When Jacob was at the zenith, the culmination of his life, he was shining like a sun: he prophesied with blessing in a specific way concerning each of his twelve sons.
His prophecy was first fulfilled in the history of the people of Israel with the twelve tribes, and today Jacob’s prophecy with blessing applies to our Christian experience and to the church as the real Israel of God.
From Reuben (the firstborn) to Benjamin (the youngest among the twelve), Jacob spoke in a specific way and blessed them or warned us concerning them.
With Reuben we see the warning concerning the possibility of losing the birthright if we indulge in the lusts of the flesh. With Simeon and Levi we see how our disposition can limit and hinder our usefulness in the Lord’s hands, and with Levi we see how our disposition can be useful to God.
With Judah we see the overcoming Christ as the Lion, the One who destroyed the enemy and brought in peace. With Zebulun we have the preaching of the Gospel that Christ brought in and became, and with Dan we see the apostasy due to pride after a spiritual victory.
With Gad, we are being recovered back to the enjoyment of Christ as we fight for our brothers’ enjoyment of Christ and not focus only on our own. This issues in the the proper church life where we are couching among the sheepfolds and serve the saints (Issachar), and in the sufficiency of Asher, a rich provision enjoyed in the proper church life.
With Naphtali we experience the resurrected Christ and we give beautiful words concerning Him. With Joseph we see the universal blessing of the Triune God which is with all the saints in Christ.
Finally, with Benjamin we see the victorious Christ (the “tearing up” wolf) and the dwelling place of God. On the one hand Christ destroys the enemy and devours him completely, and on the other hand, the consummation of God’s salvation is the mutual corporate dwelling place of God and man, the New Jerusalem. Hallelujah!
May the Lord show us the reality of what He spoke to us through Jacob in Genesis 49, and may we have a prayerful attitude with an open spirit toward the Lord so that we may apply all these matters in spirit and build up God’s dwelling place, the church today consummating in the New Jerusalem!
Benjamin: the Dwelling Place of the Triune God with Man
Concerning Benjamin, Jacob said, Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and in the evening dividing the spoil (Gen. 49:27).
In the Bible the wolf is not a positive symbol, but in this portion the wolf typifies Christ as the One who devours the prey in the morning and divides the spoil in the evening.
Christ is not only the overcoming One (the lion) but also the tearing One (the wolf), the One who tears up and eats His enemy. When He returns with His armies, the overcomers, He will destroy His enemies, and He will be completely victorious!
In Deut. 33:12 Moses also prophesied, Concerning Benjamin he said, The beloved of Jehovah shall dwell securely beside Him; Jehovah shall cover over him all the day, and He shall dwell between his shoulders.
Benjamin typifies not only the tearing up Christ but also the dwelling place of God: God is his next-door neighbour, and he dwells in God and God dwells in him. With Benjamin we see the consummation of all the blessings to God’s people: God’s eternal mutual dwelling place, God dwelling in man and man dwelling in God.
On the one hand, we see that physically the temple in Jerusalem (the dwelling place of God among His people) is in Benjamin (see Deut. 33:12; Judg. 1:21), right between “the shoulders”. On the other hand, as those from the tribe of Benjamin, we are becoming God’s dwelling place: He dwells in us and we dwell in Him.
If we love the Lord and keep His word, He comes to us with the Father and makes an abode with us; if we abide in His word and let His word richly dwell in us, God dwells in us and we dwell in God (John 14:23).
God Himself created the heavens and the earth, but He prefers to dwell with man, especially with the one who is poor and of a contrite spirit, one who trembles at God’s word (Isa. 66:1-2).
The desire of God’s heart and His good pleasure is to have a dwelling place in and with man, and even though we start as sinners (with Reuben) we end up being the mutual dwelling place of God with man (with Benjamin), the New Jerusalem.
In the beginning of the Bible we see how man fell (see Gen. 1-2, and spoken of by Jacob in the case of Reuben), and at the end of the Bible we see the all-inclusive blessing in the universe being bestowed on us as God’s people who become God’s eternal dwelling place, the New Jerusalem.
We start out as sinners and we end up in the new heaven and earth as the New Jerusalem, the city where God dwells among His people and we as His people dwell in God. Hallelujah!
Lord Jesus, we praise You for being the victorious One, the One who tears up the enemy! Hallelujah, Christ has overcome the enemy and He will tear Satan into pieces! Lord, we love You! Make us Your dwelling place. Make Your home in our heart and keep us dwelling in You. We allow Your word to dwell richly in us so that You may make us Your dwelling place. Lord, gain Your built-up church in this age and consummate the New Jerusalem in the new heaven and new earth for eternity! Gain Your heart’s desire, Your mutual dwelling place with man.
Genesis 49:1-28 is an Abstract of the Entire Bible and a Summary of the History of God’s People
What does the Bible talk about? In brief, the Bible speaks of sinners (as Reuben was) being saved by God in His grace, passing through a long process which includes the gospel (Judah, Zebulun), the church life (Dan, Gad, and Issachar), the riches of Christ (Asher), the resurrection life (Naphtali), the universal blessing of the Triune God (Joseph), and God’s dwelling place with man (Benjamin).
This is an abstract of the entire Bible, and this is what Jacob prophesied with blessing in Genesis 49:1-28.
This portion is also a summary of the history of God’s people as seen in the twelve sons of Jacob, the nation of Israel. Jacob’s prophecy concerning each one of them was fulfilled: Reuben lost the birthright and was almost completely scattered among the other tribes, Simeon and Levi were not blessed (but Levi was later redeemed and obtained the priesthood).
The kings came from the tribe of Judah, Zebulun was a seashore and a port, Dan fell into apostasy and set up a different worship centre than Shiloh, and Gad fought along his brothers to help them enter into their inheritance of the good land.
Asher had sufficient food and a rich provision, even providing royal food for the king, and Naphtali uttered beautiful words. Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, were blessed and increased very much, and in the land of Benjamin was the temple in Jerusalem, the dwelling place of God.
Genesis 49:1-28 also speaks of the history of the church and is a portrait of the personal history of every believer. In Reuben, Simeon, and Levi we are sinners, but if we turn to the Lord, we’re transformed to become priests (Levi) and kings (Judah).
Christ came as the gospel: He overcame Satan and became our peace (Judah), and the gospel was preached to us in the Gentile world (Zebulun).
Throughout the church history there has been much division and apostasy (Dan), but the Lord came in to recover the function of each member of the Body and the enjoyment of Christ (Gad), which issued in the sufficiency of the riches of Christ (Asher) and the experience of Christ in resurrection (Naphtali).
Finally, for eternity we will enjoy God’s boundless, universal blessing (Joseph) and we will be God’s eternal dwelling place (Benjamin).
The conclusion of Genesis 49 corresponds to the conclusion of the entire Bible – the universal blessing in the new heaven and the new earth, which is God’s eternal dwelling, the New Jerusalem, as the issue and goal of God’s universal blessing (see Eph. 1:3; 2:22). Hallelujah, praise the Lord!
Lord Jesus, thank You for saving us, the sinners, to make us Your dwelling place for eternity. Save us from any apostasy and keep us in the process of Your recovery. We want to enjoy Your riches and help others enjoy You. Keep us in the process of experiencing You as the resurrected One. Lord, we praise You for the church life with Your rich provision and resurrection life. Keep us under Your blessing and make us Your dwelling place, Your habitation for eternity!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Ed Marks’ sharing in the message for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Genesis (msgs. 106-108), as quoted in, the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Genesis (3), week 11 / msg 11, Jacob’s Prophesying with Blessing (2) (you can buy this morning revival book here).
- Picture credit for Genesis 49:27 and more spiritual quotes on this topic via, Christian Pictures Blog.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Glorious things of thee are spoken, / Holy city of our God; / He whose word cannot be broken / Formed thee for His own abode; / On the Rock of Ages founded, / What can shake thy sure repose? / With salvation’s walls surrounded, / Thou may’st smile at all thy foes. (Hymns #977)
# Remove the veils, Lord, from my heart; / True revelation grant to me; / A vision clear, O Lord, impart / Of Thy recovery. (Hymns #1220)
# ’Tis the city God hath built, / ’Tis the dwelling God requires, / ’Tis the new Jerusalem / Which fulfills His heart’s desires. / ’Tis the building of the saints, / ’Tis the blend of God and man, / Purposed by the Father’s will / Long before the world began. (Hymns #972)