What appeared to be a mere gathering of shepherds now convened in a certain tent in Goshen, Mizraim. Nothing in the rustic trappings betrayed the significance, or even alluded to the truth that here at this time the fate of Gentile nations would be decided, that mighty empire after empire would be struck down and thrown into Hades to everlasting contempt and punishment, while the nation born of Jacob would flourish and triumph after many a sore trial, though many times it seemed its very existence would be snuffed out by more powerful neighbors. As would be expected at such a convocation, the greatest among men were in attendance. The questions that would form the business of the meeting were of such cosmic repercussion that the Almighty Himself, the Majesty on high, decided who would be invited. Julius Caesar, if he had lived then, would not have been called. Neither would Alexander the Great? No such men were worthy or great enough. Sooner that doorkeepers would walk in and take the seats of honor than the likes of Julius Caesar or Alexander appear in this seat of power!
Two majestic figures, one visible to human eyes, the other not, were present when the great Blessings were bestowed by the Patriarch Jacob upon his sons, good and bad. Unable to forget their transgressions, he, with the notable exceptions of Joseph and Judah, cursed rather than blessed, and so a second Patriarch, even greater than himself, was necessary to be present to amend and turn the curses into blessings that would give the sons and their descendants hope and a future.
Why should a father curse his own sons? What could they have done to provoke him so?
They sinned against him and his son Joseph so grievously in years past Jacob could not die without punishing them. Though forgiven by Joseph and treated royally by the brother they had sold into slavery, Jacob certainly never forgot what had been done to him and his favorite by them. Only Benjamin was innocent of their foul play, and Jacob referred to them as “archers” who had shot at Joseph, in his blessing of Joseph. Though he possessed no means to punish them, other than lay something like verbal whips upon the backs of the worst offenders, Jacob’s God could render due retribution and correction.
To the end of Joseph’s lifespan of 110 years the brothers went unpunished, though they, when their father died, were afraid he would turn on them now that their father was gone. But a Pharaoh could punish them! A Pharaoh came to power after Joseph’s death “who knew not Joseph.” This pharaoh was native, not foreign-blooded as the pharaohs in Joseph’s time had been, and he paid respects to foreigners, among whom Joseph surely was numbered.
He turned hostile and suspicious eyes upon the Israelite tribes living in his kingdom. With him began a program of reducing the free, well-to-do Israelites to slaves. Three hundred years later, in Moses’s time, the God of Israel would decide that enough was enough.
He would liberate them with such glorious exploits of divine power that the world would never forget what He had done to deliver His people Israel-—thus the brothers’ sin against Joseph, the subsequent move of Jacob to Egypt, the long sojourn in that land, the oppression of the Israelites by the Pharaoh, and the great liberation by the hand of Almighty God—were all in God’s plan, woven into a gigantic tapestry that covered the earth from Ur of Shinar, to Aram in the north, to Ken’an the Promised Land, to Mizraim of the Pharaohs, and thence back to the Promised Land.
If Jacob was the only Patriarch visibly present on the scene of the Blessings, who was the other figure, the greater Blesser of Israel?
Only the Lord God could bring them together, being the only One who can see beginning, middle, and end in one whole. He foreknew the Blesser who would come over four hundred years after Jacob’s death, himself a descendant of Jacob. The Lord not only foreknew, he could bring forth the very spirit of the yet unborn man—and so it was done.
Moses appeared, not visibly, but in spirit within the tent of Jacob when the old, dying Patriarch gathered his sons to give his last testament.
The sons, now mature men with gray in their hair, all dignified in appearance and no longer looking like evil-doing brothers bent on fratricide, were, nevertheless, not anxious to attend. They feared Jacob’s vengeance for their misdeeds.
Expecting no mercy, they came grudgingly, but they obeyed and assembled—Gad, Levi, Reuben the firstborn, Naphtali, Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, Judah, Simeon, Dan, with Joseph and Benjamin already present.
Propped on the many pillows and wool-stuffed bolsters of his bed, Jacob was visibly very weak, ill and dying. How little did he look like a man reputed to have wrestled with an angel at the Brook Jabbok, when Esau his brother was about to meet him on the morrow with six hundred armed men on horses! Everyone present knew the old story, how Jacob had won a blessing by not letting the Angel go until he received it, though the Angel had struck lameness into Jacob's thighbone.
A chief sign of approaching death, days before he had lost all appetite and could not be forced to eat anything except to sip some water now and then. How long would he live? A few more hours, a day possibly? The whole camp waited expectantly, not fearing his death but knowing it was a certainty. Jacob was full of years, and had many sons, and would die with honor, even though in a foreign land. God had prospered him greatly. Only Joseph was richer in goods, being second in authority and power beneath the land’s ruler, the mighty Pharaoh.
Jacob, being the father of such a great man next to the Pharaoh in power and weath, might have demanded a splendid court for himself, but he despised any show of rank, and so he kept to his simple tent all his last years, preferring the humble way of his people above the pomp and glory of the Mizraimites among whom he and his people abode.
Being without fear of their beloved father’s wrath, Joseph and Benjamin knelt, weeping before their father. Judah, too, lay down before his father, his hands outstretched, while all the other brothers hung back, their eyes telling that the whole story with them.
Jacob had to be given some water mixed with an herb to drink before he could find strength to speak. A servant girl held his hand and another supported his head on the pillow.
Fortunately, he named Napthali, who was not one of the worst of the lot, by any means. He had followed his evil older brothers in the sin of Shechem, but he was a follower and that was his fault, not the wickedness of heart and the cruelty that Simeon and Levi had fully displayed.
“Naphtali is a hind let loose; he giveth godly words.” That was all Jacob could say for some time, for even this little exhausted him.
The invisible Moses speaking only to God and the recording angels’ ears then said:
“ O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord; possess thou the West and the South.”
Even without hearing Moses, this was a good beginning, much better than expected, and the brothers took heart. Perhaps it would go well with them after all, they thought. Exchanging glances, they relaxed, maybe a bit too much.
Jacob continued when he had regathered strength and Asher, called, came and knelt before him just as Napthali had done:
“Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.”
Now the brothers were sure they wouldn’t be sorely chastened. The evil, dark cloud hovering over their heads seemed to have been blown completely away!
“Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his heel in oil; their shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
Jacob signed for Judah to come forward, and when Judah came and lay at his father’s feet, Jacob said:
“ Thou are he whom thy brethren shall praise; thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up; he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes; his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.”
“Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people; let his hands be sufficient for him, and be thou an help to him from his enemies.”
It was Gad’s turn. He came and knelt, but did not throw himself prostrate as Judah had done.
“A troop shall overcome him; but he shall overcome at the last.”
Well, as long as things ended reasonably well, he could live with that, Gad decided. He shrugged, and went back to his place to hear the other “blessings.”
“ Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad; he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. And he provideth the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, when he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executeth the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.”
Despite the ambivalent blessing laid upon his brother, Dan stepped forth for his desserts. Strong and resolute, flourishing in his prime of life, he smiled down on the patriarch, ready for anything the old one could dish out.
“Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, that biteth the horse’s heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.”
Not bad for a blessing! Dan must have thought, for he swaggered away, making way for the next brother. “Will my brothers fare better?” he thought, smiling.
Moses (almost the echo of a chime):
“Dan is a lion’s whelp; he shall leap from Bashan.“
Having watched Dan closely, Simeon and Levi now rushed boldly forward for their blessing. All fears were gone, they expected similar blessings, if not better. What a relief that the sword of Jacob had turned into a father’s loving caress instead! It was, they thought, a miracle of old, sick age that had changed him so greatly! He was no longer his old, grudge-keeping self!
"Simeon and Levi are brethren, instruments of cruelty are their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret, unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united; for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self will thy digged down a well. 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.”
Oh no! By the whoremongers of Shechem! Alas! Simeon and Levi turned pale, and fell to their knees. They could not believe their ears; the worst had happened! The very worst! Overcome and crushed by the divine force of the oracles—to be cruel to others was something they could still justify, but to destroy a well of living water was perhaps the worst a man in the East could do mankind!--they could not hear the invisible prophet also speaking, oracles which turned the firstlings from deserved wrath to mercy and grace and true blessing.
“Let thy [Levi’s] Thummin and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah, who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children; for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law. They shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altars. Bless, O Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; smite through the loins of them that rise up against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again.“
It was just too bad the assembled brothers could not hear Moses’s words about how they would be used as holy priests of Israel one day. Simeon and Levi had to bear the terrible weight of the curses without any comfort whatsoever.
Reuben, trembling, could hardly force himself to go forward after seeing how Simeon and Levi had been destroyed by his father for their crimes at Shechem and against Joseph the Favorite. He too had sinned greatly—a firstborn going and taking to bed his father’s own concubine-wife! Even though he had struggled to spare Joseph’s young life and deliver him out of his brothers’ hands and back to their father, he could not plead for a first-born’s right for special favor from his father since Jacob well knew he had shared in deceiving his father so many years about Joseph’s death! No one would speak for him, he thought. No one! He had to be helped by his other brothers. From his expression of a hunted, despairing animal, it looked as if he might turn and run.
Jacob wouldn’t even open his eyes to behold Reuben, it was as if he could not bear to behold his first-born of Leah, even after so many years had passed since Reuben’s sin with the handmaid-wife.
“Thou are my first-born, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it; he went up to my couch.”
Had they heard right? Father Jacob had just said Reuben was worthless, a son on whom their father could not depend! Worse, he had sinned the greatest sin against his father--defiling the marriage bed by taking a wife of Jacob's in his arms! Reuben was finished, right? There could be no mistake on it! He was as good as dead, after a blessing like that. Everyone would hear of it, and his name would be a byword, the butt of drunkard's lewd songs. People would spit whenever he approached or departed. They would snigger and laugh behind his back. They would teach their children to do the same. Why had Reuben lived to this day, to be cast into a pit of such deep, inescapable reproach? He ought to have thrown himself into the Pit of Dothan, taking Joseph's place--right?
Such reflections, conclusions, and questions could not be denied. Everyone present were entertaining them.
Surely, the ruin of a man is no pleasure to anyone. It carries the possibility of spreading to others, like a dread sickness. No wonder no one wanted to touch Reuben at that moment, to impart some brotherly comfort if possible.
Feeling some of the great shame cast on the firstborn, the brothers turned away their faces, as he writhed in agony, smitten by the curse of his father’s oracle. At last, his doom was declared! They had expected it, but it seemed worse to hear it. Reuben looked as if he might die on the spot, he grew so pale and was shaking so badly. He should not excel? Then was would he be given? But all present knew Father Jacob had already said it-—the lot due Reuben was nothing! Absolutely nothing would be given him, declared by Jacob’s deafening silence on the point.
Yet in the black cloud surrounding Reuben another voice was speaking, one of mercy--mercy! the sweetness of undeserved mercy0--which, unfortunately, the sufferer could not hear:
Let Reuben live, and not die, and let not his men be few.
Having fallen to his knees before his father, Reuben crawled like a crippled sheep shorn of all hope and future prospect, then somehow got to his feet without his staff, which he had dropped, and staggered away, leaving the tent of his utter disgrace.
Jacob the Avenged then turned to Zebulun and Issachar. With a faint smile on his lips, it seemed Jacob had forgotten what their wrong-doing could have been. Indeed, they were followers, not leaders like Simeon and Levi, and so their blame was the less. In time one might forget the blame; however, the oracle turned somewhat ominous at the end, with a shadow on Zebulun’s future that spoke of enemies coming to rule over him.
“Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be until Zidon. Issachar is a strong ass couching between two burdens; and he saw that the land, it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulders to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.”
“Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out, and, Issachar, in thy tents. They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness; for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.“
Now at last Jacob’s Favorite came forward, kneeling and taking his father’s hand at the bedside. For some moments nothing more happened, as Jacob felt his son’s strong hand on his, and Jacob rested, gathering strength for the great blessings he felt welling up within his spirit.
Which was the greater prince? He who lay in the tent or he who sat in a palace, next to Pharaoh in power?
Jacob still lived, even if for only a few more hours, as Patriarch of the People of God. Thus, he was still the greater in power, in divinely-bestowed power. Yet the mantle of authority was being passed.
“Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over a wall; the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel). Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, and blessings of the breasts, and of the womb; the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.”
“Blessed of the Lord be his land, and, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things brought forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and the fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush; let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the head of him that was separated from his brethren. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns; with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth; and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
A complete hush fell over the assembly while Jacob spoke Joseph’s blessings that conferred the Patriarchal authority and privileges to the Favorite. It seemed to all that there could not be anything greater than what they heard being lavished on the Favorite. Only Judah could claim a scepter of some kind, which spoke of kingly rule coming to his tribe. That alone was not bequeathed to Joseph, though now he held the Pharaoh’s golden scepter and ruled over the whole mighty land of Mizraim, with the greater power—God’s—being conferred when Jacob died and was gathered to his fathers and Joseph ruled over the people of Israel as Patriarch.
With his last particle of strength (the strength needed to keep the flame of life burning), Jacob spoke again, addressing the whole family. “I shall be gathered unto my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Ken’nan,which Abraham bough for a possession of a burying-place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.”
What more could be added? Nothing! And what could be said about the blessing and cursings? Again, nothing! The greatest court in the world, past and present, had assembled and the business affecting every soul born up to that time and to the time of the Messiah had been concluded, to the last jot in the divine record. Knowing it was his hour, Death had entered the tent with a task that could not be delayed. Everyone felt his chill and numbing presence. He was bending down to take Jacob their Father into the land of shadows. The moment for Jacob's final leave=taking was upon them. Words were useless now. They had lost all power. Only tears could take their place.
Joseph shook off a kind of trance and fell upon his father, weeping, and kissed him.
The Blessings—the great Last Testament including final instructions for his burial-—of Jacob were ended. Within minutes the tent was empty except for Father Jacob, Joseph and Benjamin. They lingered into the night, watching over their father as he struggled for breath. Servants came in to help, and Jacob drew his feet up in bed and died in the night, hours before the morning dawn.
Then all Israel put on sackcloth, threw ashes on their heads, and mourned. Joseph gave commands and Jacob was embalmed, the priests of Mizraim taking forty days to complete the embalming.
When the forty days of mourning and embalming were completed, with many Mizraimites also joining in the mourning for the great father of Joseph, Joseph went to the Pharaoh and said, “If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you. My father made me swear, saying, ‘Lo, I die. In my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Ken’an, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again to you, O Pharaoh.”
The Pharaoh, who had also put mourning clothes upon his entire royal court and household for the father of Joseph for the whole forty days, smiled upon Joseph. “Go up to Ken’nan and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.”
So Joseph went to bury his father, and took the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of the people of Israel, and even elders of the Pharaoh’s people. Only the little ones and the flocks did Joseph leave behind in Mizraim in the land of Goshen.
Chariots and horsemen went with Joseph’s company, so that it was a great caravan, the greatest in the East in size and power. Carrying the coffin of Jacob, the caravan journeyed to the threshing floor of Atad, and there they camped, and mourned for seven days, since this place lay within the borders of the land God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And the inhabitants, the Ken’nanites were so impressed that they renamed the place Abel-mizraim, which meant the “Mourning of Mizraim.”
Joseph proceeded to Hebron, to Mamre’s oaks and the Cave of Machpelah in the field Abraham bought from the Hittite, and in the Cave they lay Jacob’s coffin. After that Joseph and all his people, servants, and the Mizraimites returned to Goshen and the court of Pharaoh. But once back in Mizraim, the brothers of Joseph grew more fearful than ever.
They grew too fearful to come to him in a group, bowing seven times, so they sent a messenger. The messenger said to Joseph: “Thy father did command before he died, saying, ‘So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the tresspass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil; and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father.”
Hearing this message from his brothers, Joseph broke down and wept. And Joseph called them into his presence and said to them, “am I in the place of God to judge you harshly? But as for you, you thought evikl against me, but God meant it unto good to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore, fear not. I will nourish you, and your little ones.”
Thus Joseph comforted his brothers and spoke kindly to them after their father Jacob’s homegoing. And Joseph did as he promised his brothers, and when he was a hundred and ten years old, the perfect number in Mizraim, he died. But before his death he saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation, the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh. Then Joseph said to his family and people: “I die, and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
Thus, Joseph reaffirmed the Promises of God to his fathers and to the people of Israel, prophesying that such events would come to pass as the “visitation” by God, the bringing them out from Mizraim by God, and the entering into the Promised Land.
Did he know of the bondage that was coming for his people? Surely, he did. He knew what God had said to father Abraham: “Know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgment on the nation which they serve, and afterwards they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.
And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Jacob, too, knew what God said to his grandfather Abraham, so he was most reluctant to go down to Mizraim, even when called by his beloved son Joseph.
Only God’s reassurance of him gave him strength and resolve to go.
Joseph took an oath of them to carry up his body to Israel for burial. But it was many years—over three hundred—before God fulfilled the plan for Israel with the great deliverance through Moses, and then Joseph’s golden coffin was taken out of Mizraim and journeyed with the people for forty years in the wilderness, until finally it was taken to Shechem and buried in the field given to Joseph by his beloved father.
Thousands of years would pass.
The land promised to the spiritual Seed of Abraham was split by the sons of Ishmael and the descendants of Jacob, with the land about Shechem passing to Ishmaelite descendants.
Always a bone of contention, and especially so in the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Jewish Tomb of Joseph outside the site of ancient Shechem became a prime point of parley and discussion in the final round of talks leading to the peace treaty forged by the peace emissary representing the EU.
The tomb was to be shared by both parties—Israeli (Jew) and “Palestinian” (Arab)—promising a just and equal share to each party. But the peace of man could never be enforced, even with a sword. So Joseph’s bitterly contested tomb and the field lying about it remained in hands other than Israeli until the Coming of Yeshua, who inaugurated the peace of God and a reign of divine equity.
Whether on Earth I or II, prior to Joseph, or long after Joseph, A nna, the aged woman of God living and praying in the temple continually, was filled with the Holy Spirit and identified the baby Yeshua as the Messiah when his mother and Joseph came into the temple for his dedication after the days for Mary’s purification were completed. Anna was of the “lost tribe” of Asher, which had lost its tribal land and freedom when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom and carried off all the tribes north of Judah and Benjamin (Simeon and Levi were scattered, and so some of them remained with Judah and Benjamin), settling them in foreign, heathen lands. The royal dainty is described in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 36-38: “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him [Yeshua, the Messiah, the Promised Seed of Woman, Shiloh, etc.] to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
In the days following the visitation of the infant Messiah in the temple, Anna spent nearly all her waking hours praising the Lord. She had always praised the Lord while living in his holy Temple in Jerusalem. Night and day, while serving the Lord in Temple duties of various humble kinds—cleaning, washing, and even some preparation of meals for priests—she prayed and praised the Lord. Work did not stop her praising and glorifying God. She was known by all as just an old woman—a widow for so many years nobody knew how long her husband had died and left her—who went about doing her tasks and mumbling phrases that sounded like psalms of David.
It was not considered anything important, then, when she and Simeon—another oldster, who like Anna spent much time in the Temple service—showed up and took a liking to a particular baby brought to be dedicated. A male, the mother and father were present to give him to the Lord according to the commandment, offering turtledoves for him since they were not well-off enough to give a lamb, and, of course, pay the amount due for his redemption. Returned to the mother, the infant was going to be taken away when Anna’s eyes suddenly opened wide. She saw the infant as no ordinary infant—for she had seen thousands of such infants brought for dedication at the Temple. No, God was telling her, this was his holy Son, the Messiah promised to her people since before they were a people, even promised to Adam and Eve back in the garden of Eden!
Was this the One? The Desire of her holy Nation? After so many centuries of suffering, invasion, captivity, sin, and rebellious backsliding? After so many punishments and afflictions beyond number for their continued iniquities as a nation? This was the One?
The revelation struck her like a thunderbolt. She staggered forward in the revelation, seizing the child. An oracle poured unbidden from her lips as she blessed the One she and her people had prayed to see for all her life
As Anna, afterwards, returned to her former duties, she was a woman transformed. The glory of God shone from her face, and people could bear to look upon her face, it was so bright. She took to wearing a veil, just as Moses had done after seeing the Almighty for forty days on Mt. Sinai. Only then could the priests bear to have her around them.
She could hardly believe herself that she had seen the Messiah, face to face. Nobody would believe her report, except Simeon, who was present, and the parents. They soon returned to their hometown of Nazareth, in faraway Galilee. She was left with her memory of the stupendous event, and it was beyond comprehension. Why was she favored of heaven to be one of two in the Temple to recognize Him? Why she?
She recalled her life in the days ahead. What could have qualified her in God’s eyes for such a signal honor? She was nothing, she thought. Less than nothing! Why, she was a daughter of the tribe of Asher, which had been carried into captivity by the Assyrians ages hence. None had returned. She was only living because her father’s line went back to a man who had gone up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice while everyone else stayed home, and everyone that remained home was captured and carried off by the Assyrians. Her forefather had remained safely in Jerusalem, but had been carried into Babylonian captivity, yet the line survived and returned with the Judahites to Jerusalem, and so she had come along in time to serve a husband and, when he died, serve the priests of the Lord in the Temple.
What else was a widow and a woman without a tribal homeland good for? It was a great honor, of course, and demanded holiness of life. She had been accepted on the priests’ strict terms, and was happy and content to live such a secluded life. After all, she had nothing else—her sons and daughters had died, and their children seldom visited the Temple so they seldom ever met. Years made strangers of them all, and she was left alone in the Temple by her remaining descendants. They took no interest in her doings, and she was so tied to the Temple by this time that she never went out, so it was as if she was the Lord’s handmaiden, and had always been so.
Fasting and praying for the Coming One, the Messiah, she served the Lord and his holy priests.
Then came the day that changed everything!
She tried to continue as before, but she could not. Nothing went right. Absolutely nothing went on as before!
She couldn’t get a soul to believe her account of her seeing the Messiah, but she could not stop telling people. The annoyed priests finally thrust her out of the Temple. Where was she to go? She went to her family, told them about the Messiah she held in her arms, and they flatly called her an old liar and a woman who had lost her wits! It was crushing to hear, and made her weep. She fled from their homes, one after the other, until she ran out of relatives.
Where now? The Temple had put her out. Her remaining family and relatives had all put her out. Where was she, a widow without any support, going to go?
Strangely, she felt no hunger. The revelation seemed to be her food, night and day. She fed on the glory of it, and lost no flesh. It was her food and drink somehow!
She walked the streets of Jerusalem, telling anyone who would stop and listen, what she had been honored to hold in her arms for a few moments. She tried to give Jerusalem, sadly trodden underfoot by the Gentiles, hope, but Jerusalem refused to believe her words of cheer and comfort and joy.
It was a grief to her, but she could not stop telling people.
Finally, shaking the dust of Jerusalem from her feet, she left the city as a royal herald would go before a king on a journey and went out to visit villages and towns and cities beyond, announcing to them the Messiah had come. But no one would believe the herald, she found. They were all unbelieving, just as Jerusalem had been.
Had she been mistaken? She had to wonder. Was she deceived?
She knew that God had truly visited her people, and that He had truly spoken to her spirit. How could she have been deceived?
It was so strange, that she sought God’s answer to her perplexing situation. “He came to His own, and His own received Him not,” was God’s reply to her one day.
Anna was astounded. How could they refused God’s own Son, the Messiah? How could they reject Him? He was there to deliver them! He would set them free!
At this point the revelation returned, but showed the Messiah as a full-grown man, and—worse than she could have imagined—-hanging on a Roman cross as a condemned criminal!
Anna collapsed at the sight. No! she cried. “Not that!”
God spoke again to her: “It is for this purpose that I have sent Him to you and My people.”
Anna staggered back to Jerusalem. She was overcome, not with joy, but strange wonder. How could God send His own Son to be crucified for His people’s sins? The rabbis and scribes and Pharisees had always taught, concerning the contrasting figures of the Suffering Servant and the Conquering King of the Jews, that they were two different Messiahs.
She inquired of the few remaining Temple priests who still believed the scriptures were God’s by inspiration, but they could tell her nothing but what they had always said: there were two different Messiahs. They couldn’t possibly be the same Person. They scoffed at her when she suggested they might be one person.
She inquired of the scriptures. She read in Leviticus about the atoning sacrifice of the lamb and the scapegoat, then went on to reading in Isaiah, where the one portrayed to her was truly a sacrificial lamb and a scapegoat for the sins of the people. The Messiah had to be the sacrificial lamb or goat, and he also had to be the suffering Servant of the Lord! Otherwise, He could not save His people from his sins and all forms of bondage. This was the One God had sent! Truly,. He was the perfect Sacrifice. He was “Shiloh” himself, promised their forefather Jacob! Promised Adam and Eve in the form of the “Seed of Woman”! Promised in the sacrifice of every lamb as the Passover Lamb! He was also a King, a royal son of David, fit to occupy the throne in Jerusalem and put all things right before God after He had cleansed the Temple of its impurities. So there was no contradiction at all! There was only this Lamb-King, the Messiah who would die, then rise and reign forever—for she knew God the Father would never permit His Son to remain in the grave for long!
Now she had her answer. She had beheld, and cradled in her very own arms, the Lord God’s Only-Begotten Son, His own “Royal Dainty”!
“And out of Zebulun [came] they that handle the pen of the writer”—Song of Deborah, Judges 5:14.
Zebulun and Issachar failed to secure the seacoast. Unless a remnant of the “lost” tribe of Zebulun somehow returns to the allotted territory on the coast during the Millennial Reign of Christ, the physical occupation promised in the oracles of both Moses and Jacob will never be fulfilled before the Millennial Reign of Christ; yet, there is another way, meaning the spiritual inheritance, that can still take place. Yeshua may be allotting the spiritual inheritance of the lost tribe of Zebulun to his adopted sons and daughters among the Gentiles, and so the oracles of Moses and Jacob will not be in vain but will find fulfillment when these sons and daughters pick up the pen (which is not only the pen, but all means of modern communication of the word of God--oral, written, visual, and electronic--and use them to magnify the Lord in their generations; i.e., “suck of the abundance of the seas, and of the treasures of the sands.”
Who may these Gentile sons and daughters born by faith and adopted into Jacob’s line be? Gabriel Tall Chief, and his cousin, Horace Brave Scout, were probably among them, though Gabriel never took up a pen as such, using a letter board instead, and most of what he dreamed was passed on to Horace, who continued what Gabriel had started.
It was for Gabriel to suck of the “abundance of the seas,” and his cousin Horace to suck of the “treasures of the sands.” But how was such wealth unleashed? For each the unlocking of his own destiny began in a small way, as a single, small wooden door cloaked in shadow and obscurity, once opened, reveals a splendid sanctuary of a vast cathedral. Yet they both followed the footsteps of One who was the greatest Dreamer of all, the Father of all and Creator of all. It was He who dreamed of the Earths and the role His only begotten Son would play in it from, we are told in scripture, before the foundation of the world. Later, “in the fullness of time,” Christ became man through being born a human being, the One called Jesus of Nazareth. Christ Jesus, or Yeshua Meshiach in Jewish name and office, fulfilled His Father’s great Dream.
That Dream was the Atonement, the grand master plan for redeeming a fallen sinful mankind and reclaiming and restoring the fallen Earths to lost glory. “Atonement” is broken down by some into “at-one-ment” instituted by God for the sake of mankind. But it meant not only the forgiveness of man’s sin and the reconciliation of mankind and a holy God, who were separated by man’s fall into sin, but it meant Yeshua Meshiach had to die for the Father’s dream in order for it to be made reality. Yeshua Meshiach was the only means possible by which the Father’s Dream could come true.
Yeshua the Son of God had to choose to give up His own eternal glory as the Second Person of the Godhead and even, briefly, fellowship with His own Father, in order to gain the rewards of His submission to His Father’s will and His Father’s Dream. He chose, as we know from the account of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, to give up His own life and His own dreams for the sake of His Father’s Dream. He suffered losses that were immeasurable, for as God He possessed everything in heaven and in creation. In giving up His own perogatives out of love for His Father, however, He gained even greater glory, which will take all of eternity to reveal.
Copyright (c) 2004, Butterfly Productions, All Rights Reserved