13. The Twelve Tribes – Benjamin

By John Thiel

What have we learnt from previous studies about the Twelve Tribes? They were not good to start with. But we saw the end result of reaching perfection of character.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

We go through trials and difficulty. It works patience in us. We want nothing more.

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:

 1:23 And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Build up yourselves, keep yourselves. As we do our part God will bring us through this process.

Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

He will bring them through the fire. He will savour them. He will bring through a people.

Revelation 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

They have been purged. God is able to present them faultless.

Revelation 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty [and] four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.

14:5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

They are there after tribulation and trial.

There are those who listen to the truth, and are convinced that they have been living in opposition to Christ. They are condemned, and they repent of their transgressions. Relying upon the merits of Christ, exercising true faith in Him, they receive pardon for sin. As they cease to do evil and learn to do well, they grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. They see that they must sacrifice in order to separate from the world; and, after counting the cost, they look upon all as loss if they may but win Christ. They have enlisted in Christ’s army. The warfare is before them, and they enter it bravely and cheerfully, fighting against their natural inclinations and selfish desires, bringing the will into subjection to the will of Christ. Daily they seek the Lord for grace to obey Him, and they are strengthened and helped. This is true conversion. In humble, grateful dependence he who has been given a new heart relies upon the help of Christ. He reveals in his life the fruit of righteousness. He once loved himself. Worldly pleasure was his delight. Now his idol is dethroned, and God reigns supreme. The sins he once loved he now hates. Firmly and resolutely he follows in the path of holiness. MYP page 73,74

There is a battle of fighting against natural inclinations. To vividly display this, we will observe Benjamin. This purifying experience is demonstrated. When Benjamin was born, what character deprivation took place?

Genesis 35:16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.

17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.

18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.  

19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.

Benoni means ‘Son of my sorrow.’ Benjamin means ‘Son of my right hand.’ Looking at the name, there was a beginning in his life. Something was done to comfort him. Jacob was an old man and the youngest son. Rachel was Jacobs’s favourite wife. Jacob would cling to this son very dearly. This gives us an idea of how Jacob regarded Benjamin.

In words of touching eloquence he described his father’s grief at the loss of Joseph and his reluctance to let Benjamin come with them to Egypt, as he was the only son left of his mother, Rachel, whom Jacob so dearly loved. Now therefore, he said, when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life; it shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. P&P page 230:2

The life of Jacob was bound up with Benjamin. The beginnings of this child was under a fond aged father.

Parents frequently pet and indulge their young children because it appears easier to manage them in that way. It is smoother work to let them have their own way than to check the unruly inclinations that rise so strongly in their breasts. Yet this course is cowardly. It is a wicked thing thus to shirk responsibility; for the time will come when these children, whose unchecked inclinations have strengthened into absolute vices, will bring reproach and disgrace upon themselves and their families. They go out into busy life unprepared for its temptations, not strong enough to endure perplexities and troubles; passionate, overbearing, undisciplined, they seek to bend others to their will, and, failing in this, consider themselves ill-used by the world and turn against it. {4T 201.2}

The majority of these ill-disciplined ones go through life at cross-purposes with the world, making a failure where they should have succeeded. They grow to feel that the world owes them a grudge because it does not flatter and caress them, and they take revenge by holding a grudge against the world and bidding it defiance. Circumstances sometimes oblige them to affect a humility they do not feel; but it does not fit them with a natural grace, and their true characters are sure to be exposed sooner or later. {4T 202.1}

If such persons have families of their own, they become arbitrary rulers at home and display there the selfish and unreasonable disposition they are forced to partially conceal from the outside world. Their dependents feel to the utmost all the faults of their early training. Why will parents educate their children in such a manner that they will be at war with those who are brought in contact with them? {4T 202.2}

In many families the seeds of vanity and selfishness are sown in the hearts of the children almost during babyhood. Their cunning little sayings and doings are commented upon and praised in their presence, and repeated with exaggerations to others. The little ones take note of this and swell with self-importance; they presume to interrupt conversations, and become forward and impudent. Flattery and indulgence foster their vanity and willfulness, until the youngest not unfrequently rules the whole family, father and mother included. {4T 200.3}

Children who are allowed to have their own way are not happy. The unsubdued heart has not within itself the elements of rest and contentment. The mind and heart must be disciplined and brought under proper restraint in order for the character to harmonize with the wise laws that govern our being. Restlessness and discontent are the fruits of indulgence and selfishness. The soil of the heart, like that of a garden, will produce weeds and brambles unless the seeds of precious flowers are planted there and receive care and cultivation. As in visible nature, so is it with the human soul. {4T 202.4}

With that detail, we would imagine Benjamin had a bad start. Did this happen to him? Did he become a person who bore that grudge?

Genesis 49:27 Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

He will be antagonistic to people around him because of his upbringing. Was there something wrong with his beginning? What else characterised his posterity?

Judges 20:15 And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.

16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.

They were very skilful.

1 Chronicles 8:40 And the sons of Ulam were mighty men of valour, archers, and had many sons, and sons’ sons, an hundred and fifty. All these are of the sons of Benjamin.

They were capable fighters.

1 Chronicles 12:1 Now these are they that came to David to Ziklag, while he yet kept himself close because of Saul the son of Kish: and they were among the mighty men, helpers of the war.

2 They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin.

What is the danger of people who are very talented and skilful?

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

There is a danger of becoming proud.

1 Samuel 2:3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.

Just because you are skilful, do not be too arrogant or proud. We are in danger if we are skilful.

It is a dangerous age for any man who has talents which can be of value in the work of God; for Satan is constantly plying his temptations upon such a person, ever trying to fill him with pride and ambition; and when God would use him, in nine cases out of ten he becomes independent, self-sufficient, and feels capable of standing alone. {4T 538.2}

Dangers beset every path, and he who comes off conqueror will indeed have a triumphant song to sing in the city of God. Some have strong traits of character that will need to be constantly repressed. If kept under the control of the Spirit of God, these traits will be a blessing; but if not, they will prove a curse. If those who are now riding upon the wave of popularity do not become giddy, it will be a miracle of mercy. If they lean to their own wisdom, as so many thus situated have done, their wisdom will prove to be foolishness. But while they shall give themselves unselfishly to the work of God, never swerving in the least from principle, the Lord will throw about them the everlasting arm and will prove to them a mighty helper. Them that honor Me, I will honor. {4T 538.1}

You can become so capable and lifted. Let us look at the Benjamites in the time of the judges. They ended up a very small tribe.

Judges 20:4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.

5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.

Look at what they did next.

Judges 20:12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?

13 Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:

14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.

They sided with evil men to protect them and fight against justice. Here we can see a spoilt child as a full grown man. Ultimately the Israelites fought against Benjamin.

Judges 20:23 And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.

Judges 20:46 So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were men of valour.

Benjamin was really showing his colours. These cruel characteristics were shown in this tribe. The Israelites after the killing of this people would not give their daughters to the Benjamites. We have some experiences here to teach us how these characteristics can be changed.

1 Samuel 9:17 And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.

God was pointing out Samuel to Saul.

1 Samuel 9:21 1And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?

Samuel asked why me? Look at my history? He was small in his own sight.

1 Samuel 10:1 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?

1 Samuel 10:9 And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.

God changed his heart. Here was Saul launching out into a beautiful career or king of Israel.

1 Samuel 15:16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

When Saul was little in his own sight God made him king and he received a new heart. He was then commanded to destroy the Amalekites. What happened?

1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Here is the case of someone changed by new birth but who regresses. He ended up with a rebellious nature. There was an occasion where this came to its fullness.

1 Samuel 18:11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

We know by this behaviour he deteriorated. Our natural characteristics can be controlled and governed.

Here are many whom He has called to positions in His work for the same reason that He called Saul,–because they are little in their own sight, because they have a humble and teachable spirit. In His providence He places them where they may learn of Him. To all who will receive instruction He will impart grace and wisdom. It is His purpose to bring them into so close connection with Himself that Satan shall have no opportunity to pervert their judgment or overpower their conscience. He will reveal to them their defects of character, and bestow upon all who seek His aid, strength to correct their errors. Whatever may be man’s besetting sin, whatever bitter or baleful passions struggle for the mastery, he may conquer, if he will watch and war against them in the name and strength of Israel’s Helper. BC Vol 2 1017

The mercy of God we can be changed, but we can also deteriorate. The Lord can do marvellous things for us if we do look out for where we can go astray. Saul diverged from the path but there was another Saul that didn’t.

Saul of Tarsus

Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Here is Saul of Tarsus with a characteristic of cruelty. Is he a Benjaminte? He as the characteristics.

Philippians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:

 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Here was a Benjamite according to the flesh. As he appreciated the story of Jesus, he understood the progressive path to perfection.

Philippians 13:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

He was pressing toward perfection. This cruel Benjamite had a cruel heart and he goes on from strength. He knows he has to control it.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

He sounds like he knew what he suffered under a Benjamite character. This is a beautiful story of how the one hundred and forty four thousand overcome. Can a Benjamite with such powerful fleshy passions be among the one hundred and forty four thousand?

Deuteronomy 33:12 And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.

Where is that? In his heart. Benjamin could conquer. In the heart of Benjamin, Jesus could dwell. Even out of the worst can become a remnant.

Amen.

Posted on September 5, 2009, in The Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. All I got to say is ” Praise the Lord there is hope for me in Christ” Thanks You Jesus.

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