Page 8 - May 2019 - Truth & Tidings
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enesis 49 is like a walk into the   upon a childless parent. But as we look
               National Portrait Gallery to view   closer, we see a weak and sinful man who
        G11 masterpieces from the hand        had an illicit relationship with Bilhah,
        of an old master called Israel. Despite   casting a dark shadow over the portrait.
        failing eyesight, his spiritual vision is   Reuben certainly didn’t excel in dignity or
        unabated, and he paints detailed portraits   power, for no judge, king or prophet came
        that honestly capture the true character of   from this tribe. This unstable trait surfaced
        his 12 sons in verse 1 but draw our eyes   as they entered the promised land, for it
        way into the future blessings of 12 tribes   was Reuben who promoted the “stay on
        in verse 28. We are left gazing at a large   the other side” campaign; but when the
        panorama of the subsequent history of   Assyrians attacked, the Reubenites were
        this mighty nation “after these days.”   carried away first (1Ch 5:26).
        Israel has been called “God’s timepiece,”   So Israel was God’s son – the firstborn of
        and  the  moral  character  of  each  tribe   the people of God, with all the privileges
        portrays the historic failure of Israel and   of receiving the promises and oracles
        is also a timely reminder of the failure of   of God, yet how unstable. Reubenite
        natural man. Therefore, we can apply the   character marked the nation time and
        unchanging principles found in Genesis   again, until one day a crowd was swayed
        49 to the character of any believer or   and  they  cried  out  at  their  Messiah,
        Christian family today. The central theme   “Crucify Him!”
        of all Scripture is Christ, and the glimpses   We must learn that the privileges of
        of His glory in these portraits are truly   sonship come with responsibility before
        inspired!                             God. May we “excel.”
          A similar gallery exists in Deuteronomy   Simeon (“hearing”) and Levi (“joined”) –
        33 where  Moses  anticipates the  tribes   The Brethren Framed by Cruelty  
        entering the land under the law and
        government of God; but Jacob’s blessings   Simeon and Levi are pictured together
        are more prophetic, outlining a historical   as “brethren,” but any hope of beauty
        perspective up to Israel’s restoration under   in the portrait ends here. The picture is
        the Messiah.                          framed with the words “instruments of
                                              cruelty are in their habitations.” It looks
          As Genesis begins with God’s blessing   back to their deception and slaughter of
        upon  two  people  to  be  fruitful  and   the men of Shechem as revenge for the
        multiply, it ends with God’s blessing upon   rape of their sister Dinah. This made
        12 people that they, too, may be fruitful   Jacob’s name dirt in the eyes of the
        and multiply. Jacob begins with Reuben.  Canaanites. Their inheritance was divided
        Reuben (“behold, a son”) – The Failure of   and Simeon was given an inheritance out
        the Firstborn                         of Judah (Jdg 1). Levi never had his own
          Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn, and with   inheritance, but when the Levites took a
        this came privilege but also tremendous   stand on “the Lord’s side” in Exodus 32,
        expectation. Reuben was his “might and   God blessed them with responsibility in
        strength,” and was a blessing from God   priestly service.

        136 TRUTH kTidings   May  2019
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