John D. Rockefeller is often considered the wealthiest man in history as a magnate in the oil industry. He was once asked, “How much money is enough?” To which he responded, “Just a little bit more.”
Dissatisfaction. Jealousy. Discontent. Things we have all felt time and time again. We may have everything we need, but we want what they have. We sometimes even covet, wanting what someone else has… and not wanting them to have it. When do we say we have all we need? We are content. What amount of cars, houses, pets, attention, career awards, collector items, or designer clothing is enough, versus too much? When do we say, thank you God, we are content, undeserving, and satisfied with our blessings on this Earth and cannot wait for eternal life with you!
‘There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men—a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction.’ – Eccl. 6:1-2
In this verse, Solomon teaches us that true satisfaction cannot be found without recognizing God’s blessings. Having the wisdom to enjoy blessings permits contentment and satisfaction, finding peace through the Lord. He has given us many things, and we are allowed to enjoy them and celebrate! But we must remember our ultimate Provider and Caregiver. Without fully recognizing God’s Earthly blessings for us, we can be filled with opposite feelings of greed, dissatisfaction, jealously, and unhappiness when given wealth and riches.
‘Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ – Matthew 19:24
Both Leah and Rachel faced different temptations and received different blessings from the Lord. The difficulties in their home were direct consequences of Jacob’s marriage to two sisters. Rachel was beautiful but jealous of her sister who was producing children. Leah produced many children but was jealous of her beautiful sister whom Jacob adored more. Yet throughout these tensions, Jacob still recognized the hand of the Lord at work, telling Rachel, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”
And these jealousies pushed both Rachel and Leah to the same mistake their ancestor Sarah made in Genesis 16. Instead of trusting and relying on the Lord, they took things into their own hands, further complicating this already complicated family. Let this remind us of the importance of teaching God’s power, love, and instruction and continuing to emphasize it to both our children and fellow believers.
‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.’ – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The naming of both Rachel and Leah’s son imitates the vanity and foolishness within their home – Dan (“judgment”), Naphtali (“wrestle), Gad (“troop/good fortune”), Asher (“happy”), Issachar (“reward”), and Zebulun (“dwelling”). Let’s analyze their approach. Instead of trusting in the Lord’s plan during her barrenness, Rachel turned to Jacob and used her own methods not of the Lord. Leah bargains to sleep with her own husband, coveting that her sister did so. Rachel coveted Leah’s mandrakes, a delicacy probably related to reproduction at that time. In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah is another woman who struggled with barrenness, but she wept, prayed, and relied on the Lord. We must always remember:
‘Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.’ – Psalm 127:3
We will never fully understand God’s actions and commands. Jacob’s eleventh son, through Rachel, will be used to continue God’s plan. And he is named Joseph.
‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ – Isaiah 55:8-9
Sometimes, we may not receive what we ask for immediately or at all. Well, sometimes God has something else in mind. His way is always better than our own. He is sovereign, wise, just, holy, and has great things planned that may not be exactly what we thought we wanted. For me, many times this is hard to swallow. But I find peace through prayer, asking God for His direction and finding clarity from my own.
Jacob continued to trust in the Lord. He separated his flocks from Laban, taking the lesser amount. We can infer here that his goal was not wealth, but he maintained respect for his father-in-law, working hard to increase his employer’s wealth. His reliance on the Lord is evident in verses 31-33.