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The Search for One, True Love

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
February 28, 2016 5:00 am

The Search for One, True Love

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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Greetings Summit Church at all of our campuses across the Triangle. If you have your Bibles this weekend, I'd love for you to take them out and open them to Genesis 29. Genesis 29, as you're opening there, let me say a quick word to all of you, the men, about our men's conference that is coming up this coming weekend, this Friday night. I, men, literally every single day, our concept of what a man is, is assaulted by the media, by politics, especially now, right now, by politics, and by social media and pop culture and the whole bit. What the Bible teaches about manhood is often caricatured and things that are put in its place are every bit just as confused.

So this coming Friday night, I'm going to do my best to debunk some of our culture's lies about manhood and unpack for us how the gospel really reshapes our vision of what it means to be a man. I hope that you will plan to be here. You do need to sign up.

And so let me emphasize to you that if you have not done that, you should do that today. We just have a few spots remaining. We're only doing it here at the Briar Creek campus. And so it's a limited number of spots. And most of them are already gone. If you are a dad, you have sons, I would definitely encourage you to bring your sons here for this.

Middle school met up and everything. You can sign up at and you should do that today. Bad news for you guys at the 10 o'clock service or at our other campuses is other men have heard this for the last three services. And so I, I don't know if they're sold out yet, but I'm just saying, act on it pretty quickly. Okay.

All right there, I've said that. As you are opening to Genesis 29, we are working our way through the entire Bible in the course of a year. And as we're doing that, I'm trying to focus on those sections of scripture that will give you a sense of the whole story. So we come now to a story that is as profound as it is odd. I first learned this story when I was a kid in Sunday school on flannel graph, of course, it is a classic because it is so unusual but to be honest, I never really understood the significance of the story until I heard a teacher named Tim Keller explain it. Tim Keller's interpretation is reflected in the Jesus storybook Bible, which many of you are reading along with us as we go through.

And if you're not, I encourage you to jump in and do that. I think the story would make a fabulous Netflix or HBO drama. It has literally everything in it. There is betrayal, there is sex, there is scandal. There are things that just look insane.

In many ways, it feels like a modern story. Because it shows you the crazy things that we'll do for love. Have you ever known somebody that just did something that you thought was absolutely insane in the name of love? Like move across country with no commitment from the other person at all? You know, I've known people to do that. Maybe one of you is here right now. And that's I'm not saying it's not going to work out.

I'm just saying it looks to us like it's crazy. People that quit their job, people who have alienated their friends and their family, and people who get a tattoo at the wrong time. I knew of somebody who switched their major in college to a field they didn't like, just so they could be close to a girl. Six years later, they told me they're in a job that they hate, and the girl is no longer around anymore.

She got married to somebody else. I heard of one poor guy who fell so in love with this girl that shortly after they started dating, her brother, or who he thought was her brother, went into the hospital and needed a kidney transplant. So to impress her, he donated his kidney, only for it to come out after the operation was over that this guy was actually not her brother, but her ex-boyfriend that she was still in love with. Shortly after the operation, she broke up with the generous kidney donor so that she could marry her fake brother.

Just insane, it seems like, right? Or my favorite of this whole list, there's a little known movie called City of Angels starring Nicolas Cage, in which Nicolas Cage plays an angel who falls in love with an Earth girl, Meg Ryan. And he is supposed to be watching over her, but he falls in love with her. And when Nicolas Cage moves on as an angel with all the glories of heaven, he chooses to be a human so that he can be with the girl that he loves. Here's the whole movie, by the way. Nick Cage becomes a human. Girl he loves dies. Angel now stuck as human. Roll the end credits. That's basically the whole thing.

So really sophisticated movie taste in order to appreciate that one. Well, believe it or not, all those things would be small potatoes compared to what happens in this story in Genesis 29. I'm going to explain to you that in a much deeper sense, this story shows us, regardless of what romantic situation you're in or what you want for the future, or even what stage of life you're in, this story shows us the search that each of us is on in life. Genesis 29, I hope you're there yet.

I'm assuming you're there by now, but if you're still looking for it, let me give you the context. Abraham is the guy who is the patriarch of the entire Jewish nation. Abraham is the guy to whom the promises are given.

And so the book of Genesis follows his family. Abraham, a member of sterile and frail He's an old man. He has a miracle baby named Isaac. Isaac is going to have two sons. One is named Jacob and the other is going to be named Esau.

This is kind of the family tree that brings you into Genesis 29. Now Jacob and Esau were twins, but they could not have been more different. Esau was what many people would call a man's man. He ate lots of red meat. He liked to hunt. We assume that he really liked sports.

He probably drove an F 250. We also know that he was really hairy. He literally means Esau means red and hairy. Interesting note to me is that they gave him this name at birth, which I just feel like that's unusual for a baby. It'd be like naming your baby fuzzy. Evidently he came out of the womb looking like a chia pet. Here is the mental image that I have whenever I think of Esau would be this guy right here. He likes NASCAR.

He's got a number three shaved in the hair in his back. He was also the firstborn, the firstborn, which meant that he got what we call the blessing. Quick biblical theology lesson.

Let me explain the blessing to you. In every family in the ancient world, one of the kids, almost always the oldest, got the family inheritance, which means that they got the majority of the property and the assets. They got the right to the family name. They got to be the patriarch of future generations. For the descendants of Abraham, there was this added element of inheriting the promise to bring forth the Messiah that had been promised to Abraham.

How did the messianic seed? Well, that is assumed to be Esau because he is the firstborn. Now, Jacob, his twin brother, was the opposite of Esau in just about every way.

Jacob was more, shall we say, genteel. He was really into fashion. He used a loofah and a lot of special shampoos. He probably ate tofu ice cream. He knew not to wear white after Labor Day.

He probably drove a Miata or a Mini Cooper, that kind of guy. Jacob, and he makes that pretty clear. And this, of course, is really hurtful to Jacob. So Jacob schemes away to steal the blessing of the firstborn from his brother Esau.

I don't have time to go deep into the details of this majestic ruse, but here's the basic gist of it. Isaac is really old and he thinks he's going to die. So he says, I've got to confer the blessing officially on one of my sons and he's going to do Esau. So he tells Esau to go out into the field and hunt him up some deer and prepare it as a stew.

And then when he gets back, they'll eat it and he'll confirm the covenant blessing onto him. And then Isaac assumes that he'll die. So Esau leaves early in the morning to go out and hunt down the deer and Jacob sees his opportunity. You see, Isaac was really, really old at this point and he couldn't really see really well at all.

And he couldn't hardly hear. And so Jacob takes a goat and he makes a stew. Then he dresses up in Esau's clothes and even takes the skin of the goat and attaches it to the back of his arms and his neck. I don't know what that says about Esau when somebody wants to impersonate you and they wrap themselves in a dead goat so that they feel and smell like you. But that's a bit disgusting.

The man's man thing is one thing, but that's taking it too far. Thinking that Jacob is Esau. Well, Esau returns and comes in with his stew and he says, dad, I'm here. And then Isaac realizes what's happened. And he says, son, it's too late. Now it all seemed to me at this point, like Isaac would have just, you know, when he realized the mistake would have been like, oh, well, I take it back, you know, and, and, uh, but evidently the blessing, the covenant was irrevocable when it had been given.

There was a no take backs clause that they threw in there. Um, Jacob has deceived his dad and betrayed his brother and stolen this blessing. His name literally means deceiver, which I also thought was an odd name to give a baby a liar. You named one of your kids fuzzy and the other one liar.

I just feel like they could have done better than that. Um, but it's a play on words in Hebrew. You see, when Jacob and Esau were born, um, Esau was born first, as I mentioned, and I guess, you know, Rebecca's womb was like, get this hairy thing out of here. So, um, he came out first and as he was coming out of the birth canal, um, it says that a little hand comes out after Esau and grabs a hold of Esau's heel.

Like, you know, they're in a fight and he wants to get out first, so he wants to pull him back in. So they named the first one, you know, hairy, and then in the second kid, they named him, um, heel grabber. In, in, in Hebrew, heel grabber is Yaakov, Yaakov, but it has a double meaning.

It has another meaning in Hebrew, and that double meaning is, is a trickster or struggler. So he's named heel grabber at birth, but the name fits also as a description of Jacob's character as he gets older, um, as a deceiver. Well, of course Esau is fighting mad and so he vows to kill Jacob. So Jacob hops in his Miata and he zooms off to, uh, somewhere else. His mom tells him he's got some relatives in a far off place called Haran.

So Jacob heads there. Eventually he arrives at the house of an uncle named Laban, which brings us to the main part of this story for today. Um, Laban has two daughters. One of the daughters is named Rachel, and she is described for us in Genesis 29, 17 here. She had a cute face and figure, which is a Hebrew way of saying that she was super hot. Um, literally beautiful and face means she had a cute face.

Figure means she had a very attractive body. Um, so that's Rachel. Now the other was sister was named Leah and well, she was not hot. The narrator indicates that to us in two not so subtle ways. Um, first, uh, the rest of that verse, Genesis 29, 17 says Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was beautiful in face and figure. Scholars are not sure what weak eyes means. Um, but what we know it doesn't mean is that she just couldn't see very well because notice it's put into contrast to Rachel's beauty. If it is simply meant that she was nearsighted, it would have said Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel could see really, really, really, really far.

Um, that would be the contrast. The fact that it's in contrast to Rachel's beauty means that her eyes somehow messed up how she looked. Kind of messed up the look of her face or most probably it meant that, um, how do I say this?

Uh, when she was facing east, one of her eyes was checking on things up north and the other one was monitoring activity down in the south. Um, that's probably what it means. The other way that we, the narrator lets us know that Leah was not very attractive is that Leah's name in Hebrew literally means cow. You say, well, maybe, maybe that had a different implication in Hebrew. Nope.

Calling somebody a cow is an insult in any culture that's universal. Um, that is not my fault. Okay. Um, I know it means something different in English, but in the original Hebrew, that's what it meant.

Okay. So when Jacob first gets there, he is of course smitten with Rachel. And I know you're thinking what a sexist pig. He only evaluates women by their face and their body. The Bible is so backwards. Yeah.

I am so glad that we are not part of a society that any longer does that where guys don't evaluate girls first by how they look and what their bodies are like. We are so far advanced past that. Uh, whatever. All right. So let me tell you the story of how, um, Jacob and Rachel meet because, um, it didn't really have any bearing on the points I want to make today, but it's just super awesome.

And you can't skip it. Uh, Genesis 29, one, if you got your Bible open there, Jacob finally has gotten to Haran where his uncle Laban lives. He literally has nothing. He's an outcast from his family. He is friendless. He is penniless. I envision him as a guy with nothing but a guitar strapped to his back at a $300 pair of Escada jeans around his waist and a Prada Italian loafers on his feet. And that's all he's got.

And his Miata. So he comes up to the village where his extended family lives and he, he slumps down on this big old rock covering the well there. Now here's the description of the rock verse two, the stone in the well's mouth was really large.

It was huge. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would, you know, together, plural, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well. Jacob saw, he rolled the stone from the well's mouth by himself. Little old Gentile Jacob. There is something about a good looking girl that gives this guy the ability to perform super human feats of strength.

Okay. So they meet and they get to talking. And it turns out that not only is Rachel really pretty, but they're related. As I mentioned, her dad Laban is Jacob's uncle, which makes them that's right. First cousins. You would think that that would have quelled any romantic interests right there, but no, this is the old Testament baby. And in the old Testament, being cousins with somebody was actually a turn on.

That is also still true in places like Valdosta, Georgia, where Hank Murphy is from. So now you know. So Jacob says to Laban, I want to marry my first cousin, Rachel. And Laban says, well, you know, I mean, we're related and everything, but there's, you still got to pay some kind of bride price. So Jacob volunteers, I'll work for seven years together. Verse 18.

Now that is an exhortation. It's an orbitant price. To put that in perspective, the going rate for dowries in those days would have been between 30 and 40 shekels.

The average monthly wage was about one and a half shekels. So offering 130 shekels meant that Jacob was offering more than four times the usual amount that you paid in order to marry somebody. Right now, you may think, well, that's really sweet. But what you're supposed to get the image of here is here is a guy who is obsessed. He is willing to do anything to get this girl.

Laban knows a sucker when he sees one, so he agrees. And Jacob works for seven years. Right now, again, there's a verse that you want to read is really sweet, but it has a different implication in the narrative. Verse 20. These seven years seem like just a day because of his love for her.

Now, again, that's sweet, right? But what it means is that every day he got up thinking about Rachel and he went to bed thinking about Rachel. He's not doing for anything except for seven years except being obsessed with Rachel.

The seven years are up. Verse 21. And so Jacob comes to Laban and says, I have fulfilled my contract. Now give me my wife so we can be married. Now, that actually is not a very good translation in English. In Hebrew, what it literally says is I fulfilled my contract.

Give me my wife so we can have sex. And you say, well, that sounds kind of crude. Yeah, Robert Alter, the Jewish commentator on Genesis says it is uncharacteristically crass and crude that ancient narrators never put that kind of stuff in a narrative. So the fact that he puts it in there means that he's trying to show some of the vulgarity of what's going on in Jacob. Jacob's mind. He is obsessed with Rachel.

Just give her to me. I've been thinking about this for seven years so that we can have sex. For seven years he's been thinking about one thing.

You see, Jacob does what a lot of people who deal with deep disappointment in life do. They search for their answer to their life's problems in finding that one true romantic love. Someone they think will fulfill them. Someone who will give them meaning.

Someone who will make their life worth living. I've described it before. Jacob, most guys are like, you know, they're floating, they're drowning in a sea of loneliness and despair and low self-esteem. And along by floats a five-foot-two blonde-headed life preserver. What does a drowning man do? And he sees a life preserver. He reaches out and he clings to it. And he clings to it for dear life.

And he suffocates the life out of her because he's looking for something in her that she was never designed to give to him. That's what Jacob is doing with Rachel. Well, it comes time for the ceremony.

She's wearing, of course, the traditional veil which covers not only the face but the whole head. They go through the ceremony and Jacob is so happy that he really pounds down the booze at the reception. And after the party he takes his veiled wife back to his tent in the dark, of course, and they spend their first night together. For the first time in his life, Jacob feels like something has gone right.

Verse 25. Indeed, it was Leah. Some of you have some bad honeymoon stories. I have a couple of bad honeymoon stories.

I've told you, I think some of them. I have one where my wife and I went snorkeling on our honeymoon. And, you know, I was in the water first and I see her jump in and, you know, she got this red bathing suit she bought for our honeymoon.

And so we've been married for three days. So I swim up to her underwater, you know, all secretive. And I start tickling her and, you know, just like a man should only tickle his wife.

Let's just leave it at that. And she's kicking and thrashing and yelling and I'm thinking this is hilarious. After like 20 seconds, I pop up out of the water. It's not her. It's not her. And it's just a girl saying wrong wife, wrong wife. And I look up at the boat and there's my wife and this girl's husband both kind of looking into the water like what's going on.

So I put my head underwater and I swam as far as probably a mile and a half before I emerged. I find my wife like an hour later and I just said I don't want to talk about it. And, of course, we kept running into this same couple at every restaurant that we ate that week like, hey, there they are again. So I have a bad honeymoon story. But there ain't nothing that's ever happened to any of you like this. You roll over in the morning after your honeymoon and say, wait, you're not your hot sister. And if that has happened to you, you need, first of all, you need prayer.

Second of all, you probably need professional counseling, which I'm not sure we can give to you. Jacob goes back. Of course, he's furious. And he says to Laban, what's the deal? And Laban says, oh, it's not the custom in our country to marry off the younger before the older. Now, I've always wondered why Jacob didn't say back, well, that would have been a great point to make seven years ago. No custom gives Laban the right to commit fraud. But Jacob never even insists that Laban honor the contract. Jacob does not so much as offer a single word of argument. Why not? Why not?

Because I don't know. I think when he says to Laban, why have you deceived me? I think he realizes that it's the exact same phrase that Isaac had said to him.

In fact, it's the exact same way it's written in Hebrew. And when Laban says to him, it's our custom to honor the firstborn. Jacob remembers how he had stolen the right of the firstborn from his older brother, just like Isaac had reached out in the dark thinking it was Esau and Jacob deceived him. So Jacob has now reached out in the dark for Rachel and Laban has deceived him. The believer has been deceived.

Do you see it now? Jacob felt the dagger of his conscience go right into his soul. In fact, in verse 25 of chapter nine, Jacob literally says to Laban, Laban, you Jacobed me.

Jacob is wrought face to face with who he is. He's so obsessed with Rachel, however, that not even this can deter him. So he gets Laban to agree that if we'll work for another seven years, then he'll get Rachel as his wife too. Graciously, Laban gives Rachel to him. Right away, instead of making him wait the seven years, it's like he gets Rachel on credit. He got Leah through the layaway program, but Rachel, he gets immediately on credit. So in the space of one week, he's gotten two sisters as wives who one is extremely jealous of the other one. What kind of house do you think that yielded for Jacob?

I want you to think about this, though. How bad must this have been for poor Leah? I mean, she's a person, right? And all her life, she's grown up in the shadow of her stunning sister. The only way her deadbeat dad can get her married off is to get some guy crunk and swap her out in the dark. Yet all of her life, she's dreamed about being a wife and a mother.

And now she is that. And so she really wants to please Jacob and she wants to make him happy. But now he's married to Rachel, who he's loved for the last seven years and been obsessed with her.

And so she's got to watch every day as he delights in the girl that she's always been negatively compared to and been jealous of and just ignores her. Poor Leah. Which is why, verse 31, the narrative switches to her. Verse 31, but because Leah was unloved, the Lord let her have a child. While Rachel was childless, so Leah became pregnant and had a son.

She named him Reuben, which in Hebrew means see, a son. For she said the Lord has seen, he has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me. You see, here's Leah. And Leah is thinking, Jacob doesn't love me. I'm not very pretty.

But you know what? Rachel can't have kids and I can. So I know that when I have a son, I know that when I have a son, then that'll make me lovable.

And then Jacob will love me. So she has a son. And she says, see a son, don't you love me now?

Do you think it works? Well, look at the very next verse, verse 33. She soon became pregnant again, and had another son. She named this one Simeon, which in Hebrew sounds like the word heard. For she said the Lord has heard that I was unloved and has given me another son. So did the one son make Jacob lover? No, because she's still unloved in this verse, right? So she's thinking the first son wouldn't work, but now the second son, it'll work. God has heard my misery and God has answered my prayer by giving me a son that'll make Jacob love me.

You think it works the second time? All right, well keep reading verse 34. And again, she became pregnant and had a son. She named this one Levi, which is the Hebrew word for attached. Because she said, surely now my husband will feel attached to me. He'll feel affection to me since I have given him now three sons. Now I know, I know it didn't work on one and two, but I know three sons. This third son, I know I'm gonna be lovable. And I know that now he'll love me.

Do you see what's going on? Just like Jacob, that's why these stories are back to back. Just like Jacob, she is dealing with her disappointment in life by reaching out for that one true love also.

Jacob looked forward in romance and sex. She looks forward in being a cherished wife and a mother. So she has a son and she thinks, now I'll be visible.

Now I'll be heard. Now he'll be attached to me. But each time it leaves her empty. When we deal with disappointment in life, we almost always respond the same way, right? Well, I didn't find it in that romance. So it'll be the next romance. That's what it'll do it.

That'll make my life complete. Not in this job. Oh, but I know if I get another job, then my career will feel complete and then I'll be happy. It's not in this city. This city is not big enough. But if I move to a bigger city where they have better nightlife, at that point, my life will take off and I'll be happy.

It's not in this economic bracket. It's not this son. I know that if I could just get 10,000 more a year, if I can just get 100,000 more in my 401k, at that point, then I'll be fulfilled.

At that point in my career, then I'll be happy. We're just like Leah. We keep having sons and thinking that one more son is going to solve the problem.

Another relationship, another attempt, another job, but it always ends up the same. And then in verse 35, we get the gospel. This is the best part of the whole story, verse 35. Once again, she became pregnant and she had another son. She named this one Judah, which means literally praise to God. For she said, now I will praise the Lord.

And then she stopped trying to have children. And you're like, what? Gospel? I don't see any Jesus in my place in there. It just lets you quit having kids. All right.

A couple of things. In Genesis, there's two ways to write God's name. One way comes from Hebrew Elohim, and it just means God the Creator. The other way, and whenever in your English Bible, whenever it's Elohim, it's just G-O-D. That's how it's written. In your English Bible, whenever it's the other name, which is Yahweh or Jehovah, it's going to be written capital L-O-R-D. And Yahweh or Jehovah was the name that was given to God as his covenant name. It was the God of the promise that gave himself to Abraham and said, I'll always be with you. And I'll always bless you. I'll give you salvation and I'll go with you everywhere and I'll take care of you and always be your God. And that's the covenant name.

And it only is for people who have entered into that covenant. So the fact that she says, praise be to God means that I am now finding my joy. I'm finding my joy in God's covenant with me and not in my ability to have sons. That's the name that Leah uses and what it means is praise to the God because of the covenant he's made with me. In other words, Leah stopped trying to earn the love of Jacob through having sons and receive the love of God that was given to her as a gift. And that became the source of her joy and the source of her praise in life.

Here's what's more. Judah is going to grow up to be the ancestor of a very important great, great, great, great, great, great grandchild. Jesus is going to be referred to as the lion of the tribe of Judah.

This would be the son through whom Jesus Christ himself would come. In other words, listen to this, her lineage became beautiful, not because she had some physical beauty to pass onto them, but because God gave beauty as a gift in giving Jesus. So right in the middle of this painful, ugly, unloved life, Leah learns the gospel. She gets it a long time before Jacob, the famous patriarch is going to get it. He's not going to discover the gospel for several more years, several more chapters.

She gets it first. She gets it better than anybody in the book of Genesis has gotten it up to this point because she embodies the whole message of the Bible. And I would say it's fourfold the things you can learn from Leah's experience with the gospel here. Number one, number one, in all of our searching, we are searching for Jesus and all our searching. She shows us we're searching for Jesus.

We talked about this some last week, but every person is on a search and whether they know it or not, they're searching for Jesus. Whatever to get them. For riches, he will alienate his family and destroy those relationships.

To get love, romantic love, he'll pay whatever price. Leah thinks that her answer is found in being a mom and a wife. One commentator said that Jacob is the liberal who thinks sex will fulfill him.

Leah is the conservative who thinks family will fulfill her. Both liberal and conservative in this story end up empty because both are trying to fill a void in their heart through what we call an idol or a substitute God. You see idols are anything that you substitute in your heart for the place of God. I've explained before that one of the words for worship in Hebrew is the word Chabod.

And Chabod literally means weight. So you worship something when you give it an extraordinary amount of weight in your heart. When there's something in your life that you feel like has so much weight that you couldn't be happy without it. At that point, you've begun to worship it.

Right? That's why we say that idols are not usually bad things. Idols are usually good things. They're good things like marriage and sex and friendship and family and success even. They're good things that you've given the weight of God things which then turn into bad things.

Idols are good things that you make into God things that turn into bad things. So the question that it ought to make you ask about yourself is what in your life do you feel like you can't live without? What is that one essential thing that you need for happiness? What have you been almost obsessed with obtaining in your life?

Are you Jacob? Thinking it's going to be found in riches or in romantic love? Or are you Leah thinking it is found in family stability? Or maybe it's the respect of your friends. Maybe it's the praise of people. Maybe it's career stature.

Maybe it's money. I love how Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner summarizes the story. All the blessings of the world, in other words, turn out to be Leah's. No matter what you think is Rachel in the morning when you finally wake up, it's going to be Leah.

Every time you get into a new relationship, every time you start a new job or a new marriage, you have another kid, you think this is it. This will finally make my life complete. This is Rachel. You have what I call the Jerry Maguire moment. Oh, this will complete me. You complete me. I can assure you, she looks at you and says, I'm not going to do this.

I'm not going to do this. She looks like a Rachel now, but in the morning, when you see her in the full light of day, it's going to be Leah. Last week, I told you that when that happens, you're going to do one of four things. When you experience the inevitable disappointment of a broken tower or the inevitable disappointment from an idol, you'll do one of four things.

You remember these? The first thing is you can blame the idol. You can try to replace it with a new version of that idol. Well, it's not that relationship. It's a new relationship. Kelly Clarkson, the original American idol.

See what I did there? After she made it big, she got into a new relationship. She got into this romantic relationship in part of her stardom that, of course, totally fell apart. It lasted the average Hollywood relationship about six minutes. On her next album that came out, she has a song about that destroyed relationship. The lyric of the song says, I fell so hard because of you. I'm ashamed of my life because it's empty, because of you. Now, I would expect that her third album would have been about a whole new focus in life.

Oh, no. It's just about the next guy. Sometimes people will switch idols, like categories of idols. I saw a great illustration of this recently by Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift has a song that came out at the end of 2015 called Out of the Woods. The whole song is about a relationship that goes on the rocks. Well, in the music video, and you're like, how is he seeing the music video?

No questions, please. The music of the music video just ends, and these words are on the screen as the music kind of fades away. She lost him, but she found herself. And somehow, that was everything. As in, this relationship turned out to be a Leah, but in knowing myself, that's where the real joy is.

That's where real fulfillment is. I got news for Taylor Swift. I found myself, and it's not that pretty. I turned out to be Leah, because the one who has disappointed me most in my life is me. The one who has broken more promises to J.D. Greer than any other person in the world is J.D. Greer. Taylor Swift was like, he's Leah, but I'm Rachel.

And I'm like, nope, you're Leah too. All idols disappoint. All idols disappoint because you're made for God. That's why I tell you the arms you've been searching for in romance are his arms. The security you're looking for in a job or in money. That security is found in his promise. The fulfillment that you're searching for in all your pursuits is found in the glory of his presence.

That's why St. Augustine said our hearts will always be restless until we find our rest in you. You can blame the idol. You can blame, I told you number two, yourself. Well, something's wrong with me. I got to fix myself, but that never worked.

You can blame the world and become a cynic and just try to medicate through alcohol or through shopping or sex or pornography or whatever. You can realize the fourth option is that you were created for another world. See, what this story shows you is that Jesus was the true bridegroom that Leah was seeking. He was the one who would give to Leah the unconditional love that she'd always craved, a love that went beyond physical attraction, a love that was not conditioned on any thing.

A love that was deep and fulfilling. Jesus is the bridegroom that you are seeking also. Lonely, insecure, low-esteem single people become lonely, insecure, low-esteem married people. Because problems like loneliness and insecurity and low self-esteem aren't cured by another human being.

They're cured by the love of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God because he's who created you. So that's what Leah's life shows us is that we're all in a search. All of us. And we choose different things, but we're searching for Jesus.

Which leads us to number two. God gives his blessing. God gives his blessing not to those who strive, but to those who receive it in faith. It's only when you stop trying, Leah tells you, it's only when you stop trying to earn God's and other people's love that you can be free.

You see, the gospel flips everything that we believe about love on its head. Jacob chose Rachel because she was naturally appealing, but God chose Leah to bear the Messiah. Isaac chose Esau because Esau fit his soul. God chose Jacob to be the one through whom the ultimate man would one day come. God's blessing does not come to those who earn it, but to those who receive it by faith, which is why the apostle Paul would summarize Jacob's life this way. This is Paul in Romans 9 talking specifically about Jacob.

You see, it depends not on human will, not on exertion, not on the people who can play the best tricks, not on those who can have the most sons. It depends on God. God who shows mercy.

That's why Paul would rephrase that in Titus 3.5. It's not by works of righteousness that we have done. It is according to God's mercy that he saves us. It's a gift that he gives us. It is by grace we have been saved through faith. And not even that's from ourselves. That's the gift of God.

It's not of works. It's not of our ability to have sons or be beautiful or extort our family or ruin our relationships. It's on God who gives it as a gift so that when it happens, we will not boast.

We'll be overwhelmed with grace and we'll spend the rest of our lives responding to the grace of God. That can set you free. Because I'm telling you, some of you, and let me talk especially here to the ladies for a moment, since this is specifically about Leah. All your life, you've been captive to the Labans and the Jacobs in your life.

Voices that you depended on to tell you that you were pretty enough, that you were skinny enough, that you had value, that you had worth, that you were good enough. You got a heavenly father who set his love on you just because you're his daughter. His love is unearned.

His love is the love that you yearn for. I tried to teach this to my daughters when they were young. I've told you this before that I had this little ritual when I would tuck them in and kiss them goodnight and I'd walk to the door and I'd turn around. They all three stayed in the same room and I'd say, does daddy love you girls because you're pretty?

No, we've been over this. They knew what to answer. And they'd be like, no. And another one would say, but we are pretty.

And I would say, yes, you are. I taught them to say that. I'd say, does daddy love you because you're smart?

No, but we are smart. And we go through like five or six different characteristics and I'd say, why does daddy love you? And one of them would say, because we're your daughters, because we're your daughters. And that means that if their beauty ever ceases to be there, or if they turn out to have to be smart, or that means if there's something about them that becomes disappointing, my love for them does not change because it's not those things that condition my love. My love is given to them as a gift that is irrevocable and they will always be precious.

I will always cherish them. It's not a conditional love. It's an unconditional love because that's the kind of love that heavenly Father gives to us, which leads me to number three. Number three, God doesn't love us because we're beautiful. We become beautiful because he loves us.

Right? Leah, Leah, I didn't love her because she was beautiful. Her lineage became beautiful because God said his love on her.

I love how Sally Lloyd-Jones and the Jesus story, but Bible summarizes the story. God doesn't need us to be beautiful so we can love us with all of his heart. We become beautiful because he loves us. He doesn't love us because we're valuable. We're valuable because he loves us. He doesn't love us because we're beautiful. We're pure. His love purifies us. He doesn't love us because we're strong. We find strength through his unconditional, irrevocable love for us, given to us in the cross of Jesus Christ. Martin Luther had a wonderful way of saying this.

You've got to put your thinking cap on, but it's awesome. The love of God does not find. It creates that which is pleasing to it.

In other words, God didn't look throughout the earth and say, oh, he's got great talent. He's got good potential. Oh, her, she's got a good heart. She's been misunderstood, but I think a lot about her.

The person over here, they got real talent. That's why I'm going to love them. God doesn't look at us and find anything that is lovely in and of itself. God's love creates that which is lovely.

His love makes the unlovely lovable. So when you feel like a Leah, what that means is that you got to reflect, you got to embrace two things. Number one, that God has set his love on you unconditionally.

Condition not on how you perform or anything about you, but condition on the fact that he has made you his daughter or son in Jesus Christ's purchase of you. My oldest daughter was learning to walk. It was a typical, you know, most parents had this experience where, you know, she's around the house and she's pulling up on everything and then she kind of plops down. And then so Veronica and I do what really, when you think about it, it's kind of cruel. You know, she gets up there one day and we kind of, you know, move over like five feet away and not take like a Twinkie or something. I'm like, want a Twinkie? You know, and she's like, you know, she's looking at it and she's scared. And then so I'm like, want a Twinkie?

And she, you know, she leans her head toward the Twinkie and then gravity takes over. Right. And I'm counting it. Right.

I mean, I'm counting it. That's like three steps and she fell down, but she walked, she walked. And I got the camera. I mean, back in those days, we didn't even have cameras on our phones.

How backwards is that? We had to get the little video camera. And so, you know, we're sitting on these little things to get her to, she's taking two or three steps and she's falling. And I'm acting like it's the greatest thing that's ever happened. Oh, you're awesome.

You're my girl. I love it. Right.

I've never known a dad who was like, two steps. That's it. My kid's an idiot. It's not me. It's you. I can walk just fine. I don't know what's wrong with you kid.

No, you're celebrating it. And what happens in parenting is that love, that affirmation ends up becoming the strength, which gives them the ability to grow in things and like walk later. You got a heavenly father that's not saying, let me see how well you walk that determines whether or not I love you. You got a heavenly father whose unconditional love becomes a strength through which you can walk beautifully in any situation in your life. So the first thing I reflect on is that God loves me unconditionally. He's given to me as a gift in Christ. Second, I reflect on the fact that one day he's going to make my outside, he's going to make the outside match the beauty of the Christ he has put on my inside.

And that's not just like poetic language. First John three, one says, beloved, we are God's children. And what we will be exactly has not yet appeared to us. But one thing we do know is that when he appears, we'll be like him, because then we'll see him as he is. What that means is that one day, God's gonna take all the ugliness from this life.

Maybe it's physical ugliness, maybe it's moral ugliness. My, my temper, my pride, my jealousy, God's gonna take all that. And one day, he's gonna take this Christ he's put on the inside, and he's gonna make the beauty of my outside match what he's put on the inside. And I can't wait. I can't wait because he is not done with me.

And it is not yet appear what I will be. But I know he's making me beautiful. When you really grasp these truths, you let him seep into your soul. I'm telling you, you're gonna be free, finally free of the addiction of the approval that you've addiction to the approval of others you've lived with, you'll be released from that captivity that you feel towards your spouse, depending on them for affirmation, you can finally let go of them as your lifesaver because Jesus will be your lifesaver. You will need them to feel like you're loved, you will need them to feel like you have worth because you'll have that in Jesus. And then for the first time in your life, you'll be free to actually love them instead of use them.

Which leads me to number four, the final one. You know, you learn the gospel when you stop striving to find love. The way that you know you've learned the gospel is when you stop striving to find love when you rejoice in a love that you don't have to earn a love that can't be taken away. When like Leah, your praise and your joy is no longer based on how many sons you have, or whether Jacob loves you, or how smart you are, how pretty you are, or how much money you have. Your praise is based entirely on the covenant relationship that God has given to you.

And it's the covenant that God gave to you that is the source of your joy. The source of your praise. Let me ask you a question. What does it take? What does it take to use the words of Pastor Chuck? What's it take for you to get your praise on?

What's that take? What makes you come in here and feel what makes you rejoice? Is it you had a great week, your marriage is going awesome, found out you're pregnant, you, you know, found out that you inherited a lot of money?

What is it that would make you just rejoice? Is it how many sons you have? Is it all these things?

Or is it I mean, I have any of these things, I might be poor. I mean, I have sons, I might feel ugly, I might not have found the Jacob to love me, I might not have this thing that I've always wanted for my dad and my parents are not having, but I got you. I got you. I got your unconditional love. And you're better than fathers. And you're better than sons. And you're better than riches.

And you're better than a husband. Because in all my life, the thing I was searching for is I was searching for you. And my soul has rest. And my life can be a Judah, which means the praise goes to God for his loving it, and not a Reuben, and it's not a Simeon, and it's not a Levi that's dependent on how many sons I have, or the prosperity that God has given me in my life. Y'all thank God for the beautiful story of ugly Leah. Because see, that shows me that he loves ugly sinners like me. It shows me it's by grace that I've been saved through faith. It wasn't because of JD Greer, it wasn't for me, it wasn't because of Leah, it was by grace, he gave it as a gift.

It wasn't in my works, so that I'm not going to boast, nor am I going to despair. I'm going to do what Leah did, which is I'm going to start to praise God for the grace and the gift that he gave to me. I'm going to sing with Leah, who probably didn't use these words, but sang the essence of the song that we love in the church, Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved an ugly wretch like me. And for the rest of my life, I'll be responding to that grace, and just saying thank you, and I want to love like you, and I want to give like you because of what you've given to me. And I'll say with John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, I know one day when I've been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, I'll have no less days to sing God's praise than when I first began. This lifetime is not going to be enough time to say thank you to God for the grace that he gave.

That paycheck is not going to be enough. I'm going to need 10,000 lifetimes, 10 billion lifetimes, just to respond to the grace that God gave to those who were unlovable and unlovely. God said, I'll make you lovable, and I'll make you worthy because I'll give Jesus to purchase your soul, and I'll bring Jesus Christ through you. Thank God for the beautiful story of ugly Leah.

Why don't you bow your heads at all of our campuses. Have you ever received God's amazing grace? Have you ever received it?

It's a gift. Jesus Christ is your husband, who offers himself to you if you will simply in faith say to him, I do, I receive you. I surrender to you as Lord, I receive you as my savior.

If you've never done that, you could say it to him right now in your heart. If you know that you have trust in Christ as your savior, maybe at this moment you could just begin to rejoice in it. And say, God, I don't need sons and I don't need riches. I have Jesus. So I can praise for the rest of my life because of him, because of that. Would you just rejoice in it, let it make you beautiful, let it make you strong, let it purify you. God's love doesn't find, it creates that which is pleasing to it. Let his love work its power in your heart. You keep your heads bowed and our worship teams at all of our campuses will come.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-05 03:45:48 / 2023-09-05 04:04:35 / 19

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