A Fathers Blessing


Our past can affect our future.

Genesis(102) (Part of the Origins(100) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on July 23, 2023 (Sunday Morning(350))

Repentance(17), Trust(25)


A Fathers Blessing

(Genesis 49:1-28)



“In the movie Toy Story 3, Andy, the owner of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and other toys, is preparing to leave for college. At the end of the movie, he decides to give his toys to a young girl named Bonnie.


The scene starts with Andy entering the front gate of Bonnie's home and showing her the box of toys. Andy tells her, ‘I'm Andy. Someone told me you're really good with toys. These are mine, but I'm going away now, so I need someone really special to play with them.’ Then as Andy proceeds to hand the toys to Bonnie, he introduces them by saying something special about each one.


He begins with his toy cowgirl Jessie: ‘This is Jessie—the roughest, toughest cowgirl in the whole West. She loves critters, but none more'n her best pal, Bullseye.’


Andy then hands Bonnie his toy Tyrannosaurus, Rex, ‘the meanest, most terrifying dinosaur who ever lived’


For the Potato Heads, Andy says, ‘The Potato Heads—Mister and Missus. You gotta keep em together cause they're madly in love.’


Slinky the Dog ‘is as loyal as any dog you could want.’


Andy blesses Hamm, the Pig, by saying, ‘He'll keep your money safe, but he's also one of the most dastardly villains of all time, Evil Dr. Pork Chop!’


Buzz Lightyear is ‘the coolest toy ever. Look, he can fly, and shoot lasers. He's sworn to protect the galaxy from the evil Emperor Zurg!’

Finally, for his pal Woody, Andy says, ‘He's been my pal as long as I can remember. He's brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special? Is he'll never give up on you—ever. He'll be there for you, no matter what.’”


Source: Toy Story 3, Scene 33, "Goodbye Andy," 1:28:55 to 1:32:05.





  • ME

    • Encouraging others

        • Family

          • Judy and I try to encourage each other when we notice something the other person has done

          • We also try to encourage our children and their spouses/girlfriend when they do something incredible or caring for others

          • We look for ways to encourage our grandchildren as they develop and grow

        • Friends

          • We look for ways to point out how our friends are being caring and thoughtful

          • We try to thank our friends for how they have supported and cared for us

        • Staff and Volunteers

          • I strive to encourage the staff and volunteers here at Idaville Church


  • WE

    • Whom do you need to encourage this week?

        • Family (spouse, children, grandchildren, parent, sibling)

        • Friends

        • Staff or volunteers


Jacob is nearing death and wants to have his sons together for one final family gathering. ​​ This gathering was important, because Jacob had some important words to share about his sons’ futures. ​​ While some of his blessings seem like anti-blessings, they are important nonetheless. ​​ He has something to share about each son. ​​ For some of his sons, he will reflect on their pasts and how that will affect their futures. ​​ We will learn from this passage that . . .


BIG IDEA – Our past can affect our future.


It can be either positive or negative, depending on what we did in the past. ​​ It may affect us, but it may also affect our descendants.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 49:1-28)

    • Jacob’s call (vv. 1-2)

        • Jacob wanted to share some final instructions with his sons as he prepared to die

        • As we see in verse 1, Jacob looked beyond his present life and the lives of his sons, to a time when their descendants were back in the Promised Land [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Genesis, 696]

          • He was looking beyond the individual to the clan/tribe

          • “It would not have been viewed as prediction as much as a determination of individual and tribal destiny.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 712]

        • We know the content was important, because Jacob told his sons to listen

          • He wanted them to pay attention

          • While it may not affect them personally, it would affect the generations to come

        • Jacob blessed the six sons he had with Leah, first

    • Leah’s children (vv. 3-15)

        • Reuben [1st] (vv. 3-4)

          • Privilege

            • As the firstborn son of Jacob, Reuben should have inherited a double portion, been the priestly tribe, and the kingly tribe

            • Jacob had hopes and aspirations for Reuben

            • He should have excelled in honor and power, but his moral failure caused him to forfeit those privileges

          • Accountability

            • Reuben’s attitude and actions were like turbulent waters

              • Water is very unstable in its liquid form

              • Other than Jesus and Peter (kind of) no one has walked on water – when we try, we simply sink – water is unstable or weak

              • Turbulent water is a whole different animal

                • When a levee or dam breaks, the force of the rushing water causes great damage

                • When a tsunami or tidal wave reach land, the destruction that follows is devastating

              • Reuben’s lust for power created a devastating sexual tsunami

                • After Jacob’s wife, Rachel, died, Israel moved on to Migdal Eder (Gen. 35:21)

                • While he was living there, Reuben went in and slept with Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaiden and Jacob’s concubine (Gen. 35:22)

                • When he did this it defiled his father’s marriage bed

                • Perhaps Reuben thought that in doing so, he would somehow gain power or authority over his father

                • The opposite happened, he was stripped of his honor and power

                • When this incident happened, the narrator simply mentioned that Israel heard about it, but we are not told that he did anything about it

                • Now 40 years later, Reuben is hearing about the consequences of his sin

                  • The status of firstborn and the double portion went to Joseph and his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh

                  • The priestly duties were given to the tribe of Levi

                  • The royal/kingly honor went to the tribe of Judah

                • “Sin’s consequences can plague us long after the sin is committed.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Genesis 35:22]

              • Reuben’s sin affected the status of his clan/tribe forever

              • Our past can affect our future.

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – Our behavior affects the destiny of our descendants.

                • Substance abuse can affect the destiny of our descendants, because it can begin a long line of alcoholism and drug abuse (in some cases children will avoid those substances when they have been exposed to the consequences of them, through their parents)

                • Children are watching and listening to us, as parents, for clues concerning how they should behave and talk

                  • If we use foul language, they will use foul language

                  • If we mistreat other people, they will mistreat other people

                  • If we are abusive to our spouse, they will be abusive to their spouse

                  • If we prioritize other things above God, they will prioritize other things above God

                  • The opposite of all of these are true too (use our speech to build others up; treat others with kindness and respect; are loving and supportive of our spouse; put our relationship with God first above everything else)

                  • There are exceptions to the rule

                  • Certainly there are cases when our children do not follow in our footsteps (good or bad)

                • Our behavior and speech can affect the destiny of our descendants

                • Deuteronomy 5:8-9, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. ​​ You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (2nd Commandment)

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Seek the Lord’s help in behaving and speaking in a way that will honor God and benefit my descendants.

            • Perhaps Reuben thought he had gotten away with his little indiscretion, but that was not the case

            • His actions affected his descendants

          • The same was true for Simeon and Levi

        • Simeon and Levi [2nd & 3rd] (vv. 5-7)

          • Uncontrolled anger

            • While Reuben dealt with lust, Simeon and Levi dealt with anger and fury

              • When the narrator says that Simeon and Levi are brothers, he means that they both struggled with the same issue – anger and fury

              • Swords

                • The meaning of the Hebrew word for swords is uncertain

                • It is only found here in all of Scripture

                • It is a noun form from the verb, “to cut,” which could be referring to circumcision

                • This would make sense since the narrator is probably referring to the slaughter of the Shechemites in retaliation of the rape of their sister Dinah

                • Simeon and Levi tricked the Shechemites into being circumcised and when they vulnerable they went to Shechem and killed the inhabitants

                • The knives used for circumcision would have been weapons of violence

              • Separation encouraged

                • If you recall, Jacob was not pleased with Simeon and Levi’s actions

                • Here we see that Jacob did not want to ask them for council (he probably did not trust them)

                • He also did not want to join their assembly (he wanted to separate himself from them)

                • When the incident occurred, Jacob was concerned that the Canaanites and Perizzites would join forces, attack them, and destroy them (Gen. 34:30)

                • The reason that he wanted to remain separate from them was because they killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen whenever they wanted to

              • Cursed

                • Jacob cursed their anger that was so fierce

                • He also cursed their fury that was so cruel

                • Their actions showed that they were controlled by anger and not controlled by the Lord

            • Their actions in the past affected their descendants also

            • Our past can affect our future.

          • Consequences

            • Jacob shared that their descendants would be scattered and dispersed

              • When we look at a map of the land that each of the twelve tribes inherited, we see that Simeon was absorbed into the land of Judah – his clan was scattered [show the map]

              • Notice that the tribe of Levi did not inherit any land

                • As the priestly tribe, the Levites were given 48 cities and the surrounding fields, dispersed throughout all of Israel

                • Their anti-blessing turns into a blessing when they are chosen as the priestly tribe [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 252]

              • “Regarding Simeon and Levi, division and dispersal is as much preemptive as judgmental—it is designed to stop them from indulging further in their angry violence. ​​ In the event, Levi as the ministerial clan will have towns spread around the promised land; Simeon will be enclosed within Judah (Num. 35; Josh. 19:1-9).” ​​ [Goldingay, 698]

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Our behavior affects the destiny of our descendants.

          • The same would be true of Judah, but on a positive note

        • Judah [4th] (vv. 8-12)

          • Honor (v. 8)

            • As the ruling tribe, Judah will be praised by his brothers

            • It will not just be his five other brothers born to Leah, but all of Jacob’s sons

            • They will praise and bow down to the tribe of Judah, because of their ability to subdue their enemies (that is the imagery of Judah having their hand on the neck of their enemies – it represents victory over their enemies)

            • We see the fulfillment of this blessing in King David and his ability to conquer his enemies

            • During Solomon’s reign there was peace on all sides

          • Strength (v. 9)

            • The metaphor of a lion represents strength – the lion is the king of the jungle

            • “What is pictured here is a lion that has grown into adulthood. ​​ Grown . . . on prey is the equivalent of ‘your hand is on the neck of your enemies’ in v. 8. ​​ The lion, having recently eaten, has retired to its sleeping quarters to digest its meal. ​​ Even while it is reposing, nothing else tries to invade its territory, so powerful is the lion.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 658]

          • Ruling tribe (v. 10)

            • This blessing was fulfilled through King David

              • The Lord promised David that he would always have a descendant on the throne

              • Read 2 Samuel 7:11b-16

            • The blessing of the scepter and the ruler’s staff remaining with the line of Judah until he comes to whom it belongs is perhaps a foreshadowing of the Messiah

              • We know that the Messiah would come through the line of Judah

              • The Hebrew can also read until Shiloh comes or until he comes to whom tribute belongs

              • “The obedience of the nations is his,” would seem to be referencing Jesus’ eternal reign

              • Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

          • Prosperity (vv. 11-12)

            • Tethering a donkey to a vine, the choicest branch

              • A regular vineyard farmer would not tether his donkey to any of his vines or branches, because the donkey would eat the grapes and the vines

              • A prosperous ruler would not worry about having one of his vines or branches eaten by his donkey

              • They would have plenty more to harvest from

            • Washing garments and robes in wine and the blood of grapes

              • Using wine and the blood of grapes as wash water again shows the wealth of a prosperous ruler

              • The common person would not waste wine by using it to “clean” their clothes

            • Dark eyes and white teeth

              • Dark eyes could be referring to dull eyes as a result of drinking too much wine

              • “His country will flow with milk . . . its pasturage will be so good that there are countless sheep and thus rivers of milk.” ​​ [Goldingay, 700]

              • “The soil of Judah produced the best wine in Canaan, near Hebron and Engedi (Num. 13:23, 24; Song of Sol. 1:14; 2 Chron. 26:10 cf. Joel 1:7ff.), and had excellent pasture land in the desert by Tekoah and Carmel, to the south of Hebron (1 Sam. 25:2; Amos 1:1; 2 Chron. 26:10).” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, 258-59]

          • Judah’s past

            • Judah also had some problems in his past

              • He was the one who suggested they sell Joseph into slavery

              • He also withheld his youngest son from Tamar, his daughter-in-law, which caused her to trick him into providing offspring by sleeping with him

            • Why is Jacob not harsh with his blessing of Judah?

              • I believe it has to do with how he responded after sinning

              • There was a change in Judah when Jacob was hesitant to send Benjamin to Egypt

                • He guaranteed his safety and said that he would be personally responsible (Gen. 43:9)

                • Reuben offered the life of his two sons and not himself (Gen. 42:37)

                • There is the difference

              • The change continued when Joseph threatened to keep Benjamin in Egypt

                • Judah explained to Joseph that he had guaranteed Benjamin’s life to his father

                • Judah then offers his own life for Benjamin’s life (Gen. 44:33)

              • The change perhaps began when Judah was confronted about his sin with Tamar

                • He had withheld his third son from Tamar out of fear that he would die

                • When he unknowingly sleeps with his daughter-in-law and is then confronted about breaking his promise to her he responds with humility and repentance

                • “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” (Gen. 38:26)

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God can use us for great things when we repent and seek forgiveness.

              • God used Judah and his line as the kingly tribe, through whom the Messiah would come – God recognized the change that had taken place in his life

              • God can and will use us, even after all our failures, for His glory and purposes, but He requires that we repent of our sins and seek to live a holy life

              • Do you want to be used by God for great things?

                • What do you need to stop doing and repent of?

                • What do you need to ask the Lord to forgive you for?

                • It is never too late to be used by God

                • You have not done too many bad things to be used by God

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness, so He can use me for great things.

          • Our past can affect our future.

          • Jacob switches the order of his next two sons by Leah by addressing Zebulun before Issachar

        • Zebulun [6th] (v. 13)

          • [show the map]

          • If you notice from the map, Zebulun is landlocked and is not by the seashore

          • They were not on the Mediterranean Sea or the Sea of Galilee

          • “The Hebrew preposition [for “by”] means ‘with reference to’ or even ‘near.’” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 609]

          • “Zebulun was located on an important route that carried merchandise from the coast to the Sea of Galilee and to Damascus.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 167]

        • Issachar [5th] (v. 14-15)

          • Jacob recognized Issachar’s strength and hard work

          • Lying down between two saddlebags is probably referencing where the tribe of Issachar would settle in the Promised Land [show map]

          • They lived in the valley of Jezreel that was between the Mt. Tabor and Mt. Gilboa ranges [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 373 and Walton, 716]

          • “‘Ease at the cost of liberty will be the characteristic of the tribe of Issachar’ (Delitzsch). ​​ The simile of a bony, i.e., strongly-built ass, particularly adapted for carrying burdens, pointed to the fact that this tribe would content itself with material good, devote itself to the labour and burden of agriculture, and not strive after political power and rule.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, 259]

        • Jacob turns to his sons born the Bilhah and Zilpah

    • Handmaiden’s children (vv. 16-21)

        • There is a little chiastic structure here in that Jacob started with Bilhah’s first son Dan, then blessed Zilpah’s two sons Gad and Asher, before returning to Bilhah’s second son, Naphtali

        • Dan [Bilhah’s 1st] (vv. 16-17)

          • The name Dan means “to judge”

          • The only Biblical account of a judge coming from the tribe of Dan is Samson

          • Perhaps the tribe of Dan provided justice in other ways

          • “Though small, Dan will be aggressive, dangerous, and strike unexpectedly to overthrow nations (see Judg. 18). ​​ Samson, from this tribe, single-handedly wounds the Philistines (see Judg. 14-16).” ​​ [Waltke, 611]

          • Dan’s attack, providing justice, will be stealthy

        • Gad [Zilpah’s 1st] (v. 19)

          • Gad settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River with Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh [show map]

          • The King’s Highway, which was a major trade route that went north to south, went through the territory of Gad [Gangel & Bramer, 374]

          • Because of their location they experienced attacks from bands of raiders wanting to obtain the items being traded

          • The attacks came from the Ammonites (Judg. 10-12; Jer. 49:1-6), Moabites, Arameans (1 Kings 22:3; 2 Kings 10:32-33), and Assyrians (2 Kings 15:29) [Waltke, 611]

          • Since they were a small tribe they were not able to advance against their enemies head on, but would attack from the rear

          • “Mobility rather than number is Gad’s major asset.” ​​ [Hamilton, 673]

        • Asher [Zilpah’s 2nd] (v. 20)

          • As the map shows, Asher’s inheritance was along the Mediterranean Sea on the western slopes of the Galilean highlands

          • The land was incredibly rich and fertile and provided wheat and oil abundantly

          • During King Solomon’s reign he provided wheat and olive oil for King Hiram (1 Kings 5:11) [Keil & Delitzsch, 261]

        • Naphtali [Bilhah’s 2nd] (v. 21)

          • The territory that Naphtali inherited was rugged, isolated and fertile – just northwest of the Sea of Galilee [Gangel & Bramer, 374]

          • Perhaps the rugged isolated land would require this tribe to be like a hind or gazelle that is swift and skillful in its movements [Keil & Delitzsch, 261]

          • “Possessing the abilities to run like does and speak beautiful words, the people of Naphtali would make ideal messengers.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 168]

        • Need for deliverance (v. 18)

          • Jacob looks to the Lord for deliverance

          • As he is “blessing” his sons, he knows what some of them will be going through in the future

          • The statement “suggests that Jacob was in communion with the Lord while he was speaking to his sons.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 167]

          • Application

            • How many of us would agree today that we need the deliverance of the Lord for ourselves or some of our family members

            • We can cry out to the Lord, just like Jacob and declare, “Lord, I look to You for deliverance!”

            • Take time to cry out to the Lord right now, in the quietness of your heart and mind

        • Finally, Jacob blessed Rachel’s children

    • Rachel’s children (vv. 22-27)

        • Joseph [1st] (vv. 22-26)

          • Prosperity (v. 22)

            • Joseph’s name means “may he add” while his son Ephraim’s name means “twice fruitful”

            • Joseph’s clan through Ephraim and Manasseh would be fruitful

            • When I think of the metaphor used here of a fruitful vine and branch that climbs over a wall, I am reminded of the kudzu I saw in Alabama that would grow so quickly and plentifully that it covered everything

            • That is how prosperous Joseph’s clan would be

          • Protection (vv. 23-24)

            • The arrows are an image in Scripture of telling lies and using hateful words toward someone else [Wiersbe, 168]

              • We know that Joseph’s brothers could not say a kind word about him

              • His brothers also lied to their father about him

              • Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph’s actions, which got him thrown in prison

            • Joseph’s bow remained steady and his strong arms stayed limber

              • Joseph was able to remain steadfast and strong under these attacks and lies, because he put his trust in the Lord

              • He did not blame his brothers for what happened to him, but recognized that God allowed it to happen for His purposes

              • He did not let imprisonment stop him from working hard and doing his best for the Lord

            • God’s was with him

              • God’s mighty hand was with Joseph, caring for him like a Shepherd, and providing stability for him while everything around him was crumbling

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is the One who strengthens us, cares for us, and provides stability for us when we are being attacked.

                • Where are your attacks coming from today? (family, employer, health, finances, Satan, your own mind)

                • Do you feel like everything is crumbling around you?

                • As children of God and followers of Jesus Christ, we can be confident that He is there to strengthen us, care for us, and provide stability as we face the attacks that come our way

                • He promises to never leave us for forsake us, so we can say with confidence that He is our helper (Heb. 13:5-6)

                • Take a moment to express to the Lord the attacks you have been experiencing

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s strength, care, and stability for me as I experience attacks in my life.

              • That is the only way that Joseph was able to survive all that he went through

            • With God’s help, Joseph also experienced blessings

          • Blessings (vv. 25-26)

            • Fertility of land

              • Joseph’s land would experience fertility from rain above and fountains and streams of water from below

              • When we left for national conference, our tomato plants were still kind of small, but when we returned they were huge and bushy (my guess is that we got some rain while we were gone)

            • Fertility of body

              • Joseph’s family would be blessed with children

              • Joseph’s animals would be blessed with offspring

            • Greater blessing

              • Jacob’s blessing on Joseph is greater than the blessing received by Abraham and Isaac

              • Jacob’s hope is that this blessing will rest on Joseph’s head

              • Joseph was certainly a prince that was separated from his brothers (perhaps a better translation than among his brothers)

          • Joseph’s descendant’s would experience prosperity, protection, and blessing because of how he handled the attacks in his life

            • His past affected his descendants future

            • Our past can affect our future.

          • Jacob has one final blessing for his youngest son

        • Benjamin [2nd] (v. 27)

          • Morning and evening

            • This reference means that Benjamin was continually on the prowl

            • In battle they were continually victorious and shared the booty they obtained

          • Descendants of Benjamin that fulfilled this blessing

            • Ehud the judge (Judg. 3:15-30)

            • Saul, the first king of Israel

            • Jonathan, Saul’s son

            • Abner (2 Sam. 2:23)

            • Sheba (2 Sam. 20:1-26)

            • Shimei (2 Sam. 16:5-14)

            • Saul of Tarsus (Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5), who ruthlessly pursued Christians to imprison them

        • As this section of Scripture ends, the narrator provides the conclusion

    • Narrator’s conclusion (v. 28)

        • The narrator makes three points [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 910]

          • All of Jacob’s sons were recognized

          • The blessings had the authority of the father (Jacob)

          • Each blessing was appropriate for each tribe and their part in the nation of Israel

        • Jacob has one final request of his sons before he dies, which we will see next week


  • YOU

    • Are you ready to seek the Lord’s help in behaving and speaking in a way that will honor Him and benefit your descendants?

    • Are you ready to repent of your sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness, so He can use you for great things?

    • Are you ready to trust in God’s strength, care, and stability for you as you experience attacks in your life.


  • WE

    • We can seek the Lord’s help in behaving and speaking in a way that will honor Him and benefit those who come after us.

    • We need to repent of our sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness, so He can use us for great things in our community.

    • We can trust in God’s strength, care, and stability for us as we experience attacks as a body of believers.



“Business researchers call it ‘the missing ingredient’ or ‘the hidden accelerator.’ Most managers could transform their workplaces with this missing ingredient: showing appreciation. That's the focus of a recent book entitled The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. Based on a ten-year study that interviewed 200,000 people, Gostick and Elton conclude that appreciation tops the list of things employees say they want from their bosses. Some of the statistics to back up this claim include:


  • Of the people who report high morale at work, 94.4 percent agree that their managers show appreciation.

  • 79 percent of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as the key reason for leaving.

  • 56 percent of employees who report low morale also give their managers low marks for showing appreciation.


Of course these statistics tap into a fundamental need in all of our relationships: the need to give and receive affirmation and blessing. The authors of The Carrot Principle conclude, ‘The simple … act of a leader [or a spouse, parent, coach, mentor, or friend] expressing appreciation to a person in a meaningful … way is the missing accelerator that can do so much but is used so sparingly.’”


Source: Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, The Carrot Principle (Free Press, 2007), pp. 7-14.