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Riding The Timeline Through Jacob’s Amazing Prophecies

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Near the end of the book of Genesis, there are some amazing prophecies involving Jacob’s sons.  We will see that these prophecies actually reveal a great deal of information about God’s salvation plan; but before examining the prophecies, it helps to review some information that Genesis provides about the 12 men whose descendants became the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

 

Jacob’s Sons

 

 

1. Reuben:

 

Reuben’s mother was Leah and he was Jacob’s firstborn son, as we read in Genesis 29:32:

 

And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

 

The name Reuben means “behold a son.”  Leah was Jacob’s first wife.  Jacob really loved Rachel and was supposed to marry her instead, but his uncle Laban deceived him into taking Leah while in a tent where it was too dark to see.  Apparently, the Lord didn’t like the fact that Jacob had once deceived his father Isaac by taking advantage of his father’s inability to see (Genesis 27:1-37), because Jacob was deceived in a similar way.

 

A key verse about Reuben is Genesis 35:22:

 

And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it.  

 

We will see that this sin of immorality is very relevant to the prophecy about Reuben.

 

 

2 -3.  Simeon and Levi:

 

And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. 34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.  ( Genesis 29:33-34)

 

In Jacob’s prophecy, Simeon and Levi are mentioned together – almost as if they were twins.  However, they were not twins.  Simeon was Jacob’s second son, and his name means “heard.”  The name of Levi, the third son, means “joined to.”

 

There are many verses about each of these two men individually.  But there is one incident in which they acted together.  It was to avenge their sister, Dinah.  Genesis 34:1-2 explains:

 

And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.  

 

After this happened, Shechem wanted to marry Dinah.  Jacob’s sons agreed to allow the marriage if all the men in that place were circumcised (Genesis 34:13-17).  However, Jacob’s sons spoke “deceitfully” when they made this agreement.

 

As a result, Shechem and his father met with the men of their city and made the case that they should all be circumcised, as we read in Genesis 34:23:

 

Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us.

 

The men of the city were convinced by this argument and agreed to be circumcised (verse 24).  Genesis 34:25-26 tells us what happened next:

 

And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.    

 

We will see that these verses help us understand Jacob’s prophecy about Simeon and Levi.

 

 

4.  Judah:

 

And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.  (Genesis 29:35)

 

After Levi was born, Leah had another son: Judah.  According to the concordance, the word Judah means “praised.”  We will see that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah is very different than those for all the other sons.

 

Up to Judah, Jacob’s prophecies about his sons follow the order in which they were born: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.  After Judah, the next son to be born was Dan; however, the next son listed in Judah’s prophecies is Zebulun.

 

 

5.  Zebulun:

 

He was Leah’s sixth son, as we read in Genesis 30:20:

 

And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.

 

Zebulun was Jacob’s tenth son and Leah’s last.  His name means “exalted.”  In Jacob’s prophecies, Zebulun is the fifth son to be named.

 

 

6.  Issachar:

 

The sixth son named in Jacob’s prophecies is Issachar.  We first read about him in Genesis 30:17-18:

 

And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son. 18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.

 

Issachar was Jacob’s ninth son.  There is some ambiguity about the meaning of the name Issachar, but it’s related to Leah’s statement about being given her hire, referring to Genesis 30:14-16.  The concordance indicates his name could mean either “he is wages” or “he brings wages.”  When we get to the prophecies, we will see that both meanings fit.

 

 

7.  Dan:

 

And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.  (Genesis 30:5-6)

 

The next son named in Jacob’s prophecies is Dan.  According to the concordance, the name Dan means “a judge.”  Rachel was so desperate to have children that she gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob (Genesis 30:1-4).  Dan was Jacob’s fifth son and Bilhah’s first.

 

 

8.  Gad:

 

When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.  (Genesis 30:9-11)

 

Gad was the eighth son to be named in Jacob’s prophecies; but in order of birth, Gad was Jacob’s seventh son.  His name means “a troop.”

 

 

9.  Asher:

 

And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.  (Genesis 30:12-13)

 

The name Asher means “happy.”   He was Zilpah’s second son, and Jacob’s eighth son.

 

 

10.  Naphtali:

 

And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.  (Genesis 30:7-8)

 

Jacob’s sixth son was Naphtali.  In Jacob’s prophecies about his sons, Naphtali was tenth in order.  His name means “wrestling.”

 

 

11.  Joseph:

 

After many years, God gave Rachel a son, as we read in Genesis 30:22-24:

 

And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

 

Joseph’s name means “Jehovah has added.”  He was Jacob’s eleventh son.

 

 

12.  Benjamin:

 

We read about Benjamin’s birth in Genesis 35:16-18:

 

And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

The name Benjamin means “son of the right hand.”  He was Rachel’s second and last son, and Jacob’s twelfth and last son.

 

 

The Prophecies

 

Just before dying, Jacob asked to see his 12 sons, as we read in Genesis 49:1-2:

 

1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. 2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.

 

Jacob then went on to say something about each son.  Those statements have been understood as prophecies about the tribes that descended from his sons.  Past theologians have looked at Biblical accounts of individual tribes in the wilderness and Canaan as they tried to understand the prophecies.  Others believe the prophecies have been fulfilled by certain modern nations.  For example, the name “Denmark” may point to Dan’s descendants; and Britain may also trace its roots to one or more tribes of Israel (the word “British” apparently comes from two Hebrew words: the word for covenant –  “beriyth,” Strong’s number H1285; and the word for man – “iysh,” Strong’s number H376).  However, theologians have been looking in the wrong places in the Bible; and more importantly, they have been looking at the prophecies in the wrong way.

 

Even if Denmark or Great Britain or some other nation did originate with people from one of Israel’s tribes, prophecy has to do with God’s salvation plan.  That’s how we will see it fulfilled.  To understand what Jacob told his sons, we need to realize that God can use an individual to represent a group of people.  The group doesn’t have to be related to that individual by birth or nationality.  In fact, we know that God has saved people from every nationality, from all over the world.  This group whom God has saved – the elect – is the most important group in God’s salvation plan.

 

We can say that God’s salvation plan is what we know about His work through the ages to accomplish His purpose of saving a people for Himself.  God has revealed a great many details about this plan, and we can construct a timeline presenting some of that information as dates and events.  The timeline is the means by which we can understand Jacob’s prophecies.  Here is the timeline we need:

 


This timeline is a revision of the one Mr. Camping used.  Many people are familiar with it, because some of its dates were discussed very often over Family Radio for a couple of years before May 2011. The revisions to Mr. Camping’s timeline reflect what we have learned since 2011 (the feast of tabernacles has been deleted, because God shows us that this feast will be fulfilled in eternity; also, the timeline ends in a question mark because we do not know the last date and will not know it until it arrives).

 

Anyone who is familiar with the timeline should be thinking about it as soon as he or she reads Genesis 49:1.  Notice what Jacob told his sons: that he would tell them what “shall befall you in the last days.”  Our timeline includes the last three dates revealed by the Bible.  They are certainly important in any discussion of “the last days.”

 

This timeline begins in 1860 B.C. (see Time Has An End, p. 103 and Genesis 47:28 to determine this date) because that was the year of Jacob’s prophecies.  Thanks to Mr. Camping, we have a calendar of history going all the way back to Creation (in 11,013 B.C.); so our timeline could go back that far if needed.  However, to understand Genesis 49 our timeline starts in the year Jacob died – and that was when he spoke his amazing prophecies.

 

 

1.  Reuben

 

Here is what he said about Reuben (Genesis 49:3-4):

 

Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it : he went up to my couch.

 

We know that Jacob is here referring to Reuben’s sin of sexual immorality (Genesis 35:22).  However, this is also a prophecy: “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.”  What can this possibly mean?

 

From Genesis 49:1, we know that Jacob’s prophecies are in some way concerned with the last days; but that doesn’t mean the prophecy for each son must be about the last days.  In fact, if we compare Jacob’s prophecy about Reuben with the timeline’s end-time events, we don’t see any way they match.  However, instead of looking near the end of the timeline, suppose we look at the period after the Exodus.

 

More than 400 years after Jacob died, the children of Israel escaped from slavery in Egypt.  They soon forgot about the Lord’s commandments and began to worship a molten calf, as we read in Exodus 32:7-8:

 

And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.   

 

Sadly, this was not a one-time mistake.  It turned out to be the kind of sin they committed over and over, century after century.  If you read the book of Judges, you’ll learn that there were many times when the children of Israel worshipped false gods.  Then, perhaps worst of all, after Israel had become a kingdom and was at the height of its power under king Solomon, we read this in 1 Kings 11:5-8:

 

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

 

Because of this sin, the Lord told Solomon that He would tear the kingdom from him (1 Kings 11:9-13).  In order to see how this relates to the prophecy about Reuben, we need to keep two other ideas in mind.  First, God sometimes compares His relationship with His people as a marriage.  The worship of false gods is compared to a wife’s immoral behavior.  Hosea 2:13 is a verse where we see this idea expressed:

 

And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.    

 

The second thing to keep in mind is that God has also used the idea of a son to represent His people.  We see this in Hosea 11:1-2:

 

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. 2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

 

God is here referring to the children of Israel (at the time they came out of Egypt) as His son.  Notice that they soon “went from them;” that is, the children of Israel soon went from God to worship Baalim and graven images.  However, God associates the worship of false gods with sexual immorality.  So we can conclude that, in the prophecy, Reuben’s sexual immorality is a picture of Israel’s sin of worshipping false gods; and Reuben is a picture of the children of Israel from the time they left Egypt until the time of Solomon’s death.  They definitely did not excel.

 

 

2 -3.  Simeon and Levi:

 

The next prophecy concerns Simeon and Levi.  What Jacob said about them is found in Genesis 49:5-7:

 

Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

When Jacob said this, he was undoubtedly thinking about the incident involving his daughter Dinah, when Simeon and Levi killed all the males in a nearby city.  However, part of this statement is a prophecy.  At the end of verse 7, we read “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.”  Of course, this is the Lord telling us about something He would do in the future.  We can know what this prophecy means if we make 931 B.C. our next stop on the timeline.

 

That was the year Solomon died and his son Rehoboam began to rule (1 Kings 11:43).  Recall that God had told Solomon He would take the kingdom from his son (1 Kings 11:12-13).  The stage was all set for this to happen when Rehoboam became king.  You can read all about it in 1 Kings 12.

 

The kingdom was divided.  Most of the people followed a man named Jeroboam.  This new kingdom of Israel consisted of all the tribes except for Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21).  Rehoboam continued as their king, but he now ruled over a much smaller territory and number of people.  His kingdom was now known as Judah.

 

Under Jeroboam, the kingdom of Israel got off to a very bad start.  Jeroboam was afraid he would lose his kingdom when people went back to Jerusalem to worship during the annual feasts, so he had two golden calves made and established his own false religion (1 Kings 12:26-33).  In that way, he tried to keep his people in the territory he controlled.

 

When we look at the histories of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah from the time of the division until they were conquered, we don’t find many good kings.  There were eventually a few good kings in Judah (based on what the Bible tells us about them, e.g. Hezekiah), but most were bad; and it doesn’t appear that there were any good kings in Israel.  As usual, the problem in each kingdom was the worship of false gods.  Eventually, God brought Assyria against the kingdom of Israel, and in 709 B.C. it was conquered.  Then in 587 B.C., Jerusalem was destroyed; and so the kingdom of Judah also came to an end.  As each kingdom fell centuries after the monarchy was divided, its people (the ten tribes of Israel and then the two tribes of Judah) were scattered throughout the region in accordance with Jacob’s prophecy.

 

 

4.  Judah:

 

The prophecy about Judah is very different than all the others.  We will see that each of the other brothers is a picture of God’s people at some time during God’s salvation plan, from the time of the Exodus until the end of the world.  However, Judah is a picture of the Lord Jesus.  (We will also see that the prophecy about Joseph is very special.)  Here is Jacob’s prophecy about Judah.  It’s found in Genesis 49:8-12:

 

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. 11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: 12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

 

This prophecy takes us to the year 7 B.C. on the timeline.  That was the year the Lord Jesus was born.  Notice that verse 9 refers to Judah as a “whelp.”  You might also see it translated as the word “cub” if you’re using a version other than the KJV.  A whelp or a cub is a young animal, and that’s a picture of the Lord Jesus as a young boy.  That same verse mentions an old lion.  Indeed, the Lord Jesus was a man of about 38 years old when He was crucified.  In a vision years later, the apostle John heard the Lord Jesus called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, as we read in Revelation 5:5:

 

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

 

Continuing with the prophecy, Genesis 49:10 tells us about the Lord’s power as king and lawgiver.  The words “gathering of the people” may be a reference to the last day, when all true believers will join in the Rapture and Resurrection to meet the Lord in the air.  They will be gathered to Him (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and John 11:52).

 

The first part of verse 11 mentions a foal with a vine, and then an ass’s colt with a “choice vine.”  These two pairings may refer to the Lord’s relationship with both the Jewish nation of His day (most of whom were unsaved) and also with the true believers.

 

Next, we find references to wine and milk in verses 11 and 12.  Some New Testament verses help us understand what they represent.  In 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, we read about milk being fed to the believers at Corinth.  There, milk represents basic truths from the Bible; these are things that are easier to understand or accept than other Biblical truths we eventually learn.  Of course, the Lord Jesus was exposed to those teachings because He grew up in a Jewish household.

 

What about wine and “the blood of grapes?”  In each of the four Gospel accounts, we read something about the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before He was arrested.  There’s a reference to a cup in each account.  Here is the Luke 22:42 version:

 

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

 

When we search for verses to help us understand what this means, we find that God sometimes uses the idea of a cup to symbolize His judgment against the unsaved.  We see this in Revelation 14:10:

 

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

 

The Lord’s eyes are “red with wine,” according to Genesis 49:12, because He drank the cup of God’s wrath as the penalty for all those whom He saved.

 

In addition to seeing how the prophecy was fulfilled in the New Testament, it’s very interesting to notice how a couple of verses about events in the life of Jacob’s son Judah are apparently relevant to the prophecy.  One such verse is Genesis 43:9:

 

I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

 

Here, Judah is speaking to his father Jacob about Benjamin.  He is promising to return Benjamin to his father after they go to Egypt to buy food.  Judah and his brothers still did not know at that time that the man with whom they had spoken on their first trip to Egypt was actually their brother Joseph.  On that first trip, Joseph had insisted that the brothers bring Benjamin when they return; otherwise he would not see them.  Jacob was afraid to let Benjamin go, but he felt he had no choice because the family needed food.  Judah’s guarantee to save Benjamin is like the Lord’s guarantee to save His people (see John 17:12).

 

Another relevant verse appears to be Genesis 46:28:

 

And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

 

Here, we see that Jacob chose Judah to lead the move into Goshen.  In Genesis 47:6, Goshen is called the “best of the land.”  So God may be giving us a hint that Judah here represents the Lord Jesus leading His people to the Promised Land.  This too is consistent with Jacob’s prophecy about Judah, the son whose name means “praised.”

 

As we read about various people in the Bible, it’s important to realize that someone may be a picture of something spiritual in one verse or situation; but that picture may not apply in another verse about the same person.  This is certainly the case with Jacob’s son Judah.  Many verses about him have nothing to do with Jacob’s prophecy about him.  This is one of the ways God has made it so difficult to understand truth.

 

 

5.  Zebulun:

 

We’ve seen that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah is a picture of the Lord Jesus during His time on earth from 7 B.C. until the Crucifixion.  That happened April 1, 33 A.D., and that’s where we are as of Genesis 49:12.  In order to understand the prophecy about Zebulun, we only have to move a short distance on the timeline to the next stop, several weeks later.

 

On Pentecost, May 22, in 33 A.D., God poured out the Holy Spirit to begin the Church Age.  The prophecy about Zebulun is all about the Church Age.  Here is that prophecy, from Genesis 49:13:

 

Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.     

 

You probably know that the apostle Paul recorded more of the New Testament than anyone else.  He sailed all over the Mediterranean and started many congregations (for a site with maps of Paul’s missionary journeys, see http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journeys.htm).  We have his epistles to Christians at Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica and Rome.  He may also have written to many other congregations – letters that were not included in the Bible (e.g., see Colossians 4:16).

 

Do you see how this relates to the prophecy?  Zebulun is a picture of God’s people sending out ships to spread the Gospel all over the world, and of people accepting the Gospel when the ships land.  This activity continued throughout the Church Age until 1988.  Until then, it was still possible to be saved – at least in some local congregations.  That all ended on May 21, 1988, and that’s where we are stopped on the timeline right now.

 

 

6.  Issachar:

 

Before Jacob made his prophetic statements about his sons, he spoke of his two grandsons, who were Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh.  He prophesied that the younger (Ephraim) would be greater than the older, but that each would become a great people (Genesis 48:19).  So we see there a picture of two great groups of people.  You may know that this prophecy matches something we find in God’s salvation plan as pictured in the annual feasts God commanded ancient Israel to observe (Leviticus 23).  Those feasts include the feast of firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10) and a second feast held later in the year (Leviticus 23:39), when the larger harvest had been gathered.

 

Now let’s think about the Church Age.  It lasted for 1,955 years.  The Bible reveals that when it ended no one was being saved anywhere.  This period without salvation lasted for a few years, from May 21, 1988 until September 7, 1994.  That’s when God began the latter rain.  This was the time when He began saving a great multitude all over the earth.  It was also a time of judgment against the churches, because they did not participate in this blessing of salvation.  God has given us a picture of this change in His salvation plan in the sign He gave Gideon (Judges 6:36-40).  Do you recall that?  First, there was dew only on the fleece; but then, the dew fell everywhere except on the fleece.

 

During the Church Age, the local congregations were like that fleece.  They had the dew, and that’s where people were saved.  Then, during the latter rain, it was possible to be saved anywhere the word of God was heard – except in a local congregation of a Christian church.  And so we again see two great groups represented: one of them saved during the Church Age, and the second, larger group saved during an end-time period.

 

That great period of salvation we call the latter rain ended just before May 21, 2011.  The second group of God’s elect had by that time been saved.  That was the great multitude the apostle John saw in a vision (Revelation 7:9).  This great multitude from all over earth was saved after a smaller group (represented by 144,000 in Revelation 7:4) had been saved throughout the Church Age.

 

Recall that the prophecy about Zebulun matches the perod from 33 A.D. until May 21, 1988.  That’s our present stop on the timeline; but we’re about to move again.  Keeping all of this background in mind, we can now read Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar, found in Genesis 49:14-15:

 

Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

 

This mysterious prophecy is packed with meaning.  Each of Jacob’s prophecies about his sons is amazing, but this may be the most amazing prophecy of all.  What does it mean?

 

First of all, we need to recognize that verse 14 could have been better translated.  The word “burdens” is Strong’s number H4942, “mishpath.”  It’s only used in one other place in the Bible (Judges 5:16), and there it’s translated as “sheepfolds.”  A sheepfold is an enclosed area where a flock of sheep is kept.  So the picture we see in verse 14 is that of an animal like a donkey lying down near two sheepfolds.  Think of the verse as being translated like this:

 

“Issachar is a strong ass lying down between two sheepfolds.”

 

Notice how the prophecy matches what we know of God’s salvation plan.  It is telling of the time after the great multitude (Revelation 7:9) has been saved out of the great tribulation (Revelation 7:14).  It shows God’s people resting from their labor of bringing the Gospel to the world.  Here, Issachar is a picture of God’s people after the latter rain has ended.  So we move along the timeline from May 21, 1988 to May 21, 2011.

 

As of that date, the two big groups we read about in Revelation 7 have been saved and are in their sheepfolds.  The sheepfold gates are closed, and no more sheep can enter in at either sheepfold.  In other words, it’s a picture of the time when salvation has ended permanently.  In fact, Genesis 49:14 is a picture of God’s people today.

 

Genesis 49:15 provides additional details:

 

And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

 

The verse tells us they “saw” the rest.  When we see how the word “rest” (H4496) is used in other verses, we can conclude that the verse appears to teach that God’s people understand the truth about salvation: that they cannot work for it.  However, the verse may also teach that God’s people understand that salvation has ended.  This is consistent with the prophecy’s first verse, because Issachar is lying down.

 

What about the next part of the verse?  It tells us they saw the land, that it was pleasant.  When we understand what God tells us about this world, we can rule out the possibility that God’s people should think of it as being pleasant; so the verse must be telling us that God’s people are thinking of the new heavens and earth.  They are anticipating the Lord’s return and looking forward to their lives with Him in His kingdom.

 

The verse continues in a way that, at first glance, appears to contradict the first part of the prophecy.  The second part of verse 15 tells us that Issachar “bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.”  If Issachar is lying down and resting, then why is he working?

 

There’s a passage in Matthew 17 that helps us understand.  Matthew 17:24-25 states:

 

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?  He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

 

Here, the idea of paying tribute has to do with submitting to those who are in authority over us in this world.  In the above verses, it has to do with paying taxes.  Therefore, the prophecy about Issachar being a “servant unto tribute” appears to be showing us a picture of God’s people living as good citizens in whichever nations they are.  It implies that they’re living a normal life, trying to earn a living and be obedient to the laws of the land, always mindful that this is a wicked and God-rejecting world.

 

This picture of Issachar as God’s end-time elect continues until the last day.  There is no other timeline event after May 21, 2011 until the rapture/resurrection, and that’s exactly what the prophecy about Dan is all about.

 

 

7.  Dan:

 

Jacob’s prophecy about Dan comes right after his prophecy about Issachar.  It’s found in Genesis 49:16-18:

 

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. 17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. 18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.

 

God gives us some clues that this prophecy concerns the last day.  First of all, we know that the Rapture and Resurrection will be a judgment (Dan is “a judge”) against all those who are following a false gospel.  Most people who today consider themselves as Christians follow a works-based gospel – what Mr. Camping used to call a do-it-yourself salvation plan.  They are certain they have been saved because of something they have done or continue to do (e.g., baptism in water, a public confession of faith, regular attendance at mass).  The Bible shows us that the Resurrection and Rapture will be a judgment against them because they will realize that they have been left behind on earth after the elect have been taken up to heaven.

 

Another clue about the meaning of this prophecy is its similarity to something found in Revelation 9.  There, we read about the sounding of the sixth trumpet (verses 13-21), and what the apostle John saw in a vision associated with that trumpet.  In the vision, John saw a great army of horsemen riding horses having tails like serpents (verse 19).  In other verses from Revelation, this event is described as a battle against a great earthly army gathered by Satan.  The horses with the serpent-like tails represent a heavenly army (all of those who have been saved) bringing God’s judgment against an earthly army, who represent the unsaved (see Revelation 16:13-16 and Revelation 19:17-21).  That’s the meaning of “biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.”

 

The first two verses of the Dan prophecy tell of the judgment aspect of the Rapture/Resurrection.  The third verse (Genesis 49:18) also points to the last day, but in a different way.  The words “I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD” tell us about the completion of salvation.  This verse is not telling us that salvation continues after the Issachar prophecy.  To understand this, read Exodus 14:13:

 

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

 

The word salvation used in Genesis 49:18 is the same Hebrew word used for “salvation” here, telling us the children of Israel saw “the salvation of the LORD.”  However, from the book of Exodus we know this does not mean the children of Israel were saved.  On the contrary, only Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb and maybe a few others were saved out of that whole multitude of people.

 

The children of Israel saw the Lord’s salvation that day because God saved them from the Egyptian army.  The situation on the last day will be similar for the elect because those who are still alive will be rescued from this world.  Also, all the elect will see their salvation completed as they inherit their immortal bodies.

 

The prophecies we have covered so far span God’s salvation plan from the Exodus until the last day.   With the prophecy about Dan, we have come to the end of the timeline; but there are still five prophecies to go.  What do we do with them?

 

There is really no problem here, once we realize that God has done something similar to what we see in the book of Revelation.  There, we find that visions corresponding to the seven seals and seven trumpets follow in chronological order.   However, the visions that come afterwards do not follow chronologically.  With Jacob’s prophecies, the situation is similar, but maybe not so difficult to understand.

 

Recall that the prophecy for Zebulun extends to the end of the Church Age, during which a large group of people was saved; but the prophecy for Issachar begins after the great multitude – the second large group of elect – has already been saved.  In other words, the entire period of the great tribulation was skipped.  In Jacob’s remaining prophecies, God goes back to that period to show us five different pictures of His people living during those days.

 

 

8.  Gad:

 

Jacob’s prophecy about Gad is found in Genesis 49:19:

 

Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

 

Notice that Gad will be “overcome.”  Compare that with what we find in Revelation 11:7, where we read about the two witnesses.  They represent those who bring an end-time warning that God’s judgment is near:

 

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.

 

There are several places in the Bible where God reveals that His people are overcome or silenced in some way in the last days.  The prophecy about Gad is one of them.

 

We now know how it happened.  As part of the warning that May 21, 2011 would be Judgment Day, the world was also told to expect an enormous global earthquake, followed by the Rapture and Resurrection.   Since there was no physical sign of any kind that day, those who brought the warnings have been discredited in the world’s eyes.  Many have suffered much more than loss of credibility, besides sorrow and disappointment.

 

In this way, “Gad” has been overcome; but the verse also tells us that Gad – that is, God’s people – shall overcome at the last.  This is clearly a reference to the Rapture and Resurrection on the last day.  In fact, the Hebrew word translated “at the last” is the same word found in the prophecy about Dan (Strong’s number H6119, “aqeb”), where it’s translated as “heels,” as in horse heels.   Therefore, Gad is also that “serpent by the way” bringing judgment on the last day when he is caught up to heaven.

 

 

9.  Asher:

 

Recall that the name Asher means “happy.”  Therefore, we should expect the prophecy about him to imply that God’s people will be happy about something in the last days.  This prophecy is another short one, and it’s found in Genesis 49:20:

 

Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

 

When we check the word translated here as “bread” in a concordance, we find that it’s the same word used to describe the manna with which God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4).  Recall that the Lord Jesus compared Himself with that bread (John 6:41).  Also, the Lord is called the Word in the fourth Gospel (John 1:1).  Based on these verses, it appears that Asher’s bread represents the spiritual food we get from the Bible when God opens His word to our understanding.

 

The word “fat” is used in several verses in the Old Testament.  For example, in Ezekiel 34:14 we find the term “fat pasture.”  The idea is that there is a great abundance of something.  The prophecy, therefore, seems to be telling us that God will open His word to reveal truth abundantly – to reveal things that have never before been understood.

 

The second part of the verse tells us “he shall yield royal dainties.”  The word translated here as “yield” is also found in Psalm 85:12, where it’s used with the idea of land that yields a crop.  This part of the prophecy, therefore, appears to be telling us about the fruit of the Spirit developing in God’s people during the last days as they wait for the Lord to return.  In this way, Asher will yield “royal dainties.”  That’s a development that will be pleasing to God.

 

 

10.  Naphtali:

 

Here is the prophecy about Naphtali from Genesis 49:21:

 

Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

 

We might think it strange that Naphtali is called a “hind,” but we can understand why he is after we have read the Song of Solomon.  Here is the last verse of that book, Song of Solomon 8:14:

 

Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

 

The beloved in this verse is the Lord Jesus, and the speaker is a maiden who is a picture of true believers waiting for the Lord’s return on the last day.  Notice that the Lord is compared to a hart, which is a male deer.  A hind, on the other hand, is a female deer.

 

In many places in the Bible, God pictures His relationship with the elect as a marriage.  The Church – being the entire body of believers – is pictured as a bride (e.g., see Revelation 21:9).  In the Song of Solomon and (by logical extension) in Jacob’s prophecy about Naphtali, we find that relationship represented by a hart and a hind.

 

The prophecy tells us that Naphtali is a hind “let loose.”  When we check a concordance to see how the corresponding Hebrew word is used, we find that most of the time it’s translated as “send” or “send away” or something close to that.  It is Strong’s number H7971, “shalach,” and it’s the word used in Exodus in verses where the Lord commands Pharaoh to let the people go (e.g., Exodus 9:13).

 

From the context of this prophecy, we know that Naphtali is in some way a picture of the elect during the great tribulation.  It appears that Naphtali represents those who were saved during the latter rain.  They heard the warning that Judgment Day was approaching, and they were saved.  They were released or let go from Satan’s kingdom after the “wrestling” or struggles of those who warned the world about Judgment Day and prayed that their efforts would be effectual.

 

The last part of the prophecy tells us Naphtali “giveth goodly words.”  This part of the verse appears to be well translated, and fits well with what we have learned so far.  The “goodly words” appear to be referring to prayers of those who had become saved.  We can see this from the way “words” is used in Psalm 19:14 and 54:2.  However, “goodly words” might also refer to the testimony of the end-time elect if they too preached the Gospel after they had been saved.  The latter rain lasted for several years, so some people who had been saved then could have joined in proclaiming the approach of Judgment Day.

 

 

11.  Joseph:

 

Even a quick look at the prophecy concerning Joseph shows that this one is very different than the others.  Here it is, from Genesis 49:22-26:

 

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him , and hated him: 24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) 25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: 26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

 

This is the longest of Jacob’s 12 prophecies, even a bit longer than the one about Judah.  Also, notice how Joseph is blessed.  The blessings pronounced on him are far beyond any blessings pronounced on the other sons.

 

There are actually two different ways to understand this prophecy; but we don’t have to choose one of them because God gives us enough evidence to know that both are valid.  To begin, let’s take a look at a couple of events in Joseph’s life.  In Genesis 37:9-10, we read a description of a dream Joseph had:

 

And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?  

 

Joseph told the dream to his father, and Jacob apparently wasn’t very happy when he heard it.  In many other Bible verses, we find that stars are used to represent the elect; but we also know that God’s people don’t bow down to another believer.  God has shown this to us in a couple of ways.  For instance, in Revelation 22:8-9 we read:

 

And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

 

Therefore, the way to understand Joseph’s dream is to realize that God is using him there to represent the Lord Jesus.  Here’s another verse in which Joseph is a picture of the Lord – Genesis 45:7:

 

And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

 

Here, Joseph is telling his brothers that their plot against him was actually part of God’s purpose to bring him to power in Egypt, where he would make preparations for the great famine.  In a general sense, this is something the Lord had already done, and on a far greater scale.  That’s because it was God’s purpose to save a people for Himself out of all humanity – a process begun before the foundation of the world.  That’s when the Lord Jesus paid for the sins of the elect and began “a great deliverance.”

 

When we think about the things mentioned in the Joseph prophecy, we can see how they fit into the Lord’s life.  First of all, look at the first verse.  It compares Joseph to a fruitful bough with branches.  Compare that with what the Lord Jesus is quoted as saying in John 15:5:

 

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

 

The next verse in the prophecy also fits as a description of the Lord.  It tells us “archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.”  Recall the prophecy made in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were about to be cast out.  It’s Genesis 3:15:

 

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 

So in Jacob’s prophecy, the idea of Joseph being “sorely grieved” or hurt in some way obviously fits the Lord’s experience.   The prophecy then mentions Joseph’s bow.  Notice how the Lord is pictured as having a bow in Lamentations 2:4:

 

He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.  

 

In the prophecy’s last verse, we see mention of a crown.  Here is a verse telling us that the Lord Jesus has a crown – Revelation 14:14:

 

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

 

Genesis 49:26 ends by referring to Joseph as “him that was separate from his brethren.”  Of course, it’s a well-known story about Joseph’s brothers planning to kill him and then selling him into slavery; but the Lord Jesus was also separated from His brothers.  We read about that in Acts 1:9-11, which took place immediately after He had spoken with His disciples for the last time:

 

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

 

Notice the words “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven.”  The day the Lord ascended into heaven, He left His disciples behind – looking up at a cloud in the sky where He disappeared.  Recall what the Lord said when someone told Him that His mother and brothers were waiting for Him.  In Matthew 12:48-49, we read:

 

But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

 

Therefore, we can say that the Lord Jesus was “separate from his brethren” when He ascended into heaven, and so He also fulfilled that part of Jacob’s prophecy (Genesis 49:26).

 

There is no doubt that the prophecy about Joseph points to the Lord Jesus, and we’ve seen how He fulfilled it.  However, the prophecy also works as a picture of God’s people during the great tribulation and afterwards.  Let’s see how it does.

 

First of all, notice that Joseph is called “a fruitful bough” (Genesis 49:22).  Here is another verse in which the Hebrew word for “fruitful” (Strong’s number H6509, “parah”) is used – Genesis 48:4:

 

And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.

 

This verse quotes something the Lord said to Jacob.  We find the same word “parah” used in several other verses in the same way.  It’s associated with the idea that God will multiply the number of His people.  That happened to “Joseph” because God used the proclamation of the Gospel to save a great multitude of people during the latter rain.  Joseph is a picture of God’s people warning the world about the approaching end of salvation, with the result that a great many people were saved.

 

In the prophecy’s next verse, we read “The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.”  This is another one of several verses showing that God’s people are in some way overcome or injured in the last days.  It matches Jacob’s prophecy about Gad (Genesis 49:19), and concerns the world’s reaction after May 21, 2011 to those who had warned the world about Judgment Day.

 

In Genesis 49:24, we read about Joseph’s bow.  There is something very interesting about a bow in 2 Samuel 1:17:

 

And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: 18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

 

Any commentary you read about these verses will probably tell you that “the bow” is the name of the lamentation recorded in verses 19 to 27.  However, we must not jump to this conclusion.  Elsewhere in the Bible, when we read the words someone spoke on a particular occasion, there is a particular word describing the quote (e.g., song or psalm).

 

In this case, verse 18 actually seems to be telling us that David wanted his soldiers to learn how to use a bow. That is of great significance if you realize that David is often a picture of the Lord Jesus.  It also makes sense for David to say such a thing.  After all, Israel had just suffered a great defeat.  David would naturally be concerned about improving the capabilities of his army.

 

Indeed, the elect are pictured as having a bow in some verses.  Jeremiah 50:14 is one of them:

 

Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.  

 

The wicked are also pictured using a bow, as in Psalm 37:14.  (They are pictured with a sword too, as in Revelation 6:4, because they use the word of God for their own selfish purposes, with the frequent result that they persecute others.)  However, what’s important for our understanding is that the end-time elect meet all the requirements in Jacob’s prophecy about Joseph.

 

Continuing with Jacob’s prophecy, read again about the blessings pronounced on Joseph.  There are blessings of heaven, the deep, the breasts and the womb.  The blessings of heaven include God’s promise of the new heavens and the new earth, and that His people (who are spiritual descendants of Jacob) would be greatly increased in number.  The prophecy apparently also includes material blessings (as in Leviticus 25:21).  We might think it strange that God promises prosperity to any of His people, but it definitely makes sense in this case.  Remember, millions of dollars were spent in the effort to warn the world about the approach of Judgment Day.  This money was raised by many thousands of people all over the world who were able to donate it.

 

“Blessings of the breast” apparently refer to the “milk” of God’s word: those who brought the warnings about Judgment Day had access to the true Gospel.  These were people who were outside the local congregations of Christian churches, where a false gospel was preached.  “Blessings of the deep” and “the womb” also fit perfectly into this portrait of God’s people during the great tribulation.  Those blessings appear to tell us of the many people who were saved during that time.  They represent people being born again, or rescued from the condition of being under God’s judgment (the deep).

 

Genesis 49:26 tells of a crown for Joseph.  Several verses mention a crown for the elect.  Revelation 3:11 is one such verse:

 

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.        

 

So the promise of a crown applies to God’s people during the great tribulation (and of course during earlier periods too).  Finally, the prophecy refers to Joseph as “him that was separate from his brethren.”  Can you see how this also perfectly fits this picture of God’s people during the great tribulation?  Those who left the local congregations left their “brethren” behind.  The decision to leave was undoubtedly a difficult one in many cases; but as more people realized that the churches were teaching a false gospel, they made that decision and left.  Some of those who left eventually shared their knowledge and the warnings about Judgment Day with many others.

 

 

12.  Benjamin:

 

Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

There’s not much to this prophecy– just one verse, Genesis 49:27.  However, in the context of Jacob’s other prophecies, it’s enough for us to understand much of what God is telling us about Benjamin.  In several places in the Bible, God uses nighttime as His setting to illustrate the Lord’s return on the last day.  We also know that the elect will inherit the new heavens and earth on the last day.  These two pieces of information allow us to understand the second part of the verse: Benjamin is a picture of God’s people on the last day.  That’s when they will “divide the spoil” and receive their inheritance.

 

Notice that the verse also contrasts night with morning by telling us “in the morning he shall devour the prey.”   We’ve learned that night is used to indicate a time when salvation has ended; so morning in this verse must refer to the time when salvation was still possible.  That was during the latter rain – the period that lasted almost 17 years until May in 2011.  God is apparently showing us that Benjamin participated in bringing the message about Judgment Day.  The words “devour the prey” suggests judgment on the unsaved as they hear and reject the message.  There’s much more we can say about Benjamin as a picture of God’s people during the great tribulation; but first we need to look at some events in his life and in the life of his older brother.

 

 

A Closer Look at Joseph and Benjamin

 

We’ve seen how Jacob’s prophecies about his sons reveal God’s end-time salvation plan and show us pictures of His people at various times.  In a few of those prophecies, there are obvious references to events in the lives of Jacob’s sons.  We saw that Jacob’s prophecies about Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Joseph (as pictures of God’s people) all refer to actual events in their lives.  Now we need to take a closer look at some verses concerning Joseph and Benjamin.

 

At the very end of Genesis, we read about Joseph’s death.  In Genesis 50:24, we read:

 

And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

 

We know that this statement was also a prophecy, because over three hundred years after Joseph made it God did visit His people: He picked Moses to lead them out of Egypt and eventually into the Promised Land.  Notice how God emphasizes this idea in the next verse, Genesis 50:25:

 

And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

 

Here for a second time we see the words “God will surely visit you.”  A repetition like that should get our attention.  In fact, when we think about it we see that Joseph’s statement fits perfectly into Jacob’s prophecy about him as a picture of the elect during the great tribulation.

 

In the prophecies, Issachar and all the sons mentioned after Dan represent God’s people after salvation has ended; but Joseph’s last words reveal that God is showing us something special about him.  It is this: Joseph is a picture of those who die while waiting for the Lord’s return. The prophecy shows that the Lord does not return quickly after salvation ends.  In this picture, years go by and “Joseph” dies, with his last words as a reminder of God’s promise to those who remain.  It’s as if he tells them “God will return, and when He does you will carry me up with you to meet Him in the air.”

 

Joseph is a picture of those who don’t live long enough to see the last day, and Benjamin is a picture of those who do.  Certain events in his life support this understanding.  First of all, recall that Benjamin’s mother died as soon as he was born (see Genesis 35:17-18).  This event matches his position in the sequence of Jacob’s prophecies – he is last.  It shows that Benjamin represents the last group to be saved.  After him, there are no longer any “blessings of the womb.”  Salvation ends right after “Benjamin” is saved.

 

We also need to remember that Benjamin was Joseph’s younger brother.  We find a similar relationship in the Song of Solomon.  There, we read about a maiden, who represents end-time believers (see Song of Solomon 5:5-7).  The maiden’s little sister (Song of Solomon 8:8-9) also represents the last group to be saved.  Notice what we read about the little sister in Song of Solomon 8:8: there will be no “milk” for any one else, and so there will be no more true believers.  And the Bible gives us another picture of the last believers to remain on earth: that’s Lazarus.  We see that in John 21:20-24.  Yes, that disciple was Lazarus – not the apostle John.

 

Next, notice how Benjamin is treated in Genesis 43:34 and Genesis 45:22.  God is showing us that Benjamin is blessed more than the other ten brothers who have come to Joseph.  This is also consistent with what we have learned about Benjamin as a picture of the end-time elect.  He is blessed above the other brothers because he never dies.  He is a picture of the believers who are taken up in the Rapture.  All the other believers will be resurrected, because they will have died before the last day; but “Benjamin” will live to see the Lord return.

 

Besides all this, there are two interesting facts about the tribe descended from Benjamin, and they appear to fit very well with our understanding of the Benjamin prophecy as a picture of the last believers.  First, look at what we find in 1 Chronicles 12:2:

 

They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin.

 

This verse is describing a group of elite warriors from the tribe of Benjamin.  They came to help David when Saul was hunting him.  Now consider this.  We’ve learned that God has a reason for everything He put in the Bible; so why would He tell us about these men?  The answer could be God is telling us that, among the last believers to remain on earth, there will be some who have a great understanding and ability to use God’s word.

 

Many people know that a sword is used to represent the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).  Well, a stone hurled from a sling, or an arrow shot from a bow can also represent the word of God.  This way of understanding 1 Chronicles 12:2 is consistent with what we have already learned.  Recall that in Jacob’s prophecy about Asher, God shows that He will open His word to reveal wonderful new truths to end-time believers.  By the time the last day finally arrives, God will have opened the Bible to its maximum extent.  The last believers alive should have a better understanding of God’s word than those at any other time in history.  Therefore, they should be able to destroy any false teaching by accurately using God’s word.

 

There’s another fact about the tribe of Benjamin, but this one is not good news.  In 1 Samuel 9:21, we read:

 

And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?

 

Here, God is telling us that Benjamin is the smallest tribe.  The book of Judges explains why that is.  The tribe was almost wiped out in a war with Israel’s other tribes, because they refused to hand over men who were responsible for a horrible crime.  The tribe survived, but its numbers were greatly reduced (Judges 21:17).

 

This piece of information about the tribe of Benjamin also fits the prophecy.  It shows us that many years will pass before the Lord returns.  “Benjamin” will be small because many of those believers who brought the warning about Judgment Day in 2011 will no longer be alive on the last day.

 

With that last piece of information about Benjamin, we can now see how Jacob’s last two prophecies fit together.   First, we have Joseph as a picture of those end-time believers who brought the warning about Judgment Day, but will not live long enough to see the Lord’s return.  Next, we have Joseph again – this time as a picture of the Lord Jesus.  That prophecy will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus returns on the last day.  Finally, we have Benjamin as a picture of end-time believers who live to see the Lord’s return.  That’s the group we read about in 1 Thessalonians 4:17:

 

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 

These are the “Benjamites” who “divide the spoil” at night.

 

 

Related Blessings by Moses

 

Before dying, Moses blessed the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:1-25).  When we compare these blessings with Jacob’s prophecies, we find some interesting similarities; but there are some differences too.

 

 

Reuben, Judah, Levi, Benjamin and Joseph

 

Moses first blessed the tribe of Reuben, and we find that blessing in Deuteronomy 33:6:

 

Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.

 

Look closely at that verse.  The word “not” is in italics because the translators added it.  They probably couldn’t believe that Moses would “bless” Reuben with “let his men be few.”  But that’s what Moses said.  Remember that in Jacob’s prophecy about Reuben, he said Reuben would “not excel.”

 

In that prophecy, Reuben is a picture of the children of Israel when the Lord brought them out of Egypt, continuing until the kingdom was eventually divided.  Based on Moses’ statement, we can conclude that relatively few people were saved during that whole period of time.

 

It’s interesting that we see confirmation of this in the book of Revelation.   There we read about the two large groups of people whom God has saved.  One group was saved during the entire church age, and the other was saved during the great tribulation.  We might wonder about those who were saved before the church age began, going all the way back to creation.  God apparently answers that question by telling us about the elders who are with Him in heaven.  We read about them in Revelation 5:8:

 

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

 

Notice there are 24 elders, and that number can be broken down into two little groups of 12 each.  By giving us that number, God appears to be showing us that He had saved two small groups before the church age began.  We know from Revelation that the two large groups were saved after the church age began: one group came out of the church age and the other out of the great tribulation.  The 24 elders match these two groups and apparently show us that there was also a division made before Jacob’s time.  Perhaps the number shows that a small group was saved from creation until the flood, and another from Noah’s day until around the time the church age began.  However, compared to the two large groups, their numbers were indeed few.

 

After blessing Reuben, Moses next blessed the tribe of Judah.  Deuteronomy 33:7 states:

 

And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.

 

We know that Jacob’s prophecy about Judah concerns the Lord Jesus.  What Moses said about Judah also fits this picture.  Notice the words “bring him unto his people.”  That happened when the Lord was born in 7 B.C.  The verse is also a blessing for help in the ordeal that the Lord would face in 33 A.D.

 

The fact that Judah comes second indicates that, in these blessings, Reuben may be a picture of the children of Israel from the Exodus all the way up to the time when the Lord Jesus was born.

 

Next, Moses spoke of Levi.  This is a fairly long blessing (Deuteronomy 33:8-11), and it’s definitely different than Jacob’s prophecy about Levi and Simeon together.  First of all, there is no mention of Simeon here.  In fact, that tribe is just not mentioned anywhere in these blessings; so it’s clear that God is using Levi in a different way here.

 

First, notice that in Deuteronomy 33:8 we find a reference to the time when the children of Israel were in the wilderness at Meribah (Exodus 17:7).  That was one of several incidents when they sinned.  It’s a picture of unsaved people.  However, the blessing on Levi also clearly refers to the elect (as in verses 10 and 11: e.g., “they shall put incense before thee,” and “Bless, LORD, his substance”).  We know that even during Israel’s time in the wilderness, at least a few people there were saved.  Then throughout the church age and latter rain, salvation continued.  So “Levi” appears to be a picture of God’s people through the ages, from the time of the Exodus until salvation ended after the latter rain.

 

The blessing for Benjamin is found in Deuteronomy 33:12.  There doesn’t appear to be anything about it pointing to a particular period of time.  However, this blessing is consistent with Jacob’s prophecy about Benjamin, and with the preceding blessing for Levi as a picture of the elect right up to end-times, and also with the blessing on Joseph that follows.

 

When we read what Moses said about Joseph in Deuteronomy 33:13-17, we must conclude that here again we are seeing a picture of the Lord Jesus.  Once more, many blessings are pronounced on him.  Verse 17 mentions his glory and also horns – a symbol of power.  We read that he shall “push the people together to the ends of the earth.”  This blessing about “Joseph” doesn’t work as a picture of the elect in this case.  It can only be a picture of the Lord.

 

Up to this point in the sequence of Moses’ blessings, we’ve gone from a picture of Israel (Reuben) in the wilderness and continuing until the Lord Jesus came (Judah).  Then we have Levi and his children.  They fit as a picture of the external representation of the kingdom of God from the time of the Exodus until the very end of salvation.  Then comes Benjamin; he still fits as a picture of the last group of true believers, because he is right before Joseph – who represents the Lord Jesus. Joseph’s position in the list indicates that he is a picture of the Lord returning on the last day.  These blessings account for five of Jacob’s sons.  The remaining blessings concern six of Jacob’s sons: Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali and Asher.

 

 

Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali and Asher

 

Verses 18 and 19 cover the blessings on Zebulun and Issachar.  However, before reading that blessing, notice something about the blessing for Joseph.  In Deuteronomy 33:17, we read: “…he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

 

We’ve seen that Ephraim and Manasseh represent the two great groups of people whom God planned to save throughout the church age and the great tribulation, respectively.  Manasseh corresponds to those saved during the church age, and Ephraim to those saved during the great tribulation.  Recall also that Jacob’s prophecy about Zebulun told of people who “dwell at the haven of the sea” and are “a haven of ships.”  It was a picture of God’s people going out in ships to spread the Gospel, with the result that many people were saved.  Notice how Moses’ blessing of Zebulun confirms this understanding, because Zebulun is told to rejoice “in thy going out.”  In Deuteronomy 33:18-19 we read:

 

And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents. 19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.   

 

The blessing also tells us that “Zebulun” would call the people “unto the mountain.”  This happened when the elect who spread the Gospel during the church age called men to repentance and to God.  The result was that many were saved – they were rescued out of the “seas” and the “sand.”  And it’s very important to notice that the blessing is for Zebulun to rejoice “in thy going out.”  That certainly agrees with Jacob’s prophecy about Zebulun and the idea of ships sailing out to spread the Gospel.

 

Moses’ blessing about Issachar also matches Jacob’s prophecy, but it actually shows us pictures of God’s people at two different times.  In Jacob’s prophecy, we see “Issachar” at rest between the two sheepfolds of Manasseh and Ephraim.  Moses’ blessing of Issachar certainly matches the prophecy, for it tells Issachar to rejoice “in thy tents.”  It confirms the end of salvation, because “Issachar” is now staying in his “tents.”  But Moses’ blessing of Issachar also tells of calling the people “unto the mountain.”

 

There is no contradiction here, because that is what “Issachar” did before “lying down.”  Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar is a picture of God’s people after the two big groups have been saved.  Moses’ blessing of Issachar refers to that time too (post May 2011) in Deuteronomy 33:18; but it also refers to the final period of salvation (from September 1994 until May 2011), when God’s people were actively bringing the Gospel by announcing the approach of Judgment Day.  Of course, the result of that effort was that a “great multitude” (Revelation 7:9, 14) was saved, and in that way “Issachar” also called the people “unto the mountain.”

 

The remaining blessings are mysterious, but they are compatible with the corresponding prophecies that Jacob spoke about his sons.  In Deuteronomy 33:20-21, we find Moses’ blessing of Gad:

 

And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. 21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.

 

This blessing tells of Gad being enlarged.  That happened during the great tribulation before “Gad” was overcome (Genesis 49:19).  Gad is a picture of God’s people being “enlarged” because more people became saved during the latter rain.  The blessing also tells us that Gad “provided the first part for himself.”  Other translations render this idea as Gad choosing the best of the land or the best land.  This clearly refers to the inheritance that God’s people will receive.

 

Also, notice that Gad was with “the heads of the people” and “executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.”  This part of the blessing supports our understanding that the end-time warnings before May of 2011 were in accordance with the Lord’s will, and that they reached the top levels of government and organized religion all over the world.

 

Deuteronomy 33:22 is the blessing for Dan:

 

And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.

 

We saw that Jacob’s prophecy about Dan was a picture of all the elect during the Rapture and Resurrection.  Moses’ blessing of Dan appears to show him as a picture of the elect who remain until the last day.  They shall “leap from Bashan” when they are taken up in the Rapture.  Notice also that Dan is compared to a young lion.  That may be a reference to the change that God’s people will undergo on the last day.  A verse that relates to this idea is 1 John 3:2:

 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

 

After blessing Dan, Moses blessed Naphtali.  That blessing is found in Deuteronomy 33:23:

 

And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.

 

This is another short blessing but, based on its context, we can be certain that Naphtali is a picture of the elect after salvation has ended, just as he is in Jacob’s prophecy (Genesis 49:21).   The words “possess thou the west and the south” refer to the inheritance.  However, it seems to be more a promise of the inheritance rather than its fulfillment.

 

Other translations of this verse refer to the south and the lake, or the sea.  Of course, in Israel the sea is to the west.  There’s a possible reason that the blessing includes only the west and south, or the sea and south.  It is this: some verses tell of judgment coming out of the north or east.  For instance, in Genesis 41:6 we read:

 

And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

 

This was part of pharaoh’s dream, in which God warned him about the coming drought and famine – a picture of God’s judgment.  And we find another one in Jeremiah 1:14, where we read:

 

Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

 

There is a verse in which it appears that judgment comes out of the south: Job 37:9.  However, if you check the original language (Strong’s number H2315: “cheder”) you’ll see that every other time that word is used (37 times besides its use in Job 37:9) the word is translated differently.  It’s usually translated as “chamber” or “inner” or something similar.  So it makes sense Naphtali should possess the west and south, and that north and east are excluded from the blessing on Naphtali, since the time setting is before the last day.

 

Moses last blessing on the tribes of Israel is found in Deuteronomy 33:24-25:

 

And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. 25 Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

 

Here again, the context tells us that Asher is a picture of God’s people after salvation is over.  Asher is blessed with children because many people were saved during the great tribulation, and Asher represents those who brought the Judgment Day warnings during that time.  The oil mentioned in verse 24 tells us of salvation.  That applies to “Asher” and his children.

 

Next, we come to something difficult to understand.  The first part of verse 25 states “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass.”  The word “shoes” is based on a word not found anywhere else in the Bible – that’s Strong’s number H4515 (“man’ al”); and that word appears to come from H5274 (“na’ al”), which is a word used eight times in various verses.  In verses where that word is used, it is mostly translated as “lock,” or “bolt,” or with the idea that something is enclosed.  For this reason, it appears that the KJV translation here is misleading.  The Revised Standard Version seems to give us a more accurate translation of this verse.  Here is the RSV translation of Deuteronomy 33:25:

 

Your bars shall be iron and bronze; and as your days, so shall your strength be.

 

The idea of iron and bronze bars fits with our understanding that salvation has ended and that “the door” to salvation is shut.  No one else can get in.  This picture matches what we see about Issachar in Jacob’s prophecy.  He is lying down between two sheepfolds.  The sheep are enclosed because salvation is over.  After sheep are brought into a sheepfold, the gate is closed.

 

It’s important to realize that these last blessings on the tribes are actually different pictures of the same group of people.  That was true of the last five sons mentioned in Jacob’s prophecies (Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin), and it’s true of the last five tribes mentioned in Moses’ blessings (Issachar, Gad, Dan, Naphtali, and Asher).  In each case, God is telling us something about His people during the last days.

 

There’s only one more piece to the blessing on Asher: “and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”  Once again, God is telling us in a very indirect way that there will be a long time between the end of salvation and the last day.  Asher is blessed with strength to last as long as his days, because his days will be long.  It’s a blessing for a long life, but that means “Asher” will have a long wait until the Lord returns.  In Moses’ blessings, Asher is the last son to be mentioned.  He corresponds with Benjamin in Jacob’s prophecies, and they represent the true believers who remain alive to be raptured on the last day.

 

Moses spoke his blessings shortly before dying (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). The children of Israel crossed the Jordan soon after that, apparently only a matter of several weeks later.  We can therefore date the year of Moses’ blessings as 1407 B.C. – that was 453 years after Jacob spoke his prophecies.

 

 

Some Important Lessons from the Prophecies

 

One lesson of Jacob’s prophecies is that God spoke through women as well as men.  We know that God inspired men to record the Bible exactly as He wanted it written down in the original languages.  In 2 Peter 1:21, we find proof of that:

 

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Jacob’s prophecies show us that the names of his sons are related to the prophecies about them; but it was each boy’s mother who named her child.  Rachel even gave Benjamin the name Benoni, meaning “son of my sorrow” (Genesis 35:18) right before she died, then Jacob gave him the name that stuck (the name Benjamin means “son of the right hand”).  Obviously, God wanted us to know the name Rachel gave her son because there is sorrow in knowing what Benjamin represents – that he is a picture of the last group to be saved.

 

The second lesson we see in the prophecies is that the time of bringing the Gospel to the unsaved world is now ended. Think about this: God’s word shows that salvation ends before the last day.  Even if we did not have a timeline pointing to the year 2011, we still see in God’s word His plan to end salvation before the last day.  Would God allow us to understand this truth before salvation ended?  If He did, someone might stop too soon in his efforts to send forth the Gospel.  It therefore stands to reason that only now is He allowing us to understand this truth, since there is no longer hope that anyone hearing the Gospel for the first time might be saved.

 

Sadly, this means babies and very young children cannot be saved.

 

This is an especially difficult truth to accept if they are among our loved ones.  They should certainly be brought up hearing God’s word, because knowledge of God’s word brings many blessings; but if they ask anything about salvation, it is probably best to only tell them that, before the world even began, God chose whom He would save and that no one knows who those people are.

 

It’s important to realize that an understanding of this truth (that salvation has ended) does not mean we should hand out tracts to tell the world they are living under God’s judgment and that there is no longer any hope for them.  What good does that do?  It does no good at all and it even creates fear.  If someone really wants to help the unsaved world, he or she can work to reform our educational system, which has shut God out of the classroom.  Knowledge of God’s creation will result in better and happier students.  They will be more likely to continue their studies and then go on to be better citizens.  They are also more likely to become scientists and engineers.  People can also share – with anyone who has shown an interest in the Judgment Day teachings – new truths they have learned out of God’s word.  Of course everyone should be praying, not only for those who have shown evidence of salvation (although especially for them), but also for the unsaved world, that God may be merciful to them in every way other than salvation.

 

The third lesson from the prophecies is perhaps the most important and amazing one: it is that God is in complete control of everything.  He is the reason this universe exists and we are here.  Jacob’s prophecies prove God’s existence.

 

Think about the ways God has fulfilled these prophecies.  Hundreds of years before the Exodus, God showed us that the children of Israel would not be faithful to Him after He called them out of Egypt.  Even many more hundreds of years before it happened, God told us that He would divide their kingdom and then eventually scatter the people from both of the divided kingdoms.

 

It was about 1,800 years from the time of Jacob’s prophecies to the birth of the Lord Jesus, but God told us it would happen by giving us Jacob’s prophecy about Judah.  In the same prophecy, He gave us hints about the Crucifixion.

 

The church age began soon after that, and in the prophecy about Zebulun God showed us He would send the Gospel all over the earth.  About 3,800 years before ending the church age, God showed us that He would end it after He had saved a large group of people.  He also revealed that a second, much larger group would be saved before the end of salvation.

 

All of these things show the fulfillment of prophecy.  It’s true that some of the events can’t be seen.  We don’t see physical proof that two large groups were saved and that salvation is now over, although we know that these things are true because the Bible reveals that information.

 

However, the other events are well known historical facts.  There is no denying that there was a kingdom of Israel that became divided and was eventually destroyed, and that the Lord Jesus was born over two thousand years ago, and that Christianity spread all over the world.  Only God could have foretold those events hundreds and even thousands of years before they happened.

 

Here is the fourth important lesson from Jacob’s prophecies: God shows us pictures of His people during the last days.  These people aren’t just any believers at any time: they are specifically believers living in the end times. The parable of the ten virgins is such an example.

 

Although this parable held lessons for true believers throughout history, it can only be fully understood by those living in the last days, after God had more fully opened His word.  So in the parable of the ten virgins, when we read the Lord’s words in Matthew 25:13 …

 

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

                                                                  

…we know that they apply especially to those living in the last days.    The ten virgins clearly represent end-time Christians, both saved and unsaved, who brought the message of Judgment Day before May 21, 2011.  Even though they were mistaken in their belief that it would be the date for the Lord’s return, the parable shows they live long enough to actually see that day.  The parable’s lesson is stated in Matthew 25:13 and illustrates that, even with the additional truths they are given, the end-time elect still cannot know the date for the Lord’s return.

 

We can be certain of this because the parable is a picture of those who went forth to meet the Lord based on new information they had received.  That was information about time – information God revealed during the lifetime of people who live to see the last day.  The parable warns end-time believers to live in such a way (to watch) that they will be happy to see the Lord whenever He comes.

 

Here is a fifth lesson from Jacob’s prophecies.  We find it in the prophecy about Joseph, with Joseph as a picture of the elect living in the last days.  The prophecy shows that there will be a long time after salvation ends (as compared with a lifespan) until the Lord returns.  Joseph is a picture of true believers who left the local congregations and then, during the latter rain, warned of God’s coming judgment.  However, they do not live long enough to see the Lord return.  This understanding is confirmed in Luke 18:8b, where we read:

 

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

 

This verse contradicts the idea of an ever-increasing number of saved people and actually implies that only a small number of the elect will remain until the last day.  When we compare “Joseph” with the ten virgins, we see that Joseph is a picture of true believers who do not live long enough to see the last day, whereas the ten virgins do.

 

 

Summary

 

We’ve seen that Jacob’s prophecies are actually an outline of God’s salvation plan from the time Israel was in Egypt until the end of the world.  Each son is a picture of God’s people in some way:

 

Reuben represents the children of Israel from the time of the Exodus until the death of Solomon.

 

Simeon and Levi together represent the divided kingdoms, continuing until each kingdom was eventually destroyed.

 

Judah represents the Lord Jesus, coming to earth in 7 B.C. and remaining until shortly after the Crucifixion.

 

Zebulun is a picture of God’s people during the Church Age, going out to the world with the Gospel.

 

Issachar represents God’s people after the great tribulation has ended and the “great multitude” has been saved.

 

Dan is a picture of all those who will be either resurrected or caught up in the rapture.

 

Gad is a picture of those who brought the warnings that Judgment Day would arrive on May 21, 2011 and suffered in some way as a result.

 

Asher is a picture of God’s people learning new truth out of God’s word during the end-times, and developing the fruits of the Spirit while waiting for the Lord’s return.

 

Naphtali is definitely a picture of the elect and appears to represent those saved during the latter rain – the great multitude.  Their prayers are pleasing to God.

 

Joseph is first a picture of believers who left their local congregations (Joseph “was separate from his brethren”) and brought the warnings about Judgment Day.  However, they do not live long enough to see the Lord return.

 

As a second picture, Joseph also represents the Lord Jesus returning on the last day.  He also “was separate from his brethren” when He returned to heaven in 33 A.D.  All the other blessings on Joseph as a picture of God’s people also apply to the Lord Jesus.

 

Benjamin is a picture of those true believers who live to see the Lord return.  They brought the Judgment Day warnings too, just as “Joseph” did, but “Benjamin” outlives “Joseph” and is the group that will be caught up in the Rapture.

 

When we see the way Moses blessed the tribes of Israel in Deuteronomy 33, we can have even more confidence that we have correctly understood Jacob’s prophecies.  Although there are differences, Moses’ blessings support our understanding of Jacob’s prophecies and expand on it.

 

With an understanding of Jacob’s prophecies, we may now be able to understand some verses that were never before correctly understood.

For example, one of the strangest incidents in the Bible begins with Numbers 22:21:

 

And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

 

As we read the story, which continues up to verse 34, we find that Balaam struck the animal when it went off the path and “into the field” because it saw “the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand” (verse 23).  Recall that a field represented the world in a parable the Lord Jesus taught about the spreading of the Gospel.  Then, “the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side” (verse 24).  This time, “she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.”  The animal squeezed against the wall to get by the Lord, crushing Balaam’s foot in the process.  But then, “… the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.”

 

We’ve learned from Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar that God pictures His people as “a stong ass” lying down between two sheepfolds.  We also know that in Old Testament times, God sent many prophets to warn Israel of approaching judgment.  This matches what God shows us in this incident with the ass.

 

She was hit three times.  The first time represents the persecution that Old Testament prophets suffered.  The ass then went into the field, which can be a picture of the elect laboring to bring the Gospel during the Church Age.  The second time the animal was hit represents persecution that true believers experienced during the Church Age. When God ended it, the local congregations were no longer qualified to bring the true Gospel – that’s why Balaam’s foot was crushed (see Isaiah 52:7).  The third time the animal was struck represents the persecution God’s people suffered as a result of bringing the Judgment Day warnings before 2011.  After the ass “fell down under Balaam,” he struck the ass the final time.  That matches Jacob’s prophecy about Issachar.

 

You might recall that there are two ways to understand the name “Issachar:” either as “he is wages” or “he brings wages.”  Both names fit, because God paid by His own work or “wages” to save “Issachar;” but “Issachar” also served the Lord by sending out the Gospel during the three periods when salvation was possible after Jacob’s prophecy.

 

It’s important to realize how Revelation supports this understanding.  In Revelation 10:11, we read:

 

And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

 

The word “again” is very important.  During the New Testament, there were only two periods when salvation was possible.  One was very long, and one lasted only a few years.  The first one was the Church Age, and we see a picture of its beginning in Revelation 6:2, which is a picture of the elect going out to spread the Gospel all over the world.  That’s the rider on a white horse – a picture of a true believer (that’s not a picture of the Lord Jesus).  The second New Testament period of salvation was also the last time when anyone could be saved.  That was during the latter rain, and that’s why the apostle John is told in a vision that he must “prophesy again.”  He was a picture of the elect during the Church Age, and he is about to be a picture of the elect during the latter rain.

 

Notice that immediately after Revelation 10:11, we read about the two witnesses.   That’s because Revelation 10:11 refers to them.  It is they who represent the elect bringing the end-time message of approaching judgment.  When they are silenced (Revelation 11:7), that’s the end of salvation.  It was also the moment when “Issachar” lay down!

 

After a period of time, the two witnesses are taken up to heaven; and that’s a picture of the Rapture and Resurrection.  By having Balaam’s ass speak (Numbers 22:28-30) after she was hit the third time, God may be hinting at that event.  That’s because the Rapture and Resurrection will be a judgment against all those in the local congregations.  At that time, the elect will in a sense speak against them in judgment.

 

Something else that is strange is found in Judges 5.  In Judges 5:14 we read the words:

 

… and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

 

Jacob’s prophecies provide an explanation for this mysterious verse.  We’ve seen that Zebulun is a picture of the elect sending out the Gospel during the Church Age.  Even though the Church Age lasted for 1,955 years, the New Testament books of the Bible were all recorded during the last part of the first century.  Compare that with the time required for the Old Testament to be completed.

 

The 39 books of the Old Testament were recorded over a period of 1,100 years and maybe even much longer than that.  We know that the first five books of the Bible were recorded within 40 years of the Exodus (1447 B.C.); but the book of Job is believed to be older (possibly much older) than that.  The last book of the Old Testament was recorded approximately 391 B.C., based on everything we know about it.  Interestingly, it appears in our Bible just before the oldest book – Job.

 

In comparison with the long time it took for the Old Testament to be completed (over 1,100 years), we know that all 27 books of the New Testament were recorded in about 65 years.   So “Zebulun” really did handle the “pen of the writer,” and Judges 5:14 is another prophecy that has been fulfilled.  It dates from a period many centuries before the Church Age, so we once again see “the finger of God” at work.

 

Most people in this world believe that men wrote the Bible.  They have never understood any of the amazing truths God has revealed out of His word.  For those of us who have understood some of those truths, praise should come naturally; but when we see how God fulfilled the prophecies Jacob spoke right before his death, how can we not praise and thank Him?  We should, just as we find written in Psalm 106:1:

 

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

 

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