The Virtues of Family Blessing.

The book of Genesis begins and ends with family. The failure of the first family, Adam and Eve, brought sin into the world. But God’s grace can reverse the effects of sin in the family.

In Genesis 48, Jacob legally adopted Joseph’s sons and gave them a blessing. In this chapter, he tells his sons what will happen in their futures. His words do come true. Some of Jacob’s sons’ families were permanently troubled or blessed; some were temporarily, individually troubled but later restored. All had the opportunity to respond to the grace of God.

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Vices that Can Deceive Families

Several of Jacob’s sons demonstrated vices that we should avoid. Reuben demonstrated unbridled authority. He had position and power as the firstborn, but he abused his authority and fell into sexual immorality as leaders often do. This sin is the only one the Bible says adversely affects one’s physical body. Falling to unstable passion is ruinous to the family; life is never the same.

Simeon and Levi demonstrated violence and sinful anger. Jacob deliberately used his former and current name in his words to them to show that they too had an opportunity to change. Levi accepted God’s grace, and his family later became the priestly tribe of the nation of Israel. What family can survive even one angry, violent member? This vice must be quickly confronted. Ephesians 4:31 warns against two kinds of anger – wrath, which is seen in explosive and volcanic outbursts, and a more common form of anger that stores up offense over time and severs relationships. Both are devastating. But God’s grace can forgive and restore, even to use formerly violent people for eternal purposes.

Dan’s name means “judge,” but he was known for injustice. His name is omitted from Israel’s tribes in Revelation 7:5-8, probably because of this characteristic. One commentator said, “compassion and fair judgment was a rarity among the people of Dan.” Every family with children must deal with cries of “It’s not fair!”, but severe injustice can alter relationships.

Virtues that Should Distinguish Families

Jacob named his children for spiritual reasons. Judah’s name means “praise,” but his former sins did anything but bring praise to God. Now he shows virtue as the reconciling agent in his family, mirroring the divine reconciliation of Jesus Christ to come through his line. Judah had been transformed by grace.

Zebulun and Issachar demonstrated perseverance and protection. Both were necessary for continuing the family’s advance. In the home and church, persevering in our walk with God protects us.

Gad demonstrated a determination to do right. Christians must keep this determination through inevitable offenses and trials (Luke 17:1, 1 Peter 4:12-19).

Asher demonstrated focused prosperity. God blesses some of his people with material means. Only one of the twelve sons was mentioned with this specific blessing, and Asher used it for eternal reasons. His tribe is later listed as providing for the Temple (1 Kings 4:7-16).

Naphtali showed a well-balanced disposition, lively and graceful like a doe. This phrase can describe someone who stays busy with God’s work.

Benjamin demonstrated rugged courage. He was a special child to Jacob after Joseph was taken away, and as the youngest he became the toughest. His description as a wolf isn’t as bold as Judah’s lion, but shows someone who is independently dependent and fierce when necessary to do the right thing.

Joseph demonstrated all the virtues, a balanced spiritual prosperity.

Hebrews 11:21 says that Jacob was worshipping in his last moments on earth. Genesis 49 describes what that worship looked like in detail: it was talking to his sons about their futures. Worship cannot be separated from life.

Application Points

  • Do you demonstrate any of the vices above? An individual or family dominated by these vices may appear to be doing well, but don’t be deceived. The end is not good.
  • Has your anger hurt those you love most? It’s not too late to go back and say you’re sorry. God’s grace can forgive and restore, even to use you again for eternal purposes.
  • Is God praised because of your family relationships, both biological and spiritual? Let’s be praise-worthy. Don’t let divisions last long.
  • Which virtues above will you intentionally seek to develop in your personal, family, and church life?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 – God’s people must guard against sexual immorality.
  • Micah 6:8 – God’s people are to love justice, mercy, and kindness.
  • Galatians 6:9 – An exhortation to perseverance.
  • 1 Peter 2:9-10 – The Church is a unique family.
A Hymn to Encourage: “Satisfied”

All my life long I had panted
For a drink from some clear spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.

Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.

Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.

Poor I was, and sought for riches,
Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me
Only mocked my soul’s sad cry.

Well of water, ever springing,
Bread of life so rich and free,
Untold wealth that never faileth,
My Redeemer is to me.