BUILDING ISRAEL'S HOUSE
Gen.29:32-35 "And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. (33) And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I [was] hated, he hath therefore given me this [son] also: and she called his name Simeon. (34) And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. (35) And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing." Here is the record of the beginning of the building of the house of Jacob, the house of Israel (for so is also his name, Gen.32:28). The names of his first four children, in their order, are noteworthy. It is as if God was providing here a rough foreshadowing of the building of the gospel church, God's spiritual house/Israel. The New Testament which annulled and replaced the Old makes clear that 1) there is an Israel of God (Gal.6:16), 2) there is an Israel which is not of God, for only the children of the promise are counted as the true seed (Rom.9:6-8), 3) the children of the promise are children of grace and faith cut from out of every nation (Gal.3:16, Gal.3:28-29; Rom.4:11-25), 4) the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile has been taken away and believing Gentiles are constituted as being fully of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph.2:11-18 c/w Rom.11:15-24), 5) believing Jews and Gentiles brought together in a common body are now God's holy temple, His habitation through the Spirit (Eph.2:19-22). Israel's firstborn was Reuben, whose name means, "see a son." The gospel's great message is likewise "See a Son," for it presents and manifests Jesus Christ, the holy thing born of Mary (Luk.1:35), the Son of God. He is Son of man and Son of God, David's son yet David's Lord, declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead (Rom.1:4), to Whom all judgment has been therefore committed (Joh.5:22 c/w Acts 17:31) and with Whom we have to do (Heb.4:12-13). He is the Son of God Who was sent to save His people from their sins (Mat.1:21), the only begotten Son Who was given that believers might have everlasting life (Joh.3:16), the firstborn from the dead (Col.1:18), firstborn among many brethren, many sons of glory (Rom.8:29 c/w Heb.2:10). Israel's next child was Simeon, whose name means "hearing." By the hearing of "Reuben" (the gospel of the Son), faith comes (Rom.10:17), convicting men of their sinfulness and inadequacy, dissolving their sandy foundations of works and will to happy reliance upon the merits of Christ alone for righteousness. This "hearing of faith" (Gal.3:2) is then sealed by identifying with Christ in baptism (Acts 2:38-41; Acts 8:12) without which it is dead (Jam.2:17). Israel's third child was Levi, whose name means "joined." Appropriately, accordingly, those who have seen the Son in the gospel, the hearing of which ignites their faith unto baptism are thus joined to Christ, joined to the Lord, fitly joined together with like believers in the body of Christ which is His church in this world (Acts 2:41-47; Acts 5:14; Acts 11:24; Eph.4:16), "choosing rather to suffer affliction WITH the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (cf. Heb.11:25). Israel's fourth child was Judah, whose name means "praise." Being made part of the gospel church, believers are said to be "to the praise of His glory..." (Eph.1:21), brought into something of which it was said, "Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Eph.3:21). The church is God's ordained vessel for the praise of Himself through the Son Who is the Head of the body. "In the midst of the church," Jesus said, "will I sing praise unto thee" (Heb.2:12). Built together into a spiritual house / the church (1 Pe.2:5 c/w 1 Ti.3:15), believers unite to offer "the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (Heb.13:15). Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah: so is the house of Israel built.