DCLM Search The Scripture Youth For October 16, 2022 : Topic – JACOB’S LAST DAYS ON EARTH
JACOB’S LAST DAYS ON EARTH
TEXT: Genesis 48:1-22; 49:1-33; 50:1-26
MEMORY VERSE: “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” (Genesis 49:1).
As Jacob felt the approach of death, he first blessed and adopted the sons of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). After this, he proceeded to bless his twelve sons one after the other. But in doing so, he made some significant pronouncement concerning their future. This pronouncement at this significant time was directed by the Spirit of God, rather than a mere human imagination. This is obvious as one takes a closer look at the many details and accuracy of the pronouncement concerning each of the tribes. Ironically, Jacob, who thought that he will die mourning died been celebrated. He thought he will never see Joseph again; not only did he see him but also his children (Genesis 37:35; 50:8,9; 48: 11). Also, Joseph who thought that he will no longer see his family ended up been buried by his relations. (Genesis 41:51; 50:24-26). Jacob and Joseph’s lives should give hope to Christian youths that are passing through one difficulty or the other that there is hope. We only need to remain faithful to the Lord. Not only that, youths should know that today’s attitude is a seed to be reaped tomorrow.
Question 1: What can Christian youths learn from the life of Jacob and Joseph?
BLESSING PRONOUNCED ON JOSEPH (Genesis 48:1-22; 49:22-26; Matthew 25:35-46; Psalm 128:1-3)
“And it came to pass after these things, that one told joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim” (Genesis 48:1). Joseph, though a busy man yet when he heard that his father was sick, took time to visit him.
Question 2: What lesson can Christian youths draw from Joseph’s visit to his sick father?
It is mandatory for children to take care of their parents. Therefore, no one should hide under church activities and been busy in other things as an excuse for neglect of their parents especially when they are sick. Visiting of those that are sick is a religious obligation. We are expected to visit members of the church, neighbours, classmate, teachers and others that are sick. Our Lord Jesus tells us that there is punishment for neglect to visit the sick and there is blessing for doing so (Matthew 25: 35-46). Joseph’s visit took Jacob to memory lane. He remembered the covenant that God had with him, and passed it to his children. “God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 48:3,4; 28:13-15). Joseph’s closeness to his father made him hear what was uppermost in his father’s heart. Christian youths who are close to their spiritual parents tend to have more spiritual insight than others who operate at a distance. In continuation of Jacob’s parting words to Joseph, he adopted his two sons, “And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Genesis 48:5). Joseph, Whom his brethren did not want to be their ruler ended up being their ruler with two portions, one above his brethren (verse 22). This should be a great lesson to Christian youths that no matter the opposition, only the counsel of God will stand. “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand” (Proverbs 19:21). However, in the course of blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob laid his right hand on Ephraim and the left hand on Manasseh which was contrary to Joseph’s wish who wanted Manasseh being the first son to be at the right hand of his father. Jacob objected to Joseph’s plan to reposition his hand. Actually the action was directed by God.
Question 3: Mention some spiritual lessons in Jacob placing Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.
Placing younger son ahead of the older is not strange in the Scripture. Isaac was placed ahead of Ishmael, Jacob was ahead of Esau. Therefore, birth position does not determine how one will be blessed; God’s blessing is the most important thing. Also, leadership position in the church does not depend on how long one has been in the church, but on God’s choice. Hence, there should be no murmuring or complaint over who is or who is not the leader. Jacob, in his parting words did not forget the God of his father, anchoring everything on the covenant that He had with them (verses 15,16,21). Children with godly parents should not forget the God of their parents. They should do everything to keep the covenant that their parents had with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the only way they too will be able to extend the benefits of the covenant to their own children.
SINFUL PAST AND ITS REPERCUSSION (Genesis 49:1-7; 50:15-18; 34:13-26; 35:22; 1 Chronicles 5:1; Jeremiah 18:9,10; Matthew 21:33-43; Hebrews 12: 16, 17)
“And Jacob caned unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather yourselves together’ and hear, ye one of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father” (Genesis 49:1,2). Jacob called his children together to bless them and predict what will happen to their generations in his pronouncement, we see an inseparable link between our past, present and future. The way we lived in the past affect our present position and experiences; and our future, in most cases, depends so much on our present life. A life of sin can only produce a future full of regret and sorrow. Whereas, a life of holiness and commitment to God will lead to a blissful future. This is ever true because of the law of sowing and reaping. Unless a man breaks the cycle of sin by genuinely repenting and believing in Christ, he must be prepared to face a future of bitter reaping and eternal damnation. This is a solemn lesson that we learn as we study the prophecies of Jacob concerning his twelve sons. The prediction concerning Reuben, Simeon and Levi were negative. This was predicated on their sinful past. Reuben committed incest with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. While Simeon and Levi manifested cruel anger and murder against the Shechemites. (Genesis 35:22; 34:13-26). Reuben, been the first son was entitled to a double portion inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17). He should have become the teaching priest and ruling head of the entire race after the death of Jacob. But he lost all these because of sin. Instead of the tribe of Reuben to excel in spiritual leadership and dignity over the other tribes, his father said unto him “thou shall not excel”. And of a truth, the tribe of Reuben never produced any outstanding hero or eminent leader in Israel. They were few in Population when compared with other tribes such as Judah, Dan and Joseph (Numbers 1 :21). The description “unstable as water” is an obvious reference to the unbridled lust and Passion that characterized Reuben which made him to sin against God. The sin of immorality is a great sin before God, and youths should run from it. “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that Committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know Ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost Which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (2 Corithians 6:18-20). On the other hand, Simeon and Levi were cursed because of anger which led to murder. Anger and murder are sins Jesus warns, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But 1 say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:21,22).
Question 4: What are the consequences of sin?
It should be noted that sin hinders spiritual development and promotion. “Righteousness exalteth a nation [and individuals, too] but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). For Reuben, an immoral act of a moment pleasure relegated his posterity to the back position for all generations. Simeon and Levi were cursed because of anger and murder. What one sowed at the dawn of his life shall be reaped at the twilight of his days. Indeed, our decisions determine our destiny and a single act can destroy a prospective bright future and cause us to bequeath a terrible inheritance to generations yet unborn.
Question 5: How can one escape the terrible effect of sin?
After the death of Jacob, there is another recall of past sin. The shadow of Joseph’s brethren’s sin was chasing them. They thought he would revenge, so they apologised for their sins. For a sinner to escape judgment, there must be genuine repentance and turning away from evil doings. Joseph, unlike his father forgave his brethren, he saw everything as working for good and fulfilment of God’s plan (Genesis 50:15- 21; Romans 8:28). This should be the attitude of all born again youths; we must forgive, like Joseph.
SPECIFIC BLESSINGS PRONOUNCED BY JACOB (Genesis 49:8-33; 50:1-14, 22-26)
After the end of negative pronouncement on his first three sons. Jacob pronounced blessings on Judah that: one, he would be exalted and superior to the other tribes in so much that they would praise him. This is in line with his name Judah, which means ‘Praise’. Two, he would be a victorious tribe, conquering all his enemies. This is the meaning of the expression “thy hand shall be in the neck of thy enemy”. David was from the tribe of Judah and he alluded to this in one of his psalms of praise after God had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. “Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me” (Psalm 18:40). In fact, the tribe of Judah was the first to subdue their enemy under David and they were the first to be given a lot in the land of Canaan (Joshua 14:6-13; 15: 1; Judges 1:1,2) Three, Judah was described as a lion whelp (young lion) , then a lion (fully grown) and finally an old lion (nursing lioness). This is a description of the growth of the tribe of Judah which eventually, as an old lion, would be a terror to all the nations about her. Jesus Christ, who descended from this tribe was described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
Question 6: Mention other children of Jacob and specific blessings pronounced on them.
Jacob did not leave any of his children without specific pronouncement concerning their future. One, Zebulon will dwell near the sea and excel in sea travel. Indeed, when the land of Cannan was shared among the tribe, Zebulun’s inheritance was sandwiched between the Mediterranean sea on the west and lake of Gennesaret on the east (Matthew 4: 15; Joshua 19: 10, 11). Two, Issachar would be very strong and resilient, but they would rather give up their liberty in order to have security. This implies that they would be unwilling to contend for their inheritance unless they were forced to do so. Such an attitude would make one to remain Under tribute. Three, the tribe of Dan “shall judge his People, as one of the tribes of Israel.” Jacob said this because Dan was the first son of Bilhah, Rachael’s maid. He was given an equal right to rule as the sons of either Leah or Rachael. Samson was from the tribe of Dan and they were known for their cunningness and strategy in defeating mighty kings. Unfortunately, they were the first tribe to go into full scale idolatry after the settlement in the promised land (Judges 18:30). Four, Gad will overcome his enemies at last (1 Chronicles 5:18). Five, Asher will be prosperous (Deuteronomy 33:24). Six, Nephtali will have goodly words; and finally, seven, “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil”. After the end of his pronouncement on his children, Jacob gave similar instructions concerning his burial. Joseph also gave instruction concerning his burial. They were both sure that God’s promise to take them back to their land will be fulfilled no matter how long. No matter how long, our Lord Jesus will come and take us to the promised home. The summary of Jacob’s and Joseph’s lives should teach us that the suffering of today will end with great testimonies.