JACOB BLESSES HIS SONS --- THE GREAT MESSIANIC PROPHECIES

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    [Genesis:48:1-22]; [Genesis:49:1-33].

    Lesson No.: 
    40
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    "I shall see him, but not now:  I shall behold him, but not nigh:  there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel"  (Numbers 24:17).

    Cross References: 

    I The Adoption and Blessing, by Jacob, of Joseph's Sons
    1. Jacob, after repeating the Bethel covenant, claims Joseph's sons as his own, [Genesis:48:1-7].
    2. Jacob greets Manasseh and Ephraim, happy that God made it possible, [Genesis:48:8-12].
    3. The aged, almost blind Jacob, in crossing his arms, automatically gives the greater blessing to the younger son, [Genesis:48:13-16].
    4. Joseph protests his father's discrimination against Manasseh, [Genesis:48:17-19].
    5. Jacob justifies his act and again prefers the younger, [Genesis:48:19-22].

    II The Prophetic blessings Given to the 12 Sons
    1. Reuben's instability and sin cause him to lose a preferred position, [Genesis:49:1-4]; [Genesis:37:21-22]; [Genesis:42:22]; [Deuteronomy:33:6]; [Judges:5:15-16].
    2. Simeon and Levi's cruelty and sin cause their inheritance to be divided and scattered, [Genesis:49:5-7]; [Genesis:34:25-31]; [Exodus:32:26-29]; [Numbers:1:47-54]; [Numbers:26:62]; [Numbers:35:1-8]; Deuteronomy:33:8-11.
    3. Judah receives the royal part of the birthright that culminates in the coming of the Messiah, [Genesis:49:8-12]; [Deuteronomy:33:7].
    4. Zebulun is given the promise of an excellent commercial and trading position, [Genesis:49:13]; [Deuteronomy:33:18-19]; [Judges:5:14], [Judges:5:18].
    5. The prophecy concerning Issachar shows the complacency of that tribe, [Genesis:49:14-15]; [Deuteronomy:33:18-19]; [Judges:5:15].
    6. Dan, a less favoured brother, will nevertheless fulfil all his civil obligations, [Genesis:49:16-17]; [Deuteronomy:33:22]; [Judges:5:17].
    7. Gad is to experience difficulty, but will surmount in the end, [Genesis:49:19]; [Deuteronomy:33:20-21]; [Judges:5:17].
    8. Asher's inheritance is to be a rich one, filled with luxuries and dainties, [Genesis:49:20]; [Deuteronomy:33:24-25]; [Judges:5:17].
    9. Naphtali is blessed with the reckless daring of choice wisdom, [Genesis:49:21]; [Deuteronomy:33:23]; [Judges:5:18].
    10. Joseph receives the prime blessing of all, a combination of all the patriarchal blessings; also the double inheritance of the birthright, [Genesis:49:22-26]; [Deuteronomy:33:13-17]; [Judges:5:14].
    11. Benjamin, the youngest, is blessed with strength and prosperity, [Genesis:49:27]; [Deuteronomy:33:12]; [Judges:5:14].

    III The Messianic Prophecy and the Final Charge
    1. A strain of Messianic prophecy is found in the covenants, [Genesis:3:15]; [Genesis:6:18]; [Genesis:12:3]; [Genesis:17:21]; [Genesis:22:18]; [Genesis:28:14]; [Genesis:46:3]; [Genesis:49:10]; [Numbers:24:17]; [Deuteronomy:18:15].
    2. The burden of the prophetic blessings centres around the Messianic hope, [Genesis:49:1], [Genesis:49:10-12], [Genesis:49:18], [Genesis:49:24].
    3. Jacob, the godly man, dies, [Genesis:49:28-33].

    Notes: 

    The name of Jacob is a familiar one in the Bible, and is often linked with God's, as in the phrase: "the God of Jacob." This occurs perhaps more frequently with Jacob than with any other person who ever lived. Jacob came to know God at a place that he named Bethel, meaning the House of God. He was sanctified some years later at Peniel while en route to his own land, after living in the land of Haran for a score or more years. Jacob feared and loved God, and was loved by God; and God said of him that he had power with God and with men. Now we come to the story of the end of his life and are about to hear his last words.

    The last words of dying friends and relatives are always significant to us. We listen carefully, as our loved ones come to the brink of the River, to catch their parting messages, which reassure and comfort us in the days of bereavement following their passing. But the last words of men of God, like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua, are most important because these men not only were great leaders of Israel, but in their final moments were given special gifts of prophecy they had not possessed during their life.

    Jacob was ill; and Joseph, fearing that his father's end was near, took his two sons and went immediately to the bedside of the sick patriarch. Jacob was proud of Joseph, who through God's help had ascended to such heights in the realm of Egypt; and when he heard that his son was coming, the failing man took on new strength and sat upright that he might greet the little group better.

    Notice how Jacob began his conversation with Joseph. "God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me." Luz was the first name of Bethel, where Jacob was saved. He began his story at that place, because it was there that his real life began ([2 Corinthians:5:17]). Before that time he was a sinner and guilty of deceit and many other kinds of sins. He tried to do things his own way, before he met God at Bethel; but after his conversion we see that he was willing to let God have His way and work things out according to His divine will. In addition to being saved, Jacob learned a great lesson at Bethel. He was not the same man thereafter, so he refers to that time as the real beginning of his life.

    Perhaps there were several reasons why Joseph was the honoured son of the 12. We know that he was a serious, well-mannered child, and that early in life he was given a coat of many colours, which not only showed the father's preference for him, but also might have given him some special authority the others did not receive. Joseph, no doubt, loved God from his very youth and because of his close association with his father perhaps had heard the story retold many times of the covenants that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and his father. He was the kind of son whom the God-fearing Jacob could confide in and with whom he could glorify God.

    Now, at the end of his life, Jacob wished to reward this faithful son in a special way. Instead of giving a blessing to Joseph, as he did to the others, he blessed Joseph's two sons instead, and adopted them into his own family with all the rights and privileges of sons. They were to be fathers of tribes, which would give Joseph a double share in the inheritance -- one of the blessings of the birthright lost by the first-born, Reuben. At the first census, in the wilderness of Sinai, the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim numbered 72,700 men -- from 20 years of age upward -- who were able to go to war. This made Joseph's portion one of the largest of any tribe of Israel.

    We find several instances in the Bible where God set aside the customs and traditions that men have set up as being correct and proper, probably to assert His own will and sovereignty, or to work out His plan for mankind in the quickest way ([Psalms:115:3]; [Psalms:135:5-6]). In a number of instances God set aside the law of the birthright and preferred the younger son before the elder, bestowing heavenly favour and blessing as He in His infinite wisdom saw fit.

    A theological system in the world, originally taught by John Calvin and known as Calvinism, has made inroads into and been accepted by a great portion of Protestantism. It teaches that God chooses, or predestines, those who are to be saved from sin and allows (or even sentences) the remaining bulk of humanity to a lost eternity. This theological system also includes the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer, saying that once having been born into the family of God it is impossible for one to be separated from that relationship or to be eternally lost.

    They base their false teachings on verses in the Bible, which they remove from the correct setting and distort, disregarding the all-inclusive invitations of the Gospel; but nothing can be farther from the truth of Scripture than these teachings. We have no sympathy with them, nor tolerance for them, in any way whatever. God's Word teaches that everyone is predestined to be saved in and through Jesus Christ, if he chooses to receive salvation; and also that it is possible to lose that salvation at any time, by wilfully turning away from God and committing sin.

    To select some widely separated verses of Scripture, separate them from their context, and distort their true meaning to prove a theory that has been previously set up in the mind, ignoring the tenor of the whole body of Scripture in doing so, is against the plain teaching of the Bible and is repulsive to the open, honest mind. But that is what the Calvinists have done, and we can be sure that God's disapproval rests upon such a practice.

    The call of God to repentance is for all men. The "whosoever wills" of the Bible are enough proof to satisfy anyone that none are left out of the great invitation to join the family of God. On the other hand, the fact that there is such a thing as predestination, or election, cannot be denied; but when we study the Scriptures we see that predestination is NOT to be applied to our call to repentance but is only for certain offices and callings in the work of God on earth.

    This choice of certain men and women, on the part of God, for specific offices in His harvest field and Kingdom, is guided by His infinite wisdom and foreknowledge of the thoughts, plans, intents, and decisions of every man, woman, and child -- saved or unsaved. He knows who of the sons of men will love and serve Him with all their hearts. He knows who will be willing to make a supreme sacrifice and all the embracing consecration for His cause. He knows who will esteem the reproach of the Cross as greater riches than all the treasures of the world. These godly, sainted, self-sacrificing individuals God calls for special duties and privileges in His Kingdom ([1 Peter:1:1-2]; [1 Peter:2:9-10]; [Ephesians:1:4-12]). That is the extent of predestination. It does not affect our response to His call to "every one that thirsteth," or Heaven's answer to the "Lord, have mercy" of the "whosoever will."

    This choice, by God, of certain individuals from out of the teeming millions who walk earth's pathways, we can see, is governed by two things. Firstly, it is determined by each of us, individually, by the manner in which we respond to God's calls to repentance and His subsequent entreaties that we might come into a closer relationship with Him. Secondly, it is governed by God's foreknowledge of the way we will answer and respond to these calls, invitations, and entreaties.

    Abel was preferred above Cain -- because God knew that by faith Abel would offer "a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." Isaac was preferred above Ishmael -- because Isaac was the son of promise and the Almighty knew this promised son would be a God-fearing and God-honouring man all his days. Jacob was preferred above Esau -- because before the birth of these twins, God knew that Jacob would value the birthright and blessing of Heaven above anything in the world and that Esau would despise and sell those coveted blessings and privileges for a mere "mess of pottage."

    Judah and Joseph were preferred above Reuben -- because God saw through His omniscient eye that they would live more godly lives than their lust motivated brother. Moses was chosen as a leader for Israel instead of his elder brother, Aaron, because there was a principle in his heart that would choose "to suffer affliction with the people of God." And David was selected as a king for Israel rather than any of his elder brothers, because the heart of that shepherd lad was perfect toward God -- and God knew it from the beginning!

    So we can realise that the foreknowledge of God and the all-including wisdom of the Almighty can see the end from the very beginning and know the thoughts of our hearts better than we do ourselves. He cannot be limited in any of His attributes or else He is not the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Being that we know Him to be. If His holiness, love, mercy, and judgment are without bounds and know no end or termination, then His foreknowledge is also without limit ([Isaiah:42:9]; [Isaiah:46:9-10]; [Acts:15:18]). He can, and does, know every detail of our lives, even to the end of our existence on earth.

    But this foreknowledge of the eternal Father does not rob us of our power of choice -- the supreme and sovereign will that He gave us in the beginning. It is our own responsibility to determine the destiny of our soul. To no one else can go the blame if we choose the wrong path and are lost for eternity. There is a power of choice that is given us that even God cannot govern or change, once our decision is made.

    Consequently, those "whom he did foreknow" God predestinated to conform to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Those whom He predestinated, He called to various walks and offices of service for Him. The choice was up to the individual but God knew what that choice was going to be, so He called him for special service, saying, in substance, "Since this person is going to choose to follow Me, I will call him for this certain position in My Kingdom and work on earth". They are the ones whom God justified, when they called on Him in repentance, and they are the ones whom He will glorify. Read [Psalms:4:3] and [Romans:8:28-31].

    God saw that Joseph was going to be a man whom He could trust, so He called this youth for a special place in the divine plan for the salvation of the world. Now God, speaking through His servant, Jacob, sets aside the natural laws and prefers Ephraim over the elder, Manasseh. Great are the ways of the Most High! Far-reaching and all-including are His plans! Worthy of all men's praise is He Who not only has created this world, but Who remains interested in it and in every detail of its operation! How humble we should be as we approach His Throne and as we walk before Him in this life!

    Questions: 

    1. What were the names of Joseph's two sons?
    2. Name the 12 sons of Jacob.
    3. What special blessing was given Joseph?
    4. To whom did the kingly portion of Reuben's birthright go? What was included in it?
    5. How was the prophecy concerning Levi eventually fulfilled?
    6. Quote the Messianic prophecy contained in Jacob's blessing of his sons.
    7. What custom of man’s did God set aside when Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph?
    8. Explain in what ways God has predestined us.
    9. To what did Jacob refer when he opened his conversation with Joseph?
    10. Where was Jacob buried?