Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message I am burdened to give an additional word concerning the spiritual significance of Dan, Gad, Asher, and Naphtali. In a sense, I love this group more than the group that includes Judah. Judah's group is the second, and this group is the third, which, of course, is more advanced. We have seen that there is a link in this third group connecting it with the second. Judah is a young lion and a lioness (49:9, Heb.), Dan is a young lion, and Gad is a lioness (Deut. 33:22, 20, Heb.). Thus, these two figures, the young lion and the lioness, link the third group to the second.
When I was young, I often studied Genesis 49. Many times I felt that these words were not very meaningful. For example, verse 21 says that Naphtali is a hind let loose and that he gives beautiful words (Heb.). I could not understand how a hind could give beautiful words. It seemed to me that the hind and the beautiful words were not related to each other. Furthermore, I wondered how a hind could speak. Consequently, for quite a long period of time, I did not care for Genesis 49. However, when we probe into the spiritual significance of this chapter, we see how meaningful all of it is. In message one hundred we considered the rest in the enjoyment of Christ's riches in life (pp. 1282-1287). We saw that we need to bind our donkey to the vine and soak our garments in wine. If we do this, our eyes will be red with wine and our teeth white with milk (vv. 11-12). One brother may ask another, "Have you bound your donkey to the vine?" The other may reply, "Brother, have you soaked your garments in wine?" Then the first brother may ask, "Are your eyes red with wine?" The second may respond, "Are your teeth white with milk?" The outsiders may think that this is the secret, mysterious language of the church people. No matter what others may say, how meaningful these new proverbs are to us! "Bind your donkey to the vine!" "Soak your garments in wine!" I want my eyes to be red with wine and my teeth to be white with milk. In order for this to take place, we must first rest in Christ and then soak our being, our behavior, in the riches of the life of Christ. Then we shall experience transformation, and our appearance will be changed. Our eyes will be red with wine, and our teeth will be white with milk, indicating that they are strong to take in the Word and to utter it to others.
The sequence in these four groups in chapter forty-nine is marvelous. It corresponds both to the history of the church and our spiritual experience. Firstly, we have Reuben, signifying that we all began as sinners. After Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, Judah comes. This means that Christ has come as the victorious lion. Following Judah, Zebulun, and Issachar, we have the fall of Dan. Dan's fall, however, was not only a failure and a defeat; it was apostasy. After the apostasy of Dan, we have the recovery with Gad, the sufficiency in Asher, and the consummation with Naphtali. In church history we also see the apostasy, the recovery, the sufficiency, and the consummation. If we cannot see the consummation today, we shall surely see it in the next age and especially in the new heaven and new earth with the New Jerusalem. Naphtali will be completely fulfilled when New Jerusalem is manifested in the new heaven and new earth. The New Jerusalem will be the eternal Naphtali. These four itemsapostasy, recovery, sufficiency, and consummationalso match our Christian experience. After a downfall, the apostasy, we have the recovery. Then come sufficiency and consummation. We have seen these things in the Lord's recovery. Throughout the years in the recovery we have been with Judah, binding our donkey to the vine and soaking our garments in wine. Our eyes have become red with wine and our teeth white with milk. But suddenly the apostasy of Dan came in. Nevertheless, following Dan there was the recovery with Gad.
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