Theme: The last days (Part 6)
(Key Verses: Gen 49:16-18)
In the final section of the book of Genesis we see Jacob living in Egypt for seventeen years until his death at the age of one hundred-forty and seven years (Gen 47:28). Prior to his death he called his twelve sons together to tell them “which shall befall [them] in the last days”:
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” provides important indicators to our own spiritual progress and maturity, especially for those who can see that the “ends of the world are come” on them (Isa 2:2; Mat 24:1-35; Act 2:14-21; 2Ti 3:1; Heb 1:2). What Jacob said to these sons “happened to them for ensamples, and are written for our admonition” (1Co 10:11). In previous discussions we focused on Jacob’s last words to Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun and Issachar. In this discussion Dan is the focus, and here are the final words of Jacob to him:
Gen 49:16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
Gen 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
Gen 49:18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.
“Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel”
Here is the background to the birth of this son of Jacob:
Gen 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
Gen 30:2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?
Gen 30:3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.
Gen 30:4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
Gen 30:5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.
Gen 30:6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan [Hebrew: dân = ruler/judge].
Dan was Jacob’s fifth son born from Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah. The Hebrew meaning of the name “Dan” links with God’s judgment. In this regard it is also interesting to note that the tribe of Dan was positioned on the north side of the tabernacle in the wilderness, and they were also part of the ten northern tribes when the kingdom of Israel split after the death of Solomon. We know that the north is also generally associated with God’s judgment in the scriptures (Lev 1:11; Job 37:22; Isa 14:31; Isa 41:25; Jer 1:14; Jer 4:6; Jer 6:1; Jer 10:22; Jer 25:9; Eze 1:4; Eze 48:1):
Num 2:25a The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side [of the tabernacle] by their armies…
Because of this position of the tribe of Dan with the tribes of Naftali and Asher at the north of the tabernacle, it follows that these tribes were the last of the twelve tribes of Israel to journey or to enter into battle in the forty years in the wilderness. The tribe of Dan is specifically mentioned as being “hindmost” or “at the rear”:
Num 2:31 (KJV) All they that were numbered in the camp of Dan were an hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall go hindmost with their standards.
Num 2:31 (YLT) All those numbered of the camp of Dan are a hundred thousand, and seven and fifty thousand, and six hundred; at the rear they journey, by their standards.
Dan associates with judgment, and we know that judgment links with a harvest which occurs after a lengthy growth process has taken place where even the seeds of the evil one have had time to mature and reveal its function in our lives:
Mat 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
Mat 13:37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
Mat 13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
Mat 13:39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world [Greek: aiōn = age]; and the reapers are the angels.
Mat 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world [Greek: aiōn= age].
As the tribe of Dan was “hindmost” or “at the rear”, this tribe helps us to see that it is only in our “last days” when we can appreciate God’s judgment through His symbolic seven plagues, as only then it is actually fulfilled:
Rev 15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
Dan was the first son born of a concubine, but was given full status of sonship by Jacob in these words to him. Dan’s position did not affect his inheritance, even as all in Adam will be conformed to the image of the Son of God through judgment (1Co 15:22-28):
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
“Dan shall be a serpent by the way…”
In our time of spiritual immaturity, we cannot see God’s church as an integrated unit as at this stage we accept divisions and compare ourselves with others in the household of God (1Co 3:1-9; 2Co 10:12). This spirit was also in the tribe of Dan who was not satisfied with the territory initially allotted to them:
Jdg 18:1 In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel.
When we cannot see Christ as the Head of the body having all things under control, our whole perspective of His body and the operation of that body is also twisted. Then we usually do what is right in our own eyes and judge things from that perverted point of view. This is the theme of the book of Judges, and that period of physical Israel’s history, for our learning:
Jdg 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
The period of the rule of the judges in physical Israel’s history is very significant to understand our own perverted sense of righteousness – “that which was right in his own eyes”:
Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
The tribe of Dan wanted more land, and their eyes were looking over the fence, so to speak:
Jdg 18:2 And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valour, from Zorah [the birthplace of Samson], and from Eshtaol [Samson was buried here], to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there.
We know the number five spiritually indicates grace through faith in our lives, and here we see five men being sent out by this tribe to spy – pointing to their time of unbelief which is the negative spiritual application of the number five (Eph 2:8-10). In this time of insecurity and unbelief about our own spiritual gifts and ministry in the body of Christ, we are ‘spying’ on other’s gifts and ministries, being busybodies and not satisfied with our own “bread” God have given us, as the apostle Paul also found in the church at Thessalonica:
2Th 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
2Th 3:12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Within this time of searching and spying, the tribe of Dan found an unprotected city called Laish (also called Leshem) as the inhabitants of this city were “careless…quiet and secure” as “there was no magistrate (judge) in the land”:
Jdg 18:7 Then the five men [of the tribe of Dan] departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man.
These inhabitants of Laish lived “after the manner of the Zidonians”, which was a city focussed on self-interest and physical prosperity. Earthly things and entanglement in worldly affairs naturally has a tendency to attract the flesh and cause a state of lukewarmness and carelessness about spiritual things, of which we are warned about in the scriptures (1Co 11:28-34; 1Ti 4:16; 1Ti 6:6-11; Rev 3:14-22):
Amo 6:1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
The tribe of Dan was naturally attracted to this city of Laish and saw the opportunity to conquer it. In this they operated like “an adder in the path, that bites the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward”. The tribe of Dan, with their carnal aspirations and hunger for more land at this stage, appointed six hundred men with weapons of war:
Jdg 18:11 And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war.
This is significant, as we know the number six is the number of man and his beastly efforts to establish what he deems important (Gen 1:24-31). This haughty human spirit of pride can also be picked up in the Danites as they also renamed the city of Laish (or Leshem) after their own name (1Jn 2:16):
Jos 19:47 And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.
Physical man is a deluded creature who believes he has a free will and that his works of flesh can establish a name for himself in the earth – and even in the heaven. This is the nature of mankind since the creation, as God Himself causes this worldly spirit to operate in mankind for a period of time (Jer 18:4; Rom 8:20; 1Jn 2:16; Eze 14:9; 2Th 2:11). In this time we cannot help but to be convinced that we can build our own heavenly towers with our own ways and methods – spiritual slime and bricks:
Gen 11:3 And they [the people who congregated in Babel after the global flood] said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
Gen 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
This tribe of Dan was very noticeable in the scriptures in their desire to worship graven images as they also appointed their own priests, even from the wrong tribe:
Jdg 18:29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.
Jdg 18:30 And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.
Another witness to this self-glorification within this tribe of Dan is mentioned earlier in scripture when Israel was still in the wilderness and the following event took place:
Lev 24:10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;
Lev 24:11 And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)
Lev 24:12 And they put him in ward [under guard / type of imprisonment], that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them.
Lev 24:13 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Lev 24:14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
Lev 24:15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.
Lev 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.
It was a son in the tribe of Dan who openly blasphemed the name of the Lord and was stoned to death. We do blaspheme and curse God openly by claiming preeminence in the knowledge of His Word but fail to do His Word or apply that knowledge in our own lives and the lives of others (1Ti 6:1-6; Tit 2:3-5; Jas 1-26):
Rom 2:23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
Rom 2:24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
When the kingdom of Israel split under the rule of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, the tribe of Dan was one of the ten tribes who joined Jeroboam to form the northern kingdom of Israel. It was actually in the city of Dan where Jeroboam put one of the two golden calves for the purpose of worship (1Ki 12:26-31). Birds of a feather flock together, the saying goes, as Jeroboam was also insecure and self-absorbed as he wanted to prevent those under his rule to travel to the temple in Jerusalem to sacrifice and worship there, as prescribed by God. This finds application in us when we worship our own image (our ideas and false sense of importance) which is the highest form of delusion in our mature beastly state:
Rev 13:11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
Rev 13:12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
Rev 13:13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
Rev 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
Rev 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Rev 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.
“Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan”
Moses expressed these words about this tribe of Dan before the entrance in Canaan:
Deu 33:22 And of Dan he [Moses] said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.
We know that the lion is also the sign of the tribe of Judah, as Judah and his tribe grew from being a lion’s whelp to be an old lion. This tribe of Judah was the leading tribe in journey and battles in Israel and positioned first on the east side of the tabernacle in the wilderness (Gen 49:8-9; Jdg 1:1-2) As Judah was the appointed leader in this sense, so was the tribe of Dan appointed to bring up the rear of the people of Israel in their wanderings in the wilderness. But this symbol of a lion’s whelp which is connected here to the Danites, spiritually points out their immaturity in leadership. It is within our spiritually immature state that we actually also project ourselves to importance and rulership over others, like all worldly authorities are given to do (Mat 20:25-28). This type of leadership is also found among God’s people when He takes away the love for His Word and its authority in our lives:
Isa 3:1 For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water,
Isa 3:2 The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,
Isa 3:3 The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.
Isa 3:4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
The tribe of Dan in its immature state leaps from Bashan. Bashan was a fruitful district on the east side of the river Jordan, which is spiritually very significant. The tribe of Dan was blessed with strength and could conquer other nations as the scriptures already pointed out. This was also seen in the life of Samson, one of the judges of Israel. Samson was used as a judge in Israel, and he was indeed from the tribe of Dan. He was a life-long Nazarite, which again brings this immature spiritual state to the fore. But God in His mercy will bring all babes in Christ to maturity by destroying our inward Philistines, even our many wonderful fruits of the flesh. This is what the story of this Danite Samson brings to us – God designs occasions through which He also brings the immaturity in us to an end:
Jdg 14:1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
Jdg 14:2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
Jdg 14:3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
Jdg 14:4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
But it was purposeful for God, who alone can create and use evil, to bring forth good as God “sought an occasion against the Philistines” to remove the dominion which the Philistines had over Israel (Gen 1:31; Gen 50:20):
Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
The immature spirit in the tribe of Dan was also seen when Israel had to fight against Jabin, the Canaanite king under a female judge, Deborah. The tribes of Dan, Reuben and Asher were absent in the war, and they could not see God’s purposes in all of these things. This is what Deborah had to say about these tribes:
Jdg 5:16 Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
Jdg 5:17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.
All authorities, the good ones and the weak or evil ones, are appointed by God for His purposes (Dan 4:25; Rom 13:1). We know that female leadership in a house, a church or a country, is not reflecting the true relationship in the Godhead between Father and Jesus (Gen 2:21-24; 1Co 11:3; Eph 5:21-33; 1Pe 3:1-6). But when God goes to such measures it is to expose our own hearts in the process as we do not know the deceitfulness and wickedness of our hearts (Deu 8:2):
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jacob’s final word to Dan included this hope:
“I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD”
We all must go through much tribulation to receive God’s salvation, even through blaspheming against God through the spirit of the world with all its lusts and pride in us (Act 14:22). The obsession with their own name and image in these Danites is what we are admonished about, as their name is actually omitted from the twelve tribes in the spiritual city of God in the book of Revelation! But these self-absorbed Danites in us “shall fall, and never rise up again”, even as spiritual Babylon will fall at the appointed time (Rev 18:1-24):
Amo 8:14 They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again.
When our old name is blotted out, we are given a new name. The new name comes through the doctrine of Christ which will be engraved on the heart of each person in Adam. Even as Aholiab, who was also from the tribe of Dan, was used by God to work in blue, purple and scarlet, and fine linen with the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness:
Exo 38:22 And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.
Exo 38:23 And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.
With the building of the temple of Solomon, the king of Tyre, Huram, also advised Solomon of another skillful man, whose name was Hiram or Huram Abi, who was a descendant with the same craft within the tribe of Naphtali, although he was the son “of a woman of the daughters of Dan” (1Ki 7:13-14):
2Ch 2:13 And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Huram my father’s,
2Ch 2:14 The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David thy father.
All of these colours and even the fine linen speak of God’s righteousness and salvation through His temple in heaven, even as we enter through the veils at the doors of the tabernacle with the cherubims weaved in them, which all symbolizes His elect (Gen 3:24; Joh 10:1-18; 1Ti 3:15; Heb 10:19-20; Rev 3:12):
2Ch 3:14 And he made the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon.
Dan and his tribe typify our road from being the last, to be the first, if we can give a truthful account that we lived by all the words of God (Mat 4:4; Mat 20:1-16; Rom 5:8; 1Co 15:22-28; 1Ti 1:15). The tribe of Dan shows this “strange work” of judgment through which God humbles us through His chastening grace (Isa 28:16-21; Jer 2:19; 1Co 11:31-34; Tit 2:11-12; Rev 21:8):
Deu 8:5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
Deu 8:6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.