Harold Bennett - Jacob's Sons - Bowsman, Manitoba, Canada - 1983

Genesis 49:1-27, “And Jacob called unto his sons and said, 'Gather yourselves together that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.'” This chapter is like a picture album. Jacob was giving them a picture of themselves as he saw them. God wants to do this today. He has gathered us to hearken and to hear a picture of our hearts. Jacob was giving them a picture of their character. All are on a course to a saved or lost eternity. It’s not what is around us but what is in us that affects what will befall us in the last days.



Verse 2, “Gather yourselves together and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.” To hear is to receive with the ears. Am I ready to receive? To hearken means to listen with the intention to obey. It’s the obeying that counts. In four days, we will be scattered again. Our last days are so dependent on what we do with what we hear. Our father would like to prepare us for those last days.

 


Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power; unstable as water, thou shalt not excel…” He had much talent and ability but not making much of the faith. Unstable, not excelling even though he had gifts and might. He was lacking stability. Water is influenced by everything surrounding it. If it is hot, it’s hot. If it is cold, it’s cold. Put it in a round cup, it’s round. Put it in a square dish, its square. Always flows to the lowest level. Instability is written over all human nature. God planned for us to be conformed to the image of His Son, not the world around us. He mentioned He was “firstfruits” or “firstborn.” The first-fruits have a responsibility toward those coming behind. It seems Reuben must have done something about this picture, for we read in Revelations 7 the tribes mentioned, and Reuben is mentioned.


 

Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united; for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will, they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel; I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.” It seems they had a hard nature. “Instrument” needs control. Anger and self-will, two very hard qualities in their lives. Anger is one of those human qualities we would dismiss lightly, but how many homes are ruined and days spoiled by someone there who blows up? Anger is condemned again and again in the scriptures. Self-will takes us outside the walls of Jerusalem. It will remove that wall stone by stone and we will find ourselves standing outside. These two had two qualities of human nature that could have been used well if they were controlled by God. Simeon and Levi are mentioned together; they were like a “clique.” Too close to each other. Some people, it is best not to be too close to. The blessing was to divide them.


 

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise; thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, thou are gone up; he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the lawgiver from…” Judah was doing well, doing what he ought to be. The first part was good, honest praise. Flattery is when we praise to get something. We often need all the encouragement we can get, honest praise. It says his hand would be on his enemies’ neck, and not the other way around. Whose hand is on our neck? Is ours on our enemy’s neck, steering him around? Judah is a lion, king of the beasts. A lion watches his prey intently and lets nothing distract him from it. Every born again child of God should be like a lion. “Lion’s whelp,” a wobbly little lion, just taking its first steps, and understanding in a small measure what is his. This is the first of three phases in the life of a lion. “Lion couched,” concentrates of his prey and studies it carefully. We are thankful for those concentrating on eternal values no matter what would try to interfere. “Old Lion” - the old folks still with eyes on the prey, eternity’s values in view. “Who shall rouse him up?” It says he wasn’t going to let the sceptre go; the kingdom was first. “Thy father’s children shall bow down…” We thank God for those who are faithful; faithful mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.


 

Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships, and his border shall be unto Zidon.” This is a kingdom minded person, by the sea to be of use in the kingdom. The ships went out Zidon. God’s servants go out from those homes even today. A haven needs to have depth and quietness. Home where nothing matters but salvation. We read in Psalm 107 about “they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. For He considereth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro…and are at their wits’ end.” Sometimes, we know what it is like to be at out wits’ end and come to a haven for rest, and then  be sent out again restored. Deuteronomy 33:18, Moses’ blessing of Zebulon – “Rejoice, Zebulon, in thy going out.”


 

Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens; and he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant to tribute.” The two burdens, keeping yourself right and helping others to keep right. Galations 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Verse 5, “For every man shall bear his own burden.” We all have our own weaknesses and idiosyncrasies, etc., to bear, and everyone else has, too. Sometimes, another can come along and give us a lift. He saw “rest was good and the land pleasant; bowed his shoulder…” We need to see this right. Sometimes we can get looking at things darkly - look at the joy of the Lord and it will make us strong to bear.

 


Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse’s heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.” Adder – a small snake, a cunning creature. It can bring down a creature much bigger than himself. It says also, “I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord.” Judges 18:30 tells that idolatry began with Dan. It was a stumbling stone to the Children of Israel. In I Kings 12, it tells of King Jeroboam setting up idols in Bethel and in Dan, and giving the people a choice of place for worship instead of going to Jerusalem. The people had never been given that choice before and in Revelations 7 his name is omitted in the final list.

 


Gad, a troop shall overcome him; but he shall overcome at the last.” He was a person restored; it says a “troop overcame…” There are lots of battles. No one gets off easy in this battle of life. He overcame at the last. The work of restoration is as important as salvation. The important thing is to overcome in the end. The overcomer is the one who wins the last battle. Maybe he lost quite a few in the middle, but the last one, he won. He told the story of Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king in hiding, watching a little spider trying and trying to climb up and falling back, only to try again until it finally made it and spun its web. “We haven’t failed until we fail to try.”


 

Asher. “Out of Asher, his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.” Asher was a feeder; it says he had bread. In Acts 3, we read of Peter and John going into the temple and that lame man begging alms from them. Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none but such as I have, give I thee.” They had something better that would strengthen that man. They had bread, not junk food. Royal dainties come from the King’s table. They are small, easy to take in and tasty. So nice when someone has a royal dainty in Sunday morning meeting. Concise, clear and good. If you are going to have royal dainties on Sunday morning, you have to spend time before that.


 

Naphtali is a hind let loose; he giveth goodly words.” A hind is a deer. Set free. A type of person brought into the liberty in Christ. Hardly touches the ground, leaps over the fences. Like the man in the Psalms, released from the miry clay. Full of grace because of thankfulness for liberty. What they say has as its goal the good of the kingdom. They’re not gloomy and picky; they appreciate what they have in Christ.

 

 

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall; the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob…” Fruitfulness characterized his life. A blessing everywhere he went, to those inside and outside God’s kingdom. He had two things which caused this: 1 – a well; his relationship with God. 2 – a wall; his relationship with the world. The well sustained him and the wall restrained him. God was dealing with him at the well as a youth. His brethren threw him into a pit where there was no water. He had his own well. Lots of dry experiences. You may think that alone you can’t serve God. Joseph did. He could have been bitter when he was thrown into jail, innocent. His well washed away all that. Verse 25 speaks about God helping and blessing him with “blessings of the deep that lieth under.” The well.


The wall. There is a boundary established by God in all things; light/dark, good/evil, sheep/goats. Joseph didn’t go over the wall. We sometimes hear people say, “maybe if I wasn’t different, I could help more,” but it doesn’t work that way. It says, “His bow abode in strength…” When a bow is pulled back to its full capacity and the arrow in it, then is the hardest to hold it. When his brethren hated him and when he was wronged and lied about by Potiphar’s wife, etc., he held his bow. It doesn’t take any strength at all to blow up. His hands were made strong by the mighty God of Jacob.


 

Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey and at night he shall divide the spoil.” “Ravin” – to have an appetite. The first thing a wolf thinks about in the morning is his meat. Make time to spend with God early, make that first. Then we will have spoil to divide at night. We don’t live by making a living alone. Your household doesn’t live by bread alone. Before the living, we need something more.

 


There is nothing that has so much to do with our end of days as our character.