Jacob knows his time on earth is near the end. So he calls for his sons to gather around his bed and he gives them his final ‘blessing’–which is really a prophecy of their future.
Jacob doesn’t pull any punches when he talks to them. He tells Reuben and a couple of others exactly why their futures don’t look as bright as those of the rest of their brothers.
All these ‘sons’ of Jacob are/will become the 12 tribes of Israel.
Then, even on his deathbed, Jacob still favors Joseph. He calls him “the prince among his brothers.” I have to say it is true. And thankfully, now that Joseph has matured, he knows better how to handle his father’s favoritism.
For some reason, I’m drawn to the fact that it says the sons were given the blessings appropriate to them. I don’t see this as saying Reuben was ‘made’ to do something bad enough to essentially lose his inheritance. And I don’t see it as saying Joseph could do no wrong.
The way I read it is that we are created for the time and place we live in. And our gifts and callings fit in with when and where we live. And we each have a purpose for our lives and God has equipped each of us so we can fulfill our purpose.
I think one of our main problems is that sometimes we can’t imagine God wanting to use us or having a purpose and plan for US — so we act in such a way that we forfeit that purpose and plan! Like Reuben, we live out what we believe about ourselves.
And the same thing happens when we DO believe God has a purpose and a plan for us and we want to fulfill it. We act like Joseph did. He believed God wanted to use him, so he wouldn’t do anything that might interfere with him living out the dreams for his life that God had given him.
I think if we REALLY BELIEVED a tiny fraction of the inklings of dreams and visions God has given us about how He wants to use us and what He wants us to accomplish, there would be no stopping us! But I think we focus on US too much and we compare US to what we believe our God assignment is–and we KNOW we can’t do it. Which is true!
I think what we need to do is accept our God assignments and believe that God doesn’t give us a task without equipping us for it. And then just start walking in the direction God is leading us. He will bring us anything or anybody we need and He will open any doors we need to walk through.
Just look at what Joseph was able to accomplish–in a foreign land–in a prison unjustly–as a slave, when he was born a favored son–in a culture he originally knew nothing about–with language and customs foreign to him. And he became second-in-command in the entire country!
What is God calling you to do? Whatever it is, He has equipped you and will open any doors you need to go through. I dare you to believe it and start walking it out!!
Genesis 49:1-28 / New International Version (NIV)
Jacob Blesses His Sons
49 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.
2 “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
listen to your father Israel.
3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honor, excelling in power.
4 Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence.
6 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.
7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.
8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.
13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend toward Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a rawboned donkey
lying down among the sheep pens.
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and submit to forced labor.
16 “Dan will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backward.
18 “I look for your deliverance, Lord.
19 “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.
20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
21 “Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.
22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.