49 Then Jacob sent for his sons. He said, “Gather around me so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. 2 “Sons of Jacob, come together and listen. Listen to your father Israel. 3 “Reuben, you are my oldest son. You were my first child. You were the first sign of my strength. You were first in honor. You were first in power. 4 But you are as unsteady as water. So you won’t be first anymore. You had sex with my concubine on my bed. You lay on my couch and made it ‘unclean.’ 5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers. Their swords have killed a lot of people. 6 I won’t share in their plans. I won’t have anything to do with them. They became angry and killed people. They cut the legs of oxen just for the fun of it. 7 May the Lord put a curse on them because of their terrible anger. I will scatter them in Jacob’s land. I will spread them around in Israel. 8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you. Your enemies will be brought under your control. Your father’s sons will bow down to you. 9 Judah, you are like a lion’s cub. You return from hunting, my son. Like a lion, you lie down and sleep. You are like a mother lion. Who dares to wake you up? 10 The right to rule will not leave Judah. The ruler’s scepter will not be taken from between his feet. It will be his until the king it belongs to will come. The nations will obey that king. 11 He will tie his donkey to a vine. He will tie his colt to the very best branch. He will wash his clothes in wine. He will wash his robes in the red juice of grapes. 12 His eyes will be darker than wine. His teeth will be whiter than milk. 13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore. He will become a safe harbor for ships. His border will go out toward Sidon. 14 “Issachar is like a wild donkey lying down among the sheep pens. 15 He sees how good his resting place is. He sees that his land is pleasant. So he will carry a heavy load on his back. He will obey when he’s forced to work. 16 “Dan will do what is fair for his people. He will do it as one of the tribes of Israel. 17 Dan will be a snake by the side of the road. He will be a poisonous snake along the path. It bites the horse’s heels so that the rider falls off backward. 18 “Lord, I look to you to save me. 19 “Gad will be attacked by a group of robbers. But he will attack them as they run away. 20 “Asher’s food will be rich and sweet. He will provide food that even a king would enjoy. 21 “Naphtali is a female deer set free and gives birth to beautiful fawns. 22 “Joseph is a vine that grows a lot of fruit. It grows close by a spring. Its branches climb over a wall. 23 Mean people shot arrows at him. They shot at him because they were angry. 24 But his bow remained steady. His strong arms moved freely. The hand of the Mighty God of Jacob was with him. The Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, stood by him. 25 Joseph, your father’s God helps you. The Mighty God blesses you. He gives you blessings from the sky above. He gives you blessings from the deep springs below. He blesses you with children and with a mother’s milk. 26 Your father’s blessings are great. They are greater than the blessings from the age-old mountains. They are greater than the gifts from the ancient hills. Let all those blessings rest on the head of Joseph. Let them rest on the head of the one who is prince among his brothers. 27 “Benjamin is a hungry wolf. In the morning he eats what he has killed. In the evening he shares what he has stolen.” 28 All these are the 12 tribes of Israel. That’s what their father said to them when he blessed them. He gave each one the blessing that was just right for him.
Wow, Jacob is not holding back here! On his death bed he speaks over each of his sons and really tells it like he sees it, speaking about their pasts and prophesying about their futures. There is no glossing over the faults of some, and no holding back his strong praise for others – Joseph in particular. They were all sons of Jacob, but not all treated equally.
This reminds me of what will take place one day as we all stand before our Father in heaven and He’ll judge how we each have lived our lives. I would love to have my Father God speak about me the way Jacob spoke about Joseph.
Allow me to paraphrase Jacob’s words spoken over Joseph, and imagine God speaking them over my life as I stand before his throne in heaven one day (you might like to substitute your name)…
”Shelley lived a fruitful life. Her life was like a vine planted near a spring and this fruitful vine was able to climb over walls – opposition did not stop her! When trials came her way she remained steady because she placed her life in the hand of the almighty God, her Shepherd and her Rock. Therefore I, her Father, have blessed her all the days of her life and will continue to bless her right throughout all eternity.”
Wouldn’t that be good to hear God say that about your life? I am determined not to just accept, embrace or make allowances for my weaknesses and fall short of the discipline and plan of God for me. Let me press on to the goal of a life well lived, pleasing to my Father in every way.
Written by Shelley Witt