The Wedding Feast, and the Aftermath Pt 4
The Last Shall Be First Series
This is for a time where we are. We are in a corner, unnoticed. There will come a time that may change, perhaps, but it is not now, so we are in a corner by ourselves.
Abraham was in a corner unnoticed, because only he knew why he was taking Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice. He had the inner word, spoken audibly to his servants, that "I AND the lad will return unto you," and Hebrews 11 says that Abraham knew that if necessary God would raise Isaac from the dead, because "in Isaac shall thy seed be called." Abraham knew God was faithful to His own word. But surely there in that lonely corner, Death must have come calling as well, gripping Abraham with its cold fingers, causing him to shiver over his whole body, Death whispering in his ear, "I will own him, he will not rise." Yet Abraham prevailed from his corner, and Isaac became the bearer of the Seed which should bless all nations.
David was in a corner, hiding in caves in the desert. He had been anointed by Samuel to be King in Israel, but Saul, the Lord's Anointed, still lived, and David would not raise a hand against him. He would not seize the throne for himself, but was content to hide from Saul who was mad to kill David out of envy. It was in the wilderness that David learned to trust in the Lord for everything, and not raise his own hand to anything of himself.
And like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bore the Seed (according to their humanity and His) which should come and bless all nations, so did David. The Lord finds David, "a man after my own heart," and God promises through Nathan the prophet that of the seed of David He will raise up an everlasting kingdom on the throne of David. This is a continuation of that Seed of the Woman that was first implanted in Eve by the Lord God as they left the Garden, passing spiritually through Abel because he died as Christ for Cain, then resurrected in Seth as Christ who rose, then Enoch, Methuselah and Noah, then to Shem until it is carried by Terah, the father of Abraham, who like the many before him, perhaps had no sense he carried that Seed. Then we come to Abraham, to whom the Lord first reveals the Seed in him because of his faith toward God. Then it continues down through Isaac and Jacob as the "Blessing of Abraham," so named because it begins to take concrete form first in Abraham and his posterity, and Abraham is the first to be given the revelation.
But the mother of the next one who will pass the seed, is tender-eyed Leah. Leah is chosen to be the vessel through which the seed would continue as the "Seed of the Woman" and the "Blessing of Abraham," in her and Jacob's fourth son, Judah!
Little unnoticed, unwanted Leah. Rachel at first was unfruitful, so Leah was the first to give birth to a son. The story says the Lord saw that Leah was despised, so he shut Rachel's womb. And then Leah flowered. Judah came fourth with finally SIX sons altogether, and one lone girl. Leah gave birth to half the patriarchs of Israel!
Leah is first of all a woman of flesh and blood like you and me. The fact that her life is used in scripture as a not only an historical character but also a type in which God unfolds the mystery of Christ, is something that is very appropriate for us. The reason is because we are people of flesh and blood as much as Jacob, Leah and Rachel are. But also our human lives are as equally "types" of the unfolding and revelation of the mystery of Christ as were theirs. This is not just information like being able to tell where Paul went on his three missionary journeys. This is us. We are this! We are them all, each of them, in us as types of this unfolding mystery. What in the world does that mean?
In some way we experience the lives of all the characters in scripture, not just know "about" them. We cannot divorce this story from ourselves as if it is just interesting academic information or merely moral examples (how to be, how not to be). It is much deeper and far more inward than that. The reason these stories draw us and have drawn millions of others for thousands of years, is that the Scripture uses these characters, stories and histories, to reveal, explain and manifest the life of God in us. This is part of our coming to "understanding in the knowledge of Him." It is precious gold, a treasure found in a field, to begin to understand these mysteries. They are not the mysteries of the Bible; they are the mysteries of US! Specifically they are the mystery of Christ in us, but the emphasis in gaining the understanding, is to know their reality in US! We KNOW (in some way) that Christ is One with the Father. But to come into this fullness, we must also know we are partakers of the same oneness. The understanding the Spirit gives through these histories, stories and characters, impart, like nothing else, Christ in us. They are Jesus' words, "spirit and life," and work in us the revelation from God that we are not just ourselves alone, but now through the Cross having been delivered from our old slave-boss who ran our lives, we are now Christ in us as one person with us. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him."
Looking now more closely at Leah, she comes into the marriage doubtless with fear and trepidation. We don't really know how it went with her and her father Laban, whether he forced her to deceive Jacob (a father's word was absolute!), or she was a full participant. With the hints we have of her, it seems the former is more likely. She was commanded to do so by her father, since it was not proper for the younger to marry before the elder, and Leah was the elder sister. But how could she have felt deceiving Jacob, knowing Jacob much preferred Rachel, and that he had hardly even given her a glance? That was surely not the kind of love she wanted in her marriage. What woman (or man) does not want to be wanted, desired? A marriage of force often brings with it resentment, ill will and bitterness. But in that society, it was more preferred for a woman to be at least married, even if without love, since remaining unmarried was considered to be the far worse state. Often the best a woman could hope for was not to be beaten and to comfort herself with her children. That's what made being barren so awful. Not only had she supposedly failed her husband, but without children she had no tenderness from them as well.
But all Leah's fears prove unfounded as she moved further into her marriage with Jacob. Though she was at first barren, with Jacob's thoughts pining for Rachel, the Lord has mercy on her and she begins to bear sons one after the other. This of course endears her very much to Jacob, because Rachel continues in barrenness. So we begin to love our Leah after a sort, because the disesteemed one is bearing fruit, even as the Cross begins to bear fruit through us from the beginning. The drudgery of life, the setbacks and joys of daily living, are set against this backdrop of the Cross. As Jacob I still pine and desire my first love, Rachel, but I cannot help but be endeared to Leah as the mother of my sons who will bear my name and line into posterity. She has brought sons into the world! By her travail (Cross) the line of Abraham will continue! And the Seed will move further toward the fulness of time when the True Son of Promise will appear.
Judah and the future of his line is far ahead at this point of the story, so we come back to Rachel. Though I have loved Leah too, it has always been Rachel in my heart. I have finally realized that the reason I couldn't have her fully in the beginning was because I wanted her too much for myself. She was the object of my desire, my desire to have the best, to overcome and increase for myself. My pure love for her was mixed up with selfish love. I loved myself in her, and wanted to possess her, to fully have her as MINE, and because in this figure she is as the Christ who comes from God to me, the Desire of Nations, the only fullness of joy and life, but she hides herself from me, she refuses to bring forth, and is as the barren woman who has no more rejoicing, because I want her for me! And though Rachel at first desires to overcome me with her love, she becomes estranged from me in her barrenness.
But then, when Leah has brought forth the True Heir of Abraham and the rest of her sons and Dinah, and is finally finished bearing, the Lord does a miracle -- he opens Rachel's womb at last!
O what joy this is! O delight! O blessings of God! Now my Rachel, my true wife, my first love is finally bringing forth!
And as Leah has brought forth the line of the Redeemer to come, Rachel has brought forth in her humanity the manifestation of the man who has overcome in Christ, Joseph, whose life represents in the most perfect way in all scripture, the life of the Cross through which, by the deaths he suffered, the Spirit brought forth the Seed as manifest in a fully conscious son of God. Joseph is the Man, who is really all of us (for remember, these are our lives which are being displayed in these stories and whose mysteries are unfolding the reality of Christ in us). This human man is a visible picture of the answer to the groans and travails of all creation -- the manifestation of the sons of God!
Here it is, wrapped up in a picture and a history and a man, the whole story of redemption, preparation, training, and finally fulfillment in this next-to-last son of Jacob. We all know the story of Joseph, the things he suffered, the injustice of the things that happened to him (sold into slavery, false accusation and imprisonment for attempted rape, years in Pharaoh's prison, wondering if he would ever see the light of day again. Then on a certain appointed day (the fullness of time) in a twinkling of an eye, he is released from prison, bathed, shaved and given new clothes, because he is called before the king. (Gen chap 41). And as Jesus promised the disciples, he took no thought of what he said, because Joseph had come to know the life of the Spirit in him. He told Pharaoh the answer didn't reside in Him, but in the One Who spoke from His mouth, the God of Heaven. And after Joseph spoke the words of God, even the pagan Pharaoh was forced to declare, "Can we find such a man as this, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?" And Pharaoh made him his regent, second-in-command over all Egypt, subject only to Pharaoh and no other.
Joseph was no special man even as we are in no different from anyone else, except that He believed the Living God, and His Word which He had spoken to Joseph, and was even as Christ Himself, the kept of God (Jude 24), because God kept him in all his ways, even in the injustices, being sold into slavery, being a steward in Potiphar's house, being falsely accused by Potiphar's wife and tossed into an horrible dungeon, languishing there for years, all the while believing God's Word in him, believing the dream God sent, even though no man on earth could have possibly believed it could come to pass. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold," saith the Lord, and this Joseph, one like unto the Son of God, is a rightly "kept" man, an upheld man, not because he thought he could keep himself or uphold himself, but because he learned it was not in him to keep himself, but instead the Lord had showed him that it was God and God alone who kept Him and fulfilled all things, and that He was doing it in him, and he (Joseph) would see it with his eyes one day.
And he finally did see it all, when Jacob's sons came and bowed down to him, and then finally when his father came from Canaan, and Joseph became a shelter and a hiding place for them in the famine of the Word of God that was in the world.
And now as Jacob leans upon his staff and all his family has come together safe in Egypt, his son Joseph who he thought was dead, now restored to him as if one who rose from the dead, we begin to see. Oh yes, these two wives brought forth! Leah's line bore the Redeemer, Savior, Spirit-baptizer, the "One Who takes away the sin of the world," Who in their time was yet to come but when He would come, would bless all nations by His Life being born in them. This is the Single One, Who came once near the end of the world in the fullness of time, Whose kingdom we have still yet to see in fullness, for now we have here still no continuing city but seek one to come. The other line, Rachel's, is the one who is in the world but not of it, who is left to bring in the sheaves planted by the True Husbandman, one who faces death and loss and privation, amidst the great joy of reaping the most bountiful harvest the world has ever seen and far beyond the imagination of man. For Jesus' death and resurrection, and then the sending of the Spirit on Pentecost, was only the setup. Now we are privileged to be participants in the gathering in of the fruit, to reap what we have not sown, to participate in the process of the final ingathering, of the sons who because Jesus is lifted up, are drawn by and into the Father.
And in these two lines, both fathered by Jacob who is Israel, we see the Seed in two ways. It is first the line to bring forth Jesus Christ, Son of David, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. This physical line stops with Jesus, for Jesus had no physical sons to continue his human line. Jesus comes to be the Bread of Heaven for all the world, and we have been grafted into his line in the Spirit, and by His Spirit the Seed of God comes to fruition in us, and brings forth "Christ formed in [us]," as Paul travailed for, and we are seeing this in our time. Jesus' line is not born of the flesh, by the will or desire of man, but of God, and is thus a spiritual line only. But the other side is this: that even though Joseph is not in the physical line, yet the Seed is in him, because when God spoke the Seed into Eve, it passed unto all her progeny, including the line of Cain as well as Seth, because this is the "true light, which lights every man that comes into the world." Every man has this seed in Him. It may lie dormant his whole life and it may never come to fruit in him, God forbid. But for those who are born of the Spirit, this Seed sprouts and takes form, and becomes a life, a human life containing the God-life, an earthen vessel filled with the most precious treasure in all the world.
So Joseph is most especially all of us, and as much heir in Christ as Judah, because he is the human man who is one with God in the Spirit, who knows it and lives it, by the Spirit, in the Spirit, in a life which has one purpose only, to be as a "grain of wheat which falls into the ground and dies, by which it brings forth much fruit."
It is the Same Seed in all. Christ in us. As you and me walking around in the world. Jacob is fulfilled in his children, and God's works are finished from the foundations of the earth.
This is what it means to "be always ravished with her love," and to "see no man after the flesh."
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." (Rev 11:15)