Before Jacob dies, he issues his final words—his final blessings on his sons, the bulk of which are contained in Genesis 49. We could cover them all at once, but I think we will get more out of this passage if we break it up into smaller sections. So, today we will begin by looking at Jacob’s blessing on Reuben.
Please read Genesis 49:1-4.
Jacob’s blessings and curses on his sons are of significance because they serve as indicators of future events and relationships. They are not prophecies from God, but are more of a paternal prediction of individual and tribal destiny.
When it comes to Reuben, he has everything going for him: he is the firstborn, the symbol of his father’s strength, and he is preeminent above all his brothers in dignity and power. One would naturally expect him to rule over all of his brothers, and for his line to lead the nation of Israel for generations to come.
But all of this expectation is ruined by one act: Reuben slept with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. This indiscretion happened in Genesis 35:22. At the time that Jacob heard of what his son did, he gives no reaction. So, it appears that Reuben had gotten away with his sin. But Jacob always kept this adulterous act in mind, and now uses it as justification to strip his son of any prominent position in the family. Reuben loses his status as the firstborn, and his tribe will have no distinctive position throughout the history of the nation of Israel.
It is no wonder that the Bible tells us to flee sexual sin! It can have serious consequences!
Unfortunately, the statistics tell us that today sexual sin is as prevalent as ever, especially in the church: the amount of men in church leadership who are addicted to pornography is shocking; the amount of affairs that happen with spiritual justifications are mind-boggling; the amount of young people who are living together before marriage is staggering. Many of these sexual sins appear, like Reubens, to have no immediate consequences.
But the consequences exist—and they are dire. By all accounts, Reuben was a good son—he faithfully followed his father, he led his brothers, he even tried to save Joseph from being murdered. He probably lived a life that was generally good. But giving in to this one sexual temptation robbed him of everything he had. By giving in one time, he had disgraced himself and was no longer considered the firstborn—he was no longer eligible for leadership.
The same is true today. You may seem like the perfect follower of Christ, but if you give in to that sexual temptation, there will be serious consequences. It may feel like no one is getting hurt and no one will ever find out, but the eyes of the Lord are everywhere. God sees everything, and God will not be mocked—we will reap what we sow. Even the smallest seed of indiscretion can reap a harvest of deadly consequences.
So, take sexual temptation seriously; follow the advice of Scripture and flee from it; run from it; have nothing to do with it. Or, like Reuben, you too may lose your spiritual reward.
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