If asked about the women God used in the Word, few could list a large grouping of names… let alone impart the importance of their stories. However, God used these women for a reason. They each served a purpose not only during their lifetime, but on to today…
God used many women to advance His Kingdom, but who were they? And why do their stories continue to matter?
Join us as we discover the Kingdom-shifting life of one of the seemingly least likely women of God… Leah.
Kingdom Advancing Women:
While it may seem as if God only used a few women in biblical times to advance His Kingdom, this was not the case. While their stories might rarely span great lengths of pages. While their purposes might at first appear small. This is only a drop in the ocean… a hint of what they did for God!
From Ruth to Rahab, from Hannah to Deborah to Esther—first known as, Hadassah—these women were used mightily of God. They walked in paths of Godly courage, obedience, and love. They stood strong in their faith through often difficult and dangerous times. And as a result, He used them to advance His Kingdom. He blessed them richly, both in their lives and the lives of their descendants.
“She considers a field and buys it;
from her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
and strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
and her lamp does not go out by night.”—Proverbs 31:16-18
Woman of the Word, Leah:
At first glance, Leah’s life may appear rather insignificant. In fact, the story of Leah may seem tragic…
Leah can mean “weary,” “languid,” or even “weak-eyed,” though the description of Leah in Genesis 29:17 shows that she may actually have had “delicate” eyes considered lovely in their own right. But those around her still did not think her beautiful, especially when compared to her attractive younger sister, Rachel, who possessed a beautiful form and appearance.
Leah’s father would use her for his own gain, tricking Jacob into marrying her though he only had eyes for Rachel. And while Jacob certainly provided for her in terms of earthly needs, she was desperate for more. She wanted her husband to love her, and even thought that with each son she or her maidservants bore him that perhaps he might discover some love for her…
Still, despite such marks against her life, the Lord saw her. He saw how she was used and misused. He saw her heart, and while it needed some assistance—accepting that God’s love was greater than the love any husband could provide—God chose to use her.
She—and even Rachel—did not experience the earthly love of a father. Not truly when we consider how he set their future not for their benefit, but for the free labor they could bring him with Jacob—and the blessing God put upon everything Jacob did. Leah longed for love, but not understanding it… never having experienced it… she tried futilely to earn it…
“When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.”—Genesis 29:31
The Lord had compassion for Leah. He saw her situation, and while she still longed for her husband’s love, she would eventually discover that God’s love was far greater!
The Lord blessed Leah with children—four sons, in whom we see the developing cry of her heart in the meaning of their names, and later, two more sons and a daughter: Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. And while her response to this blessing was fixated on earning the love of her husband, it was through these blessings—these signs of God’s love for her—that God was teaching her:
- She named her first son, Rueben, saying, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.” (Genesis 29:32)
- She named her second son, Simeon, saying, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” (Genesis 29:33)
- She named her third son, Levi, saying, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” (Genesis 29:34)
- She named her fourth son, Judah, saying, “Now I will praise the Lord.” (Genesis 29:35)
It was with Judah that she finally understood that this blessing was not so she could get what she wanted—her husband’s love—but because the Lord highly favored her. Because HE loved her and wanted her to know it… to spend time with Him, to praise Him, and know who He was to her.
At last she knew that she did not need Jacob’s love… she needed God’s! What’s more, she realized that that was the love that she had…
And while she certainly still desired the love of her husband—as is seen in the name of Zebulun, her sixth son—she was changed. Yet, this blessing of God’s love went beyond even what Leah could understand during her lifetime. For God would use her sons to build half of the tribes of Israel—more if we count the two sons of her maidservant! With many of her offspring becoming kings and priests amongst their brothers… the tribe of Judah including many of the future kings, and the tribe of Levi including the priesthood!
It took praise before Leah realized the importance of not only God’s love, but of all that He had blessed her with! Because praise is a breaker of yokes! Praise allowed her to take her focus off of her own problems and desires to see the bigger picture. To see God and know His love…
And what an incredible love it was. For it was through the tribe of Judah that Jesus, God’s only Son, would come! To be in the lineage of Jesus surely is a blessing and a sign of great favor from God!
So, while Leah did not experience the love she wanted, she found all of the love and purpose she could need. She glimpsed the truth that God’s ways are higher than ours. She found the truest love.
Lessons from the Story of Leah:
There are many things we can learn from the story of Leah, but a few are that:
- Attitude creates perspective…
- When Leah chose to praise God, to take a positive attitude, her life shifted!
- Fixating on people, places, or things does not help…
- Every person has wants and desires, and while not always negative in themselves, they can easily take center stage in our thoughts, actions, and words. It is important to remember that it is GOD who needs to be center stage in our lives! When Leah put God first she became a better, more balanced person.
- No matter if it is a parent, teacher, spouse, etc., we all desire the good opinion of someone. But while it is easy for us to desire this, we need to understand that the good opinion of God is what really matters! Trying to please people not only leads to hollow victories, it wearies our souls. Pleasing God however will bring life, peace, and true fulfillment! Before Leah chose to please God she was busy trying to please others—her father, her husband… wearying her soul and body. But when she chose to please God, her struggle stopped and she knew life, peace, and fulfillment!
- Not addressing emotional wounding is damaging to every aspect of life…
- When Leah’s father used her for his own advantage… that was wounding. This wounding not only hurt her in the moment, but because she based her actions out of that place of wounding, she created a place of bondage—deepening and adding more wounding. Only by choosing to praise the Lord and thereby addressing the emotional wounding was she able to get free!
- Praising God changes things for the better…
- When Leah decided to praise God, her future—and her descendant’s futures—became bright! Heavy yokes are broken by the power of praise!
Despite these being only a small sampling of the things we can learn from Leah, they provide an important key to success. Put God first! While this is a seemingly obvious lesson, it is one we all struggle with from time to time. However, as we learned from Leah, not only is God patient, but He takes everything the enemy meant for evil and turns it for good. He brings us a way out of every situation and allows us to destroy the yoke of oppression with simple acts of praise!
When we put God first, everything else falls into place!