Long ago a wealthy man left his estate to go on a journey. His father and grandfather were wealthy real estate heirs, but the estate eventually created a conflict between the man and his brothers. Rather than stay and fight, he decided it was time to leave town. As he planned his departure, he dreamt of his childhood heroes. As a boy he heard stories about a kind and wealthy uncle who lived in a neighboring country. He never met this famous uncle he heard so many stories about, so he rose early to head out, telling his mom it was time for him to see the world and meet more of the family. Fearfully and reluctantly, his mother agreed and packed him some supplies for the journey.
After weeks of visiting the towns of his childhood stories, the young man arrived at a small city he recognized from his parent’s descriptions. Merchants and traders recognized him as a traveler and welcomed him in to see their wares. Amidst their displays the man’s gaze fell upon a beautiful young lady walking by with her sister. Her radiant blue eyes summoned his attention. “Who is she?” One trader quickly replied as if the question had been asked a hundred times. “She is the daughter of a wealthy local man. But good luck! He doesn’t let her out of his sight.” “Where is her father? I must meet him at once.” The trader saw the young man’s insistence and figured it may be entertaining to oblige. “I will bring you at once.”
Arriving at a house outside the city, the trader introduced the young man to a slightly weathered but regal looking older man he called “Aho.” The older man was kind and open to the inquiry about his daughter. He noticed the young man was strong, smart and capable. “Where are you from?” Aho inquired. “I am from the west, I came on this journey to discover new lands and to find a wife.” After a brief discussion about Aho’s journeys west when his own family divided their inheritance, the two men simultaneously came to a stunning revelation. Aho was the uncle the young man heard about as a child.
After sharing a meal and many stories, the two sisters arrived home. As Aho introduced the young man his eyes locked with the younger and there was no mistaking it, their fondness for each other was impossible to ignore. Interrupting the awkwardness of the moment for the older sister, Aho announced “welcome to your new home. Let me show you where you will be sleeping.” After showing the young man to his room, Aho made a proposal. “Stay here and work with me for a while, and I will grant your request.”
The work was hard, but the young man excelled. Everything he touched prospered. Aho began to realize if the term was short, he would lose both his daughter and his newfound protégé. “Stay a while longer” became his reply to any inquiry about the younger daughter. Finally, one day Aho posed a question to the young man. “Do you have the customary dowry to take her hand?” “Uncle Aho, I only have the clothes I came with and the labor from my own hands,” the young man replied. “We shall make an arrangement then. You continue to stay here and work with me and I will keep an account for you. When the account reaches the dowry amount, we shall have the wedding.” Not having anywhere to go, the young man complied. He learned long courtships were customary in this new culture, so he learned patience and chose to humble himself. The hope of marriage to his beloved carried him through the hard days.
Years passed and the family grew wealthier, the young man was no longer as young. And his patience finally wore thin. Aho knew he couldn’t hold him any longer without giving in to the requests. “You have now earned enough. Next week you shall have her hand.” After all the time and hard work, the young man’s dreams were finally coming true.
The marriage celebration was a traditional one. Lots of wine, music and dancing, but the groom could not see his bride to be. She was with the women until the time of her unveiling. Per their tradition, her veil would be removed at consummation. If he could have skipped the celebration he would have. All he wanted was his beloved. The hope of this moment had carried him through seven years of labor and now the moment was here.
Perhaps you know how this story ends? If you’ve followed the clues, you may recognize our young man is Jacob. He is about to have the wool pulled over his unsuspecting eyes. The bride in the chamber was not the one he worked and hoped for all those years. Dismayed, he would have to confront Uncle Aho about his betrayal. The negotiation would not go well. He would be coaxed into another seven years of labor to earn the hand of his beloved. He was unaware that his own uncle used a technicality in their customs to exploit him. The Bible doesn’t give us much color on the actual discovery in the bed chamber, but it must have been something!
The story of this switcheroo brings us to some important questions as we struggle to answer questions about the true bride today. She has been veiled to the world and Yahshua has awaited His reward. Satan has played the part of the uncle, where legal technicalities have been used to exploit both bride and groom and delay the consummation. The wait has been long, but perhaps all is actually happening according to plan? Jacob’s own struggle would shape his character. Uncle Laban’s opposition was part of the plan of God to mature Jacob “heal catcher” from a deceiver into a firstborn and heir of the estate. In inheriting the name Israel “ruling with God”, God’s plans for Jacob later came into focus.
Perhaps His plan is now on display in a larger fashion? If so who is this beloved bride? The modern Israeli state? The institutional church? Anyone carrying the name “Christian”?
The question beckons an answer, but is it possible there has been a great mix up? Does the Bible actually define, foretell or warn us about a swaparoo? Like looking into old Uncle Laban’s scheming eyes, should we be wary of a plot? Since we haven’t yet seen an unmistakable rise of Christ’s beloved, perhaps we should explore the question further.