Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, April 3, 2021

2021.04.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:9–11

Read Philippians 2:9–11

Questions from the Scripture text: Who exalted Jesus (Philippians 2:9)? What name did He give Him? Which knees will bow at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10)? What will every tongue confess (Philippians 2:11)? To whose glory? 

“Therefore”—the exaltation (Philippians 2:9), bowing (Philippians 2:10), and confession (Philippians 2:11) in our passage is all a consequence of Christ’s humbling Himself as described in Philippians 2:5-8

In order to understand how these things are connected, it is important for us to see their relation to Isaiah 45:21–25. There Yahweh declares “there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me” (Isaiah 45:21) and “I am God and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22) and “to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath” (Isaiah 45:23) and “to Him men shall come and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him” (Isaiah 45:24) and “in Yahweh all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory” (Isaiah 45:25).

He is exalted because it is the right of His person. He is “in the form of God,” Philippians 2:6. Even though Jesus was willing to add humanity to Himself in humility, it was still the right that He be declared Lord (Yahweh), for that is who He is in His Person. As Jesus also tells us, we ought to put ourselves in the lowest position, since the Lord will surely lift us to wherever we belong (Luke 14:7–11, cf. 1 Peter 5:5–6). And the center of the throne of heaven as the Creator of heaven and earth is right where Jesus belongs, Hallelujah!

He is exalted because He proves Himself to be Yahweh by being the Savior. The Holy Spirit had said through Isaiah that there is no Savior but Yahweh. So, when Jesus saves us by His death on the cross, He displays that He is Yahweh in human flesh. Only Yahweh could have done that. Only Yahweh is valuable enough to be a propitiation (“full atonement,” cf. Romans 3:25 and God exhibiting Jesus as a propitiation). This is one more reason why we can never contribute to our own salvation. Yahweh alone is the Savior, and when Jesus saved He proved Himself to be Yahweh!

He is exalted because the Father loves Him and is pleased with Him. Jesus had said, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again” (cf. John 10:17). The Father’s love for the Son is infinite and eternal, and exactly corresponding to His loveliness and worthiness. When the Lord Jesus had done that which was so worthy and lovely, the Father gave Him that honor which is His due and His Father’s delight to give. 

Shall we not also delight to give Him His due? It is the Father’s pleasure that we should call Jesus Lord. And we won’t be alone doing so. As Isaiah said “all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him,” so it shall come to pass. All knees will bow in heaven, and earth, and under the earth. And every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And because He and God and the Spirit are one God, the display of His glory is unto the glory of God the Father!

What are some reasons Christ is worthy of worship? What will be done for those humbling themselves?” 

Suggested songs: ARP110B “The LORD Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

 

2021.04.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 49:29–50:14

Read Genesis 49:29–50:14

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jacob do to his sons in Genesis 49:29? What did he say was about to happen to himself? What did he tell them to do with him? How does he describe the cave (Genesis 49:29-32)? Who else is buried there (Genesis 49:31)? What did Jacob do, when he finished commanding them (Genesis 49:33)? Who responds first (Genesis 50:1)? How? Whom does he command to do what in Genesis 50:2? How long did this take (Genesis 50:3)? How long did who mourn him? To whom did Joseph speak in Genesis 50:4? What did he ask them to do? What specifically were they to tell Pharaoh about (Genesis 50:5)? How does Pharaoh respond (Genesis 50:6)? Who are first to be named as going with Joseph (Genesis 50:7)? Who else goes with him (Genesis 50:8)? Whom else does Genesis 50:9 add? To where do they all come in Genesis 50:10? What do they do there? What is this mourning like? How long do they do it? Who sees this in Genesis 50:11? What do they say about it? How does Genesis 50:12 summarize what happened in Genesis 50:1-11? How does Genesis 50:13 summarize what they did in order to obey? Whom does Genesis 50:14 primarily name as doing this? 

This passage is held together by Jacob’s charge at the beginning (Genesis 49:29Genesis 49:33,“Then he charged them […] when Jacob had finished commanding”) and the testimony at the end that the charge was kept (Genesis 50:12,“So his sons did for him just as he had commanded them”). 

Egyptian embalming is the kind of thing that impresses us in history documentaries. Special physicians who develop special chemicals to be used in a special process over the course of forty days (cf. Genesis 50:1–3)! 

And Egyptian mourning delegations are the kind of thing that impresses Canaanites in the region of Atad. All the servants of Pharaoh (Genesis 50:7) including the elders of his house (verse 7), the elders of the land of Egypt (verse 7), all the house of Joseph (Genesis 50:8), all the house of Israel (verse 8), chariots (Genesis 50:9), horsemen (verse 9), a very great gathering (verse 9) in a great and very solemn lamentation (Genesis 50:10), for seven days in Canaan (verse 10) after the seventy days in Egypt (Genesis 50:3)! The inhabitants of the land actually rename the location over this “deep mourning of the Egyptians” (Genesis 50:11).

But what Jacob was impressed with was to whom he was going (Genesis 49:29, “I am to be gathered to my people”). Genesis has already presented us a few times with a formula that we also see later: dying, gathering to one’s people, and then burial (Genesis 49:29, cf. Genesis 15:15, Genesis 25:8, Genesis 35:29; Numbers 20:26; Deuteronomy 32:50). This is not the same thing as death (the separation of body and soul) or burial (the laying to rest of the body). When we die, we are to hope that our soul will be gathered with others. At the departure of one’s eternal soul, the godly hope that it will be unto fellowship with those godly who have gone before them.

Jacob was also impressed by with whom he would be buried (Genesis 49:29Genesis 49:31 “bury me with my fathers […] there they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.” Upon death, believers are in two locations. Their souls and bodies have been separated, but their souls are still they, and their bodies are still they. It matters to them with whom their bodies are laid to rest. 

As Jacob has grown in faith, the importance of Abraham and Sarah has increased. The same is true of the importance of Isaac and Rebekah, the latter being that mother of whom he was a special favorite and reunion with whom has been an unfulfilled longing for more than a century. Even his esteem for Leah seems to have increased. In God’s providence, Rachel’s body now rests near Ephrath (cf. Genesis 48:7), and he has adopted Ephraim and Manasseh in her honor. So now, Leah is the one next to whom he hopes to lie down until the resurrection, the godlier wife he should have desired at first and with whom he should have been content—another lesson that the Lord has patiently taught this saint. There is something about God’s bringing us near our death, and the laying of our bodies to rest, that helps mature our thinking about those near whom we wish to be both now and in the grave.

Finally, Jacob was impressed by where he would be buried. “In the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place” (Genesis 49:29-30). And again “in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place” (Genesis 50:13).

Abraham’s testimony has come down through the generations. The Lord’s promise of inheritance is true. Believers will possess what God has promised to them, even—and especially—possessing them in the resurrection, in a new heavens and a new earth. The only part of the promised land that he possessed in this life was a burial place. Now, it is important to Jacob that he be laid to rest in that burial place. 

The inheritance of believers is not restricted to a parcel of land in Palestine. The entire New Heavens and New Earth are the possession of Christ and His co-heirs. We may not care to be buried in what was once called Canaan, but we ought to care to be buried as those to whom final possession of a physical earth has been promised. God’s promises are true. They are true beyond death. And believers’ priorities at death ought to be shaped by God’s promises.

To whom will you go when you die? With whom would you like to be laid to rest? What hope do you have about the place where you are laid to rest? How are you leaving legacy/testimony of a hope that goes to eternity?

Suggested songs: ARP116AB “How Fervently I Love the Lord” or TPH116A “I Love the Lord, for He Has Heard My Voice”


Friday, April 2, 2021

2021.04.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:5–8

Read Philippians 2:5–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What part of who they are does the apostle address in Philippians 2:5? What kind of mind does he urge should be in them? What was Christ’s form (Philippians 2:6)? What did He not count as something to be forcibly grabbed?  What did He empty (Philippians 2:7)? What form did He take? Into what likeness did He become? In what appearance was He found (Philippians 2:8)? What did He further do to Himself? What did He become? To what point?

Like-mindedness unto Christ. What is that like-mindedness to which Philippians 2:2 called us? It is not merely all of us coming together to be like one another. Rather, our like-mindedness to one another must come as a result of being like-minded unto Christ.

Willingness to go low. What dignity or respect are we clinging to, trying to lay hold of? The Lord Jesus is, in very nature, God Himself (Philippians 2:6). And yet did not shrink from adding another nature, taking also that of a bondslave (Philippians 2:7). Surely, we must be willing to be lightly-esteemed for His sake, and for others’ sake.

Willingness to go lower. Perhaps we think that we have humbled ourselves enough. But this would not be to be like-minded unto Christ. For, even after becoming a man, He humbled Himself further. And, even after becoming obedient, He proceeded in this obedience even unto death—the accursed death of the cross. If the Lord Jesus is our template, we can never think in this life that we are done being humbled. In the Christ-ian life, lowering ourself is the way up.

How are you making little of yourself? What kind of service and obedience have you sacrificed yourself for?

Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, Lord” or TPH533 “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”

 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Prayer: a Means of Grace Whereby God Takes Us from Distress to Delight (2021.03.31 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 13)

Just the fact that David has Yahweh's ear takes him from the distress of pouring out his concerns to the delight of Yahweh's certain covenant relation to him and saving action for him.

2021.04.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 16:14–31

Read Luke 16:14–31

Questions from the Scripture text: Who heard all these things (Luke 16:14)? What did they love? What did they do to Jesus? What did Jesus say that they do, and before whom (Luke 16:15)? Why aren’t they able to do this before God? What does God think of that which is highly esteemed by man? What were until John (Luke 16:16)? What has been preached sine then? What are people doing to the kingdom? What is easier than what in Luke 16:17? What is an example of this unfailing law (Luke 16:18)? How is Luke 16:19-23 an example of Luke 16:15? Where is Abraham in Luke 16:23? What does the tormented (no longer rich!) man do to him (Luke 16:24)? For what does he ask? What does Abraham call him in Luke 16:25? In what way could he be Abraham’s son if he is in Hades? Why couldn’t Lazarus come if sent (Luke 16:26)? Where next does the tormented man ask that Lazarus be sent (Luke 16:27)? To do what (Luke 16:28)? How does Abraham respond (Luke 16:29)? Why does the tormented man think sending Lazarus would be better (Luke 16:30)? What does Abraham say about this theory (Luke 16:31)?

The Pharisees loved money (Luke 16:14). This is bad news for them, because it means they’re immune to having God as Master (cf. Luke 16:13). It also means that instead of bowing down to Christ, they looked down on Christ (verse 14b). 

Things are often the opposite of what they seem (Luke 16:15). We might justify ourselves, when the Lord is condemning us. We might esteem highly what the Lord hates. We need to realize that the coming of the kingdom (Luke 16:16) means bowing to the law of the King (Luke 16:17)—and certainly not that the law can be watered down or set aside!

The Mosaic code had tolerated divorce (cf. Deuteronomy 24:1–4). But the Lord Jesus makes clear that the Israelite law-code was helping to restrain and manage sin among God’s people (cf. Mark 10:1–12). Christ’s kingdom maintains a more rigorous standard (cf. Matthew 5:17–48).

The same is true in the case of money, with which the Philistines were so in love. The Lord doesn’t condemn wealth in Luke 16:19-31, but He does expect us to notice when He drops someone on our doorstep (Luke 16:20) with at least as much compassion as a stray mutt might offer (Luke 16:21). There’s no Marxism or social gospel here: just an expectation that we would recognize that we are God’s, our wealth is God’s, and the providence that connects us to others is God’s.

The parabolic rich man didn’t recognize those things, even though he was an upstanding church member. After all, he addresses the patriarch as “Father Abraham.” Father Abraham had many sons, and the poor rich man thought he was one of them. But you can be a wealthy, upstanding church member and go to Hell.

Moses and the prophets had warned him (Luke 16:31). But he hadn’t repented. He thought fancy undergarments and rich food (Luke 16:19) was the good life (cf. Luke 16:25), so he had no use for trusting in the Christ for the good life to come. The Pharisees have now made the mistake. John announced that what the law and prophets looked forward to has arrived (Luke 16:16), but they’re too busy admiring themselves to repent and too busy enjoying themselves to trust in Christ for an eternal joy. They’re already home. Why use what they have in view of an everlasting home to come (cf. Luke 16:9)?

How about you, dear reader? Is your view of the kingdom one that demands wholehearted obedience to God’s law as a subject of Christ? And a recognition that all you have and all you are belongs to Him? 

If you’re waiting for Him to send a great sign to shake you up, you may well perish before it comes. You already have the Bible, after all (Luke 16:31). Let it warn you into repentance with the Hell that Christ threatens and tempt you into faith with the reward that Christ offers.

Whom has the Lord dropped on your doorstep (or put in your home) to love? What aspects of godliness are you tempted to water down or be self-satisfied with, rather than pursuing purity and sincerity of heart? What are you loving so much in this world that it might be dulling your desire for the next?

Suggested Songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH72A “O God, Your Judgments Give the King”


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

2021.03.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 8

Read 2 Samuel 8

Questions from the Scripture text: What did David do to the Philistines, with what results (2 Samuel 8:1)? Then whom did he defeat (2 Samuel 8:2)? How did they become his servants? Whom else did he defeat (2 Samuel 8:3)? To where did his territory extend? What did David take from him (2 Samuel 8:4)? Who came to help Hadadezer (2 Samuel 8:5)? What did David do to them (2 Samuel 8:5-6)? How does verse 6 summarize these reports (cf. 2 Samuel 8:14)? What else did David take from Hadadezer (2 Samuel 8:7-8)? For what would he be taking this gold and bronze (cf. chapter 7)? Who heard what David had done (2 Samuel 8:9)? What did that prompt him to do (2 Samuel 8:10 a)? Why (verse 10b)? What did he bring with him? What was David doing with all of this (2 Samuel 8:11)? Whose spoil was being dedicated to Yahweh (2 Samuel 8:12)? How did David make for himself a name in 2 Samuel 8:13? Where else did he put garrisons (2 Samuel 8:14)? How does verse 14 summarize these reports (cf. 2 Samuel 8:6)? How does 2 Samuel 8:15 introduce the summary of David’s administration? What posts do 2 Samuel 8:16-17 identify? Who filled them? 

Yahweh kept His promise. The Lord had promised to establish David’s throne (cf. 2 Samuel 7:16), and now chapter 8 tells us that’s exactly what He’s doing. 2 Samuel 8:62 Samuel 8:14 sum up their respective sections of the chapter, “Yahweh preserved David wherever he went.” Literally, “Yahweh saved David,” or if we wish to transliterate in light of chapter 7, “Yahweh Jesus’d David wherever he went.”

There is an immediate fulfillment here of the “you haven’t seen anything yet” promise to bless David. He thought it was good then. How much better it would be in the weeks and months to come! And the end result is 2 Samuel 8:15-18: a kingdom firmly established, with judgment and justice for Yahweh’s chosen people, and priests having a central place among the chief officers of the land (2 Samuel 8:17).

Yahweh supplied David’s keeping of his part. As Yahweh gives David success, David is stockpiling bounty for his son-to-be Solomon’s building of the temple (cf. 2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Kings 5:51 Kings 8:16-20). Gold from Hadadezer’s servants (2 Samuel 8:7). A large amount of bronze from Hadadezer’s cities (2 Samuel 8:8). A silver, gold, and bronze thank-you by prince Joram’s hand from his father king Toi (2 Samuel 8:10). Silver and gold from all the nations which he had subdued: Syria, Moab, Ammon, Philistines, Amalek, Zobah (2 Samuel 8:11-12).

So, even David’s “contributions” are plainly given to him by Yahweh! Not only were the victories given Him by the Lord (2 Samuel 8:62 Samuel 8:14), but some contributions were just walked right into Jerusalem as a gift (2 Samuel 8:10). This is true of all that we give to or do for the Lord: it’s all from Him to begin with. He generously equips and enriches us with all by which we proceed to serve Him.

Yahweh would do this infinitely more. Solomon’s temple, for which these victories prepare, was a type (an action of God earlier in history that pointed forward to His ultimate action in Christ). Jesus is that temple built without hands (cf. Mark 14:58; John 2:19–22; Acts 7:48, Acts 17:24) . And He makes of us believers a spiritual temple that He Himself builds, in which the offerings that are lifted up are spiritual rather than physical (cf. 1 Peter 2:4–5, Ephesians 2:19–22). 

It would have been ridiculous for David to think that he was the one giving to God as the temple materials piled up. And how much more so for us. Did we go up to heaven to bring Christ down in the incarnation or down into the depths to bring Him up in the resurrection (cf. Romans 10:5–7)?! Of course not! And we have not resurrected ourselves spiritually, or created faith in our own hearts, or ingrafted ourselves into Christ by that faith.

We do offer ourselves unto the Lord, and lift up heart and voice in the spiritual sacrifices that we make in the public worship. And in addition to that, we constantly offer our bodies as living sacrifices (cf. Romans 12:1), and all that we are as slaves for righteousness (cf. Romans 6:13). As a royal priesthood, we even have anointed roles in His kingdom (cf. 1 Peter 2:9). But all of this is granted unto us by God, through the grace in which He gave us Christ Himself as Temple and King.

How has the Lord saved you? How has the Lord strengthened you? What has the Lord provided for you?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

2021.03.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 15:9–17

Read John 15:9–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Who has loved Jesus (John 15:9 a)? Whom has Jesus loved (verse 9b)? In what does Jesus tell His disciples to abide (verse 9c)? What does He give as the way of abiding in His love (John 15:10 a)? How had Jesus been abiding in His Father’s love (verse 10b)? What is Jesus aiming at in saying these things to them (John 15:11)? As they abide in Jesus’s love, to whom are they to respond with that same love (John 15:12)? What does Jesus say is the greatest love (John 15:13)? How can we tell who are Jesus’s friends (John 15:14)? What does He no longer call the disciples (John 15:15)? Why not? Who chose whom (John 15:16)? For what three purposes (in verse 16) did He choose them? What summary command does He give them for what this bearing of fruit looks like (John 15:17)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from John 15:9–17, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners

How would you like to be “full of joy”? Many ache to be full of joy. To many more, it does not even occur to them that this is possible, or perhaps they cannot even wrap their minds around what that could mean. But what if you could be full not only of joy as some conceive it, but full of a joy that was of an unsurpassable quality—the joy of Jesus Himself.

Our ears perk up when we hear John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may abide in you, and that your joy may be full.” Wait… we can become the dwelling place—the home address—for Jesus’s joy? The place where His joy persists? How?! “These things I have spoken to you…”

Jesus has already been talking about how His Father uses His words’ abiding in us to make us bear much fruit (John 15:7-8). Now, we find a big part of that fruit: loving one another. Jesus the Master is now Jesus the Friend who tells us what He’s up to (John 15:15): laying down His life for His friends (John 15:13-14). 

The Father has commanded this, and Jesus is living in His Father’s love, which means He eagerly obeys His Father’s will. Now Jesus is giving us a command: if we are going to be living in Jesus’s love, then we will be eagerly obeying Jesus’s will (John 15:10John 15:14). What’s His will? To seek absolutely every genuine good for those whom He loves (John 15:12).

Abiding in Jesus, abiding in Jesus’s words, abiding in Jesus’s love (John 15:16 a-b) … at the center of all of these is loving one another. And the Father has committed Himself to giving whatever is necessary to produce this enduring fruit (verse 16 c, cf. John 15:2John 15:8)!

Whom has Jesus given you to love? What is the most important way to do this?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH456 “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners”


Monday, March 29, 2021

Pleasing Christ (and Godly Pastors) through Grace-Produced Unity

1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Blessed by Grace in Our Eternal King (2021.03.28 Morning Sermon in Genesis 49:1–28)


Blessing in this life indicates a grace that comes only in Christ, and points us to an infinitely greater blessing already begun


Saving Faith 4—How Faith Grows, part 2: Lord's Supper (WCF 14.1.4, 2012.03.28 Sabbath School)

WCF 14.1
I. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls,(a) is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts;(b) and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word:(c)
by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.(d)

(a) Heb. 10:39.
(b) II Cor. 4:13; Eph. 1:17, 18, 19; Eph. 2:8.

(c) Rom. 10:14, 17.
(d) I Pet. 2:2; Acts 20:32; Rom. 4:11; Luke 17:5; Rom. 1:16, 17.

by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened

2021.03.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 49:1–28

Read Genesis 49:1–28

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did Jacob call in Genesis 49:1-2? What did he say he would tell them? What does he call Reuben in Genesis 49:3? But what does he say will come of him (Genesis 49:4 a)? Why (verse 4b–d)? Whom does Jacob name together in Genesis 49:5 a? What does he say about them in verse 5b, Genesis 49:6 c-d? What does he warn against doing with such people (verse 6a–b)? What does he pronounce upon them in Genesis 49:7 a-b? What, specifically, is that curse (verse 7c–d)? Whom does he bless in Genesis 49:8-12? What will his brothers do to him (Genesis 49:8 a, c)? What will he do to his enemies (verse 8b)? What does Jacob call Judah in Genesis 49:9 a? How does he describe his strength and victory (verse 9b–d; cf. Revelation 5:5)? What will not depart from Judah (Genesis 49:10 a)? What else (verse 10b)? Until what (verse 10c)? What will come to Him (verse 10d)? How is this King and Lawgiver from Judah described in Genesis 49:11-12)? What will happen to Zebulun (Genesis 49:13)? What does he call Issachar in Genesis 49:14 a? But what is this strong donkey doing (verse 14b)? Why (Genesis 49:15 a-b)? What will come of this (verse 15c–d)? What will Dan do (Genesis 49:16)? What do Genesis 49:17 a-b call him? What does he do with what effect (verse 17c–d)? What does prophesying this cause Jacob to exclaim (Genesis 49:18)? What will happen to Gad at first (Genesis 49:19 a)? But with what outcome (verse 19b)? Whom does Genesis 49:20 bless and how? And whom Genesis 49:21? Who receives five verses of blessing in Genesis 49:22-26? How is he described in verse 22? Who has done what to him in verse Genesis 49:23? How does he survive this (Genesis 49:24 a-c)? What else comes from the Mighty One of Jacob (verse 24d)? What four blessings is Joseph to receive from God Almighty (Genesis 49:25)? What does Jacob say about the strength of these blessings (Genesis 49:26 a-c)? Upon whom did he save such strong blessings (verse 26d)? What does he call him (verse 26e)? Whom does he bless in Genesis 49:27? What does he call him? What will he do, morning and night (verse 27b–c)? What does Genesis 49:28 call them? What does it point out about the blessings?

As Jacob is about to die, he calls in all his sons to prophecy over them. Clearly, he is speaking under inspiration here; in the second half of Genesis 49:7 he even slips into speaking in the first person on behalf of the Lord. Marvelously (considering what we have seen of this family!), the bulk of these prophecies are blessings. Even the summary verse (Genesis 49:28) refers to them in general as blessings. 

So when several of the sons’ prophecies are negative, we see that blessings come by grace and mercy. Reuben brought a curse upon his descendants (Genesis 49:3-4) as did Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49:5-7). We do not know what Issachar has done, but his tribe is cursed with laziness (Genesis 49:14-15). How then did the other tribes earn their better blessings? The answer is that they didn’t. God has given it by way of grace. 

Even when blessing comes as a consequence of godly living, that godliness itself is given by grace. But with whatever godliness the Lord gives us, there is more than enough sin in our lives to bring misery down upon us and all our descendants. The fact that we enjoy anything else now, or can hope for anything else for our children in the future, is a testimony to amazing grace!

So, indeed, it is marvelous that we may enjoy so much of so many different kinds of blessing in this life. Several of these prophecies show the greatness of earthly blessing in its possible variety and intensity. Though eternal blessing outshines it, and our sin can misuse it, yet earthly blessing is true blessing! 

Consider the wealth of Zebulun (Genesis 49:13); the heroism (Genesis 49:16) and tactical superiority (Genesis 49:17) of Dan; the persistence and triumph of Gad (Genesis 49:19); the affluence of Asher (Genesis 49:20); the beauty of Naphtali (Genesis 49:21); and the zeal of Benjamin (Genesis 49:27). This is not an exhaustive list of earthly blessing, but you are probably able already to identify several that the Lord has given to others, and to you yourself. And how great this blessing can be, as the prophecy upon Joseph shows, with blessing that corresponds to God’s almightiness and faithfulness (Genesis 49:24-25) in every part of life (verse 25). Jacob himself is quite impressed with his own blessing (Genesis 49:26)!

Finally, the greatest blessing in this passage is that of the king (Genesis 49:11-12) who would fulfill Judah’s praise and prominence (Genesis 49:8-9) in the arrival of Him to Whom all tribute and obedience belongs. Christ’s kingdom will be for all the peoples, in not only all of the earth but all of a new heavens and new earth (cf. Hebrews 1:8–13), forever and ever. Whatever good we see in this chapter or in this life is just the smallest taste of what belongs to Christ, and what His people will have forever!

What do you deserve for yourself and your children? What earthly blessings are you enjoying instead? In Whom are you looking forward to eternal blessings? How can you tell which blessings are a priority to you?

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH421 “Christ Shall Have Dominion”