1. THE PLIGHT OF LEAH
a. Although God sought to brighten the life of Leah, what words of hers nonetheless reveal the pain of rivalry in the home? Genesis 29:31–34.
“The selfish and grasping Laban, desiring to retain so valuable a helper, practiced a cruel deception in substituting Leah for Rachel. The fact that Leah herself was a party to the cheat, caused Jacob to feel that he could not love her.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 189.
b. What can we learn from a moment when Leah expressed a deeper faith and trust—without an accompanying complaint implied? Genesis 29:35.
“Our conversation must be holy and without murmuring.”—The Review and Herald, May 7, 1889.
“Praise the Lord at all times. Look on the bright side of circumstances, not on the dark side. Be watchful and prayerful, and the Lord will bless and guide and strengthen you.”—This Day With God, p. 234.
2. FRUSTRATION AND FOLLY
a. Rather than resting in her husband’s preferential treatment, why did Rachel instead covet the blessings that God had bestowed upon her sister? Genesis 30:1; Proverbs 30:15, 16.
b. How was this an unpleasant source of trouble for Jacob? Genesis 30:2.
c. In order to compete with her rival, what plans did Rachel desperately initiate, causing the marriage relation to be further degraded? Genesis 30:3–8.
d. Complicating matters even more, how did Leah escalate the competition? Genesis 30:9–13.
e. What continued to plague the family’s domestic life? Genesis 30:14–20.
f. Amid the chaos, how did God show mercy to Rachel? Genesis 30:22–24.
g. Yet overall, what was the root of all this contention—and how was everyone in the household inevitably affected? Proverbs 13:10; 27:4; James 3:16.
“By contention over trivial matters, a bitter spirit is cultivated. Open disagreements and bickering bring inexpressible misery into the home, and drive asunder those who should be united in the bonds of love.”—Messages to Young People, p. 453.
3. TIME TO MOVE AWAY
a. After Jacob had rendered to Laban 20 years of diligent service, what conversation did the two of them finally have? Genesis 30:25–30.
b. What was agreed upon regarding Jacob’s wages? Genesis 30:31–34.
c. Explain Jacob’s next steps and how they were blessed. Genesis 30:35–43.
d. How did the jealous, competitive nature of Laban’s family show it was time for Jacob to move away from his father-in-law? Genesis 31:1–5.
e. What did Jacob explain to his wives about the life he had lived as shepherd over Laban’s flocks? Genesis 31:6, 7.
“For twenty years Jacob remained in Mesopotamia, laboring in the service of Laban, who, disregarding the ties of kinship, was bent upon securing to himself all the benefits of their connection. Fourteen years of toil he demanded for his two daughters; and during the remaining period, Jacob’s wages were ten times changed. Yet Jacob’s service was diligent and faithful.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 190.
f. Why did the sisters readily agree to leave the atmosphere where they had grown up—and how are we likewise urged to eagerly escape a covetous environment? Genesis 31:14–16; Psalm 119:36.
4. CARING FOR THE FLOCK
a. Describe the life of the faithful shepherd. Luke 15:4.
“It was necessary for the shepherd to watch his flocks day and night. They were in danger from robbers, and also from wild beasts, which were numerous and bold, often committing great havoc in flocks that were not faithfully guarded. Jacob had many assistants in caring for the extensive flocks of Laban, but he himself was held responsible for them all. During some portions of the year it was necessary for him to be constantly with the flocks in person, to guard them in the dry season against perishing from thirst, and during the coldest months from becoming chilled with the heavy night frosts. Jacob was the chief shepherd; the servants in his employ were the undershepherds. If any of the sheep were missing, the chief shepherd suffered the loss; and he called the servants to whom he entrusted the care of the flock to a strict account if it was not found in a flourishing condition.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 190.
b. Why does Scripture speak much about shepherding? John 10:11–15; Ezekiel 34:16, 22.
“The shepherd’s life of diligence and care-taking, and his tender compassion for the helpless creatures entrusted to his charge, have been employed by the inspired writers to illustrate some of the most precious truths of the gospel. Christ, in His relation to His people, is compared to a shepherd. After the Fall He saw His sheep doomed to perish in the dark ways of sin. To save these wandering ones He left the honors and glories of His Father’s house. . . . His care for the flock is unwearied. He strengthens the weak, relieves the suffering, gathers the lambs in His arms, and carries them in His bosom. His sheep love Him. . . .
“Christ, the Chief Shepherd, has entrusted the care of His flock to His ministers as undershepherds; and He bids them have the same interest that He has manifested, and feel the sacred responsibility of the charge He has entrusted to them. He has solemnly commanded them to be faithful, to feed the flock, to strengthen the weak, to revive the fainting, and to shield them from devouring wolves.
“To save His sheep, Christ laid down His own life; and He points His shepherds to the love thus manifested, as their example.”—Ibid., pp. 190, 191.
5. THE NEED TO TRUST GOD
a. Why hadn’t Jacob left the covetous Laban sooner—and what was the real deciding factor that finally caused him to move? Genesis 31:10–13.
“Jacob would have left his crafty kinsman long before but for the fear of encountering Esau. Now he felt that he was in danger from the sons of Laban, who, looking upon his wealth as their own, might endeavor to secure it by violence. He was in great perplexity and distress, not knowing which way to turn. But mindful of the gracious Bethel promise, he carried his case to God, and sought direction from Him. In a dream his prayer was answered: ‘Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.’ ”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 193.
b. In packing to leave, what revealed a serious spiritual flaw in the character of beloved Rachel—and how is this a warning for us? Genesis 31:17–19.
“Modern Israel are in greater danger of forgetting God and being led into idolatry than were His ancient people. Many idols are worshiped, even by professed Sabbathkeepers. God especially charged His ancient people to guard against idolatry, for if they should be led away from serving the living God, His curse would rest upon them. . . .
“A blessing or a curse is now before the people of God—a blessing if they come out from the world and are separate, and walk in the path of humble obedience; and a curse if they unite with the idolatrous, who trample upon the high claims of heaven.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 609.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How are we too often like Rachel and Leah in our outlook on life?
2. What prenatal influences likely affected the sons of Jacob before birth?
3. Why was it a good idea for Jacob to move away from Laban?
4. How can I bear the qualities of a shepherd toward those around me?
5. How has God shown His care for me in hard times—just as with Jacob?