SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Jacob tells his sons what the future holds for them. We aren't entirely sure what this means but we can safely assume God had revealed these things to him.
- Jacob speaks of his sons as "tribes" and they do become the divisions of the Israelite people.
- Jacob foretells how Judah would be the ruler over his brothers.
- Jacob dies after giving his sons instructions on what to do with his body.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- We have a unique voice into the life of our children. While it often feels like our children rather listen to their friends than us, the truth is our words carry a great deal of power and influence on our children. We must use our words and influence wisely.
- Sometimes good parents have bad kids. Jacob certainly wasn't perfect. Neither are we. But he loved God and tried to raise his children to love God too. As we see in his family, sometimes kids raised in the same house come out totally different directions. We try to parent as best we can, but each child, as they grow into an adult, is ultimately responsible for their own heart condition before God.
- Through Jacob's family came Jesus. Verses 10-13 are all about Jesus. It is through the tribe of Judah that Jesus comes. So Jacob, on his death bed, gives a prophetic promise to his son Judah that the Savior of the world will come through his lineage.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- There's a Father's Day card that reads, "Dad, everything I ever learned I learned from you, except one thing. The family car really will do 110." It is stressful to be a father today. But what would it look like for you to bless your children? It can take many forms. It could take discipline. It could take hard words to help straighten out a wayward child. It could be through meaningful touch. Jacob laid his hands on Joseph's sons. By giving a hug or an arm around the shoulder, we communicate love and a blessing. Verbal affirmation. Children long to hear their dads say, "I'm proud of you...You've done that well...I love you." Another way to bless our children that we learn from Jacob is to picture a positive future for them. "You really love people. You'll be a great help to people when you grow up." "You want to be a policeman. That means your courageous, a hero." "The way you love church, you're going to be a great church leader some day."
- If you're a parent, give yourself a break! Do the best you can to raise your children to love God. But if they choose to go their own direction, don't carry that guilt on your shoulders the rest of your life. Just keep showing them God's love and pray that one day they'll realize their need for a Savior - Jesus, who came from the tribe of Judah.