THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF JACOB
Intro: Ill. The Context. The old pilgrim Jacob is about to
leave this world. He is now 147 years old. His beloved
son Joseph is 56 and his youngest, Benjamin, is 39. His
death is at hand and he calls his 12 sons to his
deathbed. Before he leaves this world, he knows there
are some things that must be dealt with in the lives of
his children. As we read through this chapter, it
becomes clear that he has praise for some and
chastisement for others. For a few of these boys, it
would be the hardest hour they would ever face. For a
few others, it would be their crowning moment. It was
time for the 12 sons of Jacob to face the Judgment
Seat of Jacob.
As we look at these verses, we may first wonder if
there is anything at all here for the church. The answer
is that there is more than you may imagine. For in this
sad scene of a dying patriarch, we see a small picture
of the coming Judgment Seat of Christ, which every
born again believer will face when we leave this world.
The New Testament is clear in its teaching that there
will be a time when every child of God will face the
deeds done in these fleshly bodies, 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom.
14:12; 1 Cor. 3:10-15.
It is fascinating to consider what Jacob told his sons.
Notice verse 2. He tells them that he is going to speak
of what will befall them in the last days. If you follow
these boys and the history of their offspring, you will see
that what Jacob prophesied came true in every instance
during the kingdom years of the nation of Israel. And,
we will see that the same is going to prove true for the
church. What is said to us at the Judgment Seat of
Christ will determine our standing in the kingdom of
Now, I don't have time this evening to consider the
words of Jacob to all 12 of his sons. However, I want to
concentrate on just a few of these boys and their
father's dying words to them. These few that we will
consider this evening seem to give a good description
of the kind of people who will face the Lord Jesus Christ
in judgment on day soon. Let's look into these verses
and think for a moment about The Judgment Seat Of
I. V. 2-3 WE SEE A MAN CRUSHED
A. Reuben's Station - Firstborn. His position in the
family is stated for all to hear.
(Ill. Reuben surely must have thought that all his
wickedness was forgotten and that he would
receive all the blessings and privileges that came
to the firstborn. I can imagine his sigh of relief as
Jacob addressed him as one who had been the
pride and joy of his life.)
B. Reuben's Sin - Jacob's next words must have
come like a slap in the face! "Weak as water!"
Like water which always seeks its own level, no
matter how low that is, Reuben always seemed to
seek the lowest level of life. Then came the
bombshell! A sin that was committed over 40
years ago, a sin that was thought forgotten was
brought into the light for all to see. Jacob
reminded Reuben that Reuben had seduced one
of Jacob's wives, Gen. 35:22-23.
(Ill. Imagine Jacob, still reeling from the death of
his beloved Rachel, hearing the news that his
own son had defiled his father's bed with Bilhah.
Imagine the hurt. Imagine the broken hearted
father waiting for a confession that never came!
Now, it is all thrown out into the open! Now,
Jacob says for all to hear, "He went up to my
(Ill. What a lesson for the child of God! Many
times we sin against the Lord and we try to hide
that sin. We cover it up and pretend that it never
happened. All the while our Father in heaven is
waiting, brokenhearted, for His child to confess in
bitter tears. Oh, but there is coming a day when
all the secrets of men's hearts will be revealed.
All those secret things will be shouted for all to
see. Now, there can be forgiveness, then, only
weeping and sorrow over sin committed and
hidden away! What we do not bring out at the
mercy seat, will be brought out at the
C. Reuben's Sentence - "Thou shalt not excel!"
And, he didn't! His tribe never rose to
prominence in the nation of Israel. In fact, they
were often found on the wrong side of the fence.
They were often found in direct opposition to the
will of the Lord.
(Ill. By the way, those with unconfessed sin in
their lives will never excel in the things of God!
There will always be a hindrance there. Ill.
Imagine how Reuben must have tried to keep his
sin a secret all those years, and all the while
Jacob already knew about it. Friends, God knows
us better than we want to admit! He knows
everything we have ever done. He knows
everything we have ever tried to hide. He knows
(Ill. It is interesting that Reuben, the oldest, never
found his place in the family questioned. This
judgment seat was not about determining position
in the family. He was in the family and had been
since birth. Nothing he had ever done had
changed that fact. It wasn't about position in the
family, it was about performance in the family.
Because how one performed in the family
determined one's position in the kingdom! So it
is with the child of God! When we arrives at the
Judgment Seat of Christ, our position in the family
will not be in question! What will be judged that
day will be our performance in the family! Our
performance in the family will determine our
position in the kingdom. Don't fool yourselves!
Heaven will hold more rewards for some than it
does for others! God is just and God is fair! He
will reward a faithful son more than a foolish son!)
II. V. 5-7 WE SEE MEN CONDEMNED
A. Their Shame - Old Jacob brings to light another
sin that happened long ago. He recalls the time
that they slew an entire village to protect the
honor of their little sister, Dinah, Gen. 34. Their
sin was not done in secret, it was a high-handed
sin that was committed in full view of everyone,
but there was never any repentance of any kind.
(Ill. It is almost astounding what some Christians
can do! It is a disgrace how many of them live
their lives and they do so without remorse, and
without the slightest hint of repentance. However,
the day will come when they will face the Lord
Jesus Christ. On that day, their sins will be dealt
B. Their Sentence - When this sin was committed,
Jacob, rebuked his sons, Gen. 34:30. Now, after
waiting in vain for them to repent of their
wickedness he deals with their sins harshly. He
divides them and tells them they will amount to
nothing in the kingdom! This is exactly what
happened! There was some measure of
repentance on the part of the Levites and they
became to Temple works and the priestly tribe,
but just as Jacob said, they were scattered, v. 7.
They possessed no land of their own, and they
were scattered all over Israel. Simeon was
eventually swallowed up by the tribe of Judah and
disappeared. Their sin cost them plenty!
(Ill. These two are a picture of those believers
who are "saved so as by fire." They will go to
Heaven because they are in the family, but they
will have no rewards and no good words from the
Savior. For this kind of Christian the Judgment
Seat of Christ will be a solemn event.)
III. V. 8-12 WE SEE A MAN CROWNED
A. The Reward - Surely Judah expected to hear
from Jacob about his part in selling Joseph into
slavery. Surely, Jacob would mention the fact
that Judah had been a terrible father. Surely
Jacob would bring up all that business about
Tamar. Judah had done much evil in his life, and
now it was all about to come out for all to hear.
However, when the old man spoke, he spoke of
blessings and praise. He spoke about the Lord,
the Lion and the Law. He heaped praises upon
Judah and never one time did he mention the evil
Judah had done.
B. The Reason - Why this seeming unfairness?
Why should old Judah get off so lightly when
these others had been dealt with so harshly?
The answer is in verse 11. The Bible tells us that
Judah had "washed his clothes in the blood of
grapes." Clothes are a picture of righteousness
and the blood of grapes refers to cleansing in the
blood. You see, a few years before, Judah had
bowed at the feet of Joseph and had confessed
all, Gen. 44:18-34. That is why he received such
a blessing at the Judgment Seat of Jacob.
(Ill. Judah is a picture of that believer, who while
not perfect, is repentant. The believer will sin!
But, if those sins are taken to the Lord and dealt
with through confession, 1 John 1:9, they will
never be mentioned at the Judgment Seat of
Christ. There are believers who have committed
horrible, terrible sins, but they will never hear their
sins mentioned because, like Judah, they got
them under the blood! The Judgment Seat of
Christ will become a blessed place for that kind of
IV. V. 20 WE SEE A MAN CONSOLED
A. His Position - Asher was the youngest son of
Leah's maid Zilpah. He was the unwanted son of
the unwanted wife. He was a nobody. Probably
treated like a second-class citizen by the rest of
the family. His was a life lived in the background.
(Ill. Asher represents most of the church this
evening. He was a nobody, and the church is
filled with nobodies. That is, it is filled with people
who never become well known and never
accomplish great things for the kingdom of God.
But, they are in the family! Even if the rest of he
world does not recognize them, the Father knows
who they are! You see, God loves nobodies! He
must, His family is filled with them! However, to
be a nobody in the family of God is not such a
bad thing. After all, all of God's nobodies are
seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. All of
them have their names in the Lamb's book of life.
All of them have home in heaven. All of the m
are indwelt with the Spirit of God. All of them are
eternally saved. All of them are heirs and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus. God's nobodies might
not be prominent on the earth, but they are well
know in heaven.)
B. His Promise - Asher is told that he will "yield
royal dainties." That is, he will be a part of the
kingdom and will serve the king in that day.
Jacob is looking beyond this present time, down
through the ages to a day when the King of kings
will rule on the throne of His father David. In that
day, all the Asher's in the family of God will rule
with Him in power and glory. Don't worry so
much about not being well known in the Lord's
work. The day will come all the Asher's in the
family will rule and reign with the Lord Jesus
V. V. 22-26 WE SEE A MAN CONFIDENT
A. His Confidence - Finally the gaze of the old man
fell on the face of Joseph. Joseph has been
taking all this in with a sense of pleasure. He
stands there under the gaze of his father with a
smile and with coincidence in his heart. Why?
The father has already told him how things will
turn out, Gen. 48. He already knows that he will
receive the double portion of the firstborn. He
already knows that his two sons, Manasseh and
Ephraim have been adopted by Jacob and given
and inheritance among the brothers of Joseph.
He already knows that he has lived the kind of life
that will give him confidence in the presence of
B. His Commendation - Why this confidence?
Jacob tells him that his life has been fruitful, v. 22
and that he can depend on the blessings of the
Lord, v. 25. He is commended because he has
lived the right kind of life!
(Ill. Joseph is a picture of that believer who lives
his life under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He
isn't perfect, but he honors God in his life day by
day. He is blessed at the Judgment Seat
because he has earned a blessing. So it will be
for you and me if we have earned it. Imagine
hearing our Lord say, "Well done thou good and
faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy
Lord." We can hear that commendation if we
earn it by a life lived for the Glory of God!)
Conc: If you had to honestly put yourself into the shoes
of any of these 12 brothers, which one would it be? In
reality, e are going to stand before the Lord one of
these days and these events will played out to a certain
degree for each of us. How will it go for you? You have
the final say in that matter! If there is a need in your life
this evening. If there is something that might cause you
to fear facing the Lord, why not get that thing right
tonight? I want to be able, like Joseph, to stand in the
judgment with confidence, How about you?