Jesus takes away rejection
Towards the start of the Old Testament, there are a group of people called the Patriarchs, who are the founding fathers of the Old Testament nation of Israel – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. In the middle there Jacob is sent to Haran to go find a wife from some distant relatives. He ends up marrying two (yes I know!) Leah and Rachel.
Leah’s story is a sad one of rejection and overcoming it, so we will kick off seeing how Jesus takes away rejection with here story which is in Genesis 29
Leah’s story Gen 29:16-31
Jacob has already met Rachel and fallen for her big time.
In v16 we hear about Leah the older daughter, who culturally would be the first to be given in marriage. She experience horrific amounts of rejection, but eventually comes through to a place of knowing she is accepted by God and living in the good of that.
Why was she rejected? V16-19,23,31
V16 we ae told she has “weak eyes” – that a euphemism for ugly, especially when compared to Rachel who is beautiful in form and appearance. Remember they probably wore veils and so one could only see the eyes. Man looks at appearance and so that was a cause of rejection for her.
V18 Jacob rejects the cultural norm of marrying the older sister and plumps for Rachel and he says it out loud.
V23 Laban does some deceit and puts Leah in the bridal tent. So Jacob doesn’t know who he as the ESV so delicately puts it “gone into”. Leah was never respected by her father. In that day, it was the father’s responsibility to arrange for his daughters to marry. During the seven years Jacob worked for Rachel, Laban could have tried to find a husband for Leah. If he had offered a big-enough dowry, he would have found someone to marry her. But apparently he thought she was hopeless as a marriage prospect and the only way to get rid of her was to palm her off on poor Jacob, who was besotted with love for Rachel. Laban passed Leah off to Jacob like a dishonest businessman getting rid of damaged goods at full price.
V31 makes it pretty clear she is hated.
So Leah has experienced some incredible rejection – she’s ugly in the world’s eyes, she’s not picked, she’s a burden to be got rid of and she’s hated by her husband.
What process did she go through to overcome v32-35
Her way to sort the rejection was to have children, because perhaps Jacob would love her more because of the children. Sometimes we come up with the silliest things to sort issues out. Superficial solutions. Behind it though God is working not just to produce the twelve tribes of Israel, but to do a deeper work in Leah’s life.
So child no 1 happens because God sees she is hated and opens her womb. – as an aside note that it is God that opens and closes wombs – he can heal you if you are barren.
Leah hopes that “now my husband will love me.”
Child #2 v33 “Because the Lord has heard I am hated, he has given me this son also”
She’s recognised her rejection and that God is at work, but not yet been healed of the pain.
Child #3 She’s still hoping that her husband will accept her through child #3 v34
It’s only by child #4 she can say “This time I will praise the Lord.” – so she’s not
What is rejection?
How Jesus takes away rejection…
1 Face the facts
Leah knew she wasn’t loved. She wasn’t fooled, and she didn’t fool herself. Sometimes we make excuses and cover up for the people who reject us, because if we acknowledge their cruelty, it hurts too much. Worse yet, we keep on trying to be accepted and as a result face rejection over and over.
Her realisation of her situation is shown by the names for her kids
Reuben: See a son
Levi: attached – she’s hoping still
Judah: praise – she’s grasped her identity needs to be in God not in Jacob’s love.
2 Don’t pretend, confess your feelings
To accept the way things are and to admit you would like them to be different are two different matters. It isn’t “spiritual” to pretend that everything’s fine and you aren’t really hurt when you are. Tell the Lord how you feel. He knows it anyway. And, if you can, share your feelings with a trustworthy friend who will pray for you. Both of these honest expressions are important to your emotional and spiritual health.
Despite the birth of Reuben, Leah remained unloved. As the account continues, “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” (Gen. 29:33).
Simeon means, “One who hears.” Leah believed that because the Lord had heard that she was not loved, He had given her another son as a consolation prize. What exactly did God hear? Was Leah told in words that she was unloved? By whom? Did Rachel spitefully remind Leah that she was the booby prize as Rachel’s jealousy increased because she was barren? Or did this mean that Leah told God in her prayers about her rejection? Sadly, both scenarios were probably true.
Give up unreal expectations
Sometimes we make ourselves unhappy by envisioning changes that aren’t going to take place. Your mother may never be a warm, loving person. Your father may never tell you verbally that he loves you. Your husband may never be able to let down the walls of protection he has built around himself and share the intimacy you long for.
If you spend your life focused on making some other person change, you’re wasting your energy. The problem is not yours; the fault does not lie with you. You are not unworthy. Instead, the other person may be incapable of the normal responses of an emotionally healthy person.
We see this happen in Leah when a very important shift occurs in her focus after her fourth son is born: “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. Then she stopped having children” (Gen. 29:35).
Judah means “praise.” After years of pain, Leah’s entire focus turned to God. This time she didn’t mention Jacob at all; instead she got her sense of worth from God. She knew God valued her because He had proved it to her in a way that was understood in that culture. He gave her children. She was devalued by her father. She was rejected by her husband. She was envied by her sister. But she was loved by God, and that fact gave her the strength to go on.
3 Get your Identity in Christ
It’s so important we get our identity from being in Christ, not from acceptance by others – whether it be a partner, a parent or friends.
The bible tells us we are God’s masterpiece. Eph 2:10 Say it “I am God’s masterpiece”
The dictionary defines a “masterpiece” as “a person’s greatest work of art,” or a “consummate example of skill or excellence.” Now, when God’s Word describes you as His masterpiece, what comes into your mind? Do you accept His assessment, or do you think, Well, He must be talking about someone else…if He really knew me, He wouldn’t think that!
You need to choose to believe what God says about you is true because of Jesus. That’s our main weapon. Rejection can become a stronghold in our lives a pattern of thinking that holds us back and down. Christ has given us the weapon to tear strongholds of thinking in our lives down – the Bible.
I’m going to hand out a sheet of verses that talk about our identity in Christ. If it’s an issue for you then I suggest you read the verses over and over again. Chew ‘em over in your mind until you really believe in your heart as well as your head.
Jesus gives us even more of a strategy to take away rejection in Luke 9 and Matthew 10. He did warn us in John 16 that we face a mean world. “…in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Rejection is just a part of that trouble.
In Matthew 10 and Luke 9 Jesus is sending the disciples out to heal the sick and preach the gospel knowing that they would be rejected. So he gives them three strategies…
4 Brush off bitterness
The trouble with rejection that’s not dealt with is that it becomes bitterness.
“And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” – Luke 9: 5
Jesus explains to the disciples to brush off the residue of rejection and keep moving forward. We can’t allow rejection to fester and become bitterness.
Leah allowed rejection to fester and it became bitterness towards Jacob and Rachel at different times. If you have been rejected and you hold on it to, it usually manifests in bitterness.
Sometimes we want to protect ourselves from being rejected again or are even fearful of being rejected and it manifests in bitterness towards others. That can come out not just in the area that you have been rejected in – say a relationship breakdown, but in all your dealings with people. You can brush people off brusquely, or deal with them harshly so they don’t come close. Or you can find fault in the way people do a particular job, instead of allowing them to be free to do it differently or even to make mistakes learning.
Jesus says shake your feet off, shake the dust off your feet. Brush of the bitterness. Choose not to be bitter. Choose to not allow the hurt of rejection to linger into every other interaction you have.
Some of you here today need to face up to the rejections you have experienced and how they have made you feel and turn away from bitterness. Get a friend to help you do that.
5 Don’t be held hostage
“When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” – Matthew 10:23
The next thing Jesus tells them to do is move on to another city. Sometimes, we just have to put some distance between our rejection and the hurt we’ve endured.
Don’t let yourself be held hostage by wondering why:
Why did I get laid off?
Why didn’t I get that promotion?
Why did he choose her?
We have to be ready for the next door the Lord wants to open
6 Be open to the next possibility
“So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.”- Luke 9:6. To me, this verse indicates that we should always be asking the Lord “what’s next?” The disciples didn’t stop when one town rejected them. The Bible says they went everywhere.
“No matter what door closes, God always has another opportunity. Sometimes God will break our hearts, so that he can blow our minds.”
Folks if you are struggling with rejection, allow the Lord to take it away as you
Face up to the facts
Confess your feelings
Give up unrealistic expectations
Brush off bitterness
Choose not to be held hostage and open to the next possibility.