Jacob continues his last words to each of his sons, sharing both positive and negative feelings and predictions—blessings as well as curses.
“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength, the child of my vigorous youth. You are first in rank and first in power. But you are as unruly as a flood, and you will be first no longer. For you went to bed with my wife; you defiled my marriage couch. . . .
“Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will grasp your enemies by the neck. All your relatives will bow before you. Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.”
(Genesis 49:3-4, 8-10)
Jacob spoke to his sons individually, blessing some and making predictions about their futures. The way the men had lived their lives played an important part in Jacob’s prophecies.
The oldest son was supposed to receive a double inheritance, but Reuben lost his special honor because of his actions. Unruly and untrustworthy, especially in his younger days, he had gone so far as to sleep with one of his father’s concubines. Jacob could not give the birthright blessing to such a dishonorable son.
Judah had sold Joseph into slavery and tried to defraud his daughter-in-law. So why did Jacob grant him this blessing? Judah had demonstrated a dramatic change of character (Genesis 44:33-34). Moreover, God had chosen Judah to be the ancestor of Israel’s line of kings. This would fulfill Jacob’s words, “The scepter will not depart from Judah.” Judah’s line would produce the promised Messiah, Jesus.
Like Jacob’s sons, our pasts also affect our present and future. By sunrise tomorrow, our actions of today will have become part of the past. Yet they will already have begun to affect the future.
What actions can you choose or avoid today that will positively shape your future?