We all have those friends or family members who pride themselves on “speaking their mind.” While they think it a great virtue, we find it a grievous vice. What they really mean by “speaking their mind” is that they feel free to give unsolicited and harsh criticism. We try to ignore their callous rudeness, but the problem is that they are often right in what they say. I call it truth in a black package. I once worked with a senior engineer who was our official team curmudgeon. His unsolicited invective toward younger coworkers was always pointed but spot on. Whenever coworkers ignored his opinions because of the black packaging, they met with disaster. In the same way, many ignore the gospel, because it comes wrapped in the black packaging of sin and repentance, only to meet with disaster that lasts forever.
As Jacob comes to the end of his life, he gathers his sons to speak a word of blessing. When we look at his words, however, some look more like a curse than a blessing. They are future blessing wrapped in the black package of their past sins. He has hard words for his sons as he reminds them of their past failures, but also points them to a gracious future through the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises by a Savior. At emotional times like these in our own lives, we are often tempted to define ourselves by our past unfaithfulness, but here Jacob reminds his sons that they are defined by God’s future faithfulness. Like Jacob’s hard blessings, the gospel first speaks words of conviction to us and then comforts us with words of grace. One ancient preacher said that it is the needle of the law which draws the thread of the gospel.
Join us for worship this Lord’s Day, September 30, at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine Jacob’s blessing of his sons from Genesis 49 and consider how the gospel speaks hard words of conviction and gentle words of comfort as God calls us to be his sons and daughters. For directions click here. We look forward to seeing you there.