“Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him, but he shall triumph at last” (Genesis 49:19).

The most dangerous large animal on the continent of Africa is not the lion or rhinoceros, but the African buffalo. This robust wild bovine is unpredictable and feared by hunters for its aggressive behaviour. Over two hundred people are gored and killed each year by these 2,000-pound animals, which have few predators other than humans and lions. They are members of the big five game and are often sought after by trophy hunters.

When a predator tries to attack an African buffalo, the herd moves close together, placing the small calves in the middle. If a calf is caught and gives out a distress call, the others in the herd will try to rescue it. They will engage in mobbing behaviour to fight off predators and trample them. They have been observed chasing lions up trees and keeping them there for hours.

African buffalo calves aren’t the only ones enjoying the protection of a herd. Gad, the seventh of Jacob’s twelve sons, was the firstborn of Zilpah (Leah’s maid). In today’s text we read of Jacob’s prediction that Gad would be attacked by hostile forces, but together they would triumph. Like a herd of African buffalo, the tribe would succeed when working as a unit.

Moses praised Gad’s bravery (Deuteronomy 33:20, 21). This seventh son fathered seven sons who became the heads of tribal families. Some brave Gadites joined up with David at Ziklag before he became the king of Judah, and Gad is also mentioned among the twelve sealed tribes of Revelation 7.

When the church of God, as did the tribe of Gad, stands together, it is stronger than when individuals try to stand alone. Paul pleaded “that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Dear Jesus, I choose to love and protect my fellow members of the church, always fighting for unity in the body of Christ.

For Further Study: Numbers 26:15–18; Romans 12:4, 5; 1 Peter 3:8

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