Steven Furtick - Rejection Is Redirection
I want to speak for a moment to every unloved and lonely Leah. I'm not just talking about women here. I'm talking about every man, every woman, every boy, every girl who doesn't get invited to most of the parties on Friday nights, who doesn't have a seat saved for them at the table at lunch, who doesn't get included all the time, who doesn't get asked out all the time, who doesn't really feel like many people light up when you walk up. I want you to know that God has this way of selecting the ones who people end up rejecting. He just has a way of doing…
It says when he saw that Jacob didn't want Leah, he said, "I want Leah, and I'm going to enable her to do something her sister can't do because I am the God who selects what others reject. I am the God who will find a good use for what other people wanted to throw away. I am the God who will make the most out of a situation that other people have given up hope on. I am the God of the widow and the orphan. I am the God who selects the rejected. I am the God who chooses the unchosen, the last chosen. I am the God". This is a word now for a lonely, unloved Leah, wondering, "When is my time"? God says, "I see you, Leah. I see you lying there unwanted at night. I see you being picked over, skipped over, and left out. I see you, Leah, and I know Jacob doesn't love you, but Jacob doesn't even like himself. See, Jacob is a fool, and if he knew what was in you, Leah, he would choose you too. I choose you, Leah".
All of us will deal with rejection from time to time. Do you know what rejection is? It's not a dead end; it's a redirection. When people reject you, it's a sign they weren't the right one for you anyway. When groups of people reject you, sometimes it's a sign they're flying too low, and you don't have any business in their altitude anyway, and God is taking you higher. I'm going to set some teenagers free from a popularity contest in this church. Y'all can look at me crazy, but there are some really stupid things you've done in your life because you were trying to get acceptance.
If you would have known that God chose you before the foundations of the earth, and you don't have to win the approval of a committee of jacked-up Jacobs who are trying to find their own way too, but the perfect God has declared his righteousness as a banner over your life, it might have saved you. Come on. Find seven people and tell them, "I'm chosen. I'm absolutely chosen. I'm God's first round draft pick, baby. I didn't get cut. I'm chosen. I'm here because I'm chosen". Leah is chosen. I feel something happening in somebody today. It's going to be a whole different school year for somebody because you know you're chosen. You're chosen. You're chosen. Yet Leah, even being chosen by God, still has something to prove to others. She starts having babies.
There is nothing wrong with having babies. Having babies is a lot of fun in certain ways. Having babies is productive. It's fruitful. It's God's plan to replenish the earth. It's helpful for church growth. In so many ways, it's good to have babies, but why are you having babies? That's the question. It's good to achieve, and it's good to succeed, but why are you succeeding? Look at verse 32. We have a hint here. It says, "Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, 'It is because the Lord has seen my misery.'" That's true, but look at her conclusion. "Surely my husband will love me now".
I wonder who you're trying to get to love you today by something you can produce. Apparently it didn't work, because the next verse says, "She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.' So she named him Simeon". Simeon means the Lord hears. That didn't work either. "Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.' So he was named Levi. She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'This time I will praise the Lord.' So she named him Judah". Which means praise. "Then she stopped having children".
For a minute. What we see here in Leah is a picture of so many lives producing things we hope will win us approval. Can I tell you that until he is enough for you, it will never be enough either? Leah is popping out babies like Michelle Duggar and still can't get Jacob's attention. I'm telling you, you can pop stuff out and make A's and do stuff and be fast and all. It's great, but there comes a time where you just have to decide to praise God for who he made you to be. Look. Check out Rachel. She's the pretty one, right? You would assume Rachel, who is so beautiful and so loved and so wanted by her man, would be happy, but watch. It says in verse 1 of chapter 30, "When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children…"
Rachel is the picture of the woman has it all going on on the outside but is unproductive on the inside. She is loved by Jacob, but she is not able to give Jacob what he wants the most. She is wanted by Jacob, but she is unable to get what she wants. "…she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, 'Give me children, or I'll die!'" Both sisters are miserable. One of them with weak eyes, one of them with a hot body, both miserable. This made Jacob mad. Look at verse 2. "Jacob became angry with her and said, 'Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?'" In other words, "This is your problem. My stuff is working fine. Just look at Leah".
I wish you could see the uptight people in church. You are hilarious, those of you. You're uptight people. You're great. This is so dramatic, right? "Give me children, or I'll die"! She has the approval, but she doesn't have the achievement. She has the approval. Jacob loves her, but she can't produce what she wants to produce, and she's miserable about it. Let me tell you something, students. Some of the people you're jealous of are miserable on the inside. Some of the most popular people you go to school with cry themselves to sleep at night. If you're not careful, you'll spend all your life trying to imitate people who are barren inside.
Just because your life looks beautiful on the outside doesn't mean it's fruitful on the inside. Rachel has a beautiful figure. Rachel has a low body-fat percentage. Rachel has the attention of a man, but she can't have children. Leah can have children, but she doesn't have beauty. Why are we all so drawn to see what we don't have? God was working in both of their lives, but it wasn't enough. Leah was having babies, saying, "Oh, if Jacob would just love me… If Jacob would just accept me… If Jacob would just notice me… If that crowd would just invite me…" Rachel is trying to have babies, saying, "If I could just have a son… If I could just bear a child… If I could just, if they would just, if I could just, if they would just…" God says, "When are you going to look to me? I already have".
Rachel can't accept this, so what does she do? She tries to help God out a little bit. Verse 3. "Then she said, 'Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.'" Jacob was like, "All right. If you think I ought to do it, I'll take one for the team. Whatever you want, baby doll". "So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, and she became pregnant and bore him a son". I'm going to read this all real fast. It's all real crazy. Don't try to keep up with it. I just want you to see how dramatic it got and that the confusion and issues in the world are nothing new. This is better than an episode of Pretty Little Liars.
The Bible is so full of drama. I should have called this The Real Housewives of Paddan Aram, because what is about to happen right now will freak you out. "Then Rachel said, 'God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.' Because of this she named him Dan. Rachel's servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, 'I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.' So she named him Naphtali. When Leah saw that she had stopped having children…" She stopped praising the Lord and went back to trying to have some more kids because now she's comparing herself to Rachel because Rachel has a child now. Not really. It was through her servant, but Leah doesn't like the fact that Rachel has now been able to do something that approximates what she was only able to do.
Now in an effort do it it again, "…she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, 'What good fortune!' So she named him Gad. Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. Then Leah said, 'How happy I am!'" No, I don't think you are, Leah. "The women will call me happy". By the way, any time you tie your happiness to another person's appraisal of you, you'll never be happy. Now she has gone from, "Maybe Jacob will love me," to, "Maybe the women will see what I have done, and now maybe they'll envy me. Maybe that'll make me happy". "So she named him Asher".
Verse 14. "During wheat harvest…" Crazy little subplot. "…Reuben (Leah's son) went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants…" Which were thought to help with fertility and also known as an aphrodisiac. "…which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, 'Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.' But she said to her, 'Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son's mandrakes too?' 'Very well,' Rachel said, 'he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes.' So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. 'You must sleep with me,' she said. 'I have hired you with my son's mandrakes.' So he slept with her that night". Maidens and mandrakes, all representing our attempts to control our future which ultimately only God can steer.
Do you see all this manipulation? "God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son". God is working in your life even when you're going about it the wrong way. "Then Leah said, 'God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.' So she named him Issachar. Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. Then Leah said, 'God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.' So she named him Zebulun. Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah. Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive".
All this stuff Rachel was doing to try to achieve was eclipsed in one moment when God remembered her, because one moment of receiving from God outweighs a lifetime of what you try to achieve without him. Isn't that true? Isn't that true, all of you who have tried mandrakes and maidens and everything else to try to get what you wanted out of life? Then you woke up, and you didn't even want what you had? "She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, 'God has taken away my disgrace.' She named him Joseph, and said, 'May the Lord add to me another son.'" Stop there. I pick up next week talking about that other son.
Next week's message is going to be the best of the whole series. I already have it written. It's so strong in me, I almost preached it this week, but the Lord said to save it for the close. Next week, we're going to talk about that other son named Benjamin, and you'll never forget him. I kind of find myself wishing here that I could sit down with Leah. Leah, who so badly wanted approval. Rachel, who so badly wanted to produce. One who was unloved, one who was unfruitful. One who was rejected, the other who was frustrated. You kind of want to say to them and say to Jacob…
See, because we have the whole Bible. They didn't have the whole Bible. We have the book of Matthew; they didn't have the book of Matthew. In the book of Matthew, when it starts out, it gives what is called the genealogy of Jesus Christ. It tells us all of the different generations through which Jesus was born. It traces it all the way back to the top. It's like the Jesus version of ancestry.com. If we could show Leah Matthew 1, I don't think she would have been as frustrated. Do you know why? In Matthew 1… I'm getting ready to blow somebody's mind in the back of the room. Okay? In the back of the room, get ready. This is going to freak you out.
Matthew is telling us how Jesus came into the earth. He said, "This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah…" Wait a minute. Judah was Leah's son. Leah was the one Jacob never even wanted to marry. If you keep reading Matthew… I'm not going to do it because it has a lot of names I don't know how to pronounce. It says, "So-and-so begat so-and-so begot so-and-so begat so-and-so". It goes for 14 generations and then 14 more and then 14 more. It's just a long list. Normally, I would skip over it, but it says… We need to think about this. It says, "Abraham begat Isaac. Isaac begat Jacob. Jacob begat Judah". Skip all the way to verse 16. After all of this, it says, "…and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah".
Here is why I said it was going to blow your mind. Jesus came from the line of Judah. Judah came from Leah, the one Jacob never even wanted. The Savior of the world was born out of the rejection of a woman who was unloved by Jacob. Now I want to tell you if you're feeling rejected today, feeling like a failure today, God has a plan to bring forth Jesus in your life, out of your rejection, out of your frustration, out of your failures, out of your defects out of your flaws. Isn't that cool? Isn't that amazing? Stand up. I'm closing. Isn't that amazing? Isn't it amazing that God will turn rejection into a blessing? The one Jacob never even wanted gave him the child that would ultimately produce the one who would save the world.