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. Genesis 29:32
The following teaching is based on the facts of the life of Reuben, the firstborn of the patriarch Jacob. The purpose is to show how by the word of a man of Revelation, Reuben was reinstated to the blessing of being part of the inheritance of the Kingdom of Israel, after he lost it because of his decision and action to have taken Bilhah, servant of Rachel and concubine of his father.
The fact developed in the time when the camp moved from Beth-El to Ephrata (Bethlehem), after Rachêl died on the road giving birth to Benjamin.
15And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Beth-el. 16And they journeyed from Beth-el; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 17And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin. 19And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Beth-lehem. 20And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day. 21And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. 22And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. … Genesis 35:15-22
This act of Reuben, the first of its kind in the nation formed over each of Jacob’s sons, was regarded by his father as an act of rebellion and usurpation, which is why his father took away his right to be considered his firstborn son; upon his death Jacob pronounced over Reuben a declaration of excommunication which, in addition to taking away the right and benefits of being his firstborn son, constituted him an heir without a fatherland,
2Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father. 3Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 4unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch. Genesis 49:2-4
The stories that the book of Genesis presents about the events of Ruben after this act, show Ruben suffering from discredit before his brothers, and with very little confidence on the part of his father. He faced the impotence of not being able to convince his brothers not to harm his brother Joseph,
21And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. 22And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again… 29And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. Genesis 37:21-29
Reuben’s words to his brothers when they are confronted in Egypt and treated as spies, show the guilt that followed him all those years,
And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. Genesis 42:22
As for his relationship with his father, Ruben lost all credibility, a story presents him pawning the lives of his children as a means to be considered trustworthy, which shows the dishonor to which he was exposed throughout the camp.
And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. Genesis 42:37
But it was not only his degradation before his father that deteriorated Reuben. The Law of Moses also affected him in the same way; although it was promulgated many years later, it did not leave this fact unpunished, and it retroactively established the condition of “cursed” that corresponded to Reuben for having had sex with his father’s wife. In the book of Deuteronomy we read the sorrow about this act,
Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife; because he uncovereth his father’s skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen. Deuteronomy 27:20
A curse meant a death penalty, slow and silent; he who received a curse was destined to perish, he became weak and fragile, without resources to prevail before his enemies; it was the concept that prevailed at that time, we read it in a story between Balac and Balaam,
come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. Numbers 22:6
In the Law of Moses it is read that a curse upon a person, or upon a people, causes death upon them over time,
Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee: Deuteronomy 28:45
Thus, a double decree of fatality fell upon Reuben and his generation, making him a person subject to misfortune for life. The declaration of his father that made him lose his birthright and the right to exercise it, also losing the benefits of the inheritance that corresponded to him as his firstborn son; and the adjudication of the declaration of “cursed” by the Law of Moses, which subjected him to the progressive degradation of his generation.
In the stories about the development of the tribe of Reuben you can see how the tribe suffered many mishaps in its development. One year after the departure from Egypt, the population above the age of twenty of the tribe was forty-six thousand five hundred,
20And the children of Reuben, Israel’s eldest son, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 21those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Reuben, were forty and six thousand and five hundred. Numbers 1:20-21
In Moses’ second census of the people, with the same parameters, almost forty years after he left Egypt, the population of the tribe of Reuben had decreased to forty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty,
These are the families of the Reubenites: and they that were numbered of them were forty and three thousand and seven hundred and thirty. Numbers 26:7
The tribe of Reuben was not in its development of the major tribes,
10On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur… 16All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben were an hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they shall set forth in the second rank. Numbers 2:10-16
So, both his father’s declaration of degradation and the retroactive adjudication of the curse of the Law caused a great deterioration in the development of Reuben and his generation. In one of the accounts in the book of Chronicles it is read that the tribe was taken captive to Assyria,
And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day. 1 Chronicles 5:26
The story, though it may seem tragic, is actually a story that exalts the glory of God, and illustrates how God’s Grace and Mercy prevails over judgment and even over the curse.
The final destiny of the tribe of Reuben would have been total extermination; however, in the midst of the debacle to which the tribes were exposed by the actions of their founder, there was a man of Revelation who could see not only what was written about Reuben, but who went back over time and saw in Reuben the work of God through Jesus, of reconciliation and restoration.
Reuben was the result of God’s decision about Leah, God determined Reuben’s birth because of Jacob’s contempt for her, so Reuben’s name is a prophetic name,
31And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. 32And 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. 33And 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. Genesis 29:31-33
Ruben (רְאוּבֵ֑ן) is the union of two words, “he saw” (רָאָ֤ה), and son (בֵּ֔ן), because she said: “For Jehovah hath looked upon my affliction”
Reuben etymologically means “saw—son”, but according to the Revelation of God’s work, Reuben means, “God saw”; and as such, though He does not leave unpunished the perverse decisions and actions of those who make them, He has Mercy upon them, and extends to them His hand of restoration and restitution.
Reuben was God’s intervention in Jacob to put an end to the impunity of hating Leah as coadjutor of the formation of Israel; so Reuben becomes a divine work in the midst of times to put an end to the prevarication of a people who know their God but who act by repudiating those they do not consider worthy to receive the benefits of the Kingdom. Reuben is a divine work of purification.
For all intents and purposes, Reuben was God’s firstborn. God saw, and acted; it is the seal of God’s work in the midst of times for those who know how to wait for the time of their redemption. This vision of the Kingdom was established as God’s decision over the people of Israel,
7And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Exodus 3:7-9
Moses, although he received the Law and promulgated it, was above all the man of Revelation who could see beyond what was written, and knew of God not only the harshness of how He punishes disobedience, insubordination and rebellion, but also knew the Grace and Mercy of His work for Jesus. He could see in Reuben not only the facts, but more, the intervention of God in him even before he was born; therefore, before he died Moses spoke in Revelation about Reuben and exonerated him from his condition of accursed, annulled his vileness and made him an heir again to receive a much greater inheritance than he had received before as a firstborn son. Moses left it decreed and executed, established by the following words,
Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few. Deuteronomy 33:6
Reuben is the typical case of the younger son who asks for part of his inheritance, and wastes it by living madly, a parable that Jesus presented to the scribes and Pharisees of his time to show the value of the Gospel in restoring those who have lived under the curse of the Law.
The words of Moses concerning Reuben have not yet been fulfilled, but we shall see them fulfilled very soon; it is a prophetic work that will bring to life many nations, nations to which Reuben was scattered in consequence of his vileness.
Moses spoke life about Reuben, took away the curse from him, and spoke prosperity about his last end. Reuben is a prophetic work to transform the destiny of entire nations. We need men of Revelation.
All biblical quotations are taken from the King James Version.
Pastor Pedro Montoya
 Luke 15