November 15, 2022
“Then Jacob called his sons and said, 'Gather around, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the days to come.'”
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“Then Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Gather around, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the days to come.’” Genesis 49:1
Before giving attention to the details of the prophecies in Genesis 49, it would be good to look at the passage as a whole.
First of all, these are the last words of Jacob. The prophecy is literally the final word of Jacob, spoken with his dying breath. The dying words of any man should not be taken lightly, much less those spoken by a patriarch and recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, this is poetry. We might tend to think that a man’s last words, spoken with great effort, should be disorganized and difficult to follow. There are numerous indications that these final words of Jacob were thought out carefully in advance.
Thirdly, more than poetry, it is prophecy. While the form is poetry, the substance is prophecy. Jacob’s words reveal “things to come” for his descendants. The future foretold is the nation’s future as manifested in the twelve tribes, not necessarily predictions for the individual sons being blessed.
Fourthly, the words spoken by Jacob are a blessing. All the sons of Jacob were blessed in that they were to be a part of the nation of Israel. All would enter the land of Canaan and receive an inheritance there. Some would certainly receive a greater blessing than others. Even those rebuked by Jacob and whose futures were portrayed as dismal were blessed.
Fifthly, the prophecy is not independent of the past but an extension of it. Moses (who penned Genesis) told us that every one of the sons was given “the blessing appropriate to him.” As we think our way through these blessings of Jacob, we find that each of them is related to the past. Prophecy, then, is not necessarily detached from history but an extension of it into the future.
Whatever path you choose, if you continue in it, the outcome of your life (as well as those who follow after you) will be highly predictable. Choose the way that leads to life…the only true life offered…through faith in Jesus. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
“This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which way is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, ‘We won’t!’” Jeremiah 6:16
“There is a path which seems right to a man, but the end of its way leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12
“If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve - But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15