Genesis 49:31 Rocked my world today. Mouse over the verse to read it. It’s not all that spectacular. It’s a description of a graveyard, and who is buried there.
What rocked my world is what it didn’t say. The guy speaking is Israel (formerly known as Jacob). Stick with me, and I’ll give you the back story in 3 bullet points (with a hat-tip to Tim Keller’s insight from his latest book).
- Jacob was a total perve who had the hots for Rachel, Leah’s younger sister.
- Laban, the girls’ dad, was a con-man who tricked Jacob into working for him for 14 years in order to get Rachel as a wife. 7 years in he got tricked into marrying Leah, who according to the story is ugly (commentators believe she had a lazy eye or was cross-eyed). Lines from the 14 year period include “OK, time for me to have sex with that hot daughter of yours.” (did I mention Jacob was a perve?)
- Leah spends the rest of her life in the shadow of her younger, hotter sister–trying to make Jacob love her. She names her first three kids “Look! A son,” “God heard my prayer,” and “Now I’ll be connected to him,” (Genesis 29:31-35) all in an effort to win the love of Jacob, or at least in an expression of that effort. Finally, we see her surrender to God’s grace, and name her last son “Praise the Lord.”
But what we never hear from the story is whether or not God’s grace ever changes Jacob. Until Genesis 49:31. When giving instructions as to where he wanted to be buried. He in effect says “Bury me where Grandpa Abraham, Grandma Sarah, Dad, Mom, and Leah are buried. The significance of that is huge. God had so changed Jacob (now Israel)’s heart that his last wish was to be buried not with Rachel, who had her own tomb (Genesis 35:19-20), but with Leah.
God changes hearts. Leah’s last son’s name, Judah, might sound familiar. The “Lion of Judah,” Jesus himself, is a descendant of Leah. Praise God for grace that changes us.