A Prayer
of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will


When Jacob blessed his twelve sons in Genesis 49, he prophesied what would happen to them.  Does this mean that these things were predestined?

My Answer

There is one thing on which we can depend throughout the OT -- nothing should be taken too seriously unless Jesus has commented on it or otherwise validated it.  The Old Testament, including Genesis, is not the wholly inerrrant and inspired Word of God as commonly taught and believed.  Here is the text of Jacob's blessing of Judah:


[8] Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
your father's sons shall bow down before you.
[9] Judah is a lion's whelp;
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down, he couched as a lion,
and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up?
[10] The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

An old man gathered his sons and made known to them his last will and testament, blessing them in the process.  Nothing was written, and the event and the words spoken were transmitted by word of mouth for centuries before they were recorded in Genesis.  To some degree, the prophecies of the old man during this event, when finally recorded, were surely written back into the record from subsequent history. We can also take as historical the bold outline of Hebrew history depicted in Genesis 49, though not all the details, and certainly we can take the record of the transmission of the covenant through the centuries as validated by Jesus (
until he comes to whom it belongs), not only by his words but also by his deeds and self identification.  

Prophecy, including fulfilled prophecy, does not mean the event was or is predestined.  A prophecy is a statement of the Father's intention.  Its fulfillment means that the Father has pursued it in the world by one means then another until it has come to pass.  The prophecies that were fulfilled through David were not fulfilled as first desired by the Father -- by a continuous line of succession until the Messiah appeared.  We have noticed that, when such prophecies were announced, they were often made conditional, as this one about Solomon:


[4] And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinances,
[5] then I will establish your royal throne over Israel for ever, as I promised David your father, saying, `There shall not fail you a man upon the throne of Israel.'
[6] But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them,
[7] then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and the house which I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight; and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
[8] And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone passing by it will be astonished, and will hiss; and they will say, `Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?'
[9] Then they will say, `Because they forsook the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore the LORD has brought all this evil upon them."

The prophecies were nevertheless fulfilled in another way, without the continuous line of secession. The messianic prophecies could have been fulfilled through the tribe of Judah -- according to the blessing of Jacob in Genesis 49 -- as a continuous succession from David.  But due to faithlessness, the royal line played out with Zedekiah.  The tribe of Judah was still in line to be blessed, except that the Jews rejected Jesus.  Then it fell to the single individual, Jesus of Nazareth, and to a very small remnant -- the little flock of Jewish disciples -- to be the fulfillment of the prophecy.  The Father predestined nothing; he just continued working with men by one means or another to the end that the unconditional strand of the covenant found a fulfillment. It must be very frustrating -- to God -- to have to repeatedly make adjustments in His plan to account for the vacillations of men!  But it must be so.  Otherwise, humans could not be held accountable for anything due to lack of freedom, nor could they qualify for rewards when they do not freely choose to do the Father's will.

Jesus was not an exception for, as a man, he was subject to temptation.  Had he yielded to the temptations to save his life that pressed him most heavily in Gethsemane, the messianic prophecies would not have been fulfilled in and by him.  In that case the Father, in his love for the world, would have continued to pursue his intention by other means and through other individuals. Far from being predestined, we find the details of the outworking of true prophecy to be always conditioned by unknown human responses to the divine initiative.

Now let us assume that in blessing his sons in Genesis 49, Jacob was truly inspired by God to issue prophecy as there stated.  We have seen, with respect to Judah, that the prophetic blessing was finally fulfilled in Jesus (to whom it belongs), but not in the direct and uninterrupted way desired by God -- that is, through the continuous line of descent from David.  There was no predestination and the free will of humans was preserved.

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