January 16

Genesis 48-50, Psalm 16

It is said that prophecy is God's fingerprint on the Bible. There is so much prophecy in Scripture, all of which has been fulfilled has been so with razor-sharp precision. No other book of antiquity or "religious" book has any fulfilled prophecy. Rather than gloss over chapter 49, Jacob's prophetic blessings on his children, let's consider the first four.

Reuben is a great example of someone who sinned and thought he got away with it. We read in Genesis 35:23, "And it happened, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard about it." Whether this was an act of uncontrolled lust or a power play (as Absalom did with David's concubines in 2 Samuel 16:21-22) thinking that his father was old and it was time for him to exert the right and power doesn't say. But when Jacob pronounces the blessings on Reuben he states his act in 49:4, "Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father's bed; then you defiled it...". Reuben did not excel. In fact Reuben did not produce any judges, prophets, military leaders or any important persons. When they came into the promised land they also made the wrong choice of remaining outside of the land on the other side of the Jordan. Archaeological findings from a Moabite stone reveals they were taken over one hundred years before the Northern kingdom of Israel.

Simeon and Levi were responsible for the murderous slaughter in Shechem as a result of their uncontrolled anger in response to the rape of their sister Dinah. We read in Genesis 34:25, "Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males." Jacob in his prophecy said in 49:7, "Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel." For the tribe of Simeon this happened exactly as stated, eventually becoming the smallest tribe and actually being absorbed into the territory of Judah. Though prophecy can't be changed how it plays out can be altered. For Levi, they were to be scattered, but due to their faithful action in Exodus 32:25-29 when the people worshipped the golden calf and were in an unrestrained, frenzied state, that the tribe of Levi sided with God and acted in faith. Due to this they were scattered and not given a territory, but as a blessing becoming the Levitical priesthood to bring the Word of God to the people throughout the land.

Though Judah was guilty of many wrongdoings: he decided to sell Joseph in 37:26-27, he lied to Tamar, his daughter-in-law; then slept with her as she played the part of the prostitute, etc. But it was Judah who fully repents and offers himself as payment for Benjamin in 44:32-34. We can see in 46:28 that Jacob sees Judah, even though he was born fourth, as the leader, "Then he sent Judah before him to Joseph,...". Judah which means "praise" gets an amazing prophecy. In 49:9 he is referred to as a lion. In Revelation 5:5 we read, "But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loosen its seven seals." We then read in Genesis 49:10, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people." The rabbinical interpretation of Shiloh was the future Messiah. Between 6-12 AD for the first time the scepter or the right to adjudicate with capital punishment was taken away from the Jewish people and taken over by the Romans. Roman historian, Josephus, writes that when this occurred the rabbis ran through the street in anguish for this meant the Word of God had failed them. What they didn't realize was that at this time in the insignificant little town of Nazareth, Shiloh, their Messiah, Jesus, was alive and growing before embarking on His ministry a number of years later.

What does this all mean for us? We can trust God's Word as being 100% accurate. All prophecy that could be fulfilled, was fulfilled precisely. There is still much prophecy to unfold, possibly within our own lifetime. If prophecy was always infallible in the past, we can logically assume that all future event will unfold as predicted in the Bible. All the more reason, when we get to sections like Revelation that we should remember that though things will get difficult, God is always in control. If we align ourselves with God, our side wins and is blessed.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster