“Jacob set out again on his way to the people of the east. He noticed a
well out in an open field with three flocks of sheep bedded down around
it. This was the common well from which the flocks were watered. The
stone over the mouth of the well was huge. When all the flocks were
gathered, the shepherds would roll the stone from the well and water
the sheep; then they would return the stone, covering the well.
Jacob said, ‘Hello friends. Where are you from?’
They said, ‘We’re from Haran.’
Jacob asked, ‘Do you know Laban son of Nahor?’
‘Are things well with him?’ Jacob continued.
‘Very well,’ they said. ‘And here is his daughter Rachel coming with the flock.’
Jacob said, ‘There’s a lot of daylight still left; it isn’t time to
round up the sheep yet, is it? So why not water the flocks and go back
‘We can’t,’ they said. ‘Not until all the shepherds get here. It takes
all of us to roll the stone from the well. Not until then can we water
While Jacob was in conversation with them, Rachel came up with her
father’s sheep. She was the shepherd. The moment Jacob spotted Rachel,
daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, saw her arriving with his uncle
Laban’s sheep, he went and single-handedly rolled the stone from the
mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. Then he
kissed Rachel and broke into tears.”—Genesis 29:1-11
“When Jacob had been with him for a month, Laban said, ‘Just because
you’re my nephew, you shouldn’t work for me for nothing. Tell me what
you want to be paid. What’s a fair wage?’
Now Laban had two daughters; Leah was the older and Rachel the younger.
Leah had nice eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. And it was
Rachel that Jacob loved.
So Jacob answered, ‘I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’
‘It is far better,’ said Laban, ‘that I give her to you than marry her to some outsider. Yes. Stay here with me.’
So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much.”—Genesis 29:16-20
As I was doing my biblical study on the dynamics of this relationship,
I think this may end up being one of the longest studies in the series
because there is so much to gain from understanding Jacob, Rachel,
Laban and yes, even Leah (she will have her own chapter within this
series herself). Let me just say that if you have been forwarding this
on to your female friends only, this would be a portion that the men in
your life should get into studying as well, mainly because the love
story of Jacob and Rachel *and* the sordid nightmare between Jacob and
Leah and Rachel and Leah, along with the legacy they left behind,
ironically began before any of them even knew one another. The lesson
already in this? Before entering a union, you must make sure that your
own personal foundation is solid. No one should have to try and build
on your own personal (spiritual) cracks.
With that said, let’s start at the beginning (although for time’s sake,
we will roll through this pretty quickly). When Jacob was in his
mother, Rebekah’s womb, the Word states that there were already
challenges between he and his twin, Esau (Genesis 25:22-23). So, when
Jacob stole Esau’s inheritance (Genesis 25:29-34) and then his
birthright (Genesis 27:6-30), already Jacob set the foundation for
being tricked and betrayed by his uncle, Laban due to his own previous
I know in times past, I personally always found myself having pity for
Jacob: “Wow, he worked seven years for Rachel and didn’t even get her.
How horrible!”. But, remember, God’s Word does not come back to him
void (Isaiah 55:11) and one of the principles that he instated in his
Word for man (and woman) is that whatever a man sows, he will reap
I do find it fascinating that it was initially Rebekah (Genesis
27:6-13) who instructed Jacob to trick his father so let’s stop right
here for a moment: Parents don’t always get it right, either. The Word
says that you should train up a child in the way that he should go and
when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Yes, this
is a promise to parents, but it should also be an assurance for adult
children as well. If there are godly principles that have been
instilled in you, never compromise, even if/ when your parents are
acting in their flesh and not following the Spirit. Yes, sometimes,
when it comes to the destiny that they would like to see fulfilled for
their children (even adult children), they may move in fear, but
remember: There is no fear in love (I John 4:8) and God did not give us
a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
This means that God is never going to tell you to compromise your
character for an agenda. He’s not going to tell you to sleep with your
“boyfriend” before marrying him. He’s not going to tell you to pay your
bills before tithing. He’s not going to tell you to curse someone
because they have cursed you. He’s not going to tell you to marry
someone when you are not ready (purpose, provision, instruction and
personal conformation are in place). So, if you ever are unclear about
an instruction that you are given, even from someone as close to you as
your parents, check to see if it lines up with the Word, first. When
Rebekah told Jacob to deceive his father, there should have been
something that resonated within him that to do such a thing would be to
steal and God will never tell us to steal anything from anyone.
As I went on to read this story, although there was a point in Jacob’s
journey where God blessed him through a vision (Genesis 28:10-22), not
anywhere did I see that Jacob repented for what he did to his
brother…and he should have. Not only would it have protected him from
future heartache and even certain elements of drama (because it
possibly would have uprooted some of those weeds from his past poor
planting), but it probably would have spared Esau some unnecessary
tribulation as well. For one, it says in Genesis 26:34-35 that Esau
married unequally-yoked women who brought much sorrow to his family. So
much so that Rebekah said that if Jacob did the same, she would rather
die (Genesis 27:46).
Poor Rebekah…well, kinda. What she didn’t realize was that her own
selfish priorities years before played a huge role in the pain that she
was experiencing at that time. If she had let God be God and stopped
trying to interfere, her lineage wouldn’t have been quite so
compromised. God already prophesied how the relationship between Jacob
and Esau would go (Genesis 25:23). He didn’t need her help (i.e.
manipulative tactics) to bring it into fruition.
Some parents are wondering why their children are in such relational
turmoil and it is directly linked to their own acts of compromise. The
sowing and reaping principle also applies to parenting and so, singles,
when you come to the place of birthing children, this is something to
keep in mind. Always make sure that you are instructing your children
based on God’s Word—-no more, no less. Should you choose to do
otherwise, you, your children, your grandchildren and so forth, in some
ways, will pay for your recklessness. Yes parents, your words of
influence are that powerful.
Moving on. Again, I see the order of God. After Jacob was given
instruction to find a wife in the land of Bethuel, he received a vision
(Genesis 28:10-22). Just last week, an eloquent man wrote me in
response to one of the chapters in this series. As he was sharing with
me the male perspective on these (according to him), he stated that he
believed that sometimes the woman God has for you will come along
before your purpose is fulfilled.
I totally agree. However, I also believe that God will make clear to a
man what his purpose is before his lifetime companion is confirmed
because without receiving clarity on your purpose, it’s hard to clearly
discern who is meant to join you on your life’s journey. I think that
is one of the main reasons why people “grow out of love” with one
Unfortunately, far too many people get married for every reason other
than purpose: lust, money, companionship, children, etc. Do you notice
that all of those things are transitional, even when it comes to your
own children, because they won’t be young forever (hmm, perhaps that’s
why so many people divorce once their children go off to college)? The
only thing that lasts is purpose because God says in Jeremiah 1:5 that
before we came to be, we were called and chosen, and that what he does,
lasts forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14). When you know your purpose, are
operating in it, and God gives you a mate to complement you within that
purpose, this is the core foundation of a lasting marriage.
And because God is orderly, I believe that is why he told Jacob he
would own land, and that he would have many descendants before even
meeting Rachel. Yes, before being a land owner and father, he was
joined to Rachel but not before receiving that clarity from God.
The next thing I found interesting about this story is that upon
arriving into the land of his mother, he came across a well, a stone,
some shepherds…and then Rachel. When Rachel arrived, doing her daily
routine, it caught Jacob off guard. From where he sat, she came too
soon because it was the middle of the day, too early for her to be
watering sheep (29:7-9). But, according to the shepherds’ (and God’s)
response, she came right on time.
Ladies, in our singleness it’s not our job to question the timing of
God. It’s our job to be obedient to his will and follow our own daily
routine with or without a man present. Sometimes God will give you a
glimpse into your future if you are someone who desires to be married
and are curious about who that person may be. However, he may still be
finishing up undergrad with no time for a committed relationship. He
may be living in another city and in your mind you are trying to figure
out how to make a long distance relationship work. He may even be
someone who is not yet saved, but is on the journey towards spiritual
prosperity. In all of these scenarios (and the dozens of others),
please, by all means, keep watering your sheep. Until you are joined as
one (he approaches you, affirms and confirms the revelation that you
are his companion and then takes the needed steps to make you his
wife), what that man is doing or thinking should have no real barring
on your priorities. Remember, timing is always essential.
Besides, if Rachel had been all caught up in what Jacob was thinking,
her sheep would have not had their needs met. One of the dangers in
relationally moving out of turn is that it can cause you to neglect the
very things that God put you in charge of in your singleness. You
believe you met “the one” and now you are spending more time doodling
his name and sending him love notes than doing your homework. A guy
catches your eye and now you are conjuring up ways to get to work at
the same time that he does, even if it makes you late, so that you can
run into him on the way to your desk. You start developing feelings for
someone and you are on the phone six hours a day talking about it
instead of cleaning up your house and getting your bills together.
When Jacob saw Rachel, approached her and helped her with some of her
duties, yes, he felt an immediate connection but he still had work to
do. “Catching a feeling” doesn’t make someone marriage worthy. They
must put in the time and investment necessary.
And boy did he! I like that the Word says in Genesis 29:14 that Jacob
stayed for a month at Laban’s home. Here is my “Paul statement” for
this chapter, but I think that it was within that time that he was
getting to know Rachel and her family. “Butterflies in the stomach” is
sweet and endearing, but you need to know more about someone than how
they make your flesh feel. I also like that it was Laban who approached
Jacob about paying him wages because this means that Jacob was no
stranger to hard work. In other words, working was a part of his
nature. Laban did not ask him, “When are you gonna get off of your hump
and get a gig?”; “Why are you still asleep and it’s noon?”; “Don’t you
have something that you should be doing today?”. No, actually Laban
felt guilty because work was such a big part of Jacob’s life that he
did so without expecting much of anything in return.
And ladies, Jacob’s response is something that we all should expect
from our covenant partner. More than money, more than a new Mercedes,
more than another Brooks Brothers’ suit, more than a penthouse….more
than anything that money could buy, he wanted Rachel. Trust me, I have
learned the hard way that what a man wants, he will work for. Like
Jacob, if he’s a godly man, it’s in his nature to earn (obtain through
difficulty) his keep (car, home, bills, etc.) through work anyway and
so when it comes to getting the woman that he desires, this “hustle
principle” will be no different. So, if you find that you are doing
more work than the man is to maintain your relationship, guess what?
You are out of order and he’s definitely still got some maturing to do.
I was telling my mother just last week that I find it to be so
interesting that although God cursed Adam and Eve for disobeying him,
it seems that Eve’s daughters are taking on the curse of Adam and Eve
both. I told my mom, “OK, God said that I would have to have a hard
time with childbirth and my man would rule over me, but he didn’t say
nothin’ about me having to toil in the fields, work hard and sweat
(Genesis 3:16-19). I am not going to take on his curse and mine.”
Ladies, when it comes to courtship, don’t take on the curse of Adam.
Let him work, toil and sweat as he tries to make you his. No, do not
use manipulation as he tries to woo you (remember that is a spirit of
Jezebel), but don’t be “Miss Easy Street” and definitely don’t be
killing yourself to get his attention. Men are called to work hard and
where God calls you, he equips you. We were NOT called to kill
ourselves with work, which is why some of us are dumbfounded that “we
did all that and still he left me”; yep, cause you were out of order.
Which leads me to the final lesson for today. When Laban asked Jacob
what he wanted as repayment for his hard work, he said that he would
work seven years for Rachel. Ain’t it funny how some of us are trippin’
if we don’t see a ring on our finger after six months of courtship and
yet to Jacob, because his love for Rachel was so great and his desire
for her companionship was so strong, to him, seven years was nothing?
I won’t even get into (at this time) that sometimes we move way too
fast in relationships, but I will say this: When a man wants you, he
will wait. His hormonal needs won’t be so high that “If you don’t marry
me now, I’m gonna have to move on to someone else.” His focus won’t be
so pressuring that statements like “I can’t wait forever” will be apart
of his vocabulary. And, if you are not yet ready, he will not make you
feel bad about it. When a man loves you, his timing is not a factor;
God’s perfect will is and if he’s gotta wait, guess what? He will wait.
That’s all for today, but let me say this as it relates to your
homework: Before you can build anything, you must have your foundation
set. Right now, at this very moment, repent for anything you may have
done that could affect the reaping season of your relationship. If
there are things that your parents have modeled to you or told you to
do that you know is outside of the will of God, forgive them but stand
strong. No matter what they think, if it’s not lining up with what God
says, they are out of order and it could affect your entire lineage.
And finally, stick to watering your own sheep, please. Remember, when
Jacob approached Rachel, he assisted her in what she was already doing.
She didn’t walk off and leave her sheep stranded because she had a job
to do regardless of who came into her path. After all, we are only
called to put a man first, once he is our husband (I Corinthians 7:4).
Until then, sistahs, you got your own sheep to tend to. Let him come
and help you out if he wants to but don’t let it stop your mission. God
didn’t give you those sheep so that you could neglect them—they are
your responsibility so handle them with care.
©Shellie R. Warren/2006