Jacob was the father of twelve sons. The Lord also named Jacob “Israel,” and his twelve sons became the heads of twelve families, or clans, or tribes, known as the “Children of Israel.” Numerous times in the Bible, reference is made to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob, and his life, is an important part of the promises of the Bible.
A question from a Christian Brother has opened my eyes to a picture, or foreshadow, that exists in the Bible. This is not surprising for the Word of God is filled with pictures and foreshadows. The question was, “Why did not Isaac give Jacob money to pay the bride price when he was sent to Padam Aram for a wife?” When Isaac’s father, Abraham, sent a servant to obtain a wife for Isaac, he sent valuable gifts with him.
The first thing I realized is that there is nothing in the Bible that is there by happenstance. There is a reason for this account in Scripture. Isaac had wealth. He could have sent many gifts, but there is no indication that he did so.
There are multiple pictures, or foreshadows, in this account of Jacob found in Genesis chapters twenty-eight through thirty-one.
Israel, the Espoused Wife of God
Just as Rachel was the first love of Jacob, so also God first chose Israel to be His wife. Jacob had chosen Rachel first, but received Leah instead. God chose Israel first but when He sent His Son to claim her as His wife, Israel rejected Him. Remember when the Lord Jesus said, “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16) Israel will be last to accept and consummate their marriage with God. This account shows us the intent of the Lord regarding the Children of Israel. They are the espoused wife of God, just as Mary was the espoused wife of Joseph (Luke 2:5). The marriage has not been consummated, but is a real fact. The Children of Israel were God’s first choice and, according to Scripture, are still His (espoused) wife. (See Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:14)
The Church, the Bride of Christ
Leah, the second wife, is a picture of the Church or Bride of Christ. Remember, Leah was more fruitful than Rachel. Leah (and her handmaiden) provided Jacob with eight sons and a daughter. At this point in history, the Church has been more fruitful than the Children of Israel. The evangelistic efforts of the Church have resulted in salvation for millions of souls.
Also recall that Rachel gave Jacob no sons or daughters until after Leah had stopped bearing children. After the Church is removed from the world, during the Millennial Kingdom, Israel will lead the world and will demonstrate the glory, majesty and sovereignty of God to the world. This fits the prophecy that the people of the world will desire to be with Israel because they know that God is with them. (Zechariah 8:23)
Because the Church is the Bride of Christ, while Israel is the Espoused Wife of God, this destroys the fallacy of the Church having replaced Israel. This is because Israel and the Church represent two different “brides” and two different plans of the Lord. And because God is faithful, and does not lie, He will not go back on the promises that He made to Israel.
Seven Good Years and Seven Bad Years
In this story of Jacob we also find the foreshadow of seven good years and seven bad years. Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. These were good years. The Bible says that “they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” (Genesis 29:20) But Jacob, who had deceived his father, was also deceived and Leah was substituted for Rachel. Jacob then worked seven more years for Rachel. These were bad years; years of hard labor and servitude. (Genesis 31:38-42)
There is more to the picture of seven good years and seven bad years, but for that we must go to Jacob’s son, Joseph. Joseph famously interpreted the dream of Pharaoh, which involved seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine; seven good years and seven bad years. (Genesis 41:25-27)
Joseph’s revelation of the dreams given to Pharaoh was exactly right, but there is more to this account, a picture that we often overlook. Joseph, representing Pharaoh, for provision of food to the people, collected all the money in Egypt. When that was gone, he collected all the livestock. When that was gone, he collected all the land, and the people came with it. In the end Pharaoh, the ruler, owned everything and everyone.
So, there is more to this story than just seven good and bad years. This situation points to a yet future event, and will appear in the next lesson.