from his blind father. Some would say turn-about was fair play.
There are many things that could be said about this passage, but one thing stands out to me this morning. I understand that there was a veil that the bride was wearing, and I understand that there was no electricity at the time, and I’m more than willing to say that it was one of the darkest, moonless, and starless nights in the history of the ancient world, but what I am not alright with is the fact that Jacob was so ready to get down to business on his wedding night that he completely missed the fact that he was sharing the most intimate moment of his life (up to that time) with someone that he hadn’t taken a solitary second to scrutinize or engage on any level except carnal.
What’s being implied here is either Leah and Rachel were voice twins, Jacob didn’t speak to his new bride prior to consummating the marriage, or that he did speak to Leah but was so focused on “other things” that he didn’t care to question why Rachel sounded so much different. There are other issues that could be brought up, but just the brief analyzation is sufficient to conclude that Jacob was a huge idiot, not only on this night, but on this night in particular.
I think its interesting that the pleasure of a moment can be so deceptive in that moment. Pleasure is a salesman that needs no pitch, an angler that needs no hook, a piper that needs no tune. We throw ourselves at pleasure, we don’t have to be convinced to engage it, we only have to be informed of where we can find it. And I’m not suggesting that pleasure is bad; I believe pleasure was created by God and intended to be as rich, full, and enjoyable as possible. Our nerve endings and 5 senses all point to a Creator that wanted us to feel and wanted us to experience life on a very practical level. Flowers carry a fragrance and, not coincidentally, our sense of smell was designed to engage that scent. We could play this out for every sense we have, there is a practical and pleasure-based reason for our senses functioning the way they do. It was sin’s awful intrusion into our perfect world that gave way for things to be experienced by our senses that are not pleasurable. There is a brutal irony in the incredible pleasure of a lover’s touch and the indescribable agony an interrogator’s fist can bring, both based on the same ability to feel and the design of our senses.
Jacob, that fateful night, made the mistake that we are all prone to make throughout our lives: he allowed his pursuit of pleasure to override every other built in tool for discernment in his being. We are, in our fallen condition, predisposed to this same error. When we allow our senses to define our destiny we foolishly place our future in the trust of systems that weren’t designed for such important things. Life can never be successfully defined by the question, “what makes me feel the best right now?”. Questions like that were never designed to carry the weight of destiny.
Jacob’s intimacy with Leah turned out for the benefit of the family. She bore sons who became some of the patriarchs of the infamous twelve tribes of Israel. But the fact that God works in spite of our foolishness doesn’t absolve the foolishness itself. Jacob was still an idiot. He stepped into that night not like a concerned husband, a loving partner, a man who was smitten with one wonderful woman…Jacob lived that night as he lived much of his early life, like a blind dog in a meat house, happy with whatever pleasure he bumped into next with no thought for the bigger picture.
We will have our chances today to either be led by our feelings and senses, or by the Spirit’s compass in our soul. The Spirit will not always lead us to the momentary pleasures that we may have in front of us; but, in leading us away from ANY pleasure, God is keeping us in line with the ULTIMATE pleasure of being with the One we were designed to love most.
In some ways, though the stories don’t work out identically, Jesus is, for the Christian, our Rachel. He is the one that we long to be with. He is the one that, when we see Him, we are captivated with. But we, far too often, find ourselves in moments of indiscretion, in the dark, with Leah. And it is only in the clear, quiet moments of the dawn that we realize what we’ve done. Jacob woke up with the wrong girl, we can just as easily find ourselves waking up with the wrong god.