Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Genesis 49 - We are lions

We're coming to the end of Genesis with the last chapter unfolding tomorrow. Before we leave this book, I'd like to take one final look at Judah.

In chapter 38, Judah's sins and horrible decisions paint a clear contrast to the holy direction Joseph takes with his life. In chapter 43, Judah does the opposite of chapter 38 as he steps up and takes responsibility as his brothers cower in fear at the requests a strange Egyptian ruler, Joseph, is making on their family. It is a beautiful redemption story, but it is not complete.

In this chapter, 49, Israel blesses his sons. Some have brutal futures ahead of them because of their actions, Joseph has goodness awaiting him. And then there is Judah. What to do with Judah? Here is what Israel says:

"Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons will bow down to you.

You are a lion's cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.

He 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.

His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

There is deep beauty in those verses but this is supposed to be 97 seconds so I will tell you one thing I think about the life of Judah:

Judah did not transform into another man, he became the man God always made him to be.

I used to those two things were the same, but they're not. Trying to become someone else is impossible and unfortunately what I used to do all the time. I thought that I was broken beyond repair and a different me was needed. If I could only figure out a way to be just like person B or person C, things would be fine. But that's not the way.

When I start becoming the person God made me to be, I get to be me. I get to find out who that is and what that means and learn to be content with the unique things that have always been true, though long hidden by my sin. I get to enjoy the thumbprint of my maker that has long lain dormant instead of trying to be someone else. There is tremendous freedom in that.

Judah didn't become a lion when he did the right thing in chapter 43. I think Israel calls him a lion's cub because that's what he always was. He might not have acted like that in chapter 38, but I think by this chapter, with God at the helm of Judah's life, Israel can't wait to exclaim, "who dares to rouse him?"


T.D.H. said...

Hey Jon,

I know you don't get the same number of posts on this site, but I want to let you know that I'm really enjoying reading your take on these chapters every day and looking at things from a different perspective. Keep it up, man. Thanks for all the hard work you put into your sites, it's a constant encouragement and something I look forward to everyday!


Anonymous said...


I have read through the book of Genesis with you. This is my forth or fifth reading and I am amazed at the way in which God has used you stretch my thinking in new ways. I just wanted to comment to let you know that I have come to look forward to reading this Blog each day.


Sarah Lewie said...

I don't cry at things I read.

But this brought tears to my eyes.

I always feel like I'm a failure at who I think God WANTS me to be.

When really, all He wants is for me to be me transformed in His likeness.

Thanks for sharing this this morning. I needed it.

Jenn said...

I thought this post was SO AWESOME--partly because I need to remember this for myself when I feel like a failure, and sometimes because, I confess, I keep hoping OTHER people will be transformed, and that maybe I can transform them, even.

It did occur to me a little later on, though, that much later on in the Bible, Paul or somebody says that if we trust in Jesus we are a "new creation"--just wondering how you would incorporate that into this post. It kind of makes me think of the "new heavens and new earth" thing--I wonder if we ARE the same people (or earth), but at the same time transformed . . . ? What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an awesome thought! Very good.

Oh and my two year old has been going around saying, "Mommy, I'm a lion. Raaaaahhhr!" lately, so that was my first thought when you mentioned lions. Very spiritual. Haha.