1. REUBEN THE FIRSTBORN 1-4 a. The last days. Before we look at Reuben, we need to stop and think about what Jacob says as he gathers his sons together. Jacob is about to prophesy what would happen to them. In the ESV it says, “that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come.” Literally, it says “in the last days.” This phrase from Moses appears two other times in his writings, in Numbers 24 and Deuteronomy 33. In Numbers, we have an oracle of Balaam who says, “Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.” In Deuteronomy, Moses before he dies says, “I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come [last days] evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.” All three of these usages are prophecies of the future. All three mention the evil that the people would do. But all three also mention the deliverance of God’s people by a king. When we get to Judah we see that this king will come from the tribe of Judah. b. You shall not have preeminence. The prophecy regarding Reuben is summed up in the phrase, “you shall not have preeminence.” Now Reuben was the firstborn and was preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power amongst the sons. But his unstableness led to the loss of his birthright and position in the family. Remember back when we studied Genesis 35 we had those two sentences that we said would come back to bite Reuben. “While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it.” This act of sin against his father changed the whole course of history for his family. If Reuben is not the firstborn, who is? 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 tells us. “The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s couch, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel, so that he could not be enrolled as the oldest son; though Judah became strong among his brothers and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph).” As we saw in the last chapter, the sons of Joseph, whom Jacob adopted as his own would be the firstborn with Ephraim taking the lead. I want you to take notice of the fact that 1 Chronicles says that a chief came from Judah and hold on to that until we get to the prophecy concerning Judah.