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Lake Robinson Baptist Church

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Life Lessons from the Patriarchs

In Genesis 49 and 50, we see Jacob blessing his children. These blessings were prophesies regarding the future of the each tribe. But, there is also life wisdom to glean from these prophesies.

 

Rueben: Great potential is wasted because of a lack of self-control.  

Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 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. Ge 49:3-4

It seems that almost every week we read of a pastor, a politician, or business leader who throws away great potential due to uncontrolled lust. Some fall by the way of sexual indiscretion, some fall by way of drugs or alcohol, or by some other passion that they have failed to control.

 

Simeon and Levi: Uncontrolled anger harms your testimony.

Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 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. 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. Ge 49:5-7

Shepherds were nomadic people and in the ancient world were known for their crimes against settlements. When Simeon and Levi slaughtered innocent people in Shechem, they failed to live up to the testimony of one the Abrahamic Covenant.

Recently Seattle area megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned after months of controversy. The Mars Hill Church of overseers released a statement that said he was not guilty of "immorality, illegality or heresy” but was guilty of "arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner."

 

Judah: God will bless those who will repent.

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. Gen 49:8-12

Judah committed a great sin with his daughter-in-law while mistaking her for prostitute. When she revealed what he had done he confessed that she had been more righteous than he. Now, we see Judah being chosen to be the tribe that the Savior would be from and the tribe in which the kingdom would be established. His three older brothers had committed heinous sins as well. But, Judah displayed true repentance and was established.

Many great sins have fallen. The issue is not whether someone has lived sinless but rather how they responded to that sin. God will bless those who repent and turn to Him from their sin.

 

Zebulun: God and His grace work in mysterious ways.

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. Ge 49:13

Up until this point in the text, Jacob’s sons were listed in birth order but Zebulun is the tenth born son. He is also a relative unknown and is only mentioned in scripture with the rest of his brothers. Furthermore, the tribe’s borders changed without explanation. They originally went from the sea to the lake but for some reason the seaside and lakeside area were inhabited by Asher and Issachar.

We can’t put God in a box. He works in ways that we do not know and cannot understand.

 

Issachar: God blesses hard work.  

Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute. Gen 49:14-15

Issachar’s name means “hired workman” and the text refers to him as a “strong ass”. He represents someone who works hard and pays his taxes.

There are pastors and church workers who often feel that no one notices the work they do. The homemaker often feels that the endless hours of work and taking care of children goes unnoticed. There are those who take care of family members, care for the sick, and serve others in the shadows and feel they are unnoticed. The family that honors God with their tithes may feel that it does not matter. But, God notices our hard work and sacrifices and God blesses it. If we want our children to be blessed then we need to teach them the value of hard work.

 

Dan: We need to think for ourselves.

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Ge 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. Gen 49:16-17

Dan is compared to an adder that hides in the dirt and strikes the horse without notice causing the rider to fall off. Samson was a judge from the tribe of Dan. He is not only known for his strength but also for his cunning and his riddles.

500 years before Christ, Chinese military leader Sun Tzu was known for his military brilliance. 2500 years later his tactics are still studied in military schools.

God gave us intelligence and it is important that we learn how to think for ourselves. Developing the ability to think for yourself will help you to be creative and strategic in your thinking.

 

Gad: It is important to live victoriously.

Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last. Gen 49:19

Gad’s name means a troop. The text tells us that he shall overcome.  The tribe is known for having brave soldiers who fought with King David.

Sadly, it seems we often hear about a great saint of God who has become overcome by sin and is no longer serving Jesus.

It is important that Christians learn to live victorious over sin, self, and the world. We teach our children how to live victoriously by living in victory in front of them.

 

Asher: You can live for God even if others don’t.

Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties. Gen 49:20

The tribe of Asher has a sad history. They inherited land by the sea and became rich with trade. Eventually, they seemed to have intermingled with the people of the land to the point where they lost almost all of their distinction. By David’s time, there were no princes that represented them; no judge or great ruler came from them. But, the prophetess Anna, prophesied over the infant Christ.

Others may quit living for God. Others may abandon their separation. But, you can still live for God even when no one else does.

 

Naphtali: Embrace life.

Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words. Gen 49:21

Naphtali’s name means to wrestle. The text compares the tribe to a deer in a wild who is free. It also says that he gives good words.

Many Christians don’t live they just exist. It seems that many are waiting to go to heaven but have quit living on earth. How can we testify how Jesus changes us and makes life better if we behave like we are miserable?

God has given us only one life to live. Like a deer set free we should be vivacious and full of life and communicate to others how wonderful the Christian life can be.

 

Joseph: God is not limited by our circumstances. Gen 49:22-26

Joseph was sold by his brothers, sent to prison by Potiphar, and forgotten by the butler. But, despite all these obstacles, God still blessed him.

Ben was a stereotype by many measures. He is a minority being raised by an uneducated single mother. In his early school years he was near the bottom of his class and was picked on by his classmates. He was known for his furious temper and even stabbed a classmate. But, his mother made sure that Ben read regularly and he developed a love for learning. He learned to control his temper. In 1987, Dr. Ben Carson led a team of 70 doctors as they separated seven month old conjoined twins.

We should not allow ourselves to have a victim mentality but realize that God can overcome our circumstances.

There are many other lessons that can be learned from Joseph such as we can expect life changing events, strength comes from faith and the grace of God, everything happens for a reason, and God is the source of blessings.

 

Benjamin: You don’t have to be great in the eyes of others to be used by God.

Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. Gen 49:27

Benjamin is compared to a wolf who kills his prey and divides the spoil. Benjamin was the youngest son which means that the tribe would be considered to be the least based on the chronology of birth. But, despite this the text tell us that the tribe would be powerful. Out of this tribe came people who are started out small but became great. King Saul, who was so insecure that he hid at his inauguration became the first king of Israel. Esther was a beauty queen and Mordechai was on older man but the two of them saved Israel from the “Hitler” of their day. Saul, who later would be known as Paul, was from this tribe. Tradition says he was under five feet tall, bald head, and had poor sight but he would become the boldest of New Testament preachers.

Although we may seem small in the eyes of others, God can still use us in great ways.

 

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