Just before dying, Jacob prophesies over each of his sons. The prophecies can’t be called blessings, exactly. They are honest appraisals. Some soar with praise: Joseph is called prince and compared to a fruitful vine by a spring. Judah is predicted to rule his brothers. Others are tongue lashed: Reuben for sleeping with one of Jacob’s wives; Simeon and Levi for their murderous anger.
After prophesying about the first seven sons, Jacob utters something surprising, that seems out of place: “I have been waiting for your salvation, Yahweh” (Gen. 49:18). In the midst of addressing his sons, Jacob suddenly addresses God. Why?
One wonders at this point why Jacob is waiting for salvation and from what. He has been brought to Egypt and rescued from the famine that ravaged the world. Joseph has been restored to him after years of thinking him dead. From all appearances, Jacob’s life is at its zenith.
Yet, as full as his life in this world was, Jacob waited for salvation. He was about to die. Perhaps he was thinking about salvation from death. But his words were, “I have been waiting…”. His waiting started in the past sometime and he was still waiting when he said the words.
This suggests a spiritual dimension. For some time, Jacob had set his heart beyond this world. Certainly, the heartaches he suffered would cause life to lose its savor. But again, at the time he said this, the world could not have been more right for him. It seems that even at its fullest, this life fell short.
It is here significant that the word for salvation is “yeshua.” Its shades of meaning include “welfare,” “prosperity,” “deliverance,” and “victory.” Yeshua, it turns out, is also the name God told Joseph and Mary to give their Son. The Greek form of the name is Jesus.
Despite all that Jacob’s sons meant to him, and as full as they made his life, he waited for the salvation that could only come by another Son, God’s Son, Jesus. This Son embodied the salvation, welfare, prosperity, deliverance, and victory his soul craved and could not find.
There is much to love and set our hearts on in life. Yet nothing—not children, not the fulfilling of our deepest dreams—will touch our hearts beyond needing more. Only Jesus can be that; only in Him is the salvation, welfare, prosperity, deliverance, and victory that meets need beyond needing again.