Thursday after Ad te levavi, The First Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Genesis 49:1-28 (NKJV)
1 And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days: 2 Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father. 3 Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. 4 Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed; Then you defiled it—he went up to my couch. 5 Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. 6 Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel. 8 Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you. 9 Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. 11 Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. 12 His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk. 13 Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea; He shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall adjoin Sidon. 14 Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between two burdens; 15 He saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves. 16 Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. 17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider shall fall backward. 18 I have waited for your salvation, O LORD! 19 Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him, but he shall triumph at last. 20 Bread from Asher shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties. 21 Naphtali is a deer let loose; He uses beautiful words. 22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall. 23 The archers have bitterly grieved him, Shot at him and hated him. 24 But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), 25 by the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26 The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers. 27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.” 28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.
After reading today’s account from Genesis, you may wonder, “What does this mean for me? What am I to learn?” Jacob was on his deathbed when these words were spoken. Jacob knew the peril facing his sons. At that time, they were living comfortably in the land of Egypt. They could have easily lost sight of who they were as God’s people in favor of temporal comforts. The fulfillment of God’s promises would not be found in the land of Egypt. Jacob’s sons needed to look ahead to the time they would return to the land promised to their forefathers.
As Christians, we must understand that though we live in the present, we are to live our lives in anticipation of our future with Christ at the resurrection. As we know, this is much easier said than done. It is not easy to live in anticipation of the future when trials and tribulations come our way. But, as with the sons of Jacob, it can be even more difficult to live in anticipation of the future when our lives are comfortable.
The assurance we have as Christians is knowing that no matter how our lives are going, whether there be trials or good times, God is working for our good. As St. Paul wrote: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Those whom He has called have nothing to fear. Though there may be temporal consequences to our actions we are assured that nothing will separate us from the love God has for us in Christ.
In all time of tribulation, in all time of our prosperity, help us, good Lord. Amen.