Summary: Although God knows the future and God can intervene in our lives, we shape our future by trusting Jesus Christ completely, by yielding to the Holy Spirit, and doing good for others.
How many of you can tell the future??
How many of you would say that Brett Favre will be booed as he enters Lambeau Field as a Minnesota Viking??
I thought you guys can’t tell the future?
We can somewhat tell the future because the future is dependent on the past and the present!
What will your future be like?
A better question is, “How am I shaping my future?”
Jacob, the father of the Nation of Israel, tells his sons what their future will be as he was near death. Please open your Bibles to Genesis 49 (we are almost done with our study of Genesis; we will start a new series from the New Testament in a couple of weeks).
We can certainly learn about the sons of Jacob. But beyond the facts, what Biblical principles can we learn from Genesis 49 to apply to our lives today?
Read along with me Genesis 49………..
And so at his deathbed, Jacob called for his sons and said: "Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.” Before we talk about how Jacob was able to tell the future about his sons, let us note what he said about each one. We can note one to three things that Jacob said of his sons: Who they were? What they did? And what will happen to them?
We read about Reuben in v3-4. He was not only the first born but Reuben excelled in strength, honor, and power! But what did Jacob say about the future? Reuben will no longer excel in life! And it is clear that Reuben’s turbulent future is due to his sins. Reuben had great potential as a leader but his life would be a mess because of sin.
We read about Simeon and Levi in v5-7. Simeon and Levi were partners of hate. Their anger brought violence to the community. Jacob chose not to associate with them. Because of their hate, Simeon and Levi were cursed and avoided. Have you heard of people of hate?
We read about Judah in v8-12. Judah was like a lion; He had great power to take on a prey. We don’t read anything from Jacob about what Judah did but we know a lot about Judah from other Scriptures. Judah interceded for Joseph’s life when his brothers were about to slay him. But Judah took on two wives and had incest with his daughter-in-law. Then Judah took a leadership role as Israel dealt with the Egyptians. Jacob told Judah that he would lead his brothers and he did. But Jacob tells of a mystery in v10-12. Some of you have other translation of Scriptures other than the NIV. We will find it helpful to look at other translation of these verses.
The NKJV states: 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 scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and the obedience of the peoples is his.
What Jacob said about Judah is no longer directly about Judah. It was a prophecy about Judah and here’s what we read in the New Testament: Hebrews 7:14, For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah.
And if we look at the geneology of Jesus Christ, from which son of Jacob did Jesus Christ come from?? – Jesus the Savior and Lord came from Judah!
Judah was chosen to be the bearer of the Messiah!
In v13 Jacob notes that Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon. We don’t know much more about Zebulun.
In v14 we note that Issachar had to submit to forced labor.
In v16 we read that Dan will provide justice but will have power like a poisonous snake.
Jacob predicts what will happen to Gad in v19. There will be trouble for Gad but he will overcome them.
The prediction for Asher and Napthali in v20-21 were wonderful.
And of course, Joseph was God’s chosen one and the words for him were of great hope for the Nation of Israel.
Let us read again v22-26……………
In v27 Jacob spoke of Benjamin’s skill as a warrior and prophesied of the military fame of his descendants by saying, “Benjamin is a wolf that prowls. He devours his enemies in the morning, and in the evening he divides the plunder”
And so we read at the end of Genesis 49, When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people. At his deathbed, Jacob gave instructions about his burial and predicted the future of his sons.