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Genesis Chapter 48:1-22. - “Last Will and Testament” - part 2
Last week we covered vs. 1-6, and we see a man, as we’re about to discover further, who is believing in God the ACTING upon that belief. And the Bible calls that ‘worship.’ We continue now in vs. 7...
Vs. 7-11 - “As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).
When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?“
They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.
Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”
Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.
Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”
So here we discover, not only does Jacob have within his heart the promises of God, but he also has a good deal of his heart captured by his family and Rachel as well. He’s expressing thanksgiving - he thought his son was dead for over 20 years!
Isn’t that just like the Lord!? To do more for us than we could have ever hoped or thought (Eph. 3:20). So the Lord just blesses this guy’s sandals off.
Now we have before us what some of you might know as the famous switcharoo with Ephram and Menassa here. And let’s set the stage because the narrative is a bit confusing. So, Joseph knows the firstborn, the older son, should be under the right hand of Jacob. The right hand was the sign of Scripture and strength. When Joseph presents his 2 sons he places the firstborn, already under Jacob’s right hand. And then maybe he thinks dad can’t see at all, I don’t know. With that in mind...
Vs. 12-20 - “Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.
Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm—may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth.”
When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” He blessed them that day and said,
“In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing:
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.”
Again, what is happening here, Menassah is the firstborn. In this culture they had what is called the “right of primogenitor,” which was the firstborn had the lion’s share of the inheritance, was to carry the spiritual headship of the family, it meant he had the authority. We’ve covered this before. So what Joseph does, maybe he figured dad is totally blind, so he says: Dad, you got this wrong.” and he tries to get it back straight.
He eventually struggles with that. He literally thought dad made a mistake here, and there is no further recording here that Joseph complained, or a lack of respect or any dishonor or any words against what his dad said. So Jacob says, “Look, I know you're displeased, but don’t sweat it, cause this kids going to be great too, he’s going to be blessed as well.”
What this shows us is that Jacob was willing to follow the will of God even though it meant the risk of disappointing his favorite son. How often do we have a sensitivity concerning what God’s will is for OUR lives, but yet we back off that a little bit for fear of displeasing someone close to us? Not so with Jacob.
It’s that faith here, staying faithful to the will of God despite knowing you might displease men, THAT’S what lands him in the hall of faith in Heb. 11.
We also see in this that God’s ways (Isa 55:8-9) are not man’s ways. God is always reversing the order and value system of the world, is He not? We’ve seen this over and over again, haven’t we? And that’s just speaking to the wisdom of God being superior to the wisdom of men.
I also want us to see here, that outside of these promises of land and offspring, the central piece of Jacob’s testament in this chapter is that of the Character of God.
Remember a couple weeks ago we talked about Jacob’s statement to the Pharaoh when he said: “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” (Gen. 47:9).
Here though, following 17 peaceful years with Joseph by his side, he is able to give a more balanced assessment of his life. Indeed his life had been marked by pain and sorrow - Rachel’s death and the loss of Joseph were just a couple of the many hardships Jacob experienced in his life. Yet he had a greater perspective now with a few happy years under his belt with his family in Egypt, and now he could see and testify to what God had been doing throughout his life.
So in vs. 15-16 Jacob described the Lord as “the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil.”
Join us next week as we conclude this chapter. Blessings to you all.