“May Reuben live and not die, nor his men be few.” [NASB]
Within this next to last chapter in Deuteronomy, Moses offered blessings on the tribes of Israel. Though each of the sons of Jacob received his blessing when he was on his death bed, Moses offered further blessing upon them in particular and on the tribe they each led. Reuben, being the first son of Jacob, received first attention from Moses.
Moses asked a blessing of life and numbers over Reuben according to verse six. Why would this be significant? We must return to Reuben’s past to understand this. As the first son of Jacob, he should have received the birthright of being heir to Jacob and all he owned. Yet this did not happen.
If you will read Genesis 35:22, you notice that Reuben slept with one of his father’s concubines. According to the laws of God, “uncovering your father’s skirt” (sleeping with your father’s wives or concubines) is an abominable sin. Moses wrote about this in Leviticus 20:11, Deuteronomy 22:30 and Deuteronomy 27:20. According to the LORD, the judgment for “lifting your father’s skirt” was death for the son and the father’s woman.
Later on Jacob’s deathbed, when he blessed his sons, Jacob removed Reuben’s birthright from him because he slept with his concubine, Bilhah. Though as the first son who was supposed to have preeminence in dignity and power, Jacob said he would not have preeminence because he defiled his bed (Genesis 35:22).
In these passages from Genesis to Deuteronomy, Reuben’s actions created a situation where the judgments against him exacted his preeminence, power, life, and prosperity. With the removal of these, we recognize the curse of which God spoke rested upon Reuben. That curse was death whether immediate or gradual.
In Moses’ blessing of Reuben, we read of life being given back to Reuben and an increase in their numbers. Moses asked for God’s grace and compassion on Reuben as he and his tribe began their life in God’s Promised Land to the Israelites. God had compassion upon Moses by allowing him to see the Promised Land before his death. Moses asked God to exercise this same compassion on Reuben and allow him and his descendents to experience life in God’s Promised Land. He asked God to give Reuben another chance.
We each could use a Moses to intercede for us and ask God’s blessing upon us just as he did for Reuben. Every person has sinned against God and deserves judgment (Romans 3:23). God provided the right person to intercede for us, Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is our blessing from God because of God’s grace. His death provides the punishment each person deserves for turning his or her back on God. God gave His Son, Jesus, to take our punishment, our judgment, because He loves us and wants to have an eternal love relationship with Him. This is God’s compassion on us and made available at the cost of the excruciating death of His perfect and holy Son.
We have just one thing to do to grasp it – accept it by believing in Jesus Christ. Accept His atoning blood for your sins – wrongdoings. Confess your sins and allow Jesus Christ to be Lord of your life. Jesus Christ is God’s blessing for us. He is the blessing of life and prosperity Moses asked for Reuben and his tribe. We do not have to hope God will have compassion on us; He already proved He will by giving His Son to die our death penalty.
What will you do now with God’s blessing waiting for you to accept?