In this series on the brides of scripture we have learned that the first bride, Eve, was linked to a ‘wounded man’, and the second bride, Rebekah, was impressed by a ‘wealthy man’. In Genesis chapter 29, Rachel is the favoured bride sought out by a ‘willing man’, who was not only captivated by her outward beauty but was prepared to serve and suffer for fourteen years to claim her as his bride.

Jacob left Bethel a changed man, having anointed a pillar to mark the most important milestone in his life, and beginning to walk with God, Gen. 28. However, he would have to learn that his walk was to involve waiting upon God to provide. At Bethel, he is gripped by the reality of God’s presence but, between that first pillar and the second pillar (a period of twenty years, chh. 29-31), Jacob will be under the control of a worldly man, Laban, until God intervenes and tells him to return, with his bride, Rachel, to the land of his kindred.

Rachel’s flock - her shepherd bridegroom

Jacob was willing to travel a great distance in obedience to his father to find a bride from his kindred. Thus, the believer today should marry ‘in the Lord’, 1 Cor. 7. 39, not choose a bride out of the world. They would meet at a well and Rachel, the first shepherdess in the Bible, would be united with the good shepherd Jacob who would water her father’s flock. The picture is a beautiful one: the bridegroom rolls away the stone providing the refreshment that will cause Rachel to run like the woman of Samaria and tell others of the man who told her all things, John 4. 29.

Jacob’s journey of 450 miles to Haran was nothing compared to the journey the Son of God took to seek out a bride for Himself. During His perfect walk here, the Lord Jesus cried out, ‘he that believeth on me shall never thirst’, John 6. 35. John writes elsewhere, ‘the Spirit and the bride say, Come … And let him that is athirst come’, Rev. 22. 17. The bride of Christ has had her thirst satisfied at the well of eternal life because of a stone that was rolled away by the good shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, John 10. 11.

Rachel’s favour - her suffering bridegroom

Jacob’s love is shown first of all in a physical display of affection as he kisses Rachel, the younger and more beautiful sister. But the greatest demonstration of Jacob’s love is the time he was prepared to sacrifice and suffer under Laban to secure Rachel as his bride. He would be twenty years in Laban’s house learning to wait upon God. Some blame Jacob for his own trouble, claiming he deserved to be deceived because he deceived his own father. But that is not how God works. Jacob may have reaped the consequences of his conduct in his father’s house, but God brought him by Bethel and promised there to bless him and keep him, not curse him.

The Lord Jesus left His Father’s house willingly taking upon Himself the form of a servant and at Bethlehem He kissed a sinful world with God’s love. While Rachel was not without her faults - seen in her jealousy, Gen. 30. 1, and even sharing in her father’s idolatry, 31. 34 - Jacob could see no fault in her, like the bridegroom, ‘Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee’, S. of S. 4. 7. Christ, too, will present His glorious church to Himself without spot or wrinkle, Eph. 5. 27.

The world is still, like Laban, seeking personal advancement and material gain. Laban’s treatment caused suffering for Jacob but, ‘they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her’, Gen. 29. 20. His sacrificial love is typical of Christ, Eph. 5. 25. After thirty-three years of service in a sinful world, the stripe fell upon the Lord Jesus for our sins, but He would see of ‘the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied’, Isa. 53. 11. Nothing could separate Rachel from the love of Jacob, and we might ask, with Paul, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’ Rom. 8. 35.

Rachel’s fruit - her sons of the bridegroom

Rachel was barren - which was a reproach - but ‘God remembered Rachel … and opened her womb’, Gen. 30. 22. Fruitfulness was dependent on God working, and what lasting fruit would come from barren Rachel! Joseph was her firstborn and she died during the birth of Benjamin; both are beautiful types of Christ. Joseph is the fruitful bough, 49. 22, who received the double portion and the birthright, 1 Chr. 5. 2, while Benjamin is a double type, the son of sorrow (Benoni) and the son of my right hand, Gen. 35. 18. Therefore, in this third bride we see Christ revealed in a unique way, which is the great purpose of God for the church, that it may be ‘conformed to the image of his Son’, Rom. 8. 29.

When Jacob came to bless Joseph’s sons, he would be reminded of the day Rachel died. But notice what Jacob says, ‘I buried her there in … Bethlehem’. Although it was through Jacob’s other wife, Leah, that Judah was born, and by whom the Messianic line would lead to Bethlehem, Rachel also brings us to Bethlehem. Both of Jacob’s brides direct us to Christ and both are role models for Ruth in the building of the nation, Ruth 4. 11.

While Jacob knew what it was to be bereaved of the woman he loved, we, as the bride of Christ, have a spiritual union that will never be broken by death because it is secured by precious blood. Maybe, like Rachel, we find the years long waiting on our bridegroom, but remember the words of Peter, 2 Pet. 3. 8. He reminds us that these thousands of years are but a few days for Christ. We too, like Rachel, may have to share in sorrow and suffering as a result of our links with the heavenly bridegroom, and may even die in faith not having received the promise. But, like Jacob at Bethel, by faith we have seen the gate of heaven and can say with the writer to the Hebrews, ‘we see Jesus’, Heb. 2. 9. By faith, we anticipate that faith will give way to sight, and we shall see the man who served and suffered that we might be His glorious bride.


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