Living Under God's Watch Care

Living Under God's Watch Care

The International Sunday School Lesson

Lesson for January 3, 2016

A Bride Worth Waiting For

Genesis 29:15–30

Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri, and has held preaching ministries in Missouri, Illinois, and Colorado. This lesson treatment is published in the December 27 issue of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at
By Mark Scott 
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (English Standard Version). Who has not known the agony of waiting? Waiting seems like forever. But a laser focus on a strong goal helps us endure any delay. That is what Jacob found out in our text.
We start the new year in Genesis with the Jacob narrative. Jacob is the third patriarch (following Abraham and Isaac). Due to a chronic problem with deception, Jacob found himself estranged from his parents, Isaac and Rebekah, and alienated from his brother, Esau. He was staying in Haran with his mother’s brother, who was Jacob’s equal in trickery.
Define the Relationship | Genesis 29:15-20
Laban wanted to define his relationship with Jacob, and Jacob wanted to define his relationship with Rachel. Laban went first. “Tell me what your wages should be.” Because Jacob had to “get out of Dodge” (Beersheba) hurriedly, he had left home with next to nothing. His only bargaining chip was work. But Laban had something Jacob desired:I’ll work for you seven years in return for your youngest daughter Rachel.” Laban was delighted and signed on the dotted line.
Rachel had more than caught Jacob’s eye. Rachel was described as having alovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was smitten. Jacob was in love with Rachel. One of the most romantic verses in the Bible says, So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
There was one problem though for the relationship between Jacob and Rachel to be defined. That problem was Rachel’s older sister, Leah. She had not yet married (a cultural issue) and she had an eye problem (a physical issue). Her eyes were weak. The word could mean delicate or soft. But the word could also mean runny or droopy. The contrast in verse 17 makes one think the latter.
Make Me a Match | Genesis 29:21-25a
In the play “Fiddler on the Roof,” the role of the matchmaker is prominent. The little Jewish woman named Yenta tries to find matches for Tevya’s daughters. The girls end up marrying other men instead of the ones selected by the matchmaker. Something similar happens in our text.
Jacob served seven years for Rachel. He was ready to consummate the marriage (v. 21). Laban’s family sent out “save the date” cards and prepared for the big day. The wedding came, the entire village showed up, and the feast was no doubt elaborate.
But Laban deceived the deceiver. Laban took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. In an additional cultural act, Laban gave Leah’s attendant, Zilpah, to Jacob as well.
One can appreciate the shocking phrase, When morning came, there was Leah. Why would Jacob not have known? We have our guesses, but we don’t truly know how her identity was hidden. All we know is that Jacob was tricked.
The Webs We Weave | Genesis 29:25b-30
From Walter Scott’s poem Marmion comes the famous line, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!” Similar words must have echoed in Jacob’s conscience, Why have you deceived me?Laban had deceived Jacob, but Laban dismissed it due to culture and made a new arrangement with Jacob—an additional seven years of work.
Jacob complied. He fulfilled the bridal week with Leah, took Rachel as his wife, and began the next seven years of work. He also received Bilhah, Rachel’s attendant. What goes around comes around. What a man sows that will he also reap (Galatians 6:7).
Regardless of all the bizarre circumstances in this story (and how morally compromised it makes us feel), Jacob really loved Rachel and thought she was worth waiting for—this is the first level of understanding the story. Jacob had his name changed from deceiver to striver (Israel) and became the head of the Israelite nation—this is the second level of understanding the story. Finally, Leah, who did not feel loved, ended up bearing Judah from whom Jesus descended. And Jesus also thinks there is a bride still worth waiting for.
*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated

The International Sunday School Lesson, Outline

January 3
Lesson 5


DEVOTIONAL READING: 1 Timothy 1:12–17

GENESIS 29:15–30

15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.
18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.
20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.
21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.
22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.
24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?
26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.
30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.

He went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
Genesis 29:30


Unit 2: Four Weddings and a Funeral


After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Describe Jacob’s expectation and Laban’s deception.
2. Compare and contrast Laban’s actions with modern “bait and switch” deceptions.
3. Write a prayer of commitment to honest dealings.


      A.      Marriage Chaos
      B.      Lesson Background
          I.      Contract Agreed (GENESIS 29:15–20)
      A.      Laban’s Request (v. 15)
      B.      Laban’s Daughters (vv. 16, 17)
      C.      Jacob’s Offer (v. 18)
      D.      Laban’s Acceptance (vv. 19, 20)
      Perils of a Family Business
          II.      Deception Rationalized (GENESIS 29:21–26)
      A.      Expectation (vv. 21, 22)
      B.      Substitution (vv. 23, 24)
      C.      Confrontation (vv. 25, 26)
          III.      Contract Modified (GENESIS 29:27–30)
      A.      Seven More Years (v. 27)
      Bankruptcies, Fiscal and Otherwise
      B.      One More Wife (vv. 28–30)
      A.      Mixed Families
      B.      Prayer
      C.      Thought to Remember


Abraham    Ay-bruh-ham.
Bilhah   Bill-ha.
Canaan   Kay-nun.
Esau   Ee-saw.
fait accompli   fay-tuh-kom-plee.
Jacob   Jay-kub.
Laban   Lay-bun.
patriarchs   pay-tree-arks.
Zilpah   Zil-pa.


 What Do You Think?
     Under what circumstances, if any, is it unwise to work for a relative? Why?
 Talking Points for Your Discussion
     ■      Regarding temporary situations or specified periods of time
     ■      Regarding permanent or open-ended situations
     ■      Regarding Christian vs. non-Christian relatives

Visual for Lessons 5 & 6. Start a discussion by pointing to this visual as you ask, “How can we make love last a lifetime?”

 What Do You Think?
     Under what circumstances, if any, would a very lengthy engagement be a good idea today?
 Talking Points for Your Discussion
     ■      Considering the emotional maturity of those to be married
     ■      Considering the spiritual maturity of those to be married
     ■      1 Corinthians 7:9, 36
     ■      Other

 What Do You Think?
     What are some ways to prepare for a wedding that will honor God and serve as a witness to unbelievers in attendance?
 Talking Points for Your Discussion
     ■      Regarding location
     ■      Regarding vows
     ■      Regarding budget
     ■      Regarding scheduling
     ■      Other

 What Do You Think?
     What lessons have you learned about healthy relationships with in-laws?
 Talking Points for Your Discussion
     ■      Regarding the handling of holidays
     ■      Regarding grandchildren
     ■      Regarding expectations of visits
     ■      Regarding non-Christian in-laws
     ■      Other

 What Do You Think?
     How can we prevent preferential love in family relationships? Why is it important to do so?
 Talking Points for Your Discussion
     ■      Parent-to-child
     ■      Grandparent-to-grandchild
     ■      Sibling-to-sibling
     ■      Other

Christian Worship Three Year Lectionary (with Supplemental Lectionary)


             Old Testament       Genesis 17:1–7
             Old Testament       2 Samuel 7:8–16 (Supplemental)
             Psalm       Psalm 148
             New Testament       Galatians 4:4–7
             New Testament       Colossians 1:13–20 (Supplemental)
             Gospel       Luke 1:68–75

Christian Worship Three Year Lectionary (with Supplemental Lectionary). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. Print.

United Methodist Revised Common Lectionary


             Old Testament       Isaiah 60:1–6
             Psalm       Psalm 72:1–7, 10–14 (UMH 795)
             New Testament       Ephesians 3:1–12
             Gospel       Matthew 2:1–12

Vanderbilt Divinity Library. United Methodist Revised Common Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. Print.

Catholic Lectionary

In dioceses where Epiphany is observed on Sunday.
On the same date: 2nd Sunday after Christmas

              First Reading       Isaiah 60:1–6
              Response       Psalm 72:11
              Psalm       Psalm 72:1–2, 7–8, 10–11, 12–13
              Second Reading       Ephesians 3:2–3a, 5–6
              Gospel Acclamation       Matthew 2:2
              Gospel       Matthew 2:1–12

Catholic Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. Print.

Lutheran Church


             Old Testament       1 Kings 3:4–15
             Psalm       Psalm 119:97–104
             Epistle       Ephesians 1:3–14
             Gospel       Luke 2:40–52

Lutheran Service Book Three Year Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. Print.

The Episcopal Church


             Psalm       Psalm 84 or Psalm 84:1–9
             First Reading       Jeremiah 31:7–14
             Second Reading       Ephesians 1:3–6, 15–19a
             Gospel       Matthew 2:13–15, 19–23 or Luke 2:41–52 or                                     Matthew 2:1–12

The Episcopal Church. Book of Common Prayer (1979) Sunday Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010. Print.