Genesis Chapter 49  Reuben

            Gen. 49:3 “Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.”

            Reuben had the position of the firstborn in the family of Jacob.  As such, he was to be the leader of the family showing forth strength, excellence of dignity and excellence of power.  The firstborn in a family occupies initially a favored position in the family.  However, the actions of the firstborn can alter his standing in the family.  This was the case with Reuben.  He lay with his father’s concubine.  Through his sin he defiled himself and brought reproach to the family.  He lost his right of leadership in the family.  Moreover, his sin had a permanent effect upon his tribe as well.  The tribe of Reuben would never be a leader among the tribes of Israel. 

            There are lessons we can learn from this:

                        1.  We can alter or lose our position of leadership both in our family, in the church, or in the world by our wicked actions, which we are all prone to commit.

                        2.  Our actions can have a negative affect upon our families, or upon the church of our membership, or upon any organization we may represent.

Genesis Chapter 49  Simeon and Levi

            Gen. 49:5 “Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 6 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 selfwill they digged down a wall. 7 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.”

            There is a strong correlation between the actions of Simeon and Levi and the twin subjects of anger and wrath.  Simeon and Levi became angry when their sister was defiled by Shechem in the city of Shalem.  Shechem desired to marry their sister, Dinah and Shechem’s father Hamor had arranged a covenant with the children of Israel.  However, at an opportune time, Simeon and Levi united in their wrath, descended upon the city of Shalem, and slew all the males in the city.  Their anger was fierce and it turned into wrath which was cruel.  They murdered every male in the city!

            The scriptures teach us that we are not to let our anger turn to wrath: Eph. 4:26 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”  Anger is an emotion that we fairly frequently may feel based on the circumstances of life.  However, wrath follows when we allow the anger to turn to cruel action against our adversary.  Even if we think vengeance is called for the Lord has taught us: Rom. 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”  We are not to let our anger be united with wrath and vengeance.  It is dishonorable for the disciples of Christ to seek wrathful vengeance upon their adversaries.

Genesis Chapter 49  Zebulun

            Gen. 49:13 “Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.”

            Very little is told us about Zebulun in this passage.  We are told that Zebulun’s dwelling place would be at the haven of the sea.  Haven means a sheltered cove or bay.  Thus, we are told that Zebulun’s dwelling place is a sheltered cove or bay by the sea.  Zebulun is somewhat like the Lord’s church.  She is sheltered by the protective watch care of her husband, Jesus Christ. 

            Moreover, a haven of the sea is a place where the fisherman would bring their catches.  This reminds of what the Lord told Peter and Andrew: Matt. 4:19 “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  One of the functions of the Lord’s church is to bring the Lord’s children into the fold of the church. 

            Zebulun was also to be a haven for ships.  The ships could find a safe harbor from the storms in the cove.  Likewise, the Lord’s church is a safe harbor for God’s children from the ravaging storms of life.  Here they can come and find rest and peace from the storms of life. 

            The border of Zebulun was unto Zidon.  Zidon was a son of Canaan.  Needless to say, when an inhabitant of Zebulun went into Zidon, he was no longer in Zebulun.  Similarly, the Lord’s church has borders or boundaries.  We are within the church as long as we do not go outside the boundaries.  We are bounded by the teachings and commandments of the Lord and the holy scriptures. 

Genesis Chapter 49  The Death of Jacob

            Gen. 49:28 “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them. 29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. 32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth. 33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.” 

            Often times God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The reason for this is that God made and confirmed a covenant with these three patriarchs.  It was one covenant confirmed with these three men.  These men were all blessed to have God make and confirm the covenant with them.  These men were together in their lives as having God make an confirm the covenant with them.  Moreover, for some part of their lives these three men lived together: Heb. 11:9 “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:”

            Since part of the promise of God to these individuals was that the land of Canaan was given to them of God by promise it is fitting that all three men should be together in the grave in the same burial site in the land of Canaan.  Moreover, they were buried with their wives.  Abraham and Sarah were together.  Isaac and Rebekah were buried together, and Jacob and Leah were buried together. 

            “And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.”  It is my experience that when visiting a person who is near death that they struggle to speak a few words in their weakened condition.  However, God gave Jacob strength to speak a very lengthy prophecy as recorded in this chapter before Jacob yielded up the ghost. 

            Upon finishing his commandments to his sons, Jacob yielded up the ghost and was gathered unto his people.  This testifies to us of the nature of death for a child of God.  First, he yields up the ghost, i.e., the soul and spirit departs from the body.  Next, the soul and spirit are gathered together with the previously departed children of God in heaven’s glory world.  In the next chapter, we have recorded the burial of Jacob’s body.