Friday, September 22, 2017

eschatology: Israel's 12 Tribes (Gen.35-50)

Jacob, who had been renamed Israel, had 12 sons in all, who would one day officially become the 12 tribes of the Israelites...

(Genesis 35:22-26)  Now there were twelve sons of Jacob— 23 the sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun; 24 the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin; 25 and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali; 26 and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

Since the 12 tribes are important to eschatology and will be mentioned again and again, in order to get more on this topic, we'll momentarily jump ahead a little to where they have been reunited in Egypt.  Note the highlighted words for Judah...

(Genesis 48:1-4)  Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed. Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’

(Genesis 49:1-28)  Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.
“Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob;
And listen to Israel your father.
“Reuben, you are my firstborn;
My might and the beginning of my strength,
Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
“Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled it—he went up to my couch.
Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Their swords are implements of violence.
Let my soul not enter into their council;
Let not my glory be united with their assembly;
Because in their anger they slew men,
And in their self-will they lamed oxen.
“Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will disperse them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel.
Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
“Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He couches, he lies down as a lion,
And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes,
And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 “He ties his foal to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine;
He washes his garments in wine,
And his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 “His eyes are dull from wine,
And his teeth white from milk.
13 Zebulun will dwell at the seashore;
And he shall be a haven for ships,
And his flank shall be toward Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between the sheepfolds.
15 “When he saw that a resting place was good
And that the land was pleasant,
He bowed his shoulder to bear burdens,
And became a slave at forced labor.
16 Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
17 “Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
A horned snake in the path,
That bites the horse’s heels,
So that his rider falls backward.
18 For Your salvation I wait, O Lord.
19 As for Gad, raiders shall raid him,
But he will raid at their heels.
20 “As for Asher, his food shall be rich,
And he will yield royal dainties.
21 Naphtali is a doe let loose,
He gives beautiful words.
22 Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a spring;
Its branches run over a wall.
23 “The archers bitterly attacked him,
And shot at him and harassed him;
24 But his bow remained firm,
And his arms were agile,
From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 From the God of your father who helps you,
And by the Almighty who blesses you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 “The blessings of your father
Have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
May they be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he devours the prey,
And in the evening he divides the spoil.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him.

It's important to note (above) that Judah is part of King David and Jesus' genealogy.  When we get to the scriptures where God gives David His covenant (the Davidic covenant - which completely compliments the Abrahamic covenant), this will make more sense, because God promises David that his throne will last forever.  This will come about through Jesus, who will sit on throne here on earth in the Millennium - when all Israelites (all 12 tribes represented) enter the Millennium as believers (in "perfect" obedience) to see all their covenants fulfilled.  I'm not going to insert other scripture here, because I want the scriptures to unfold as we go; but it does help to have some context to understand better.

Now back to the brothers...

(Genesis 50:16-24)  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
22 Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23 Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph’s knees. 24 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.”

Today's takeaway:  When we go through various trials, we have to ask ourselves, "Did I do something stupid and now I'm experiencing the consequences?"  If not, and we are living obediently (confessing our sins as they happen), then our next question should be, "What blessings will God bring about from all of this?"  Our testimony to others will not hold much weight if I say, "God is there for me in every situation" if I never go through anything.  There are several reasons why we might suffer:  because of my own sin, other people's sin, we live in a fallen imperfect world with diseases and natural disasters, and there is the spiritual battle that is being fought.  And it really doesn't matter WHY I am suffering, it just matters that I do God's will in all situations.  God will get me through.

I remember a phase in my life where "bad" things were happening left and right, and I finally pleaded with God to just give me a break.  Well, I actually just started to trust God more, and do as I should.  After a few years, I thought, "Oh-oh, I haven't been through any trials lately, am I suddenly going to go through another rash of them?"  ONLY TO REALIZE that I HAD gone through quite a few things during that "peaceful" time - the only difference was that I had been putting more trust in God and doing as I should.  God keeps His promises!!!  And things do work out - to those who love God!!!...

(Romans 8:28)  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

(Romans 5:1-5)  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

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