Good morning. Let’s be praying for the people affected and afflicted by Covid-19. Pray for Kathy and MamTsimi and a man from Brackenhurst. Also, please pray about the land situation and the re-zoning. Pray for Gary and Josh’s business to get back to full capacity.
We come to the final two chapters of Genesis and they serve as a transition from the events we’ve been studying into the book of Exodus and beyond. This chapter is the second of two prophetic chapters where Jacob is a prophet giving us information about the future of the tribes of Israel. We’ll only concentrate on the ones he concentrated on and draw some lessons from them.
- Vv 1-4—how do we see that in God’s kingdom what a man sows he reaps?
- It’s interesting as we read the Bible and as we live our lives that we see an almost tension between the concept of sowing/reaping and God’s gracious actions towards His people. We see that tension here.
- In the case of Reuben we clearly see the sowing/reaping principle. Reuben was the firstborn and should have received the rights of the firstborn. But he forfeited those rights and Joseph obtained them by Reuben’s indiscretion in sleeping with Jacob’s concubine. God caused the actions of this man to be felt for generations. Not only did he lose the rights of the firstborn but his offspring were never prominent in Israel’s history.
- The major lesson here is that we reap what we sow and, therefore, need to be careful what we do.
- Vv 5-7—how do we see that God can turn a curse into a blessing?
- Jacob said that Levi and Simeon would be divided in Israel as a result of their unbridled anger being displayed in Shechem. We’ll recall how they punished a whole city for the crimes of one man and their vengeance is remembered by Jacob here many years later. It’s a reminder that God remembers our sins even when they’re long forgotten by us.
- It’s easier to see the fulfillment of this prophesy in Levi than in Simeon. Levi would become the priestly line and the line that would minister to the Tabernacle. As such they would not be given an inheritance among their people. Their inheritance was the service of the Lord in the Tabernacle. That’s why we said the other day that there are really 13 tribes of Israel but only 12 received land possessions which is why we speak of the 12 tribes.
- But, here we see the principle of grace. Wherein Reuben suffered for his sins, Levi’s curse is actually turned into a blessing. Levi ends up with highest position in relationship to God in the nation. They alone were allowed to come near to God in the Tabernacle. It was from his line that the priests and High Priest would enter the holy place and the holy of holies to do service to the Lord.
- The major lesson here is that in spite of our sinful actions, God sometimes in grace acts to turn our sin into a blessing. We should not presume upon this, but bow our knee in worship when He does.
- Vv 8-12—how do we see that God works differently than we expect?
- We mentioned this last week, but looking at the events of the second half of Genesis, we would have expected Joseph, not Judah to be the pre-eminent tribe. As we’ll see momentarily, Joseph ends the book of Genesis as that prominent tribe. But by the time we reach 1 Samuel, we’re going to see a new tribe emerge and that is prophesied here—it would be Judah.
- This is somewhat surprising and there’s even a bit of an ironic twist in this prophesy. We’ll recall that Judah was one of the brothers so offended by Joseph’s dreams of their bowing down before him. Now, Jacob prophesies the same thing of Judah—his brothers would bow down before him
- The lesson here is that God is sovereign. It’s not for us to determine the programme of God. God works in His ways raising up those whom He wills and putting others down as He wills. Our duty is to worship before Him and allow Him to be God.
- Vv 13-21—how do we see that God knows about the ones we don’t?
- Of the 12 sons of Jacob, only four are given much press in this chapter. The other 8 are barely mentioned and this holds in the subsequent history of Israel. We really don’t know a lot about these tribes into the future.
- The same, by the way, is true of the 12 Apostles of Christ. We know a lot about John and Peter. Some about some of the others and little to nothing about the majority. Yet God knows all about them.
- I think a lesson here is that while the vast majority of us will not become widely known to men, all of us are fully known by God. He knows all about us which is both humbling and comforting.
- Vv 22-27—how do we see that God blesses faithfulness?
- By sharp contrast with Reuben, Joseph demonstrates the opposite of the principle of sowing and reaping. Joseph was faithful and God blesses his faithfulness. Men attacked him vigorously, but Joseph remained steadfast and was appropriately rewarded for his faithfulness.
- While Reuben sacrificed the blessings of the first born, Joseph essentially earned them and was rewarded for his faithfulness both to his family and to God.
- Vv 28-33—how do we see God’s promises are worth believing?
- Hebrews 11 speaks of the patriarchs all dying by faith not having received the promises and we see that in action in Jacob’s life. We’ve been working through this book for several months and have been studying the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for most of that time. When we first met Abraham God promised him a land that would be his—the land of Canaan. When we end the book of Genesis we find them with a small foothold of territory in the land. Yet, Jacob insisted in being buried there. Why? Was it just a sentimental family burial plot? Well it was, but remember that Jacob is acting as a prophet here. Just as he prophesied concerning his sons, now he acts upon the prophesy of God and requests burial in the land he knew God would give them—400 years later!
- We too have the promises of God and must act upon them. As we face danger today, we have the promises of a resurrected body and of reigning with Christ. But none of us have seen this even though the promises have been in place for 2000 years. Will we die in faith as Jacob did?
- The last line of this chapter is highly significant—he was gathered to his people. I don’t believe this refers to the gathering to his living family. They were already there. I believe it’s speaking of his being gathered to his family in paradise. Though we cannot see beyond this life, the next life is just as real as this one. So, hold on to those promises of God.
- What lesson(s) did you gain today?
- God’s kingdom rule operates by principles. I need to recognize the sowing and reaping principle and guard my life and my actions in accordance with it.
- But at the same time, I cannot become proud of any accomplishments or even overly defeated by any failures, because our God acts in amazing grace. We are blessed far beyond what we deserve. So let’s and worship before His throne and humbly acknowledge His amazing grace.
Your Thoughts or questions?