Summary of passage: Jacob calls his sons together to bless them and tell them their future before he dies. He tells Reuben he will no longer excel because of his defilement of his father’s bed. Simeon and Levi will be scattered in Israel. They will no longer be leaders as punishment for the slaughter at Shechem.
3a) “You are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power.” “You will no longer excel.”
b) Matthew says if your eyes are bad then your whole body is full of darkness–basically saying one bad deed or body part corrupts the whole body. James says if you doubt the Lord when you ask then you will not receive. Because of Reuben’s one act, he has corrupted himself and therefore his inheritance.
c) Personal Question. My answer: It’s the old saying: it takes 1000 praises to make up for one bad comment. Same here. It only takes one sin to completely change your life or corrupt yourself. Some are extreme like drunk driving and killing people. Some are not so extreme but life altering like teen pregnancy.
Some sins like greed or stealing may not seem so big but are in God’s eyes. I’m sure Reuben didn’t think sleeping with his father concubine, Bilpah, was a big deal. The Bible only devotes one verse to it (Genesis 35:22). But that one verse was enough. We cannot hide from God our sins no matter how small we might believe them to be.
We must constantly strive to be like Jesus or the devil will win. I must have control over my heart and mind and fill it with God and the Truth; otherwise, evil will invade and cause irreparable damage around me. We must guard against the world and focus on our home–heaven. All it takes is one act.
4a) “I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.”
b) Slaughtering Shechem
c) The Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord and to stand before the Lord to minister and to pronounce blessings in his name. They have no inheritance because the Lord is their inheritance. [So Deuteronomy reveals the why. Their inheritance they have lost has been replaced by God Himself. So God had a plan for Levi.]
The Levites are the priests who watch over God’s word and guards the covenant and who teaches the law to the Israelites.
Exodus 32:26-29 gives us another reason why God elevated the Levites: They were faithful during the golden calf debacle. Hence, they became a blessing and received the Lord as their inheritance (Joshua 13:33).
d) Personal Question. My answer: The comfort I receive is Romans 8:28–that all things work together for my good. God takes the sin and uses it to help others.
Conclusions: Another nice, short lesson. I used quotes for some of the answers. I liked the emphasis on consequences for our sins. Nowadays, there are no consequences for our kids it seems. Parents bail them out every time they are in trouble. Kids don’t move out of their parents’ house until their late 20’s or even 30’s. Excuses abound for unruly behavior.
Yet the example of the Levites is encouraging. No matter what you did in the past, there is hope. God in His grace saves, forgives, and elevates us despite our downfalls.
I need this encouragement. It’s good to know hope exists when at times it seems to not be so.
God sees all. Our good and our bad. My prayer is that there is more good than bad in my life for Him to see.
Fun Fact: This is the first prophecy in the Bible pronounced by a man. The first real prophecy that is clear.