It is Saturday, the start of the weekend, and also our Day of Prayer as a church.
Our Bible reading today is Genesis Chapter 48.
The writer has been signalling for a little while that old man Jacob is about to die, but we still have 2 more chapters of him blessing/giving some final words to his family, today these 2 grandsons, and in Chapter 49 his sons.
Actually what Jacob is doing in this chapter is adopting Joseph’s 2 sons as if they are his own. We might think that is a bit of a cheek! My Study Bible suggests it is to take the place of other sons his favourite wife Rachel (Joseph’s mother) might have had, if she hadn’t died in childbirth.
What it does mean is that Joseph’s branch of the family now have 2 places in the inheritance, and the future plans of Israel. Let me explain.
We speak about the 12 tribes of Israel, which are based on the 12 sons of Jacob, and in due course when they come back to the Promised Land from Egypt they will each be allocated land. But you won’t find Levi and Joseph in that list. Levi’s side of the family become the priests, who have special dispensation and provision, and instead of Joseph, you have both Ephraim and Manasseh. In other words Joseph’s line get twice as much.
Perhaps we might see this as God’s special blessing to Joseph for his faithfulness in trial and testing, and for all he had to give up for many years, just like much later Job got back much more than he lost, as we saw when Derek took us through that story a few weeks ago. God is no man’s debtor, He knows all our situations, what we might have to give up from time to time. If it is for Him, it will not be wasted, and He will reward those who are faithful to Him.
I love the words of the blessing which Jacob gives Joseph and his sons in vs.15-16, and the way he describes his relationship with the Lord, ‘… the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm…’. Could we say such words about the Lord?
And again the usual order of eldest first is turned upside down with Ephraim coming before Manasseh, just as previously in this family, Isaac overtook Ishmael, and Jacob overtook Esau, and with Judah and Tamar’s twins Perez overtook Zerah. What would the Lord Jesus say much later, ‘the last shall become first and the first shall become last’? God’s ways are not always our ways, but He is always wise and good.
Praying through our Church address list, we especially remember today,
– Derek & Joanna.