Theme: The last days (Part 2)
(Key Verses: Gen 49:5-7)
Jacob was in the process of dying, and within his final days in Egypt it was the time to tell his sons “which shall befall [them] in the last days”:
Gen 47:28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.
Gen 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
Gen 49:2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
The theme of the “last days” is applicable to the last chapters of the book of Genesis as it also brings a fitting conclusion to this book of beginnings. God indeed knows the end from the beginning as we also see so much of our own spiritual development within the book of Genesis and also what shall “befall [us] in the last days” (Isa 46:10). Although there is an outward application of the “last days”, this indeed applies inwardly for them whom God has given “eyes within” to see how the Lord’s house is established in this age in the lives of His elect, even within the beasts who are “in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne” of God (Isa 2:2; Luk 17:20-21; Rev 4:6-8):
Rev 4:6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
Rev 4:7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
Rev 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
These sons of Jacob therefore are also spiritual types of God’s elected few on whom the “last days” or the end of this physical age has come:
1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [Greek: tupos = figures/a resemblance]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [Greek: aiōn = age] are come.
In our last discussion we focussed on the firstborn of Jacob, namely Reuben, and how Jacob’s words to Reuben are also relevant to us, if we can receive them. In this discussion we will focus on Simeon and Levi as Jacob addressed them together on his deathbed:
Gen 49:5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations [Hebrew: mekêrâh = weapons, sword, devices].
Gen 49:6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill [Hebrew: râtsôn = delight] they digged down [Hebrew: âqar = to pluck up to hamstring/to exterminate/root up] a wall [Hebrew: shôr = bullock/cattle].(KJV)
Gen 49:6 Do not let me attend their secret meetings. Do not let me join their assembly. In their anger they murdered men. At their whim they crippled cattle.(GWT)
The first characteristic Jacob mentioned about these two sons, Simeon and Levi, was that they were “instruments of cruelty”. Both of them were indeed united in their deceitfulness with the men of Shechem after Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob:
Gen 34:13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:
Gen 34:14 And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us:
Gen 34:15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised;
Gen 34:16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.
Gen 34:17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone.
Gen 34:18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son.
At the time of this deceitful agreement to which all the men of Shechem then adhered, Jacob was unaware what Simeon and Levi had in mind, as he was shocked and horrified to hear afterward what these two sons did to the men of Shechem:
Gen 34:25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore [after the men of Shechem were circumcised], that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.
Gen 34:26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.
Gen 34:27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.
Gen 34:28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,
Gen 34:29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.
On his deathbed Jacob brought division between these two sons and a dispersing of their offspring:
Gen 49:7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
This also reminds one of the division and the scattering of the nations at the tower of Babel. “The thoughts of [man’s] heart [are] only evil continually”, and these thoughts were also in the hearts of Simeon and Levi (Gen 6:5; Gen 11:1-9). Although mankind is unified in its opposition to God’s Word and His commandments, the hearts of mankind harbour a divided kingdom which shall not stand:
Mat 12:25 And Jesus knew their [the Pharisees’] thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.
Psa 2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
Psa 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Psa 2:3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
Psa 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Psa 2:5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure [Hebrew: chârôn = anger].
In the actions of Simeon and Levi and the words of King David in Psalm 2, we also see the negative and positive applications of anger respectively. The natural heart always acts in haste with no mercy. David knew this all too well and rather chose the anger of the Lord, because there is mercy with God:
2Sa 24:14 And David said unto [the prophet] Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
God’s anger is governed by His mercy as His grace chastens every son He receives bringing a cessation to the evil and vain things in our hearts (Heb 12:6; Tit 2:11-12). Contrarily the anger in the natural heart has no peaceful solution as it also prevents us to see that God’s hands are in all things which happen in His creation (Job 2:4-10):
Ecc 7:9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
Pro 15:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
The fool in us cannot see that God is to be feared above all and He will indeed bring true recompense for everything that was done in unrighteousness:
Heb 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Godly recompense is driven by His jealousy and through this zeal God brings us to the truth in Christ and keeps us committed to Him. God’s zeal is His passion for His spiritual house to keep it free from fleshly defilement (Exo 20:5; Exo 34:14; Psa 69:9; Joh 2:17; 2Co 7:11; 2Co 11:2). Ignoring the leadership of their own father, Simeon and Levi had a twisted zeal for doing “that which was right in [their] his own eyes” which was all about self-righteousness (Jdg 21:25; Isa 64:6). Few can see in themselves this deceitful self-righteousness and cruel spirit of Simeon and Levi in this age:
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Naturally this evil spirit in us has no trouble hating people and wishing the worst on our enemies. In our spiritual blindness we cannot see that nobody can move a finger if that is not ordained by God (Isa 45:7; Job 2:4-10):
Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Christ in us is the hope of glory, even as this glory will be evident in our words and actions, even in terms of our anger (Col 1:27):
Pro 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
God’s spirit, through the words of Christ, will give us the ability to do today what was impossible to obey yesterday:
Mat 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
This is what Jesus also taught Peter (and all of us), that His Word is spirit and His Word in our hearts is much more powerful to determine and direct our actions and the things around us (Joh 6:63; 1Co 2:4-16):
Joh 18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
Joh 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
The elect of God will not join the assembly of Simeon and Levi, and cripple the cattle of others or resist the works of God. The elect of God will come out of that assembly as they know that the evil and the trials are from God to fulfill the scriptures in our own lives (Luk 24:25-27):
Mat 26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Mat 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
Mat 26:54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Let us look how all of these were foreshadowed in the life of Simeon.
The name “Simeon” means “to hear”. He was the second son of Jacob from Leah after Reuben:
Gen 29:32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.
Gen 29:33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.
Although we know the scriptures declare that God “hears not sinners”, especially when they “ask amiss, that [they] may consume it upon [their] lusts”, God indeed hears everything (Psa 139:1-18; Joh 9:31; Jas 4:3). Even in our darkest times when we are the hated and rejected, our desperate cries from a “broken spirit…and a contrite heart” are not ignored by God, as Hagar and Ishmael testify (2Sa 14:14; Psa 51:17; Isa 57:14-18; Isa 66:2):
Gen 21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
A few things are connected to this Simeon in the scriptures which proves that God indeed hears and sees everything and that righteous anger and vengeance belong to Him as He will indeed recompense (Heb 10:30). Before Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt, it was Simeon who was kept as a hostage in Egypt in exchange for Benjamin whom Joseph wanted to see in Egypt:
Gen 42:22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
Gen 42:23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
Gen 42:24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.
“…ye would not hear” Reuben’s plea not to sin against Joseph. In our natural Simeonite state we cannot hear the words of truth, and we are bound in the prisons of spiritual Egypt, the rebellious house of flesh:
Eze 12:2 Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.
Simeon became the founder of the tribe bearing his name, but even in his tribe this spirit of rebellion and self-righteousness was evident when a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites, named Zimri, took a Midianite woman into the camp of Israel in the sight of Moses and the whole congregation. This happened even when God was judging the Israelites for committing whoredom with the Moabite women and their worship of Baalpeor:
Num 25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
Num 25:2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
Num 25:3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
Num 25:4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
Num 25:5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.
Num 25:6 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Num 25:7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
Num 25:8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
Num 25:9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
Num 25:10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 25:11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
Num 25:12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
Num 25:13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
Num 25:14 Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.
It is this rebellious and haughty Simeonite spirit in us which cannot submit to God’s leadership. This proud spirit has no shame to associate with false doctrines even when strongly advised not to. But thank God for the godly anger of the zealous spirit in Phinehas:
Rom 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.
The numbers of this tribe of Simeon were always on the decline during their time in the wilderness – from fifty nine thousand and three hundred families when they left Egypt to twenty two thousand and two hundred families when they entered Canaan. (Num 1:23; Num 26:14). The result of this was that the Simeonites’ inheritance of land was within the inheritance of the children of the tribe of Judah and they also had to fight with the tribe of Judah to survive against the Canaanites. This was a physical fulfillment of the words of Jacob that Simeon will be scattered among Israel:
Jos 19:1 And the second lot came forth to Simeon, even for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families: and their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah.
Jdg 1:3 And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.
But God in His mercy also has a place for our Simeonites in His army, even as our rebellious natural anger and self-righteousness are replaced by His righteousness and anger. During the reign of King David, typifying the reign of Christ, “mighty men of valour for the war” were also from tribe of Simeon:
1Ch 12:25 Of the children of Simeon, mighty men of valour for the war, seven thousand and one hundred.
Even the apostle John saw this tribe in spiritual terms being part of the spiritual twelve tribes of the Israel of God (Gal 6:16):
Rev 7:7 Of the tribe of Simeon were [spiritually] sealed twelve thousand.
As his name indicates, spiritually the tribe of Simeon is also able to “hear” the voice of the true Shepherd who is the foundation of the truth which the number twelve spiritually points out (Rev 21:12; Rev 21:14):
1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Let us see how Levi helps us to understand our spiritual growth in Christ. Levi was the third son of Jacob whom he got from Leah, and Levi means “joined” as she wanted Jacob to be in a closer loving relationship with her than with the beloved wife Rachel:
Gen 29:34 And she [Leah] conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.
The number three is spiritually connected to the process of completion, even the process to become the spiritual sons of God (Gen 40:18-19; Exo 23:14; Luk 13:32; Joh 2:19). Levi as the third son indeed typifies this process as his judgment also brought a deeper function for his offspring within the twelve tribes of Israel. Like Simeon, the tribe of Levi was indeed scattered among the Israelites. Although the whole nation of Israel was called to be separated from other nations, and in this sense a “holy nation” and a “kingdom of priests”, this function was later reserved solely for the tribe of Levi:
Exo 19:6 And ye [Israel] shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
When Israel entered Canaan as a nation, this tribe of Levi became distributed throughout the territories of the other tribes and had no inheritance within Israel (Deu 18:1; Jos 13:14). Rather, they received forty-eight towns in various sections of the land (Jos 13:33). This tribe was called to provide spiritual leadership in Israel, and among the most prominent leaders who came from this tribe were Moses, Aaron and Ezra. These are Moses’ instructions concerning the tribe of Levi before the Israelites entered Canaan:
Deu 33:8 And of Levi he said, Give your Thummim to Levi and let the Urim be with your loved one, whom you put to the test at Massah, with whom you were angry at the waters of Meribah;
Deu 33:9 Who said of his father, Who is he? and of his mother, I have not seen her; he kept himself separate from his brothers and had no knowledge of his children: for they have given ear to your word and kept your agreement.
Deu 33:10 They will be the teachers of your decisions to Jacob and of your law to Israel: the burning of perfumes before you will be their right, and the ordering of burned offerings on your altar.
Deu 33:11 Let your blessing, O Lord, be on his substance, may the work of his hands be pleasing to you: may those who take up arms against him and all who have hate for him, be wounded through the heart, never to be lifted up again.
However, not all Levites served inside the tabernacle or temple, except Aaron and his offspring (Lev 21; Lev 24:9; Num 27:21; 1Ki 8:6; 1Ch 6:49; Heb 9:7; Heb 13:10). The other Levites were to serve the tabernacle or temple in various outward functions, pointing to those referred to in the New Testament as the “called”, and from the “called” another smaller group is taken out by God to serve inside the true temple of God (Deu 17:8-13; Num 3:21-26; Rev 18:4):
Mat 22:14 For many are called [Greek: klētos], but few are chosen [Greek: eklektos: “ek” out of the “klētos”].
These are the only ones who can receive the spiritual meat at the altar of God as they lose their lives and the things which the “called” cling to:
Heb 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
As Levi is the third son of Jacob, so this three-step process starts for all in the outside camp, typified by the whole of physical Israel, before we move into the court which is the domain of the “called” in spiritual Babylon. It is only when we are called out from this time under the governors and tutors in flesh that we can enter to serve and operate under a totally new spiritual law within the temple of God – also called the “third heaven” (Rom 8:1-2; 2Co 12:1-4; Eph 2:6; Gal 4:1-7; Rev 21:1-3):
Heb 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
Heb 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
The elect of God are the holy priestly nation of God according to the priestly model or order of Melchisedec, typifying the heavenly Christ, with no earthly heritage or attachments to flesh (1Co 1:29; 1Co 15:50; Gal 2:20):
1Pe 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1Pe 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
This tribe of Levi is indeed spiritually represented in the elected one hundred and forty four thousand:
Rev 7:7b …Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand.