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Marks of Blessing & Cursing

Genesis 48-49

May 1, 2024


In this page we begin a series of blessings, or curses, or predictions that Jacob gives to his grandsons and his sons. The way I’m thinking of them is as Marks - either marks of blessing, or marks of cursing.

I see a definite trend here in the Marks of Jacob. His predictions for the future are impacted by things that happened in the past.
For example: Jacob’s blessings for his grandkids. Did Jacob bless Joseph’s second son before the first because he himself was elevated over his older twin’s position in the past? (Esau) Or perhaps because his own first son (Reuben) was so disappointing to him?
And there’s another one: Reuben does NOT get a mark of blessing, because he violated Jacob’s concubine Bilhah. And the next two sons get a cursed mark, too, because they revelled in violence and destruction in the past.

So these Marks aren’t just a woo-woo hopeful thing for Jacob’s kids’ futures. They’re based on already established facts, and turned into something eternal. I say eternal because hey, we still have record of them! We still remember Judah from his identity as a lion. And Reuben is forever remembered as a man of watery resolve - a man who raped his dad’s concubine.

I often think about identity in the context of how people describe other people to me. “Oh, you know her - she’s the one who stole that thing that one time.” or “You know, divorced Tony. Not married Tony.” “You know her, she can never shut up. Always has to speak her mind.”
When I hear these kinds of things I can’t help but think, “Geez, what do people say about me???” The Mark of a person - their defining action - is something that sticks hard and fast. It’s kind of scary!

For those of us who have a Mark we don’t like, Judah’s story can bring us encouragment. Judah could have been remembered for sleeping with and then killing his daughter in law, Tamar. But Judah repented, and his change of heart seems to have changed his Mark, too. After he humbled himself (he did not kill Tamar. Read the story in Genesis 38) and repented of his sins, God lifted up his head and we can now remember him not for his sins but for God’s grace on him. That’s how I want to be remembered, too. Not for my sins, or even for my accomplishments, but for the grace that God’s laid on me through Jesus. I hope that at the end of my life that’s the thing that remains.

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