Theme: The last days (Part 7)
(Key Verse: Gen 49:19)
The theme of “the last days” helps us understand the time of the harvest or judgment in our lives when we are able to see the road behind us through which the Lord has brought us. This is also how the apostle John was enlightened when he heard the “great voice as of a trumpet” behind him, and he was given to understand the revelation of Jesus in him:
Rev 1:12 And I [John] turned [Greek: epistrephō = changing direction/repent/convert] to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
God indeed works both the good and evil in our lives, and it is only in the “last days” when these things are clarified (Mat 13:36-52; Heb 5:14; 1Pe 4:17). This theme of the “last days” also appears in the final words of Jacob to his twelve sons:
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.
We already touched on Jacob’s words to Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar and Dan in previous discussions. In this discussion we want to look at a few aspects in the lives of Gad and his tribe to see what we can learn of the process of spiritual conversion and the discerning of the function of both good and evil in our own lives. Gad is the eighth son Jacob addressed just before his death in Egypt.
Gad: the meaning of his name
Gad was Jacob’s seventh son, but the first son Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah, bore for him:
Gen 30:9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.
Gen 30:10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son.
Gen 30:11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad [Hebrew: gâd = crowd/raiders/a band of people attacking]
Leah gave this name to Jacob’s son from her handmaid, Zilpah, and the name means a troop or crowd of people invading or on the offensive. In its negative application the name “Gad” connects with the ten-horned fleshly beast who was given complete control in us through “the law of sin” by God (Rom 6:20; Rom 7:14-25; Eph 2:2-3; Rev 13:7). The flesh was given a worldly spirit at its creation, filled with earthly lusts and pride which is what spiritual darkness and barrenness is all about (Gen 2:7; Gen 3:6; 1Jn 2:16; Jer 18:4).
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
But in the positive application, Gad’s name connects with overcomers in warfare against this ten-horned beast and all its worldly powers. This overcoming spirit of Christ is now reserved only for the elect of God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-39; 1Ti 4:4):
Rev 17:14 These [rulers in the flesh] shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
And these are basically the two applications also seen in the words of Jacob to Gad:
Gen 49:19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.
For the spiritual generation of God, these words of Jacob to Gad are important for they also open up our own journey from darkness to light and from immature babes to maturity in Christ (Joh 1:5; Act 26:18; Eph 1:17-23; Col 1:13):
Mat 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
This is the generation in whom “all these things [are being] fulfilled”, even as no word of God which is written will pass away (Mat 4:4). The journey and experiences of Gad and his tribe with all the physical Israelites from Egypt to the promised land is our journey from flesh to spirit (Rom 1:20):
1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [Greek: aiōn = age] are come.
Gad’s position within the nation of Israel
Within the forty years of journeying in the wilderness, the tribe of Gad was associated with the tribes of Reuben and Simeon in terms of their position at the south side of the tabernacle in the wilderness:
Num 2:10 On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies…..
Num 2:12 And those which pitch by him shall be the tribe of Simeon…..
Num 2:14 Then the tribe of Gad….
In its negative application, the spiritual meaning in the scriptures attached to this geographical position or direction of the south is that of rebellion against God and being under the dominion of earthly or fleshly counsel (2Th 2:10-12):
Isa 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
Isa 30:2 That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
Isa 30:6 The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.
Dan 11:5 And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.
Egypt is situated directly south of the promised land, and we know that the south is the opposite of north from where God’s judgment comes, according to 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). The south therefore points to our natural inclination to trust our fleshly counsel, which also believes we can avoid God’s judgment through much tribulation and the seven vials (Act 14:22; Rev 15:8). This connects with the false doctrine of the rapture. We also see this in the life of Abraham who moved southward to avoid the famine which is a type of God’s judgment:
Gen 12:9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
Gen 12:10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine wasgrievous in the land.
Gen 12:11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
Gen 12:12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
Gen 12:13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
As it happened to Abraham, this brings us in a position of compromise – “to sit still” and take the counsel of the world to preserve our old life (Rev 3:14-23):
Isa 30:7 For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength isto sit still.
But God’s judgment will reach the south, as Abraham also found out, among others in the scriptures (Exo 7:19-12:30; Eze 29:1-16; Jer 46:1-28). Yes, Gad in us must be spiritually positioned in the south initially and be overcome by the troops of the flesh not knowing that all will be brought into the judgment of God, which is actually for our good (Heb 12:6; Tit 2:11-12):
Isa 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
Gad’s dedication and commitment
When the tribes of Israel settled in Canaan, the tribe of Gad settled on the east side of the river Jordan for the grazing of their huge amounts of cattle and sheep (Num 32:1-5). They were indeed “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” which again typifies this lukewarm and doublemindedness in us (Rev 3:14-23). They were again joined here by the tribe of Reuben, but now the half tribe of Manasseh joined them. We know that the Jordan River is the spiritual symbol for our baptism in fire when we are given the spiritual conversion to enter the spiritual battles in our heavens – dying to self and the spirit of the world (Mat 3:11; Mat 10:39; Mat 20:22-23; 1Co 15:31; Gal 2:20). If we love this world, it is impossible to make war with our beast and kill the passions of the flesh:
Rev 13:4 And they [those attached to the spirit of the world] worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Moses questioned these tribes along the same lines when they came with this request to him to live on the east side of the Jordan River:
Num 32:6 And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?
Num 32:7 And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?
A double-minded person believes it is possible to serve two masters with total commitment, which is not possible according to the scriptures (Mat 6:24; Jas 1:8; Jas 4:8). In this state of mind, we want to use our physical means to conquer spiritual battles, and this we also see in the tribes on the east of the river Jordan at this stage. They gave their full commitment to the battles of Israel:
Num 32:16 And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones:
Num 32:17 But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land.
Num 32:18 We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance.
These tribes indeed had “valiant men”:
1Ch 5:18 The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, were four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war.
Their dedication to Israel’s cause was commendable as Joshua also mentioned in his praise for them when he blessed them:
Jos 22:1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
Jos 22:2 And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:
Jos 22:3 Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God.
Jos 22:4 And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.
But Joshua also included a warning in this praise session:
Jos 22:5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Jos 22:6 So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.
But as Paul admonished the church in Rome, we all start off like these tribes of physical Israel in our spiritual walk being very zealous, “but not according to (spiritual) knowledge” (Act 18:24-28):
Rom 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Rom 10:2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Our position and walk should not cause misunderstandings
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” and what we do should not bring confusion to others:
1Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And this is what these tribes on the eastern side of the Jordan could not avoid as they erected “a great altar” for the purpose of a witness to God for His faithfulness:
Jos 22:10 And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.
This altar was not erected as an altar of sacrifice, as the temple in Jerusalem was the only place where sacrifices were to be made as commanded by God. In this they were very careful. It was an altar of “witness between [them] that the Lord is God”:
Jos 22:26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice:
Jos 22:34 And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God.
But the other tribes did not know this and wanted to attack the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh:
Jos 22:12 And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them.
After these tribes explained the purpose of this altar, peace was established when the misunderstanding was cleared:
Jos 22:27 But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD before him with our burnt offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no part in the LORD.
But our “great altar” of good intentions and good works of the flesh indeed brings a separation from the works of faith through the spirit of Christ in us (Eph 2:8-10; Jas 2:1-26):
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
When truth is not yet fully established in a person’s life, we will use the deceitful wisdom of the world thinking it will bring forth good spiritual fruit:
Jas 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Jas 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
Jas 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
Jas 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Within this time of being under the earthy and sensual wisdom of the world, like Job, we stubbornly cling to our righteousness (our “great altar”) and are wise in our own conceit and our understanding of things:
Job 10:15 If I be wicked, woe to me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see you my affliction;
Job 27:6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
But God’s spirit is the spirit of truth and will not bring confusion as all our intentions will be made clear at the appointed time:
1Co 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
“A troop shall overcome him…”
The scriptures warn us of allowing the “little leaven” into our lives as it has the ability to “leaveneth the whole lump”:
1Co 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
Leaven in its negative application has to do with sin and false doctrines according to the philosophies of the world. These things deceitfully entangle us when they drag us into conversations and “reason[ings] among themselves” where no good spiritual results or no growth in our faith will be achieved (1Co 5:6-8):
Mat 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them [His disciples], Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Mat 16:7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
Mat 16:8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
The tribe of Gad and these tribes on the east of the Jordan worked together, but this alliance also brought trouble for all of them. When the half tribe of Manasseh sinned against God, all these tribes on the east of the river Jordan were punished by God:
1Ch 5:23 And the children of the half tribe of Manasseh dwelt in the land: they increased from Bashan unto Baalhermon and Senir, and unto mount Hermon.
1Ch 5:24 And these were the heads of the house of their fathers, even Epher, and Ishi, and Eliel, and Azriel, and Jeremiah, and Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty men of valour, famous men, and heads of the house of their fathers.
1Ch 5:25 And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them.
1Ch 5:26 And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.
Our alliances can indeed bring evil on us, although we are not directly involved in particular sins and transgressions. Our natural alliance with the first Adam makes us guilty of all although we physically did not commit the sins which others in the first Adam do:
Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Rom 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Rom 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
But as we are associated with the first Adam, we can also associate with the last Adam as the first Adam was a figure of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, for this very purpose. So we see that in the positive the association of Jesus with us in every sense opens the door to our salvation and the salvation of all in the first Adam:
Heb 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Heb 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Although Jesus Himself never committed a sin, yet He was made sin for coming in a body of sin, like Adam, and that is how death was imputed on Him also (Rom 6:6). As Jesus associated with us in death, so we can associate with Him as He imputes His righteousness and justification on us:
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Rom 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Rom 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
We are first overcome by this evil association with “the troop” of flesh which brings death to us before the spirit of the life of Christ will also overcome everyone “at the last” (1Co 12:3; Php 2:5-11; 1Co 15:22-28). This promise is also seen in Jacob’s final words to Gad.
“….but [Gad] shall overcome at the last”
Gad and his tribe also bring this promise of overcoming over flesh and all its evil associations. In Moses’ words for the tribe of Gad we see that a few new symbols were added here to Gad’s function within the commonwealth of physical Israel, which helps us to see how this applies in our own lives, even within the spiritual “Israel of God”, His church (1Co 10:11; Gal 6:16):
Deu 33:20 And of Gad he [Moses] said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
Deu 33:21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.
This tribe of Gad fought on Saul’s side against David, but some “separated themselves” to join David and his army and were fearless and skilful fighters:
1Ch 12:8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, andmen of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains.
We know that David is a type of Christ, and as such we also see the spiritual Gadites, those few in Christ who were separated from their brothers, being part of the called, chosen and faithful elect who are sealed within the twelve tribes of the spiritual “Israel of God” in the book of Revelation (Mat 22:14; Rev 18:4). The spiritual Gadites indeed “came with the heads of the people” and will “executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with (spiritual) Israel”. These are the ones who have overcome the “troops” of flesh in all its various and subtle deceptions and delusions in this age:
Rev 7:5c …Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.