Editor's Note: Each Sunday, DrydenWire.com publishes a submitted article in a weekly series from Pastor Brian Cole. If you would have a question for Brian or would like to learn more about him, visit his website or his official Facebook page.
Genesis Chapter 49:1-33 - The Lion of the Tribe of Judah - Part 2
Last week we started out with Jacob calling his boys together and now, here’s what he’s going to say beginning in vs. 3, and now we’ll jump into these prophecies over his 12 boys.
Vs. 3-4 - “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.”
So we begin with Reuben, he was set up to be the firstborn, to have the “right of primogenitor,” but it was sin that robbed him of that. Couple things here. First, - remember that he committed sexual sin, that he went to his father’s chamber in what amounted to be his stepmother. And what was interesting back in that account is that Jacob didn’t call him out on it. (Gen. 53:22).
There was no backlash, no record of any reaction on Jacob’s part at the time of Reuben’s transgression. Sometimes, when we sin and nothing immediate comes of it, in terms of discipline from the Lord, we could think we sorta ran one by Him, that we got away with that. So we need to be careful there.
Remember, God is longsuffering. The word of God tells us - “be sure your sin WILL find you out!” (Num. 32:23).
And so here’s Reuben, I would imagine he’s pretty bummed out.
“Here’s this big birthright, the blessings are coming and I’m first in line, what am I going to get here?” And his prophecy is - “You will not excel, you have lost your birthright!”
And Jacob’s prophetic word came true. When’s Reuben’s descendants settled in the Transjordan, they soon disappeared from history, and no judge, prophet or king would come from the tribe of Reuben. So big downer for Reuben here.
Then we got the brothers “cruel” picking it up in vs. 5...
Vs. 5-7 - “Simeon and Levi are brothers— their swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.”
Of all the brothers, these 2 were probably the closest - both sons of the same mother Leah. These guys were very cruel. No doubt they fed off each other as 2 people of the same ilk often do. You remember back in ch. 34:25-31 they were avenging their sister Dinah’s rape. The guy comes along and says he wanted to make it right and marry their sister, but not only did they wind up killing him, but went into an unrestrained bloodlust that led them to wipe out the entire village.
So Jacob says - “Alright boys, I’m gonna split you up. You’re no good for each other, shouldn’t be hanging out together, so I’m going to scatter you guys.”
Couple points of interest here. First of all notice the grace of God they're in vs. 7. They themselves are not cursed, but their anger, their behavior... it is their sin that is cursed. And secondly, and again, though God is graceful, sin has consequences.
And what that means practically for us today is that - though we are forgiven, though we are saved, though our salvation is not affected by our sin - our sin yet has consequences in this life - very real consequences.
So they're going to be scattered, and we discover, particularly in the book of Joshua, that he will end up being absorbed into Judah, he won’t really have a specific territory. He has some cities, but they’ll be absorbed by the tribe of Judah. And of course Levi will be scattered throughout these various cities ministering as priests. So neither of them get territories as a result of this great sin.
For you and I this is a tremendous example of 2 guys that blew it but then go in 2 very different directions.
Levi would press further into the Lord where Simeon would press further into defeat. And so, as Levi pressed further into the Lord through this failure, the tribe of Levi wound up really receiving the Lord Himself as their inheritance. They end up called into the Priesthood, (Deut. 18:1, Joshua 13:33).
But Simeon, as a result of really persisting in sin - these guys were the 3rd largest tribe at the first census in Num. 1:22-23 - but at the second census in Num. 26:14 a decline of 63%, they became the smallest tribe in Israel.
So in these 2 boys we’re able to see very clearly the consequences of how we REACT to our failure. Turn to God and you discover He Himself is your inheritance. You turn further into yourself and you're going to discover a real withering away of your personhood as Simeon did.
Join us next week as we continue with Jacob prophesying over his sons. Blessings to you all.