July 26, 2015 Genesis 49:1-28
Series: Divine Hope for Dysfunctional Families
Today’s Message: “What Adult Children Need to Hear from Their Parents” (Part Two)
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Review last Sunday: What adult children need to hear from their parents is the same thing we need to hear from our Heavenly Father: Blessed Assurance (I Love You); Loving Discipline; and Hopeful Encouragement. If you are a parent (or uncle, aunt, etc.), then speak these words to your children/ nephews, etc. And for each of us, remember that what you crave from your parents is a faint reminder of what you ultimately crave from your Heavenly Father. Come to Jesus Christ, in repentance, in faith, by grace, and you will find it.
Today we consider the two last things that adult children need to hear from their parents, and that we need to hear from God our Heavenly Father:
1. Redemptive Restoration (from our sins and from the curse)
While Jacob foretold of great blessings on the tribes of Judah and Joseph, quite of few of the other sons heard negative prophecies that sounded irredeemable.
For example, Rueben is castigated for his incest with Jacob’s own handmaiden; Issachar, Dan, and Benjamin are likened to a rawboned donkey, a poisonous snake, and a ravenous wolf, respectfully; and most of the others are exposed as stubborn, self-centered sons.
And yet, by God’s grace, all of these sinful sons and their descendants are incorporated into the covenant line of God’s promise. The Lord will build his people Israel upon all 12 tribes, not just on the few who were trustworthy and faithful. Isn’t that amazing?
That means that our all-wise and all-loving God does not build His church upon the best and brightest people; rather, He comes seeking and saving lost sinners like us. According to I Cor. 1:26ff, the Lord chooses the foolish, the weak, and the lowly of this world to grow His church, so that none of us can boast, and so that He gets all the glory.
That’s the wonder of God’s redemptive restoration: He takes sinners and losers like the 12 sons of Jacob- a dysfunctional family is there ever was one – and uses them for His divine purposes and glory. He takes self-centered and stubborn men and women like you and me, and redeems us and restores us so that we play a role in His Kingdom and so that we can rest assured as His adopted children, in Christ!
Now, continuing with this theme of redemptive restoration, consider Jacob’s words to Simeon and Levi in vv. 5-7. Their father prophecies that as the punishment for their violent vendetta against the men of Shechem (Gen. 34), these two brothers are sentenced to be scattered and dispersed among the other ten tribes.
Think about what that would have meant to say, Levi, as a father, a grandfather, as the patriarch of his clan, when what you passed on to your descendants was all-important. He would have thought, “What a sad and tarnished legacy I have left for my descendants! Instead of leaving them the promise of a name and a land, my foolish anger at Shechem will result in my tribe being scattered, disbanded, and dissolved!”
Ah, but here’s where the Lord’s redemptive restoration turns everything around! Centuries later, both tribes were indeed scattered. The tribe of Simeon disintegrated, as it was sprinkled partly among Judah and partly among the northern tribes.
But something different happened with the tribe of Levi. Though they were indeed scattered, God blessed them with an honorable and glorious dispersion. How so? Do you recall that the incident of the golden calf in Ex. 32, the Levites were the ones who rose up and stood on the Lord’s side? Through this, the Lord redeemed their earlier sin and curse and He gave them the privilege of becoming the holy priests in Israel! So while they were indeed scattered over the land, and they had no major land allotment or inheritance of their own, instead they were given something much better! They were given the great honor of being the mediators between God and His people, and, best of all, the Lord Himself would be their inheritance! (See Numbers 18:20-24) That’s an example of the Lord’s redemptive restoration.
Duguid: Sin’s consequences on future generations are not inevitable nor irredeemable, as the Levites demonstrate. For Levi, “The consequences of their father’s curse became the context in which they became a blessing to others.”
We could say something similar about what happened to Joseph, in vv. 22-26. Now Joseph suffered, not because of his sins, but because he was sinned against, by his family, by his boss’ wife, and by a fellow prisoner whom he helped. We might say that he was a victim of evil circumstances. But in Jacob’s blessing on his tribe, we see the power of God’s redemptive restoration, as He liberates Joseph from his evil circumstances and the sins against him.
Note that Joseph’s prosperity (22) came in the context of his affliction and assault (23). Yet the emphasis here is neither on Joseph’s fruitfulness, nor his affliction, but rather on God’s redemptive purposes in his life. His blessing flowed from the Mighty One of Jacob, who strengthened him. (24-25).
Think about this: Joseph was already prospering in Egypt, right? But Jacob’s blessings here were on a level that Egypt could not give. Jacob was pronouncing covenant blessings, the same given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, including fruitfulness of children and the blessings of the land. It’s similar to the story of Job, when at the end, the Lord restores double everything that Job had lost in his time of trial and testing.
Application: When we consider how the Lord brought redemptive restoration to the 12 sons and their clans, to Levi as the priestly tribe, and to Joseph in Egypt, we should realize that He will do the same for us, in Christ’s greater redemption and restoration.
This means that our sins, our failures, and the evil things done to us do not define us; they do not have the last word in telling us who we are and what the future will hold. No.
For God can transform the effects of sin and curse into an opportunity for blessing. He has the power to redeem our evil and bring good from it. In fact, your weakness and brokenness may equip you to appreciate the gospel more deeply than would otherwise be the case. For example, many of you who have struggled deeply with sin and brokenness in your own lives have become good at counseling and encouraging others, because God has redeemed your suffering, and enabled you now to help others. (Duguid)
Remember: our all-wise God does not build His church upon the best and brightest people; rather He comes seeking and saving lost sinners like us.
Therefore, though sin is terrible and destructive, yet, in Christ, it does not have the final word in our destiny. God’s grace trumps all of our sin. We all need to hear that: from our parents, from each other, and from the Lord Himself. What adult children need to hear from their parents is the same thing we need to hear from our Heavenly Father: “I forgive you.” God will redeem your failures, your sins, and the curse upon you, and He will turn it into a success and a blessing.
2. Redemptive Riches (in the Messiah)
For the final thing we need to hear from adult parents and from our Heavenly Father, please look at Jacob’s blessing upon Judah, in vv. 8-12. Duguid: Though the blessings on Joseph were to be the longest and richest, the blessing on Judah was the most remarkable. It was similar to the exaltation that Joseph saw for himself in his boyhood dreams, with his brothers praising him (8), and he is described in royal terms: majestic and lion-like, he will triumph over his enemies (9).
Notice that this blessing pivots on the word “until” in 10b. Up till then it speaks of Judah’s fierce dominance over the other tribes. (See 2 Samuel 5:1-3, where all the tribes of Israel come before David, and acknowledge his kingship.)
But then, with the coming of the One who will rule the nations, the scene becomes an earthly Messianic paradise. The language of vv. 11-12 is filled with lavish riches. To hitch a donkey to a choice vine (11) would be like using one hundred dollar bills to light a fire, since the donkey would start munching on the grapes, as well as the branches of the vine. And instead of washing his clothing in water, this future king will be so rich that he can use wine for that purpose.
This foreshadows the future history of Israel, in which the tribe of Judah would become the royal tribe, from which would come the line of David. Moreover, the blessing points to a Messianic fulfillment, in the one to come, who will rule over not just Israel, but over all the nations (10b).
Yet none of the Davidic kings ever lived up to this role. The truth is that if such blessings were ever to come to such a weak and sinful people, the Lord Himself would have to be their Redeemer. Therefore “all of these images point us to Christ, the true Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5), the One to whom judgment and kingship truly belong.
That is why Jesus turned water into abundant wine at Canaan for his first miracle, using jars that were meant for washing (John 2). That is why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt, as the humble yet powerful king who saves his people (Matt. 21:1-8) Later, Jesus will come in power and glory (Rev. 19:11-16), wearing a robe dipped in blood, judging and defeating his enemies.
Yet the Son of God did not need to become a man to judge and rule the nations. He became a man in order to redeem us, to restore us, and to enrich us. He deliberately chose to have his “garments” stained with his own precious blood at the cross, not with the blood of his enemies. He took up our affliction, so that our sin-stained garments could be washed, not in blood-red wine, but in the blood of the Lamb Himself (Rev. 7:14). As we wash our garments in His cleansing blood, they come out dazzling clean and white, as pure and spotless as if we had never sinned. He is the fulfillment of all that Jacob saw and more besides.”
Duguid: “It is God’s grace that enables us to wait with patience concerning the brokenness around us and within us. It is grace that enables us not to take our sin too lightly or too heavily as we wait. By grace, all of Jacob’s children receive the privilege of being numbered among God’s people, receiving His blessing that they don’t deserve.”
And like Jacob’s sons, we too are unstable, violent, worldly, compromised, and abusive, yet God is determined to make us a holy nation, a kingdom of priests, a people belonging to Him. By the power of the cross and the Holy Spirit, we are redeemed, restored, and made rich in Christ!
That’s what children need to hear from their parents. That’s what all of us need to hear from our Heavenly Father. Do you tell it to others? Have you heard it for yourself?
Only in the glorious gospel of Christ can we find such a message of redemption, restoration, and lavish, eternal riches. Come to Him, in faith and repentance, and hear it for yourself.