Fullness of Life

Genesis 49:8-22

8Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. 9You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? 10The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. 11He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. 12His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

13Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon. 14Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down among the sheep pens. 15When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor.

16Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. 17Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. 18“I look for your deliverance, Lord. 19Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels. 20Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king. 21Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.

Introduction

The celebration of Christmas is filled with gladness because people may receive gifts that they don’t normally get throughout the year. Believers have received the greatest gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Actually, this gladness of the heart should be experienced not just on Christmas but all our life. Right!?! Do you have gladness in your heart? The Lord Jesus declared in John 10:10-11:

10I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Would you testify that you have received the fullness of life that Christ has promised? If your life is in its fullness, would you testify that you’re satisfied?

As good shepherd, Christ wants the best life for us. If we completely allow Christ as our shepherd, He’ll bring us to the best pasture He prepared for us, and we will gladly experience life to its fullness that He promised. This fullness of life that Christ promised requires total trust in Him, just as sheep willingly follow their shepherd without fear and doubt. The sheep trust its shepherd for best pasture.

Did Christ promise specific career, place, or situation for us? Should we interpret that He has unique plan for individual believers? Then by faith in Christ, we must be determined to follow His leading to the fullness of life that He has promised, instead of giving in to our human inclination which only leads to sin.

So, how should we decide for our actions that are pleasing to the Lord?

It says in Romans 3:20, 20Through the law we become conscious of our sin.

What does that imply? By faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit reminds us to obey God’s commands, and helps us determine which action is acceptable to Him. And, if we find good things to do that don’t contradict the Lord’s command, we proceed with it. Prophet Samuel instructed King Saul in 1 Samuel 10:7:

7Do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

And Prophet Nathan instructed King David in 2 Samuel 7:3: 3Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.

Both Saul and David have the authority to decide on what they seemed best for themselves and for the Israelites but before they decided they consulted the prophets of God for advices, why? They wanted to be sure if their idea would be acceptable to the Lord, why? The Lord’s blessing would bring them success.

In contrast, Moses warned the Israelites in Numbers 14:42-45, 42Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, 43for the Amalekites and the Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.” 44Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the highest point in the hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the Lord’s covenant moved from the camp. 

45Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.

The Israelites may have assumed that Moses was just angry with them. They may have thought that Moses didn’t want them to be successful. They did not believe that Moses was the Lord’s messenger. Moses was chosen by the Lord, and God warned and communicated to the Israelites through Moses.

Be prayerful to discern when the Lord speaks or warns you specifically.

It’s great to celebrate Christmas and remember the birth of Christ, but it’s far greater to celebrate Christmas because we are assured of eternal life, right? So, how can we practically prove that we received eternal life from Christ as our Savior? We accept Him as our Lord, follow His commands and have fullness of life. If we claim that we completely trust Christ for eternal life, it follows that we trust Him also for practical needs. Christ’s Spirit inspires us to trust Him more!

The prophecy of Jacob for his sons that eventually happened hundreds of years later can help us widen our view about the fullness of life that the Lord has promised for all who believes in Him. How could that be? Now! Be attentive!

When Jacob was about to die, he prophesied on different scenarios of life that his descendants may excel in or be known of. The Lord brought them out of Egypt, and they returned to the Promised Land. The tribes of Israel excelled uniquely from each other. Judah was identified with the scepter.

1. Scepter

8Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. 9You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? 10The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

A scepter is a staff, baton, or decorated stick that is carried by a king or queen as a symbol or an emblem of royal or imperial authority.

Jacob declared that kingship won’t depart from the tribe of Judah. Even before they returned to Canaan, the Lord has designed that Israel will have their king.

Yet, when the Israelites asked for a king, the Lord told Prophet Samuel that, it was a rejection of God as their king. It says in 1 Samuel 8:6-7:

6When they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

Saul was the first king of Israel. Scholars suggest that God has chosen David as king of Israel but David was not born yet at that time when the Israelites asked for a king. They cannot wait for God’s proper timing to give them a king.

Anyway, the prophecy of Jacob that the scepter won’t depart from Judah came into reality when the Lord promised David that his kingship will forever be established. The Lord told David in 2 Samuel 7:16, 16Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.

King David descended from Judah, and the prophecy of Jacob regarding kingship from Judah was fulfilled. Additionally, Jacob added that the brothers of Judah will praise and bow down to him. And, he compared the ferocity and confidence of Judah to a lion. Did Jacob prophesy about Revelation 5:5?

Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.

A lion symbolizes fierceness, strength, courage of a leader. Jacob prophesied that Judah would be leader among his brothers. Actually, there were several instances when the tribe of Judah was leader of the Israelites.

It says in Judges 1:1-2, 1After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?” 2The Lord answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.”

When the Israelites were at peace with other nations, they created their problems among themselves. The tribe of Benjamin rebelled and fought against all the tribes of Israel. The Israelites prayed and asked the Lord who would lead them against the Benjamites, and it says in Judges 20:18, 18The Israelites went up to Bethel and inquired of God. They said, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Benjamites?” The Lord replied, “Judah shall go first.”

Additionally, the tribe of Judah had greater population than any of the other tribes of Israel, and they also occupied the largest territory in the Promised Land.

The prophecy of Jacob that the scepter will not depart from Judah was mentioned twice in the book of Psalm. The Lord declared in Psalm 60:7 and in Psalm 108:8, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter.

And, according to the genealogy of Jesus, His human ancestry can be traced among the descendants of Judah. Can you agree that the prophecy of Jacob was also a prophecy about Jesus Christ our Lord, the King of kings?

Celebration of Christmas should be a time to reconsider how Christ reigns as King of kings over our life. What would you tell others about Christ as king? Be prayerful and intentional to share about Christ and your relationship with Him.

It’s common for family reunions during Christmas? Relatives would gather together and celebrate Christmas to keep relationship closer to each other, right?

Pray for opportunity to share about your spiritual progress and personal devotion to the Lord. What are common topics during gatherings of relatives?

We often tell about personal experiences like success in life, right? Are you prepared to testify about your success in life or the fullness of your life in Christ?

2. Success

13Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon. 14Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down among the sheep pens. 15When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor.

Jacob prophesied that Zebulun will live by the seashore. How did he come up with that idea? Did he observe that Zebulun has enjoyed fishing or swimming?

His prophecy for Issachar, Jacob implied that he would be good as laborer. So, what can we learn from Jacob’s prophecy for Zebulun and Issachar. We do not want to think that Jacob was prejudiced that he prophesied things that seemingly less desirable for Zebulun and Issachar, right?

See? Living by the seashore implies that the descendants of Zebulun could engage in fishing or shipping industry which implies entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneur wants to be the boss or business owner which means they are employers. In contrast, Jacob said that Issachar is a rawboned donkey which implies the idea of hardworking laborer or employee. So, what is that for us?

Jacob’s prophecy for Zebulun and Issachar presents uniqueness of career.

Some are gifted entrepreneurs or owners of businesses. Others may excel in their chosen career as employees. Meaning: God has designed excellence for believers. How? Most people think that to be the boss or owner of company is to be successful.  But, entrepreneurs can fail also. Even if one reports to the boss or owner of company, one can excel as employee and become good manager.

So, how do you view yourself? Are you comfortable as an employee or do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur and establish your own company?

It says in Colossians 3:22-24, 22Obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Obeying the Lord’s command brings success. Do you agree? Would you consider your life as successful? If you were to retire tomorrow, are you secured about your finances for retirement life? But, how about your spiritual security, have you secured your treasures in heaven? The Lord Jesus commanded in Matthew 6:19-21, 19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

May God make you excel and become successful in your chosen career but don’t forget to set aside time and effort to earn your eternal treasure.

This Christmas, we celebrate the First Advent of Christ as we hope for His Second Advent. When Christ comes again, He will take into heaven all believers who trusted Him as Savior. Make sure that you also trust Him as Lord and obey His order. Obeying Christ’s instructions can earn and secure eternal treasures.

3. Security

16Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. 17Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. 18“I look for your deliverance, Lord. 19Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels. 20Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king. 21Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.

The kind of life that Jacob prophesied about his son Dan was tasked to secure justice for the Israelites. When justice prevails, there’s security of peace and order in the community. Trivia: Who was the Judge from the tribe of Dan? Samson. When Samson was Judge of Israel, their enemies didn’t bother them.

Jacob prophesied Asher to provide food security–delicacies fitted for king.

And for Naphtali, his freedom to explore life in Canaan like a deer was secured.

When justice and food are secured, one can live freely the fullness of life, right?

This freedom to live freely secures life to its fullness. Christ has promised such life for all who put their trust in Him. Whatever life situation we are in, we should have peace, why? Our eternal life is secured by faith in Christ.

It says in Romans 1:7, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. And, in 1 Peter 5:14, Peace to all of you who are in Christ!

And, the birth of Christ was prophesied in Isaiah 9:6, 6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

How can we personally experience complete peace in/with Christ Jesus?

As wonderful counselor, the Spirit of Christ tells us to do the will of God. Christ is mighty God, and He does whatever pleases Him. His love is eternal, and He wants the best for us, like a loving father who provides what is best for his children. Do you believe that the will of God is the best for us?

It says in Romans 12:2, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect. But, why is it that we keep on resisting His will? God commands His will for us but we want to disobey, why? If it is really good and pleasant, why can’t we willingly sense urgent obedience?

It is because the Lord revealed in Genesis 6:5, Every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

Do you agree that our human heart is inclined to desire evil all the time? Do you agree that anything that comes for God is good, pleasant and perfect?

Look! If the nature of human heart always desires what’s evil in the eyes of God, our inclination is certainly to resist what is good, pleasant and perfect will of God.

Our evil heart cannot readily accept anything that originated from God.

So, when we hear God’s command, the first reaction is to resist or disobey.

Why? God’s command is good, perfect, flawless, pleasant to Him but not to us.

Our sinful nature cannot grasp perfection of His will. By our effort we just cannot!

Even if we try our best to be good, we still fall short of the glorious and perfect standard of God. Is it frustrating not to reach the perfection of God?

Yes! But, it should challenge us to search for solution in Christ, right?

Our imperfection prevents us from reaching perfection. Our limited ability fails us to attain the glorious and perfect standard of the Lord.

But, be glad and be happy! God loves you and me! Amen!

The Lord doesn’t ignore our limitation, imperfection and sinfulness.

He knows that we cannot reach His standards so that He sent His One and Only Son Jesus Christ on earth, and His crucifixion paid for our sinfulness, and we wait for His second coming to bring us into His perfect heaven.

By faith, we accepted Christ as Lord and Savior of our life.

So if Christ’s Spirit is in control of our life, He guides our decisions and action, by faith, we believe that God sees perfection and holiness of Christ in us.

When the holiness of Christ reflects in our lifestyle, we can also sense gladness in our heart and the fullness of life that Christ has promised for us.

Our challenge is this Christmas and all the days to come is: We let Christ reigns in our life as our Lord, Master and King now and forever more. Amen!

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus Christ!

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