THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF JACOB ( Genesis 49:1-12 )


Genesis 49:1-12 (NKJV)

Jacob’s Last Words to His Sons

1.  And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:

2 “Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob,
And listen to Israel your father.

3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
My might and the beginning of my strength,
The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall not excel,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled it—
He went up to my couch.

5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.
6 Let not my soul enter their council;
Let not my honor be united to their assembly;
For in their anger they slew a man,
And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
And scatter them in Israel.

8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
11 Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.



Illustration :  The Context. The old pilgrim Jacob is about to leave this world. He is now 147 years old. His beloved son Joseph is 56 years old and his youngest, Benjamin, is 39. His death is at hand and he calls his 12 sons to his deathbed. Before he leaves this world, he knows there are some things that must be dealt with in the lives of his children.

As we read through this chapter, it becomes clear that he has praise for some and chastisement for others. For a few of these boys, it would be the hardest hour they would ever face. For a few others, it would be their crowning moment. It was time for the 12 sons of Jacob to face the Judgment Seat of Jacob.

As we look at these verses, we may first wonder if there is anything at all here for the church. The answer is that there is more than you may imagine. For in this sad scene of a dying patriarch, we see a small picture of the coming Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ, which every born again believer will face when we leave this world. The New Testament is clear in its teaching that there will be a time when every child of God will face the deeds done in these fleshly bodies, 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:10-15.

It is fascinating to consider what Jacob told his sons. Notice verse 2. He tells them that he is going to speak of what will befall them in the last days. If you follow these boys and the history of their offspring, you will see that what Jacob prophesied came true in every instance during the kingdom years of the nation of Israel. And, we will see that the same is going to prove true for the church. What is said to us at the Judgment Seat of Christ will determine our standing in the kingdom of God.

Now, I don’t have time this evening to consider the words of Jacob to all 12 of his sons. However, I want to concentrate on just a few of these boys and their father’s dying words to them. These few that we will consider this evening seem to give a good description of the kind of people who will face the Lord Jesus Christ in judgment on final day soon. Let’s look into these verses and think for a moment about The Judgment Seat Of Jacob.



A. Reuben’s Station – Firstborn. His position in the family is stated for all to hear.

(Ill. Reuben surely must have thought that all his wickedness was forgotten and that he would receive all the blessings and privileges that came to the firstborn. I can imagine his sigh of relief as Jacob addressed him as one who had been the pride and joy of his life.)


B. Reuben’s Sin – Jacob’s next words must have come like a slap in the face! “Weak as water!” Like water which always seeks its own level, no matter how low that is, Reuben always seemed to seek the lowest level of life. Then came the bombshell! A sin that was committed over 40 years ago, a sin that was thought forgotten was brought into the light for all to see. Jacob reminded Reuben that Reuben had seduced one of Jacob’s wives, Gen. 35:22-23.

Genesis 35:22-23 (NKJV)
22 And it happened, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard about it.

Jacob’s Twelve Sons
Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:

23 the sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun…


(Ill. Imagine Jacob, still reeling from the death of his beloved Rachel, hearing the news that his own son had defiled his father’s bed with Bilhah. Imagine the hurt. Imagine the broken hearted father waiting for a confession that never came! Now, it is all thrown out into the open! Now, Jacob says for all to hear, “He went up to my couch!”)

(Ill. What a lesson for the child of God! Many times we sinned against the Lord and we try to hide that sin. We cover it up and pretend that it never happened. All the while our Father in Heaven is waiting, brokenhearted, for His child to confess in bitter tears and sincere repentance. Oh, but there is coming a day when all the secrets of men’s hearts will be revealed. All those secret things will be shouted aloud for all to see. Now, there can be forgiveness in Christ Jesus (Amen!) , then on judgment day, only weeping and sorrow over sin committed and hidden away! What we do not bring out at the mercy seat, will be brought out at the judgment seat!)


C. Reuben’s Sentence – “Thou shalt not excel!” And, he didn’t! His tribe never rose to prominence in the nation of Israel. In fact, they were often found on the wrong side of the fence. They were often found in direct opposition to the WILL of the Lord.

(Ill. By the way, those with unconfessed sin in their lives will never excel in the things of God! There will always be a hindrance there. Ill. Imagine how Reuben must have tried to keep his sin a secret all those years, and all the while Jacob already knew about it. Friends, God knows us better than we want to admit! He knows everything we have ever done. He knows everything we have ever tried to hide. He knows it all!)

(Ill. It is interesting that Reuben, the oldest, never found his place in the family questioned. This judgment seat was not about determining position in the family. He was in the family and had been since birth. Nothing he had ever done had changed that fact. It wasn’t about position in the family, it was about performance in the family. Because how one performed in the family determined one’s position in the kingdom! So it is with the child of God!

When we arrives at the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ, our position in the family will not be in question! What will be judged that day will be our performance in the family! Our performance in the family will determine our position in the kingdom. Don’t fool yourselves! Heaven will hold more rewards for some than it does for others! God is just and righteous and God is fair! He will reward a faithful son more than a foolish son!)



A. Their Shame Old Jacob brings to light another sin that happened long ago. He recalls the time that they slew an entire village to protect the honor of their little sister, Dinah, Genesis 34. Their sin was not done in secret, it was a high-handed sin that was committed in full view of everyone, but there was never any repentance of any kind.

(Ill. It is almost astounding what some Christians can do! It is a disgrace how many of them live their lives and they do so without remorse, and without the slightest hint of repentance. However, the day will come when they will face the Lord Jesus Christ. On that day, their sins will be dealt with properly.)


B. Their Sentence – When this sin was committed, Jacob, rebuked his sons, Gen. 34:30. Now, after waiting in vain for them to repent of their wickedness he deals with their sins harshly. He divides them and tells them they will amount to nothing in the kingdom!

This is exactly what happened! There was some measure of repentance on the part of the Levites and they became to Temple works and the priestly tribe, but just as Jacob said, they were scattered, v. 7. They possessed no land of their own, and they were scattered all over Israel. Simeon was eventually swallowed up by the tribe of Judah and disappeared. Their sin cost them plenty!

(Ill. These two are a picture of those believers who are “saved so as by fire.” They will go to Heaven because they are in the family, but they will have no rewards and no good words from the Savior. For this kind of Christian the Judgment Seat of Christ will be a solemn event.)



A. The Reward – Surely Judah expected to hear from Jacob about his part in selling Joseph into slavery. Surely, Jacob would mention the fact that Judah had been a terrible father. Surely Jacob would bring up all that business about Tamar. Judah had done much evil in his life, and now it was all about to come out for all to hear. However, when the old man spoke, he spoke of blessings and praise. He spoke about the Lord, the Lion and the Law. He heaped praises upon Judah and never one time did he mention the evil Judah had done.


B. The Reason – Why this seeming unfairness? Why should old Judah get off so lightly when these others had been dealt with so harshly? The answer is in verse 11. The Bible tells us that Judah had “washed his clothes in the blood of grapes.” Clothes are a picture of righteousness and the blood of grapes refers to cleansing in the blood.

You see, a few years before, Judah had bowed at the feet of Joseph and had confessed all, Gen. 44:18-34. That is why he received such a blessing at the Judgment Seat of Jacob.

Genesis 44:18-34 (NKJV)
Judah Intercedes for Benjamin
18 Then Judah came near to him and said: “O my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s hearing, and do not let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even like Pharaoh.

19 My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’

20 And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, who is young; his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’

21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’

22 And we said to my lord, ‘The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’

23 But you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.’

24 “So it was, when we went up to your servant my father, that we told him the words of my lord.

25 And our father said, ‘Go back and buy us a little food.’

26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down; if our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we may not see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons;

28 and the one went out from me, and I said, “Surely he is torn to pieces”; and I have not seen him since.

29 But if you take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him, you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.’

30 “Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life,

31 it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave.

32 For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.’

33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.

34 For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?”


(Ill. Judah is a picture of that believer, who while not perfect, is repentant. The believer will sin! But, if those sins are taken to the Lord and dealt with through confession, 1 John 1:9, they will never be mentioned at the Judgment Seat of Christ. There are believers who have committed horrible, terrible sins, but they will never hear their sins mentioned because, like Judah, they got them under the blood of Jesus Christ! The Judgment Seat of Christ will become a blessed place for that kind of believer! Hallelujah!!!)



A. His Position – Asher was the youngest son of Leah’s maid Zilpah. He was the unwanted son of the unwanted wife. He was a nobody. Probably treated like a second-class citizen by the rest of the family. His was a life lived in the background.

(Ill. Asher represents most of the church this evening. He was a nobody, and the church is filled with nobodies. That is, it is filled with people who never become well known and never accomplish great things for the kingdom of God. But, they are in the family! Even if the rest of he world does not recognize them, the Father knows who they are! You see, God loves nobodies! He must, His family is filled with them! However, to be a nobody in the family of God is not such a bad thing. After all, all of God’s nobodies are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. All of them have their names in the Lamb’s book of life. All of them have home in heaven. All of them are indwelt with the Spirit of God. All of them are eternally saved. All of them are heirs and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s nobodies might not be prominent on the earth, but they are well known in heaven. Hallelujah!)

B. His Promise – Asher is told that he will “yield royal dainties.” That is, he will be a part of the kingdom and will serve the king in that day. Jacob is looking beyond this present time, down through the ages to a day when the King of Kings will rule on the throne of His father David. In that day, all the Asher’s in the family of God will rule with Him in power and glory. Don’t worry so much about not being well known in the Lord’s work. The day will come all the Asher’s in the family will rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!



A. His Confidence – Finally the gaze of the old man fell on the face of Joseph. Joseph has been taking all this in with a sense of pleasure. He stands there under the gaze of his father with a smile and with coincidence in his heart. Why? The father has already told him how things will turn out, Gen. 48. He already knows that he will receive the double portion of the firstborn. He already knows that his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim have been adopted by Jacob and given and inheritance among the brothers of Joseph. He already knows that he has lived the kind of life that will give him confidence in the presence of his father.


B. His Commendation – Why this confidence? Jacob tells him that his life has been fruitful, v. 22 and that he can depend on the blessings of the Lord, v. 25. He is commended because he has lived the right kind of life!

(Ill. Joseph is a picture of that believer who lives his life under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He isn’t perfect, but he honors God in his life day by day. He is blessed at the Judgment Seat because he has earned a blessing. So it will be for you and me if we have earned it. Imagine hearing our Lord say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” We can hear that commendation if we earn it by a life lived for the Glory of God!)



If you had to honestly put yourself into the shoes of any of these 12 brothers, which one would it be? In reality, we are going to stand before the Lord one of these days and these events will played out to a certain degree for each of us.

How will it go for you? You have the final say in that matter! If there is a need in your life this evening. If there is something that might cause you to fear facing the Lord, why not get that thing right tonight?

I want to be able, like Joseph, to stand in the judgment with confidence, How about you, my brothers and sisters in the world today?








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