As Jacob continues to bless his sons, today we read his blessing on Zebulun.
Please read Genesis 49:13.
This blessing seems pretty straight forward: Zebulun will be a coastal tribe filled with seaports. There’s just one problem: this isn’t true! Zebulun is allotted a portion of the Promised Land in Joshua 19, just like every other tribe, and Zebulun’s territory is situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee. BUT Zebulun’s territory never reaches the sea at any point! It is separated from the Mediterranean by the tribe of Asher and from the Sea of Galilee by the tribe of Naphtali. Zebulun is a completely landlocked inheritance!
This is pretty troubling news. Does this mean that the Bible is wrong in its predictions?
The Bible is completely accurate in everything that it records, and in Genesis 49, it accurately records the final words of Jacob. The Bible accurately records that Jacob was incorrect in his prediction of what would happen to Zebulun.
This is a bit confusing because Jacob was accurate in most of his predictions. We’ve already seen how accurate he was in predicting the division of Levi, and the loss of Reuben’s preeminence. He even was apparently inspired by the Holy Spirit to prophecy of the Messiah coming through the line of Judah. BUT, the Holy Spirit did not inspire every word that Jacob uttered. We know this from earlier passages:
All of these words of Jacob are sinful, and the Holy Spirit does not inspire us to sin. The Holy Spirit certainly didn’t inspire Jacob to act as sinfully as he did: deceiving his brother, his father, and his uncle, marrying multiple women and sleeping with their concubines, fearing Laban and Esau, wrestling with God, and favoring one son above the others—twice.
Clearly, the heroes of Scripture are not guided by the Holy Spirit in everything that they do and say. They remain sinful men who have faith in God but occasionally give in to their pride, selfishness, lust, or other sinful desires. These are imperfect men used by a perfect God.
This should lead us to have more faith in the Bible: it doesn’t build its heroes up into superhumans who could never really exist; it accurately records their faults and failures as they strive to follow after God.
Here, the Scripture accurately records the truth of what really happened: Jacob incorrectly predicted that Zebulun would live by the seashore. This wasn’t a prophecy inspired by the Holy Spirit—or else it would have come true! This was just one man acting on his own, based on his experience with his children. And it is just more proof that people are sometimes wrong in their predictions, which is why we need to rely on the Word of God--the only Word that we can always trust.
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