In the recent Gospel film entitled The Lego Movie (that’s right, you heard it here!), the central character is an ordinary construction worker named Emmet. Though the movie is full of all sorts of heroes, from Batman to Abraham Lincoln to Dracula to Michelangelo (both the famous painter and the Ninja Turtle), it is the ordinary Emmet who is raised up as “the Special,” a sort of messianic figure who will save the Lego world from evil and destruction. Emmet is nothing special; indeed, he is almost un-special, admitting that he is not smart, is not creative, and is full of fear. And yet, despite the incredulity of many more obvious heroes, it is Emmet through whom all others shall be “blessed.”
I thought of this wacky and wonderful movie as I was reading Genesis 28-30 because there is nothing overtly special about Abraham’s family; indeed, they are almost un-special. They are a cornucopia of dysfunction, which manifests itself in routine deception, back stabbing, intrafamily polygamy, and moral pragmatism.
And yet they are chosen by God to carry God’s covenantal blessing, and ultimately to bear the Messiah who would save the world. They are “special.”
Abraham’s grandson Jacob is a swindling scoundrel of a mama’s boy who tricks his hairy brother and lies to his blind father to receive the family blessing. However, in his uncle Laban, Jacob meets his match. Jacob loves beautiful Rachel, but sly Laban gives him ugly Leah in the dark. The next week Laban consents to let Jacob marry Rachel, too, but only in return for seven more years of labor. I’d bet it was pretty tense around the dinner table in Jacob’s tent!
Jacob Reproaches Laban c. 1628, by Hendrick ter Brugghen
In favor of the more colorful characters of Jacob, Laban, and Rachel, we can easily overlook Leah. Most people did, it seems. Rachel was beautiful while the author tells us euphemistically, “Leah’s eyes were weak” (Gen. 29:17). Rachel was the obvious choice; there was nothing special about homely Leah.
But God didn’t see it that way.
We all have a longing to be accepted and chosen, and Leah was surely no exception. At the risk of projecting my own issues onto Leah, it is hard to imagine that Leah was simply fine with not being chosen and with Jacob’s love for Rachel. It is hard to imagine joy in Leah’s heart as the local boys came to call upon Rachel.
And yet God did choose Leah. The Creator, the Almighty, the Author of Love chose her! He opened her womb and gave her quivers full of children, including six boys—fully half of the Hebrew patriarchs, including Judah, whose descendants would include the great King David and ultimately Jesus Christ. The Lord’s covenant promise to Abraham, that through him all nations of the earth would be blessed, salvation itself, was passed through Leah—ordinary ole Leah, “the Special.”
It is our habit to see our own deep flaws and to then work tirelessly to make ourselves worthy of being chosen. Yet it is God’s habit to choose those whom others would not choose. God has seen behind our carefully crafted facades, behind our Rachel and Batman masks, to our true Leah and Emmet selves. He has looked behind the curtain, seen our weak eyes, and eternally declared, “I love you!” in Jesus Christ. He has not done so because we are special, but because he is special. Because he is God. Because he is Love (1 John 4:8).
Just as he chose a wandering Aramean named Abram, a murderous fugitive named Moses, a prostitute named Rahab, a virgin named Mary, a Pharisee named Saul, a weak-eyed girl named Leah, and countless unworthy others, he has chosen you and declared you “special” by his marvelous grace and mercy!