Unstable as Water
Jacob is in his deathbed. He is mentioning each of his son’s and the strengths as well as their weaknesses and faults. It is a time of blessing and prophecy for each of them. It is also a study into the secret character of each of his sons. Each one is commented upon and Judah, most of all has a far reaching prophecy attached to his name. Ruben the firstborn is mentioned as being “Unstable as water.”
Jacob (now Israel) was unstable in his youth as well and knows the character of his son. Jacob, stole his brother’s birthright through taking advantage of Esau’s human weakness, in this case hunger and took advantage of his father’s weakness due to age and failing eyesight. Jacob stole the blessing of the father from the eldest son which was still rightfully Esau’s. Even though Esau had squandered his birthright, I believe he was still counting on the future blessing of his father. I would argue that he expected the blessing and was devastated by its loss or else he would not have pled for a blessing from his father so passionately.
Ruben, it seems, attempted to short circuit any chance of any competitors challenging his birthright by forcing himself on his step-mother, Rachel’s servant and Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). He attempted to guarantee his birthright and blessing by defiling Bilhah.
* Ruben is Jacob’s first born through Leah
* Joseph is Jacob’s firstborn through Rachael
It is without a doubt that we have all experienced the unstable, unpredictable individual and the moment by moment difficulty of operating around them.
I. The Impact of Instability
In James 1:8 we read that a mentally unstable person is unstable in everything he does.
1. Instability will disqualify a person
2. Instability opens the door for worse sins to come in and need to be conquered.
3. Instability is a sin against an unchanging God (Malachi 3:6)
(1 Kings 18:21)Elijah: “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD, He is God, follow Him; but if baal, follow him.”
II. What can cause instability?
1. Weakness of the flesh
2. Inability to understand others
3. A poor vision of the future
NOTE: The greatest concern of the committed Christian should not be “will I fail?” but rather “Will I become unuseable ?” Being “Put on a shelf” was Paul’s great fear and we should evaluate our usefulness to the work of God with a clear vision of ourselves through the lens of righteousness.
III. Personal and Spiritual Stability is demanded in Scripture
I Corinthians 15:58- Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1. The spiritually unstable reveal they do not appreciate God’s blessings.
2. The spiritually unstable reveal they are easily swayed with every wind of doctrine
3. The spiritually unstable have a lack of concern for others
Paul writes to us in Ephesians 3:17 that we are to be grounded (stabilized) in love.
IV. What must we do?
NOTE: 75% of church members are unstable and unfaithful. They do not attend church regularly, do not give faithfully and do not share the gospel.
1. Set our affection on the things above, not on the things of the earth (Colossians 3:2)
2. See ourselves as sinners, saved by grace and we will see others in need of God’s grace
3. Serve Christ and each other with our whole heart and use our hands as often as possible.
Ruben was seen by Jacob as “Water that is unstable and he would not excel.”
Conclusion: Our Christian life and everyday living should be founded upon the Rock of Christ. With the Lord a our foundation for every aspect and event in our lives we can be as solid as He is in our decisions and our dedication to the work He has commissioned us to.