Building the House of Israel
Genesis 29:32-35 (32) And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. (33) And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. (34) And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. (35) And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing. It is said that Jacob's wives, Rachel and Leah, “...did build the house of Israel...” (RUTH 4:11) by their offspring. Our text is the record of the start of the building by Leah. The names of these first four children in their order are noteworthy. It is as if God was providing here a rough outline for the building of the gospel church, God's spiritual house/Israel. The New Testament which annulled and replaced the Old Testament makes clear that: 1. there is an Israel of God (GAL 6:16). 2. there is an Israel which is NOT of God, for only the children of the promise are counted as the true seed (ROM 9:6-8). 3. the children of the promise are children of grace and faith from out of every nation (GAL 3:16, GAL 3:28-29; ROM 4:11-25). 4. the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile has been taken away and believing Gentiles are constituted as being fully of the commonwealth of Israel (EPH 2:11-18 c/w ROM 11:15-24). 5. believers brought together in a common body (a gospel church) through repentance and water baptism are now God's holy temple, His habitation through the Spirit (EPH 2:19-22), a spiritual house (1PE 2:5). Israel's firstborn was Reuben, whose name means, “see, a son.” The gospel's great message is likewise “See, a Son” for it presents and manifests Jesus Christ, the holy thing born of Mary (LUK 1:35), the Son of God. He is Son of man and Son of God, David's son yet David's Lord, declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead (ROM 1:4), to Whom all judgment has been therefore committed (JOH 5:22 c/w ACT 17:31) and “...with whom we have to do” (HEB 4:12-13). He is the Son of God Who would “...save his people from their sins” (MAT 1:21), the only begotten Son Who was given that believers might have everlasting life (JOH 3:16), the firstborn from the dead (COL 1:18), firstborn among many brethren, among many sons of glory (ROM 8:29 c/w HEB 2:10). His resurrection from the dead was the seal of His elect's justification, “...delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (ROM 4:25). Israel's next child was Simeon, whose name means “hearing.” By the hearing of “Reuben” (the gospel of the Son), faith comes (ROM 10:17), convicting men of their sinfulness and inadequacy, dissolving the sandy foundations of their works and their will that they should instead be founded on happy reliance upon the solid rock of the merits of Christ alone for righteousness. This “hearing of faith” (GAL 3:2) is then sealed by identifying with Christ in water baptism (ACT 2:38-41; ACT 8:12), a good work ordained for His children (EPH 2:10) without which faith is dead (JAM 2:17) and by which they give “...answer of a good conscience toward God...” (1PE 3:21). Israel's third child was Levi, whose name means “joined.” Appropriately, accordingly, those who have seen the Son in the gospel, the hearing of which ignites their faith unto baptism, are thus added to the Lord, added to the church, fitly joined together with like believers in the body of Christ which is His church in this world (ACT 2:41-47; ACT 5:14; ACT 11:24; EPH 4:16), “...choosing rather to suffer affliction WITH the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (c/w HEB 11:25), becoming their companions (HEB 10:33). Israel's fourth child was Judah, whose name means “praise.” Being made part of God's gospel church, believers are said to be “...to the praise of his glory...” (EPH 1:12), brought into something of which it was said, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (EPH 3:21). The church is God's ordained vessel for the praise of Himself through the Son Who is the Head of the body. Jesus said to the Father, “...in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (HEB 2:12). Built together into a spiritual house / the church (1PE 2:5 c/w 1TI 3:15), believers unite to offer “...the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (HEB 13:15). Leah's name means “weary” and the proper products of those who are weary of deception, sin and self are (in a figure) her children: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah. So is the spiritual house of Israel built.