Genesis 48:7) and for Joseph, gave a tinge of melancholy not entirely to be taken away even by receiving his son as it were from the dead. The retrospect of his life seemed that of a suffering man.
I. ABIDING SORROW IS THE FRUIT OF EARLY FAULTS, THOUGH REPENTED OF (1 Corinthians 15:9). It does not necessarily imply separation from God, or doubt of personal salvation. If "a godly sorrow," it works repentance, i.e. a more complete turning to God. But just as early neglect of the laws affecting bodily health produces a lasting effect, however carefully these laws may be attended to in after years, so neglect of God's moral and spiritual laws produces sorrow, varying in kind, and in the channel by which it comes, but bearing witness to the truth of God's unceasing watchfulness.
II. THE DISCIPLINE OF LIFE IS NOT IN ANGER, BUT FOR OUR PURIFICATION. Thus suffering may be a blessing. But for sorrow Jacob might have sunk into taking his ease. His besetting danger was worldly carefulness (Genesis 30:41). So sorrow, from outward circumstances or from inward reflection, often brings us nearer God. It teaches the vanity of earth that we may realize the blessedness of the inheritance above; that frail and weary we may cling more closely to the promises of the rest which remaineth (Hebrews 4:9).
III. THIS LIFE IS INTENDED TO BE A PILGRIMAGE, NOT A REST. Its blessedness consists not in present enjoyment, but in preparation for the rest to come (Luke 12:20, 21). We are reminded that there is a goal to be reached, a prize to be won (1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Peter 1:3-9), and that the time is short, that we may put forth all our efforts (Ecclesiastes 9:10) to overcome Besetting faults and snares of worldliness. A pilgrim (Hebrews 11:14) is seeking a country not yet reached. The remembrance of this keeps the life Godward. True faith will work patience and activity; true hope will work cheerfulness under hindrances, and, if need be, under sufferings. And the love of Christ (John 14:2, 3), and the consciousness that we are his, will constrain us "to walk even as he walked." For what are you striving? to lade yourself with thick clay? To gain honor, renown, admiration, bodily enjoyment? or as a pilgrim (Numbers 10:29) walking in Christ's way, and doing Christ's work? - M.
And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt.I. IT MARKS THE COMMENCEMENT, AND GIVES THE OUTLINE OF, THE NATION'S HISTORY.
II. IT MARKS THE TRIBE OF THE MESSIAH.
III. THE NAMES ARE SIGNIFICANT. Thus the names of Reuben's sons signify: "teacher," "distinguished," "beautiful one," "noble one." These express a sanguine hope. Also the names of Levi's sons signify: "expulsion of the profane," "congregation of the consecrated," "practiser of discipline." These are the leading principles and proper characteristics of priestly rule. We hasten rapidly over Biblical names, but much instruction may be gathered from them.
IV. THE FACTS CONNECTED WITH SOME OF THE NAMES ARE SUGGESTIVE. Thus Dinah, though condemned to a single life, is yet reckoned among the founders of the house of Israel in Egypt. This points to the elevation of woman, and to the idea of female inheritance. Again, Judah was the father's minister to Joseph. By his faithfulness, strength, and wisdom he rises in the opinion of his father. His distinguished place in the annals of the nation comes out, at length, in the grandeur of that prophetic word which declares God's loving purpose in this great history (Genesis 49:10).
V. THE NUMBER OF THE NAMES IS ALSO SUGGESTIVE. "It is remarkable that it is the product of seven, the number of holiness; and ten, the number of completeness. It is still more remarkable that it is the number of the names of those who were the heads of the primitive nations. The Church is the counterpart of the world, and it is to be the instrument by which the kingdom of the world is to become the kingdom of Christ. When the Most High bestowed the inheritance on the nations, "when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the sons of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:8). This curious sentence may have an immediate reference to the providential distribution of the human family over the habitable parts of the earth, according to the number of His church and of His dispensation of grace: but, at all events, it conveys the great and obvious principle, that all things whatsoever, in the affairs of men, are antecedently adapted with the most perfect exactitude to the benign reign of grace already realized in the children of God, and yet to be extended to all the sons and daughters of Adam.
(T. H. Leale.)
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