At the end of his life, Yaakov wanted to leave his children with a message of hope and consolation. Chapter 49 begins with Yaakov calling together his sons at which point he says, “Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End of Days.” However Yaakov does not live up to this promise. He blesses his children but we see no further explicit mention of the End of Days anywhere else in Yaakov’s last words. Rashi quotes the midrash that Yaakov wanted to reveal to his children when Moshiach would come, but just then his Divine inspiration departed and he no longer had access to that information.
We can all understand Yaakov’s desire to take leave of his children on a note of comfort. His family was now in Egypt and the years of slavery were yet to begin. As Yaakov lay dying, his sons probably were feeling vulnerable and dejected. It is only natural that Yaakov wanted to tell his children that “everything will be OK- and I can prove it to you by telling you when Moshiach will come.”
However Yaakov was not allowed to convey that message. In this way the Torah is teaching us an important lesson: there are no sure things in life. We have to try our best every day, even when the results are not guaranteed. We cannot give up on doing the right thing, even when it appears that nice guys finish last.
It would have been great had Yaakov been allowed to assure us that everything would work out OK in the end. By God not allowing him to do so, we are given the greater challenge – living a righteous life under an air of uncertainty.