1. ARRIVING IN HARAN
a. In obedience to his father’s directions, where did Jacob go—and what made his arrival bittersweet? Genesis 29:1–4 (compare Genesis 24:10, 34, 35).
“With a new and abiding faith in the divine promises, and assured of the presence and guardianship of heavenly angels, Jacob pursued his journey to ‘the land of the children of the East.’ Genesis 29:1, margin. But how different his arrival from that of Abraham’s messenger nearly a hundred years before! The servant had come with a train of attendants riding upon camels, and with rich gifts of gold and silver; the son was a lonely, footsore traveler, with no possession save his staff.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 188.
b. What then made Jacob able to feel more hopeful as he approached the place of his mother’s relatives? Genesis 29:5, 6.
2. NO LONGER TO BE IN SOLITUDE
a. What reveals that Jacob immediately took interest in the well-being of the family—and was refreshed and comforted in turn? Genesis 29:9–14.
“Like Abraham’s servant, Jacob tarried beside a well, and it was here that he met Rachel, Laban’s younger daughter. It was Jacob now who rendered service, rolling the stone from the well and watering the flocks. On making known his kinship, he was welcomed to the home of Laban. Though he came portionless and unattended, a few weeks showed the worth of his diligence and skill, and he was urged to tarry.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 188.
b. What arrangement was made for Jacob’s employment? Genesis 29:15–19.
“It was customary anciently for the bridegroom to pay a sum of money according to his circumstances, to the father of his wife. If he had no money, or anything of value, his labor was accepted for a stated length of time before he could obtain the daughter as his wife. This custom was considered a safeguard to the marriage contract. Fathers did not consider it safe to trust the happiness of their daughters to men who had not made sufficient provisions to take care of a family. If they had not ability to manage business, to acquire cattle or lands, they were afraid that their lives would be worthless. But that the truly worthy should not become discouraged, a provision was made to test the worth of those who had nothing of value to pay for a wife. They were permitted to labor for the father whose daughter they loved. Their labors were engaged for a certain length of time, regulated by the value of the dowry required for their daughter. In doing this, marriages were not hasty, and there was opportunity to test the depth of the affections of the suitor. If he was faithful in his services, and was otherwise considered worthy, the daughter was given him as his wife. And generally all the dowry the father had received was given to his daughter at her marriage.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 119, 120.
c. How was the character of the prospective couple thus developed spiritually? Hebrews 10:36.
3. THE MARRIAGE OF JACOB
a. What are we to learn in our day from the depth of genuine love that Jacob demonstrated for Rachel? Genesis 29:20.
“It was arranged that [Jacob] should render Laban seven years’ service for the hand of Rachel.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 188.
“What a contrast to the course now pursued by parents and children! There are many unhappy marriages because of so much haste. Two unite their interest at the marriage altar, by most solemn vows before God, without previously weighing the matter, and devoting time to sober reflection and earnest prayer. Many move from impulse. They have no thorough acquaintance with the dispositions of each other. They do not realize that the happiness of their whole life is at stake. If they move wrong in this matter, and their marriage life proves unhappy, it cannot be taken back. If they find they are not calculated to make each other happy, they must endure it the best they can. In some instances the husband proves to be too indolent to provide for a family, and his wife and children suffer. If the ability of such had been proved, as was the custom anciently before marriage, much misery would have been saved.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 120.
b. What happened to Jacob after his seven years of hard work to obtain the hand of Rachel in marriage? Genesis 29:21–26.
“[Jacob] formed the marriage contract with Laban for his daughter Rachel whom he loved. After he had served seven years for Rachel, Laban deceived him and gave him Leah. When Jacob realized the deception that had been practiced upon him, and that Leah had acted her part in deceiving him, he could not love Leah. Laban wished to retain the faithful services of Jacob a greater length of time, therefore deceived him by giving him Leah, instead of Rachel. Jacob reproved Laban for thus trifling with his affections, in giving him Leah, whom he had not loved. Laban entreated Jacob not to put away Leah, for this was considered a great disgrace, not only to the wife, but to the whole family.”—Ibid., pp. 117, 118.
4. TAMPERING WITH GOD’S PLAN
a. What solution did the crafty Laban have for Jacob’s undying love for Rachel—yet how did this cause misery to all? Genesis 29:27–30.
“Jacob was placed in a most trying position, but he decided to still retain Leah, and also marry her sister. Leah was loved in a much less degree than Rachel. Laban was selfish in his dealings with Jacob. He only thought of advantaging himself by the faithful labors of Jacob. He would have left the artful Laban long before, but he was afraid of encountering Esau.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 118.
“Rachel was ever the one best loved; but his preference for her excited envy and jealousy, and his life was embittered by the rivalry between the sister-wives.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 189, 190.
b. Dealing with both Leah and Rachel, what was the biggest problem to cause chaos in Jacob’s home life? Song of Solomon 8:6.
c. What happens whenever we try to invent various alternatives to God’s original plan for marriage as a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman? Genesis 2:21–24; Ecclesiastes 7:29.
“The marriage relation is holy, but in this degenerate age it covers vileness of every description. It is abused, and has become a crime which now constitutes one of the signs of the last days, even as marriages, managed as they were previous to the Flood, were then a crime.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 252.
“If fiends had set themselves to work to discover a mode of most effectually destroying whatever is venerable, graceful, or permanent in domestic life, and of obtaining at the same time an assurance that the mischief which it was their object to create should be perpetuated from one generation to another, they could not have invented a more effectual plan than the degradation of marriage.”—The Great Controversy, p. 270.
5. CLEANSING THE HEART
a. What is the main, underlying legacy of fallen Lucifer that has poisoned our whole planet? 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 10:12.
“Envy, jealousy, and evil surmising is a hellish shadow by which Satan seeks to intercept your views of the character of Christ, so that by beholding the evil you may be fully changed into its likeness.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 3, p. 1163.
b. How can we overcome this horrible natural tendency to compete with others and be resentful of them? Galatians 5:25, 26.
“There should be self-abasement, and a putting away of all jealousy, evil surmising, envy, hatred, malice, and unbelief. An entire transformation is needed. Some have lost sight of our pattern, the suffering Man of Calvary. In His service we need not expect ease, honor, and greatness in this life; for He, the Majesty of heaven, did not receive it. ‘He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’ ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed’ [Isaiah 53:3, 5]. With this example before us, will we choose to shun the cross, and to be swayed by circumstances? . . .
“Can we not stand in God, let our surroundings be ever so unpleasant and discouraging?”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 516, 517.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Despite Jacob’s poverty, what reveals God’s care in providing for him?
2. Name some qualities we can learn from ancient customs for marriage.
3. How did Jacob learn through pain how evil it is to practice deception?
4. What can I do through my influence to uplift the sanctity of marriage?
5. How might envy, the most insidious legacy of Lucifer, be corrupting me?