Eve: Promised grace
Genesis 1-4, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Timothy 2:14
Eve is an example of one of those women who ‘had it all going for her’ – a perfect place to live, plenty of food to eat, a designer husband, the best self-image anyone could have (made in the image of God) and a clearly defined role – a ‘suitable helper’ to her husband in the task of filling and subduing the earth and ruling over it on God’s behalf. Not to mention a perfect walking companion for her evening strolls in her paradise garden, the Lord God himself.
And yet Eve succumbed to the whispering half-truths of the silver-tongued serpent and thought that the grass was greener on the other side – and then led her husband into her folly and shame. She partook of his punishment – banished from paradise and a life of painful toil and suffering to look forward to and that relationship with her evening companion lost forever. Her name went down right through history as the one who was deceived and the one through whom sin came into the world (1 Tim. 2:14).
Her status changed momentarily from daughter of the King to daughter of shame. Look at what she lost: harmonious marriage, unbroken communion with God, painless childbirth and a fulfilling role. Yet God stepped in (Gen.3:15) with that first promise of the Saviour and dignified her again – with the promise of the Saviour to come through her body, her descendants – a promise of grace. She was now a daughter of grace.
What a reminder to us not to be rebellious, dissatisfied with what God has chosen for us, always looking to the next meadow without seeing the weeds sprouting there.
But there is more – Eve became the mother of all the living but soon knew the heartache of bereavement at the death of Abel at the hands of his own brother. The worst pain a mother can ever bear. Yet in that searing pain God stepped in and gave her another son, Seth. And Seth began the godly line that brought us Jesus. In loss God stepped in with the mercy of grace. The empathising God, who ‘did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all’ (Rom. 8:32).
Leah: redeeming grace
Genesis 29 and 30
Leah was the unattractive oldest daughter of Laban, a real sharp customer. Perhaps destined to be an ‘old maid’ – an object of pity and shame in her father’s household. Her father tricked Jacob into marrying Leah and destined her to live in the shadow of her sister’s beauty. She was sued by her father, unloved by her husband and envied by her sister. In fact it was worse than that – the translation of the Hebrew word tells us that her husband hated her. He rejected her and did not pay her the honour due to the first wife.
But God saw her sorrow and he stepped in with his gifts of grace – four sons and then in total (through Zilpah also) six sons and a daughter. She was the mother of six of the men who led the 12 tribes of Israel and whose names are engraved on the gates of the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city (Rev. 21:12). But there is more – she was the mother of Judah – through whom Christ would come. Her unhappy marriage and her low status was redeemed in Christ – the Lion of the tribe of Judah – in his name she found grace and favour. The whole world will one day bow to Leah’s greatest son.
Remember, if like Leah you are suffering the pain of an unhappy marriage, God looks on your suffering as he looked on Leah’s. He knows all there is to know about his beloved children and sees all that touches their lives. His eye is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his mercy (Ps. 33:18). He alone can transform your shame and misery as he did Leah’s. There is more for you that can come from the God of grace. One day you’ll be in the happiest marriage in the universe as you take your place in the bride of Christ.
In Islamic Shia law a man is allowed a temporary wife, as many as he likes. One such was Farimar, an Iranian. Her situation was deplorable but she was befriended by Christians and started to attend a home Bible study. There she wept as she heard about the one who loved and died for her. What she lost in her marriage, she found in Christ – her place in the bride of the One whose love is faithful to the end.
Next in this series: Daughters of the King: Rahab and Esther »