We love flattery; God wants honesty. The strange thing is, by grace God’s view of us is way higher than we would ever dream for ourselves.
The phrase “warts and all” is said to have first occurred when Oliver Cromwell instructed Sir Peter Lely to paint his portrait without any flattery. And he did! So it is with God’s portrayal of humanity—He tells it like it is! In our story today, we find Jacob’s younger wife, Rachel—the pretty one, the loved one—envious of her older sister, Leah! And why? Because, we read, “Rachel was barren” (Gen 29:31). It is a recurring theme throughout the Old Testament that it is God who opens and closes wombs. In fact, here are the very words before this statement: “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb.” But Rachel was not thinking about asking the Lord for help; it was Jacob she blamed. “Give me children, or else I die!” she said. In frustration, “Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (ch 30 v 2). But clearly he wasn’t thinking about asking the Lord for help, either. Had the family learned nothing from the sad tale of Sarah and Hagar? Obviously not! Acting when the emotions are “aroused” is like setting sail into the teeth of a storm. Rachel said, “‘Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.’ Then…Jacob went in to her” (vv 3-4). Two wives plus two maids as additional wives—what was Jacob thinking? However God did give Bilhah two sons, Dan and Naphtali. Not to be outdone, when Leah “saw that she had stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife” (v 9). It’s hard to believe that this is the official record of the start of the nation of Israel! But you can always count on God to tell the truth just like it is!