As Genesis draws to a close, Jacob draws his sons together and speaks prophetic blessings that will set the stage for the twelve tribes of Israel. While all of the brothers have some role in the Israelite kingdom, Judah and Joseph receive incredibly significant blessings. Jacob recognizes that Joseph is already very fruitful, having been saved from the hatred of his brothers, and calls many blessings upon him and his descendants. Judah’s blessing is very surprising. This is the same Judah who slept with his own daughter-in-law in Genesis 38, thinking she was a prostitute! Even so, Jacob proclaims that “his father’s sons shall bow down before him” and “the scepter shall not depart from Judah”. These words prophesy the great kingdom of David, and ultimately, the greater kingdom of Jesus himself coming from the line of Judah, as told in the first chapter of Matthew.
Consider here the idea of expectation of God’s promises. Jacob gave these blessings to his sons, vowing that their tribes would experience different shares in the kingdom of Israel, situated in the promised land. However, the brothers are still in Egypt, and the first chapter of Exodus will show that they will perish there. Jacob shows his belief in God’s faithfulness by wanting to be buried with his fathers and with Abraham in Canaan, where his descendants, the Israelites, will eventually journey. We also know that eventually God will bring the twelve tribes of Israel back to the promised land, ultimately fulfilling His promise of a savior in Jesus Christ himself. There are still promises that have yet to be fulfilled, though—chief among them Jesus’s promise that one day He will return and bring His faithful to the new Heaven and new Earth with God as the ruler over all.
Genesis concludes with Joseph’s brothers begging for his forgiveness. Joseph recognizes their needs and demonstrates grace to them, conveying to them the story of the grace that God worked through the great evil they had done to him. Today let us be reminded that God will fulfill his promises, and that no evil people, event, or scheme will ever stand in the way of God bringing the nations of the world to Himself. He is gracious beyond any measure we could possibly fathom. Thanks be to God.