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Genesis 29:31-35

Looking for Love

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • May 10, 2020

Like children, we all have a sense of what love should look like. In many ways, love is a simple concept and yet it can get so complicated in a fallen world. Is it possible to find real love?

In Genesis 29:31-35, we will look at someone who longed to be loved but never was; yet discovered how to be released from looking for unconditional love in a conditional world.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Looking for Love
Genesis 29:31-35 


ILLUS – Kids talk about love

1. Like children, we all have a sense of what love should look like.
2. In many ways love is a simple concept and yet it can get so complicated in a fallen world.
3. Is it possible to find real love?
4. Tonight, we will look at someone who longed to be loved but never was; yet discovered how to be released from looking for unconditional love in conditional world.

Genesis 29:31-35

I. All of Us Want to be Loved

A. We seek unconditional love conditionally

1. Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, Leah’s younger sister.
a. Rachel was beautiful of form and face. (17)
b. To put it kindly, Leah was not Jacob’s type.
c. Now, Jacob brought nothing with him when he fled from Esau after deceiving his father Isaac for the blessing. (27:42-45)
d. So, he worked seven years for Laban to earn Rachel’s hand in marriage.

2. After seven years of working for Laban, Jacob’s day had finally arrived to marry the “girl of his dreams.”

3. But under the veil of night, Laban switched Rachel with Leah and Jacob woke up to a living nightmare.

4. Why did Leah go along with Laban’s scheme?
a. Maybe she felt compelled to submit to her father’s authority.
b. Maybe she was tired of playing second fiddle to her beautiful sister, Rachel.
c. Or perhaps she thought it was her “last chance for romance”!
d. We really do not know the reasons why, but one thing stands out as we read these verses, Leah wanted to be loved.

5. To Jacob, Leah was a burden, a bother, a dirty, rotten trick.

6. It did not take great discernment to see that Jacob loved Rachel and could care less about Leah.
a. Sure, he took care of her physical needs, but his heart was with her beautiful sister, Rachel.
b. Daily, Leah was reminded of the fact that she was still second fiddle in an orchestra that had room for only one.

7. In verse 31, we are told that the Lord saw this too.
a. The Lord opened Leah’s womb to conceive.
b. But God closed Rachel’s womb.

8. I am convinced that the moment Leah knew she was pregnant she thought, “I’m second fiddle no more!”
a. You see, in that culture bearing children was considered a blessing from God.
b. And, if you brought forth a son, even better.

APPL – True love doesn’t come with conditions! But we live as though it does.

ILLUS – A Second Chance at Life

APPL – We live in a conditional world that loves conditionally. If you are not careful, it will suck you into their way of thinking.

ILLUS – My brother, Mike, playing college football

B. You cannot make someone love you

1. Leah conceived and gave birth to her first son.
a. Leah knew the Lord had opened her womb.
b. The Lord had seen her affliction or misery.
c. What did the Lord see? The same thing that everyone else saw, including Leah.

  • Jacob’s eyes would light up when Rachel came near.
  • But when Leah came by, Jacob had that “What does she want now?” look.

2. Leah gave Jacob son his first son. (32)
a. The name Reuben means “See, a son!”
b. What Leah was really saying is, “See, I have value! Will you love me now?”
c. But notice who named the boy, Leah.

ILLUS – Abraham named Ishmael (Gen. 16:15) and Isaac (Gen. 21:3). Together, Isaac and Rebekah named their sons Esau and Jacob (Gen. 25:25-26).

d. Where was Jacob? Did he not notice? Did he not care? Or was the boy just another mouth to feed. Jacob’s heart for Leah did not change.
e. But God noticed.

Hebrews 4:13, And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

3. Leah gave Jacob a second son. (33)
a. Once again Leah acknowledged God’s hand while hoping that she would be valued and loved by her husband.
b. Leah declared, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved.”
c. What did the Lord hear?

  • The Lord heard what was said and how it was said over the years.
  • But God also heard what was not said.

d. She named the boy, Simeon, which means “heard.”

  • Even if Jacob was not listening… 
  • God was listening.

Exodus 2:23, And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God.

4. Leah gave Jacob a third son. (34)
a. The Lord had opened her womb again.
b. Leah was in the bonus round.
c. Surely, Jacob would be attached to her now.

  • Leah desired a deeper connection. 
  • She wanted her husband’s heart.

d. Leah named the boy, Levi which means “joined to” but Jacob became even more distant. Why?

APPL – You cannot make someone love you.

2 Corinthians 5:9, Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

5. Reading this story is painful. I find myself wishing for a fairy tale ending, that somehow Jacob would love Leah. But it never happened.

Transition – Yet unconditional love does exist. It is a love that is not of this world, but it was around before the world ever began.

II. God Loves You Unconditionally

A. God has always loved you

1. Leah eagerly longed-for Jacob’s love but the Lord had loved her from the beginning.
2. God knew what she was going through.
3. God saw and heard and opened her womb to show her He loved her though Jacob did not.
4. God’s love is an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.

Transition – It took a while, but Leah finally figured this out.

B. Accept God’s love, He has accepted you

1. Leah gave Jacob a fourth son. (35)
a. She called him Judah, which means “praise.”
b. Saying, “This time I will praise the Lord.

2. It was the high point of Leah’s faith.
a. You can hear the freedom in her words, “I am not going to live like this anymore.”
b. “I am going to praise the One who has always loved me.”
c. “I am going to praise the One who loves me unconditionally.”

APPL – This can be true for us too. We can say with Leah, “This time I will praise the Lord!”

ILLUS – Teaching Malina how to say, “I love you this much!”

APPL – Do you know just how much God loves you?
• I believe if we really understood how much God loves us it would radically change our lives!
• What is so amazing is that we do not have guess how much.
• The Bible tells us just how much God loves us.

John 17:22-23, The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

Ephesians 3:14-19, For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant to you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through the Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.


APPL – I find it interesting that Jesus Christ came from the tribe of Judah.
• Leah’s son, the rejected wife, not Rachel.
• I believe the Lord is telling us something through this; that God values you when others do not.
• Have you been looking for unconditional love from a conditional world?
• Will you accept God’s love?
• Will you say with Leah, “This time I will praise the Lord”?





Genesis 29:31-35    NASB

31 Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” 33 Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the Lordhas heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon. 34 She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.


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