Food for Thought: Blessings and Death…
We knew the day would come when Jacob would eventually die. Chapter 49 details his death right after Jacob assembles his sons and blesses them. Some of what Jacob passes on to his sons seems harsh, for instance, Reuben the firstborn falls from grace (49:3-4). Simeon and Levi are recognized as warriors. Men who quick with swords are not keen on counsel. Their anger so fierce that they would be scattered in Israel. I take this to mean that they would be like Israel’s ninjas (49:5-7). Judah, the one who seems to blow it royally in chapter 38 but redeems himself twice later on by offering to suffer in place of one of his brothers, is given quite the blessing. Judah’s line would bear forth kings (49:8-12). Let us remember that indeed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords does come from the line of Judah. The one born king of the Jews is the one in whom the ruler’s staff belongs (49:10). Zebulun would be blessed as a port peoples (49:13). Issachar will be given good and abundant land and be hard working and industrious people (49:15). Dan is portrayed as judges, administering justice (49:17). Notice too that justice comes with sting (49:17). Gad will be attacked, but be among those who are good fighters and won’t go down without a fight (49:19). Asher will be a prosperous people, apparently making it in the world of fine dining (49:20). Naphtali will a free people (49:21). Joseph is given abundance and prosperity, and is portrayed as one who has suffered and overcome (49:22-26). Benjamin is a warring and prosperous peoples as well (49:27).
Jacob’s dying wish is for his sons to remember that his bones are not to be buried in Egypt. He wanted to be buried in the land of his fathers. Once again recalling the story of the purchase of the first of the land of Canaan in Gen 23 that would belong to Abraham and his descendants. Then Jacob dies. For nearly 25 chapters Jacob has been a large part of the narrative. We have learned about Jacob over the duration of his life. We have traveled with him to Bethel and beheld the stairway to heaven, we worked side by side with him in Paddan Aram for his uncle Laban, we have traveled with him on the other side of the Jabbok and we too we have wrestled with God. We too have had our names changed. Though our birth certificates still read the names our parents gave us, when we became followers of Christ and Christ and submitted our lives to God in obedience in baptism, we went from slaves of the world to slaves of Christ. We too were made a part of Israel, we bear the family name of this great patriarch whose life teaches us a lot about ourselves as much as his own! We too have embraced reconciliation of a loved one or once former enemy, we too have watched God worked out the details of his plan in our own lives when things seemed hopeless and lost. We too have caught glimpses of the same confidence that Jacob has of his God’s faithfulness. We too longingly wait to enter the land of promise (Heaven). One day we too will breath our last breath. If Jacob teaches us anything, may we learn to relinquish control of our lives. The sooner we let go and let God have the reigns of our life the better off will be!
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?