Alfred Place Baptist Church

49:1-4 Jacob Blesses Reuben

Genesis 49:1-4 “Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather round so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel. Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honour, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.”

*This is one of the most fascinating chapters in what is arguably one of the most important books in the Bible, the book of Genesis. To understand the rest of the Old Testament, and the coming of the Messiah, the birth of the New Covenant church, and the whole world today being filled with gospel churches you have to understand what this chapter is talking about. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, is speaking, and what he says here is the most important and significant word that he ever spoke in his life. Not all Jacob’s words that have been preserved in the Bible are good or helpful words. As a young man he’d spoken lies and deceit, but at the end of his life Jacob had much to say that was remarkable. His last words were his best words. Every preacher in particular wants to be like Jacob, that his mouth and his faith becomes increasingly sweet and true and enduring as his life approaches its appointed end.

THE CONTEXT IN WHICH JACOB SPOKE THESE WORDS.

The context is one of urgency. You will readily notice in the first two verses the insistence of Jacob that his sons dropped everything and all of them came together to hear his final words. He was a dying man, and so it was impossible for him to travel to the boys. So he insisted that they came to him, without delay. “Leave your flocks and herds. You must even leave tending Pharaoh’s sheep. Come from the fields of Goshen because I have something important to tell you.” There’s this refrain in the opening verses . . . “he called for them,” we learn, and then he urged them, “Gather around” and he told them that he was getting them all together because he had something very important to tell them about their futures. Then Jacob exhorted them even more, “Assemble and listen . . .” and then he repeated the word, “Listen!” You can feel his sense of haste. There was a gathering crisis in the life of this old man. There was no guarantee that he was going to have another opportunity to speak to them like this again; he was asking for their attention; he was getting frail and weak. So he called them to gather around and assemble and, “Please listen!” he begged. He didn’t want any one of his sons to turn up simply in order to hear what was Dad’s message just to him. He wanted them all to listen intently to what he had to say to each one of the brothers. This occasion was not one of individual counseling; it was a public assembly for each son to consider how God was going to deal with them as a family in the future as the children of this man Israel.

There come favoured times in our lives when we must hear words which are of eternal significance to our lives, when the man speaking to us is in a spirit of deadly earnestness. On those occasions elements of entertainment and humour are distractions. That man will be contemptuous of them, intent on his hearers giving themselves wholly to what he had to say. Whenever we gather here on Sundays at 10.30 and 6.00 then these are such important occasions. I could have used these words of Jacob this morning as I spoke of the rich man and Lazarus and addressing you all, “Gather around so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come” (v.1).

A new book appeared this week. It is a transcription of the beginning of the last series of sermons that Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached at Westminster Chapel, London on the opening chapters of John’s gospel. In the first sermon he looked at the congregation and said; “The Christian church is not just a ‘nice’ place, and Christians are not just meant to be ‘nice’ people. A Christian preacher is not meant to be a ‘nice’ man who makes people feel a little bit more comfortable and happy while they are in a church. Yet that seems to me to be what is happening. Are you not appalled at the present state of the Christian church, our ineffectiveness, the masses outside, the arrogance and the sin? What is the matter? Why don’t people come to church? I must confess that I am convinced more than ever that they don’t come because of what they see there. What they see is a number of ‘nice’ people, who seem to be wanting sentimental and emotional comfort. That is what they see, but that is not the Christian church. No, the Christian church is meant to be an army with banners! Never was she so needed in the world as she is at the present time” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Born of God, Banner of Truth, 2011, p.6). Jacob gathers his sons in a spirit of the deepest earnestness to hear him sketching out the futures of each of them.

THE NATURE OF WHAT JACOB HAD TO SAY.

He has gathered them, we read, “so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come” (v.1). This is not to be his last will and testament. They are not going to learn what possessions he has left to each one of them. Unless they had the new spirituality of realizing that their father was leaving them a prophetic treasure. Jacob was going to speak to them about their individual futures, immediate, but also, more particularly, to the last days. Here are treasures for them to mull over and then hand on to their successors so that future generations will also keep them in store. What he tells them was certainly going to take place. No power in heaven, earth or hell could prevent that. Didn’t the Lord Jesus treat his twelve apostles in exactly the same way? Didn’t he tell them what lay ahead, that they would have to face his own execution and his resurrection, and then that they too would be harassed and tormented, but that the gospel would be taken to the ends of the earth before his return? Didn’t he speak individually to his apostles? To Judas he gave a fearful warning of his future – better that he had never been born. To Peter he made warnings of the testings soon upon him, that Satan would have him. To Paul he spoke of what things he would have to suffer for him. That is the same as we find here in Jacob and his sons. And what of us? Don’t we face the same kind of future dealt with by the God of the patriarchs and the God of the apostles? If we live as Christ lived and bear testimony to what he has taught us then we are going to be facing trials and challenges, the revelation of the man of sin, but we also know that the earth is going to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. It was not by his own wit and ingenuity that
Jacob spoke those words. No, Jacob was in a spirit of prophecy, inspired by the Holy Spirit, as he spoke to each of his sons.

THE MANNER IN WHICH JACOB SPOKE.

Jacob generally addressed them in order of age, starting with the first born, but that is not rigidly maintained. Zebulun is listed before Issachar, and Gad and Asher are listed between Dan and Naphtali. Then it seems to me that there were other words of blessing that Jacob spoke privately to each of them after he had finished speaking these words of prophecy in the hearing of them all. He ended by going around them and talking to them one by one. I get that from the concluding 28th verse at the end of the chapter where we read, “this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.” Now it’s possible for that to be taken simply as referring to everything that Jacob had already said to all his sons in those preceding verses, but I’m taking it to mean that after he had spoken publically to them all that then he went round his boys and he spoke to each of them privately, comforting and assuring them, blessing them individually, though we are not told what he said to them privately. The actual record of what he had said subsequently has not been preserved.

Then also notice this, that there is a first and last here. This is the first of a line of Old Testament leaders to make significant speeches at the end of their lives. Moses, Joshua and Samuel will later do the same, but Jacob’s last words were distinctive because his congregation was a gathering of his own children. So I am saying that here is the first example of a man speaking at the end of his life. However, here is also the last great prophetic statement in the book of Genesis. Genesis is full of prophecies from the third chapter onwards, prophecies concerning the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, and the curse coming on the earth; prophecies about no further flood to drown the world again, about the seed of Abraham blessing all the nations of the earth, and so on. Genesis is a prophetic book but this is its longest section of straightforward prophecy. You understand that Jacob is not making educated guesses about the outcome of the personalities of his different sons and what they are probably going to do with their lives. What he says to each of them is incontrovertibly what is going to happen to each of them and their descendants in the future.

In other words, we see here another confirmation of the greatness of our God, that he knows the future of our lives and our churches and of this world that he has made and that he sustains. Things are going to work out exactly as he ordained. God works all things after the counsel of his own will. God knows the future, of course, but God also plans the future. If there is one lesson that is paramount in the history of Joseph it is that, but here Moses is showing us that it was not Joseph’s future alone that is determined by God but the future of all twelve brothers. Jehovah has been driving home this truth to us throughout this book, that he is guiding and ordering the smallest and biggest events in our lives; everything that is involved in all that we do has to serve our good and be to his glory.

Then let me point out another twosome here. What we have before us is both a ‘retrospective’ as well as a ‘prospective.’ In other words, Jacob looks back as well as looks forward. These prophecies he makes often look back to what these men have done in their lives. He ruminates about their personal characteristics and personalities, to deeds done both good and evil. Then the prophecies he makes also look forward to their futures and their families in the generations to come. The future will bring to fruition some of the tendencies that he has noted in his predictions. Some of these future events will in fact be the consequence of their past behaviour. So just glancing through these predictions readily shows us how the greatest blessings are going to be heaped upon Judah and upon Joseph. In spite of Judah’s ugly shame with Tamar God’s blessing is going to be on him. There is very little space to allow a ‘karma’ or fate explanation as to what happens. It is not their ‘karma’ they receive but the will of God. There is nothing here to deaden the faith of these sons of Jacob; let them trust the will of the God who wills and does according to his good pleasure. There is no que cera cera here. Jacob’s son Judah had been a stinker and yet he hasn’t been cast aside or annihilated. Jacob announces that Judah is going to be blessed and will be a blessing. God’s mercy can do that to men who have lived and behaved disastrously.

So here we are listening to a man on his death bed, a man who has met with God and heard the voice of God. Having come to the end of his life he now speaks to his twelve sons one by one in the hearing of them all, under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Jacob is speaking to them now as he had never spoken to them before, although he should have spoken to them about the implications of having a personal, all powerful God much earlier. It is very late in the day for Jacob. He is about to shuffle off this mortal coil but the Spirit of God upholds him and breathes through him. Some of the things Jacob says to his sons are cutting, but other lives are going to be rescued by his solemn words to them.

I need to say one thing more about the style in which Jacob speaks. It is poetry. You notice that from your N.I.V. translation. It is printed out as poetry isn’t it? Every prophecy Jacob makes to his sons is in poetry – as are most of the prophecies of the Old Testament. The prophets did this to give them a beauty as coming from God and to make them more easily remembered. So as it is poetry you will find here all the devices of Hebrew poetry, parallelism, antitheses, synonyms, a play on words in which a man’s name is taken and toyed with and a lesson learned from that. There is literary beauty here calling out to us to pay attention to each of these prophecies. The poetry is vivid; the imagery is concrete. Five of the sons are compared to animals. Judah to a lion, Issachar to a donkey, Dan to a serpent, Naphtali to a deer and Benjamin to a wolf. Joseph is not compared to an animal but to the branch of a fruitful vine, while Reuben is compared to the instability of water.

There are eleven parts to these benedictions not twelve. Jacob had adopted and blessed the two sons of Joseph earlier. Levi is the tribe of the priests and not counted in the tribal land distribution; he is thus connected with another son in this benediction and that keeps the number down to eleven. Levi is joined with Simeon.

THE PROPHECY JACOB MADE TO REUBEN.

“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honour, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it.” (vv.3&4). What we have is this, that Jacob began with the firstborn whose record was the worst of all twelve boys.

i] Reuben’s life began in hope. Jacob had become a father; he had held in his arms his own son. The wonder of begetting his own child had occurred; nine months earlier there was conceived in Leah’s womb a single-celled unborn child, at that moment of the fusion of Leah’s egg and Jacob’s own sperm. That had brought together two sets of genetic information from Leah and Jacob in the form of a unique DNA code which, when spelt out letter by letter, would fill 24 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. These 24 volumes were all packed into the nucleus of the cell, which is one-5,000th of a millimetre in diameter, which cell has the ability to replicate itself within a few hours and divide billions of times, eventually producing the fully formed, breathing and moving Reuben. Jacob looked at his baby boy and was filled with joy and thanksgiving. Reuben was healthy and strong, crying for food. It was this one who had the privilege of being Jacob’s first born son; “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honour, excelling in power” (v.3). Those of you who have had the joy of parenthood or especially of fatherhood are able to understand the exuberance of Jacob at the memory of holding his firstborn. He could look back over the years and know that his name was going to be perpetuated. The promised line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was going to continue. This is the one in whom the first sign of Jacob’s virility, and his might appeared. Maybe also the blessing on the nations of the world would come through his first born. What an honour that would be! So the birthright belonged to Reuben. He would receive double of all the others; he would receive half the whole inheritance, although in time eleven other boys were to be begotten by Jacob. Reuben was the first born and had the potential of excelling in honour and in power. Would it be, “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Reuben”? Reuben would receive the lion’s share of honour, and so it would be such an ego-reinforcement to Jacob to hold his first born son Reuben. But the child was only to be the “first sign” of his father’s strength. He turned out not to be his strength.

Even at his birth all was not well. Jacob was married to two sisters who were in rivalry with one another, Reuben’s mother Leah was able to conceive children effortlessly, but not Rachel the wife whom Jacob adored. Leah was neglected, but she was the mother of his firstborn and second born and third born. Here was a family whose path was going to be stormy and full of tensions. It was family of plea bargaining, “I will do this for you, and so will you do that for me.” So Leah thought, “Now that I have conceived a son for him then my husband will love me.” It sounds like today. A couple move in together but the man is reluctant to commit. The woman is uncertain of his love but she thinks that if she has a child then that will tie the man to her, that the boy will bring them together, that he will be the link of love instead of the fruit of love. That was the kind of reasoning Leah employed. It has never died out. Four thousand years later in Wales it is all around us in what people call ‘relationships.’ There is nothing legal about them; there is nothing written down except some names on a birth certificate. Children are very dangerous possessions, and that is what Jacob experienced, how dangerous Reuben was. Soon he had become another man under his roof, but Reuben was a man who never got beyond adolescence; he grew but he did not grow up. He was not for the long haul.
So dying Jacob came up to his son Reuben all these years later and he says to him, “Reuben you were only the beginning of my strength,” and he never got the birthright – even though he was the firstborn and his father’s early delight. It was not given to him because he violated the common law wife of his own father. He had relations with Bilhah the mother of his half brothers – “she is a mere servant and I am the firstborn son.” That was the sort of man Reuben was. He broke his father’s heart, the boy in whom he had such hope. He said to him, “You went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it” (v.4). You can see him turning to the other sons as they listened in silence saying to them slowly and deliberately about Reuben, “onto . . . my . . . couch!” – the son in whom his hopes were focused. Reuben was the kind of man who had no morality at all, the kind of morality not mentioned among the heathen – he was Jacob’s firstborn. He was not going to inherit the privileges of the firstborn. He was not going to be the one through whom the promised Seed would be born who was to bless the nations. “Oh Reuben, you were my strength, the beginning of it, my might, and all the things that went with it, my rejoicing . . . and look at your life! Look what you became!”
So Jacob spoke to Reuben and under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit told him that he would not have the preeminence. The blessing had to be taken away from him because of the way he had behaved and lived. He had not observed God’s laws. He had not showed his love and honour to his father. He had been covetous and full of vain ambitions. Reuben felt if he took his father’s concubine then his place as the firstborn would be unchallengeable. That was not the way to God’s blessing. “You will no longer excel” (v.4), said his father. Not now. Not after that. Never would he excel. There was a curse in Jacob’s words to Reuben, and those words still stand over those who practice that kind of morality. They live under a curse. His life had begun with such a hope, a man holding to his heart his own son, but tensions between two wives spoiled it, and the shadows deepened, and Reuben robbed himself of the blessing by living to himself. He robbed his posterity of the great blessing of the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob because he defiled a bed.

ii] Reuben’s life developed in folly and compromise. How did Reuben’s life go on? You know the next event that showed the wretched nature of this man’s heart before God, a heart as turbulent as the waters (v.4). Be warned you upon whom the end of the ages has come. How is your life going to develop? Here was a man standing before his father with all his brothers listening intently, wondering what Jacob would say to them when they faced him. Reuben was a man governed by instinct, by the flesh, a man with few principles, a man of compromise. So a day came when teenage brother Joseph walked up to the brothers. They were a hundred miles from the safety of father Jacob. Men will do wild things far from home. All the brothers disdained the dreamer who spoke of them all bowing down to him. When he walked up to them their rage overflowed. “We can kill him now,” they said. They hated him that much. They would murder their own brother. But Reuben was the oldest and the firstborn and he has the leadership and a duty to perform. He knew his father’s love for Joseph, Rachel’s son. He knew the commandment, “You shall not murder.” So what does he say? “No, let us not slay him . . . let us throw him into a pit.” What a wretch
ed compromise, resisting their killing him, or even beating him up, but suggesting giving Joseph a lingering death of starvation in a pit, even if he thought he might be able to deliver him later.

Reuben did not stand before them and say, “What are you thinking of? We are not going to lay a finger on the boy. We will do no violence to him at all. I will give my life rather than you take his life.” That would have been the spirit of Christ in a man, laying down his life for others.” No! Reuben says, “Let’s kill him slowly. He will die when we are far away,” and though we are told that Joseph shouted out from the pit and cried for them to deliver him, they sat down and had a meal of roast lamb and goat together. Reuben was a man who lived for himself, a man of compromise who never sought the welfare of the kingdom. This is the way he lives before us in the Scriptures, the sensual man, dictated to by his feelings, a moderate between good and evil, life and death.
You remember another incident in his life where again he poses as a self-sacrificing hero. Joseph, the prime minister in Egypt, has demanded that the eleven brothers come down to Egypt, that they bring Benjamin with them, before they can get food, and that if they fail to do this they will never see their brother Simeon alive again. He is in prison in Egypt, and so the brothers returned home and told father Jacob that they have to return with Benjamin or he will never see Simeon alive again. Old Jacob is in agony at the request. He has lost Joseph, and now Simeon is in prison in Egypt, and they are asking him to let young Benjamin go down there too.

Then Reuben the spokesman, the first born, speaks up, and do you remember what he said to his heartsick father Jacob? “I’ll look after Benjamin in Egypt, and if I fail to bring him back then you can kill my two sons!” What an idiot! What an ignorant oaf of a man Jacob’s firstborn turned out to be. He actually thought that giving his father permission to murder his two grandsons would guide the old man into letting Benjamin go. Reuben has the mind and morals and heart of a child. “I’ll be a hero if I bring Benjamin back, and if I fail I’ll be a hero because I have given permission for my little boys to be killed by their grandfather.” He does not say, “I will stay there in prison in his place.” How different another brother acted when Joseph’s precious cup was found hidden in Benjamin’s sack. Reuben said nothing then; his silences are as revealing as his words. It was Judah who made one of the most moving pleas of Scripture. He says to Joseph, “I will be your slave for ever, but please let Benjamin go. It would destroy my father if he never saw his beloved son Benjamin again.” That was the voice of Christ in him.

Jacob knew Reuben, how unstable was his heart, turbulent, impetuous, indecisive, failing to act when he should have and then blurting out stupid words when he should have been silent. Let me show you in Judges chapter four, hundreds of years later, how this legacy was passed on to the tribe of Reuben. Deborah was singing a psalm of praise to God for the victory he had given the people over the Canaanites, but in the psalm she named the tribes that failed to send any men into the battle to conquer the Canaanites. She mentions the descendants of Reuben: “In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. Why did you stay among the campfires to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart” (Judges 5:15&16).”We have sheep to look after,” they said. “Others can fight. We are undecided about these battles. Some of us think it a proper thing but most of us think that caring for the sheep comes first.” Listen to the Reubenite yokels having a debate around their campfires as they eat their lamb chops deciding they should or should not fight. “It is a problem of guidance,” said the Reubenites. No! It was a problem of disobedience.

How does the book of Judges begin? What are its opening verses? “After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, ‘Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?’ The LORD answered, ‘Judah is to go; I have given the land into their hands.’ Then the men of Judah said to the Simeonites their brothers, ‘Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.’ So the Simeonites went with them. When Judah attacked, the LORD gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek” (Judges 1:1-4). God had guaranteed them the victory. Who would not fight if one knew that triumph was assured? War with the Canaanites was not a matter of discussion; it was a matter of obedience.

We are told that when the Reubenites were still debating the people of Zebulun were risking their very lives, and Jael the wife of Heber had killed the Canaanite king Sisera with a tent-peg and a hammer. A woman was more decisive and brave than Reuben’s children. Reuben stayed with his sheep talking it all over, whistling for the ewes to come down into their pens for the night. He would not take his place among the armies of Israel fighting to gain possession of the promised land. “Let Zebulun risk his life; it’s better that I stay at home,” he decided. When it was a choice between sacrifice or comfort Reuben opted for the comfort.
So what do we find in the remainder of the Old Testament? Not a priest or a prophet or a judge or one of David’s warriors or any leader at all came out of Reuben. The line of Reuben does not consist of brave men who know self-denial and sacrifice themselves for truth and righteousness and obedience. They don’t take up their cudgels and slingshots for any cause. They are the kind of man that Erasmus was when he wrote to Luther and said, “I am not made of the stuff of reformers and those who suffer persecution.” There are pastors who study and read and write. They are not up on their feet in the Presbytery or in the General Assembly calling heretics and immoral men and women to account. “Everything for a peaceful life,” they say. They are not made of the stuff of martyrs. There was no place for Reuben and his line in Israel. The people of God needed stronger stuff, young men who would not bow to the idol and were prepared to be thrown into the burning fiery furnace for saying, “No! We will serve God alone.” Those are the young men the church needs today. That is the way; as the prophet says, the way the twig is bent that is the way the tree is going to grow. If you begin to live like Reuben you are not good for anyone. You are no good to the world because you are too religious, and you are no good to the people of God for you are not religious enough. Reuben’s life was a disappointing life.

iii] Reuben sought his own life. Jesus taught us that he who is going to save his life has to lose it regardless. The direction of Reuben’s life was one that despised the Christ of God and the cross of Christ. Reuben wanted to save his life from frustration by sexual abandonment. He was lord in his house and Bildah was a mere slave. He will save himself from the anguish of sacrifice by big words and gestures – “go ahead and kill my two sons”, and by religious discussions around a camp fire over a meal, and withdrawing from a God-ordained conflict, and the followers of old Reuben are talking still and won’t stop. They are all talk. A woman once spoke to B.B.Warfield and said nervously that she hoped they would have a peaceful General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church, USA. “I hope there will be a fight,” said Warfield, a fight for righteous standards and for truth. Ancient Deborah sings of the triumph of the people of God, and of the cowards’ absence; “Where were you Reuben when we needed you?” “I want to live, live, live till I die,” says Reuben, and there’s a kind of life that overlooks Scripture and plays down the example and teaching of Christ. “How can I profit without cross-bearing and self-denial?” it inquires. That is the life that despises the Man of Sorrows. Reuben was a law unto himself and he did as he pleased, and he forfeited his birthright. If you seek to save your life by doing what you choose then you will lose your life; you will lose your purpose in living, you will lose any usefulness to the kingdom of God.

So I look at Reuben’s pathetic life, and his followers in the lineage influenced by him and I have said he was perhaps the worst of the twelve, but I often see myself there numbered with them behaving just like them, and I ask, “Is there no hope whatsoever?” Reuben didn’t count for the Lord. The tribe of Reuben didn’t make much difference to the peace and strength of Israel, but they are not cast away. I look at Revelation 7 and I read there of the “144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. . .12,000 were sealed from the tribe of Reuben” (Rev.7:4&5). Reuben and the Reubenites had the seal of God. And I read in Revelation 21 that on the gates of the Holy City, Jerusalem, “were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel” (Rev. 21:12). Reuben’s name is there on the doors of heaven.

Then there is hope for sinners, even for sinners as bad as Reuben was, when they grow up and mature and repent in sorrow for their ugly behaviour, and cast themselves on the mercy of God. Reuben was guilty of crimson sins, yet he became a dear son, a precious son, and though he was black with filth and red with guilt yet God’s heart beat faster for this son of Jacob. “I will have mercy on him,” said God. “I will show pity to him!” If this does not melt your heart then what will? Are you going to kick against mercy? The Father in heaven is hanging out his white flag of mercy and grace to a returning sinner. The greatness of your sins sets ff the freeness and the riches of Christ’s grace and the freeness of his love. All the angels of heaven sing the praises of the mercy of God when they see this bad man Reuben forgiven and welcomed into heaven. The Lord shows his favour to those who have sinned most highly, and there are others like that in Scripture who sinned against much love and light and yet became the targets of God’s saving power.

The message is, “Do not despair.” This is a sorry tale a believer who compromised with the Lord and his word. He came out of the house of Jacob, a grandson of our father Abraham, a boy who was favoured greatly as the firstborn who went astray and did not grow in grace for many years, but by the end we see that Reuben had changed. He stood in solidarity with Judah when Judah said brokenly to Joseph, “God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now your lord’s slaves – we ourselves” (Gen.44:16). There is no bluster now; there is repentance and shame. Then there was reconciliation and mercy from Joseph, the brother much sinned against whom Reuben had thrown into a pit. So it will be with you. Maybe you have sinned like Reuben, or worse then Reuben, but when he humbled himself and repented of his heart sins and deeds then God made himself known to him and crowned Reuben’s life with loving-kindness and mercy. Bad old Reuben was ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven. He ended new Reuben, so why not you also? There is great hope for you now from the God of Reuben. Christ receiveth sinful men. For them he came, and those he seeks today, for them he died. Make him your God by bowing before him and serving him alone.

18th September 2011 GEOFF THOMAS

*This sermon is heavily dependent in using the fine material of Rev. Paul Thangiah on the Twelve tribes of Israel from the websitehttp://www.fgag.tv/tiym/index. php/videos/series