By Fred Pruitt
(Author’s note: This is a complete reworking of a previous article, shortening the previous one by 6 pages. This one is still long, but more concise and clear, I think.)
“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”(2 Cor 5:16)
“Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.” (Prov 5:19 KJV)
In a thousand different ways in those few months before Christmas 1972 and my conversion, I had met Jesus’ eyes’ gaze into my spirit many times. Everything was there in that glimpse into the Eyes of the Divine. Truth. Love. Wisdom. Tenderness. Strength. Enlightenment — all the “things” I had consciously desired and sought down all my wanderings, from the beginning until that moment — all those things were there in Him, but I couldn’t yet put two and two together with it.
Until the moment I realized Who He was – when I suddenly woke up as if from a dream, and what had seemed real in the dream no longer was, and what I had dreamed in the dream, was now suddenly the real, and I knew in a moment He had sought me and called me in all those things, and I remember what His eyes looked like when they looked into mine. The whole of me dissolved into Him, and I knew in the moment that this is LOVE IN PERSON; Here IS Grace and Truth, this is HE, the very One out of Whom everything comes — offering me Himself!
These were my first days of joy in Christ!
For months I found myself enamored only with Him. I didn’t know about my own sins. I didn’t know about the sins of the world. Whatever grace and truth were, they defied description and definition, but I had no desire toward that anyway. I just inexplicably loved Him and wanted to be with Him. Like Andrew and Peter, and James and John, I just left the nets on the ground where I had been, leaving employer and later friends and family. It was all because I couldn’t help myself, I HAD to do it, nothing could stop me — once I SAW — from responding to His call, “Follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men.” (Or in my case, I almost literally left hose and shop rag on the ground, to run after Him Who my soul so loved, “Wait for me, wait for me!!!!”)
But the figure in the dream continues, in that a great long time later, I am given a glimpse into what really happened in those beginning days of abandoned joy in Jesus.
It is like the most wonderful experience mentioned in scripture, of the marriage feast of the Lamb, which in our case we know in our inner baptism into Christ, in the infilling of the Holy Ghost when He enters into betrothal and marriage with us.
For this part of the figure (see Gen chap 27-29), I am the groom, Jacob, enamored with Rachel, my wonderful beloved. I am Jacob, who also comes with the blessing of Abraham, the Seed which shall bless all nations. But I don’t yet what that means, though God has told me that I bear the Seed. I have just come across a howling desert and met God on the journey, Who came to me via a ladder on which angels from heaven were descending and ascending. God repeats the blessing of Abraham to me in this Jacob, saying in him shall come a Seed which shall bless all nations, causing this Jacob then to say, “Surely God is in this place.” But I have only learned Him in an outward, “for me,” way, as Jacob’s prayer reveals: “IF God shall be with me … and will keep me in this way … THEN the Lord shall be my God.” To me at the moment He is the “what can He do for me? God. I am on my way, but not there yet.
Because I am still Jacob, supplanter, cheater, sent here by my father and mother to protect me from my brother, who I defrauded by stealing his birthright and then his blessing, (spoken of in a previous article and talk, “Voice of Jacob/Hands of Esau,” [written article] or [audio talk]), and more importantly to seek a wife from the relatives of my mother. Like my grandfather Abraham before me, I have left my father’s house to go to a land I do not know, on a secret mission I don’t yet know myself. One day I will be Israel, “God prevails,” “He who has power with God and man.” But I am not Israel yet.
After a short courtship and time of betrothal, finally the banquet is taking place with all the invited guests! They are wearing their very finest wedding garments. They have come to sing, to dance and to celebrate!! It is a very opulent and sumptuous affair, with every good thing the rich and generous host can provide. There are gifts beyond counting, all of them the best of everything. There are treasures chests and baskets filled with precious jewels and wrought gold and silver, so fine only a king could afford them. These are the unsearchable and inexhaustible riches of Christ that are to be given to me, as the Bride’s dowry, to be fully mine in the final consummation of our union.
But I see none of that. I consider none of it. For I have eyes only for her. Her beauty consumes me. Her eyes disarm me. Her laugh makes me shake with joy that has no reason, except the delight of the sound of it. Tears running down her cheeks cause my own eyes to fill with water. Everything about her is pleasing and desirable. Though we have not yet touched and embraced, my imagination is filled with her delights awaiting my pleasure. I look at her and I burn for her, want to touch her, stroke her hair, feel the curve of her shoulder. “My Rachel, the delight of my life,” I think through the wine the feastmaster keeps bringing me, “you are the only woman there is, full of mystery, full of joys and pleasure, who flirts and sports with me, who will love me, attend to me, receive me and bear my children. O Rachel, Rachel, my joy and my delight. I will evermore be ravished with your love.”
But I am dim of sight and sense as they lead me to the bedchamber. I am stumbling, but I know her servants have made her ready, and I will fall into her arms and take her as my bride, possess her completely, consume her so that I become one with her and she with me, so that her skin becomes my skin and mine hers. Our eyes are to be one common vision, our hearts bound together with the same joy and same love, and I float away in this dream with the wine and her pleasure into the oblivion of sleep.
The figure continues, and in the morning when I awake, first thinking how incredulous I am and blessed I am at the joy of the night before, I turn to my beloved Rachel, and horror seizes my gut, because it is the face of Leah, her sister, that looks back at me. Thinking it was Rachel, in my inebriation and dimness of mind, I had consummated the marriage with Leah, and it could not now be otherwise than that Leah is my wife.
And as Rachel is the epitome of beauty and female vitality, this Leah is homely and fearful. As Rachel’s eyes sparkle with wit and laughter, Leah’s eyes are tender and sad. Rachel’s beauty and natural grace give her confidence and self-assurance. Leah is disesteemed and shy.
Thinking I was marrying Rachel, I become the husband of Leah, and then serve another seven years for the one I really wanted.
What does this mean in this figure?
That first era for me was like the wedding feast, as I said above. It lasted for a long while, but after a time things seemed to dry up and the first enamorment with Jesus changed into a desert with no water, compared to what it had been in the beginning. That is where I began to know, embrace and love Leah, the homely one. Because in this figure, Leah is the Cross, the one I first stumbled over on my way here, that now has begun to grind me to powder. I had thought I was getting the consummation of my longing and desire, my beautiful Rachel, but before I could fully possess her, I have been given her sister instead, a life with always a Cross at its center.
And is this not what Jesus has done, and that to which He has led us? We see in Him the Eternal, full of unending glory and limitless joy, but almost immediately He begins to mention something else, an end in Jerusalem, and we find that in order to stay with Him and be where He is, we have to walk the road with Him that is leading headlong to the Cross. Nobody mentioned this!
This road we walk in Jesus is not just posts and videos from the front lines. We walk it in ourselves as much as the disciples did. We are living the journey — the Way, the Truth and the Life — every moment of every day, but in the beginning our ears are thick and our eyes dull; one day we’re sure, the next we’re not. Great joys overwhelm us as unimaginable miracles happen before our eyes. But the next moment we are terrified if something seems to go wrong. Jesus in some way gives us, as spiritual adolescents, the abilities to do miracles and signs and wonders ourselves, and to exhibit great power. But we really don’t yet know what to do with it. Sometimes we think we have it so that we might call down destruction on those who refuse to receive us, and for this we are rebuked. We are confused all the way to the Cross and beyond, because we do not yet know ourselves. Jesus knew what was in man but we do not. As Jesus said to James and John, “You know not what manner of spirit you are of.” All the way to the moment they come to take Him away from us, we are resolved to follow Him, never to desert Him, because we have made up our minds and have firmly resolved to it. But like Peter and the crowing rooster, and all the rest of the twelve, we all deserted Him. We all fled for ourselves and left the Master to the Pharisees and Romans. Our inner resolve fizzled, sputtered and petered out, at the moment of its testing. It was a nothing, “tried in the balances and found wanting,” but it was all we had (so we thought). Now we have nothing. No Jesus, no dream, no restoral of the Throne of David, no driving out the Romans, we’ve bet it all on a longshot that didn’t even place! We might as well go back to Galilee and our fishing boats and tax rolls!
It is in that experience of absolute betrayal and failure, that we are made. By God’s grace, we begin to realize our emptiness, that “in me there dwells no good thing,” and that “there is none Good, save God.” This is the outworking of the finished work of the Cross, where the reality that it is, becomes the reality we consciously live.
So then we find His Cross is not just His alone. He has told us we also must it take up. This is not just about spiritual self-revelation, i.e., “Who is God, and who am I?” It is not just coming to freedom so we can live strictly to our own pleasure. The Life in us lives to give itself out to reproduce itself. It is a constraint, an inner drive from the Spirit, that we can’t help because it drives us to give life to others, whatever the cost.
That sounds very spiritual and sort of romantic, to “live for others,” but it isn’t something that glamorous at all. It takes everything you have. It costs you. It involves pain and sadness and sometimes deep sorrow. Oh there are great and wonderful joys, too numerous to count. But it is joy AND sorrow, for we have joined with the “man of sorrows.” Like He, it is walking and believing when it is impossible. It is being willing to wait until God does it and not moving an inch until He moves you. It is being willing to cast all into God to uphold you or nothing — being willing to look like an idiot or to suffer embarrassment even while we say God upholds us and does His will by us, though it looks to everybody around and to us, too, that the opposite of what we have said is true. It’s not fun to build and ark and have everybody laugh at you. “What a stupid idea, Noah, there is not even any water here. Why are you building a boat? You stupid man, hahahahahahahaha!”
These are just figurative deaths for most of us, but for many in the world they are not, even at this very moment. Norman Grubb once shocked the new WEC missionary trainees when they came in for their orientation speech, when he told them, “Some of you are going to be beaten, raped, and killed.” That really put a different light on their conviction. That’s hard to want to be a part of. Unless we’re crazy or masochistic!
Right after Peter had his great revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus said He was going to Jerusalem to be actually killed by the chief priest and the Gentiles. “Not so, Lord,” cried Peter, “this cannot be,” but Jesus says “Get thee behind me, Satan, you are an offense unto me, because you love the things that be of men, and not the things that be of God.”
And later He says, “Except you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you shall have no part in me!” We think we’re going on vacation and the spiritual conference of a lifetime, but He offers death along the way. He mentions resurrection, too, but we’re still too thick to hear it. We cannot imagine resurrection. Death is too big a thing to comprehend. If we do not know resurrection, then death trumps everything.
But if we know that if we die, we rise, then death has no more power over us. And then we know nothing can hurt us. Some perhaps can restrict our movements, curtail our activities, make us illegal, beat our bodies and even kill them, but they cannot separate us from Him. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “If they called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more they of his household?” We know Whose hand has us. When we really know nothing can separate us, then we know we can give ourselves to the point of being completely spent and used up, even to the point of death if necessary. We know we do not have to reserve anything for ourselves, to hold back from others, but can give freely as we have freely received, and more will be given to continue the flow.
But wait, is that what this is about? I just want to bask in His love, feel His streams of grace flow over me. What is this “Cross?” We have just come into a totally reorienting and completely new vitality from the Fountain of Waters, Life as we had never imagined there could be, the grace of God coming to die for and love us which was the most wonderful news ever announced and experienced. We have married our Rachel and want to have her for ourselves and love her forever — that’s what we thought we were getting — but now we’re being told there is a Cross involved, and a death required? Is God One Who gives and then takes back? It makes us shudder to think of it. Still, though we have no idea where this is leading, we cannot help but keep going on, for we have no choice about staying or going. We’re stuck; we burned all the bridges; it is this or ruin, so we say to Him what is becoming increasingly obvious to us, “Lord, where else could we go? You have the words of eternal life!”
Some will say, “This is silly, because Jesus finished the work of the Cross, and He already walked that way, so we don’t have to.” Certainly I would agree the work of the Cross is finished, but how do we come to know it, so that we live from that finished work? What really is that finished work? How is it we answer another call at a different banquet that lovingly says, “Friend, come up higher!”?
We have yet to realize that when we are translated from darkness into His light, we become partakers in that which He is — an “other-lover Who gives Himself as a ransom for all. This is all leading to a realization of the already accomplished union with Him and His very Person and Name, so that His life flows and works through us and as us, and we know it. His life is of a Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth, that sits in the midst of the Throne of God. This is where we are sitting, too, and we progressively also the reality out of which our lives flow. His life is not a, “The Father did it all so I don’t have to” life, but a life of “doing what the Father does,” i.e., doing the Father’s works, because, “the Father that dwells in me, He does the works,” and “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” We don’t watch Jesus do what He does. He is doing it in us by us, through us AND as us! We are fully part of it, not just sitting on the side watching a show! This is the true “presenting our bodies a reasonable sacrifice,” which is not a sacrifice for ourselves to gain points with God, but an acceptance of Spirit-led and Spirit-borne personal “deaths,” to bring particular resurrection life to others. It is sowing in tears, (not knowing for certain if we’ll ever reap), but one day reaping in joy, we know not how. “It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes!”
The only way to know something, in this case God, (because knowing HIM is the whole thing), is to come into its truth or reality. We become it. We walk it. We “be” it. The teacher may write on the blackboard the question from Psalm 78:19, “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?”, and everybody in the class agrees, “Of course, God can do anything!” That part is necessary and we all start there. But we don’t KNOW God can do it until we find Him doing it in us. We say, “God provides,” and we all believe that He will, but we don’t KNOW that He does until there is a necessity for God to provide, and there is no other recourse, no other rescue available. That is why we have started to walk this road with Jesus. All these lessons are learned in the classroom of the Spirit, which is our daily lives.
We have started in the school of the Spirit, the school of the Cross. It is first the school of faith, and we move on to the fullness when the school of faith is finished and we begin the life of faith, which is the operation of the life of the Cross, not for ourselves, but for others. God by the Holy Spirit is our Counselor and Teacher in this school. He teaches in the most inward and intimate way, though it may take some time for us to realize what we have gotten ourselves into.
These are lessons which lead us steadily on to the inner Spirit-spirit knowledge of Who we really are, as perfect expression of Him in the world, simply because He in us is the expresser and we merely the transmitters of what He has expressed. And the mystery of it is that it is Him, and it is us, all at the same time, which makes no sense to reason, but works beyond sense in the Spirit. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “If thine eye be single, then thy whole body shall be full of light.”
But that’s another thing we don’t know yet and it is a toughie to boot. Because we start as babes and begin to learn as babes. Babes only know the outer and their own needs – help me, feed me, fix me, elevate me, make me. We cannot eat meat yet, and we eat the food prepared for us by others. Like human babies, we are unable to digest strong food for ourselves, because we are not yet ready for it. We know the forgiveness of sins, and the love of the Father, but it is still self-focused love that outwardly drives us. (The Holy Spirit is inwardly driving us, too, over and above whatever the outer is preoccupied with, but again, we don’t know that yet. We think we take what He gives and act ourselves on it, helped by Him, but the reality is He gives and we receive, and the activity or “works” that springs from that is all His Spirit activity. And every bit of it is perfect for us. We being to rest in the fact that a Great Hand is guiding all, keeping the stars in their orbits and every subatomic particle of each and every one of us vibrating and creating and sustaining what is created. And even with all that, He knows the number of hairs on each of our heads, and also knows when a sparrow falls. Who can explain or reason of such a Person as this? Who can categorize Him, or give Him attributes? Who is there that stands outside Him to observe Him? On what platform would he stand?)
The Spirit begins building on all that we experience, and shapes our experiences of frustrations and failures, lacks and seeming missteps, into the broken bread for others only we can particularly be. We are bread broken for the world, even as Jesus’ body was (since we are His body), and as such we are life in and for the world.
Mostly in the beginning we are learning faith, which often is in direct contradiction to the way we used to live. And the one continuous exhortation from our Teacher in that time is, “O ye of little faith, why did you doubt? Why did you fear? Don’t you remember the loaves ….?”
Little by little we see we live this life only by faith, not ever by sight. It is a faith which eventually must come up to obstacles greater than our consciousness can allow, so that whatever “measure” of faith we are given when we start becomes exhausted. We have run out of it. But we MUST have it. We know we cannot go on without it! Where do we get it?
Then it begins to dawn on us He is the giver of faith, and later on we realize we cannot even believe, we cannot ultimately even have faith, but the Seed which is coming to fruition in us is the faith OF God within us. We begin to see it is God ONLY Who leads and guides, directs, exhorts, comforts, loves and provides. Stretched faith, exercised like muscles in body-building, is exercised faith, stretched beyond the bounds of possibilities, and we begin to realize it comes from God Himself, nothing of ourselves, and IS GOD HIMSELF exercising His own faith in and as our lives. We begin to operate faith as we know He operates it in us.
But that is not all. We may start out the fair-haired boy because we have such a flashy testimony, but we run out of that steam pretty fast. Having a great testimony doesn’t seem to help when there’s a wife and three kids, mouths to feed, shelter to provide, transportation, clothing, and all the stuff of modern life. Being able to lead songs in church or make a deep comment at a Bible study is contradicted by tantrums at home, continual and grinding emotional distress, and the pressures of church life and life in general.
And then before we know it, we realize everything has become now about us. We’ve been distracted from a love-fixation on Jesus to a very conscious and overwhelming obsession on “me.” How do “I” — fix my marriage, fix my kids, pay the bills, be more loving, seek God more, be more concerned for others, build a ministry, witness for Christ, take the world for God, be more spiritual, get rid of my bad thoughts, have good thoughts, get pride out of my life, be kinder to others, obey authorities above me, listen to God, defeat lust, resist the devil, put on the armor of God, praise enough, pray enough, study enough, know the mark of the beast, keep myself from being deceived? how do I? how do I? how do I? how do I? how do I? how do I? how do I? I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I ad nauseum, ad infinitum!
We’re stuck here in this marriage with Leah. Leah is not the favored one; she is the one no one chose, so her father had to get her a husband by stealth. Everybody looks at Rachel and remarks on her beauty and grace as a woman, but Leah is in a corner where no one looks at her. There is “no beauty, that we should desire [her].” (Is 53:2)
This is for a time where we are. We are in a corner, unnoticed. There will come a time that may change, perhaps, but it is not now, so we are in a corner by ourselves.
Abraham was in a corner unnoticed, because only he knew why he was taking Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice. He had the inner word, spoken audibly to his servants, that “I AND the lad will return unto you,” and Hebrews 11 says that Abraham knew that if necessary God would raise Isaac from the dead, because “in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Abraham knew God was faithful to His own word. But surely there in that lonely corner, Death must have come calling as well, gripping Abraham with its cold fingers, causing him to shiver over his whole body, Death whispering in his ear, “I will own him, he will not rise.” Yet Abraham prevailed from his corner, and Isaac became the bearer of the Seed which should bless all nations.
David was in a corner, hiding in caves in the desert. He had been anointed by Samuel to be King in Israel, but Saul, the Lord’s Anointed, still lived, and David would not raise a hand against him. He would not seize the throne for himself, but was content to hide from Saul who was mad to kill David out of envy. It was in the wilderness that David learned to trust in the Lord for everything, and not raise his own hand to anything of himself.
And like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bore the Seed (according to their humanity and His) which should come and bless all nations, so did David. The Lord finds David, “a man after my own heart,” and God promises through Nathan the prophet that of the seed of David He will raise up an everlasting kingdom on the throne of David. This is a continuation of that Seed of the Woman that was first implanted in Eve by the Lord God as they left the Garden, passing spiritually through Abel because he died as Christ for Cain, then resurrected in Seth as Christ who rose, then Enoch, Methuselah and Noah, then to Shem until it is carried by Terah, the father of Abraham, who like the many before him, perhaps had no sense he carried that Seed. Then we come to Abraham, to whom the Lord first reveals the Seed in him because of his faith toward God. Then it continues down through Isaac and Jacob as the “Blessing of Abraham,” so named because it begins to take concrete form first in Abraham and his posterity, and Abraham is the first to be given the revelation.
But the mother of the next one who will pass the seed, is tender-eyed Leah. Leah is chosen to be the vessel through which the seed would continue as the “Seed of the Woman” and the “Blessing of Abraham,” in her and Jacob’s fourth son, Judah!
Little unnoticed, unwanted Leah. Rachel at first was unfruitful, so Leah was the first to give birth to a son. The story says the Lord saw that Leah was despised, so he shut Rachel’s womb. And then Leah flowered. Judah came fourth with finally SIX sons altogether, and one lone girl. Leah gave birth to half the patriarchs of Israel!
Leah is first of all a woman of flesh and blood like you and me. The fact that her life is used in scripture as a not only an historical character but also a type in which God unfolds the mystery of Christ, is something that is very appropriate for us. The reason is because we are people of flesh and blood as much as Jacob, Leah and Rachel are. But also our human lives are as equally “types” of the unfolding and revelation of the mystery of Christ as were theirs. This is not just information like being able to tell where Paul went on his three missionary journeys. This is us. We are this! We are them all, each of them, in us as types of this unfolding mystery. What in the world does that mean?
In some way we experience the lives of all the characters in scripture, not just know “about” them. We cannot divorce this story from ourselves as if it is just interesting academic information or merely moral examples (how to be, how not to be). It is much deeper and far more inward than that. The reason these stories draw us and have drawn millions of others for thousands of years, is that the Scripture uses these characters, stories and histories, to reveal, explain and manifest the life of God in us. This is part of our coming to “understanding in the knowledge of Him.” It is precious gold, a treasure found in a field, to begin to understand these mysteries. They are not the mysteries of the Bible; they are the mysteries of US! Specifically they are the mystery of Christ in us, but the emphasis in gaining the understanding, is to know their reality in US! We KNOW (in some way) that Christ is One with the Father. But to come into this fullness, we must also know we are partakers of the same oneness. The understanding the Spirit gives through these histories, stories and characters, impart, like nothing else, Christ in us. They are Jesus’ words, “spirit and life,” and work in us the revelation from God that we are not just ourselves alone, but now through the Cross having been delivered from our old slave-boss who ran our lives, we are now Christ in us as one person with us. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
Looking now more closely at Leah, she comes into the marriage doubtless with fear and trepidation. We don’t really know how it went with her and her father Laban, whether he forced her to deceive Jacob (a father’s word was absolute!), or she was a full participant. With the hints we have of her, it seems the former is more likely. She was commanded to do so by her father, since it was not proper for the younger to marry before the elder, and Leah was the elder sister. But how could she have felt deceiving Jacob, knowing Jacob much preferred Rachel, and that he had hardly even given her a glance? That was surely not the kind of love she wanted in her marriage. What woman (or man) does not want to be wanted, desired? A marriage of force often brings with it resentment, ill will and bitterness. But in that society, it was more preferred for a woman to be at least married, even if without love, since remaining unmarried was considered to be the far worse state. Often the best a woman could hope for was not to be beaten and to comfort herself with her children. That’s what made being barren so awful. Not only had she supposedly failed her husband, but without children she had no tenderness from them as well.
But all Leah’s fears prove unfounded as she moved further into her marriage with Jacob. Though she was at first barren, with Jacob’s thoughts pining for Rachel, the Lord has mercy on her and she begins to bear sons one after the other. This of course endears her very much to Jacob, because Rachel continues in barrenness. So we begin to love our Leah after a sort, because the disesteemed one is bearing fruit, even as the Cross begins to bear fruit through us from the beginning. The drudgery of life, the setbacks and joys of daily living, are set against this backdrop of the Cross. As Jacob I still pine and desire my first love, Rachel, but I cannot help but be endeared to Leah as the mother of my sons who will bear my name and line into posterity. She has brought sons into the world! By her travail (Cross) the line of Abraham will continue! And the Seed will move further toward the fulness of time when the True Son of Promise will appear.
Judah and the future of his line is far ahead at this point of the story, so we come back to Rachel. Though I have loved Leah too, it has always been Rachel in my heart. I have finally realized that the reason I couldn’t have her fully in the beginning was because I wanted her too much for myself. She was the object of my desire, my desire to have the best, to overcome and increase for myself. My pure love for her was mixed up with selfish love. I loved myself in her, and wanted to possess her, to fully have her as MINE, and because in this figure she is as the Christ who comes from God to me, the Desire of Nations, the only fullness of joy and life, but she hides herself from me, she refuses to bring forth, and is as the barren woman who has no more rejoicing, because I want her for me! And though Rachel at first desires to overcome me with her love, she becomes estranged from me in her barrenness.
But then, when Leah has brought forth the True Heir of Abraham and the rest of her sons and Dinah, and is finally finished bearing, the Lord does a miracle — he opens Rachel’s womb at last!
O what joy this is! O delight! O blessings of God! Now my Rachel, my true wife, my first love is finally bringing forth!
And as Leah has brought forth the line of the Redeemer to come, Rachel has brought forth in her humanity the manifestation of the man who has overcome in Christ, Joseph, whose life represents in the most perfect way in all scripture, the life of the Cross through which, by the deaths he suffered, the Spirit brought forth the Seed as manifest in a fully conscious son of God. Joseph is the Man, who is really all of us (for remember, these are our lives which are being displayed in these stories and whose mysteries are unfolding the reality of Christ in us). This human man is a visible picture of the answer to the groans and travails of all creation — the manifestation of the sons of God!
Here it is, wrapped up in a picture and a history and a man, the whole story of redemption, preparation, training, and finally fulfillment in this next-to-last son of Jacob. We all know the story of Joseph, the things he suffered, the injustice of the things that happened to him (sold into slavery, false accusation and imprisonment for attempted rape, years in Pharaoh’s prison, wondering if he would ever see the light of day again. Then on a certain appointed day (the fullness of time) in a twinkling of an eye, he is released from prison, bathed, shaved and given new clothes, because he is called before the king. (Gen chap 41). And as Jesus promised the disciples, he took no thought of what he said, because Joseph had come to know the life of the Spirit in him. He told Pharaoh the answer didn’t reside in Him, but in the One Who spoke from His mouth, the God of Heaven. And after Joseph spoke the words of God, even the pagan Pharaoh was forced to declare, “Can we find such a man as this, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” And Pharaoh made him his regent, second-in-command over all Egypt, subject only to Pharaoh and no other.
Joseph was no special man even as we are in no different from anyone else, except that He believed the Living God, and His Word which He had spoken to Joseph, and was even as Christ Himself, the kept of God (Jude 24), because God kept him in all his ways, even in the injustices, being sold into slavery, being a steward in Potiphar’s house, being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and tossed into an horrible dungeon, languishing there for years, all the while believing God’s Word in him, believing the dream God sent, even though no man on earth could have possibly believed it could come to pass. “Behold my servant, whom I uphold,” saith the Lord, and this Joseph, one like unto the Son of God, is a rightly “kept” man, an upheld man, not because he thought he could keep himself or uphold himself, but because he learned it was not in him to keep himself, but instead the Lord had showed him that it was God and God alone who kept Him and fulfilled all things, and that He was doing it in him, and he (Joseph) would see it with his eyes one day.
And he finally did see it all, when Jacob’s sons came and bowed down to him, and then finally when his father came from Canaan, and Joseph became a shelter and a hiding place for them in the famine of the Word of God that was in the world.
And now as Jacob leans upon his staff and all his family has come together safe in Egypt, his son Joseph who he thought was dead, now restored to him as if one who rose from the dead, we begin to see. Oh yes, these two wives brought forth! Leah’s line bore the Redeemer, Savior, Spirit-baptizer, the “One Who takes away the sin of the world,” Who in their time was yet to come but when He would come, would bless all nations by His Life being born in them. This is the Single One, Who came once near the end of the world in the fullness of time, Whose kingdom we have still yet to see in fullness, for now we have here still no continuing city but seek one to come. The other line, Rachel’s, is the one who is in the world but not of it, who is left to bring in the sheaves planted by the True Husbandman, one who faces death and loss and privation, amidst the great joy of reaping the most bountiful harvest the world has ever seen and far beyond the imagination of man. For Jesus’ death and resurrection, and then the sending of the Spirit on Pentecost, was only the setup. Now we are privileged to be participants in the gathering in of the fruit, to reap what we have not sown, to participate in the process of the final ingathering, of the sons who because Jesus is lifted up, are drawn by and into the Father.
And in these two lines, both fathered by Jacob who is Israel, we see the Seed in two ways. It is first the line to bring forth Jesus Christ, Son of David, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. This physical line stops with Jesus, for Jesus had no physical sons to continue his human line. Jesus comes to be the Bread of Heaven for all the world, and we have been grafted into his line in the Spirit, and by His Spirit the Seed of God comes to fruition in us, and brings forth “Christ formed in [us],” as Paul travailed for, and we are seeing this in our time. Jesus’ line is not born of the flesh, by the will or desire of man, but of God, and is thus a spiritual line only. But the other side is this: that even though Joseph is not in the physical line, yet the Seed is in him, because when God spoke the Seed into Eve, it passed unto all her progeny, including the line of Cain as well as Seth, because this is the “true light, which lights every man that comes into the world.” Every man has this seed in Him. It may lie dormant his whole life and it may never come to fruit in him, God forbid. But for those who are born of the Spirit, this Seed sprouts and takes form, and becomes a life, a human life containing the God-life, an earthen vessel filled with the most precious treasure in all the world.
So Joseph is most especially all of us, and as much heir in Christ as Judah, because he is the human man who is one with God in the Spirit, who knows it and lives it, by the Spirit, in the Spirit, in a life which has one purpose only, to be as a “grain of wheat which falls into the ground and dies, by which it brings forth much fruit.”
It is the Same Seed in all. Christ in us. As you and me walking around in the world. Jacob is fulfilled in his children, and God’s works are finished from the foundations of the earth.
This is what it means to “be always ravished with her love,” and to “see no man after the flesh.”
“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev 11:15)