Jacob had two wives: Leah the elder and Rachel the younger. They were sisters. Jacob had acquired them as wives by working for Laban 14 years, 7 years for each daughter. It was quite an interesting family. And as you can image, one man with two wives was never God’s design. The sisters constantly fought for their husband’s attention. And until the day of their death, the feud never ceased.
The greatest feud was over children. As it was in those days, bearing children was the woman’s chief responsibility in a marriage. But Rachel had a problem: she was barren. For some time, she watched as her older sister, Leah, bore children and brought joy to her husband. One day, Rachel came to Jacob, and demanded, “give me children, or I shall die” (Gen.30:1).
Eventually, Rachel gave Jacob her servant girl, Bilhah. Bilhah would bear children for Jacob on Rachel’s behalf. Interestingly, this wasn’t that uncommon. And as the story goes, Leah, in her jealousy of her husband’s favor, gave her servant girl, Zilpah, to Jacob as a wife too. Zilpah also bore children to Jacob. Four wives and one husband. A day in the life of Jacob would have been an interesting reality TV show.
It’s good to note, that it was not within the parameters of God’s Moral Will for this to be. But God permitted it as part of His Hidden Will; His ultimate plan of redemption. God knew that these four women would give Jacob twelve sons. And these twelve sons would become the twelve tribes of Israel. From these twelve tribes, one, Judah, would bring forth a Savior, Jesus Christ!
Though sin is never okay, God uses our misguided actions to accomplish His will. This should not cause us to excuse our sin before the act, but it can bring us consolation after the act. When we look back at the confusion, feuds, and selfish ambitions in our family and life, hopefully, we can believe that God had a plan. And ultimately, that it all led us to the cross of Jesus Christ.
Jacob’s life and family were not much different than the average American family -divided and dysfunctional. Yet, God never gave up on Jacob or his family. Jacob’s life and family are a testimony of God’s grace. Not an excuse for our sin; but a favor that weaves God’s plan even into our mistakes.