Year 2 Day 306
Read - Genesis 49v1-27
Message - Scott Woodburn
Did you know that there is controversy over the final words of Admiral Horatio Nelson? As he lay dying from a French sniper’s bullet he either asked his friend Captain Thomas Hardy for a kiss - “Kiss me Hardy” OR he used a Turkish word meaning fate or destiny to explain the inevitability of the situation - “Kismet Hardy” OR he urged Captain Hardy to take a kiss to Nelson’s lover Emma Hamilton - “Kiss Emma, Hardy” What did he actually say? Probably the first option but you pay your money and you take your choice. No such controversy exists over the final words of Israel for the Lord has given them to us in His Word.
Israel calls his sons together to bless them before he dies - but it isn’t all good news. Rueben was the first born and should have been preeminent over his brothers (v3) but he had proved to be as unstable as water. Much to his father’s astonishment, Rueben had slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah (Genesis 35v22) and so he would not receive the place of honour (v4).
Simeon & Levi would serve no better (v5-7). They had acted in bloodthirsty anger (Genesis 34) and so Israel pronounced a curse upon them. They would be scattered and divided in Israel (v7) and their father wanted nothing to do with their violent ways (v6).
Judah on the other hand was described as a lion’s cub (v8) and Israel told his son that from him would come the rulers of Israel. Indeed the sceptre wouldn’t depart from Judah until the arrival of one called “Shiloh” (v10). What a blessing! Later Scripture would tell us that Christ was the One promised by Israel. He was the lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5v5) and to Him would be the obedience of the peoples (Daniel 7v13-14). Christ would come and bring abundance (v12).
Zebulun’s descendants would know the blessing and benefit of seaborne trade (v13). Issachar’s people would be strong (v14) but would prefer comfort to work eventually becoming slaves of the Canaanites (v15). Dan’s mother was the concubine Bilhah but he would still take his place among his brothers (v16). Dan’s family would be small but would act like a serpent in the path of their enemies (v17).
Gad’s descendants would know trouble but would act valiantly nevertheless (v19). Asher’s family would be fruitful and eventually provide delicacies for the royal family (v20). Naphtali’s people would be surefooted and would deliver good news or perhaps (the verse is debated) beautiful children (v21).
Joseph was well favoured by his dad who called him a “fruitful bough” or a "fruitful branch" (v22). Joseph was a righteous man who had been hated by his brothers (v23) but had remained steadfast by the enabling hands of Almighty God (v24). Jacob spoke this word of prophecy and declared that the God who had blessed Joseph’s ancestors would now bless Joseph beyond anything that his ancestors had seen. Joseph would be set apart from his brothers (v26).
Finally Israel declared that the tribe of Benjamin would be like a hungry wolf (v27). The future for the Benjamites would see violence with much spoil and from them would come men like King Saul and the Apostle Paul.
Israel’s words are not empty vain hopes from a dying father. Here he takes on the role of a prophet and declares the God revealed and appointed future for His children. These verses would be unfolded throughout the rest of Holy Scripture and we see the triumphs and tragedies of the people of God.
We are not prophets and the future has not been revealed to us, but just as the Lord knew the path of the children of Israel, so he knows the path of our own little clans. This knowledge gives us hope for we trust a covenant God who promises to be our God and the God of our children.
Before we heed God’s upward call we have a responsibility to our children. May we entrust them to the Lord in prayer. May we worship with them among God’s people. May we listen together to God’s Word read and preached. May we discuss sermons over Sunday lunch as a family unit. May we teach our children to love the church of Christ. May we show them that nothing and no one compares to Jesus. May we sow good seeds into their young hearts that the Lord will harvest in years to come. All of this seems like an extraordinary task but as Israel prayed, so do we, “I wait for your salvation, O Lord.” (v18)
Q65 What is forbidden in the fifth commandment? The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations.