[Today: Genesis 48] God Chooses You! In this chapter, Joseph takes his two sons to receive a blessing from their grandfather Jacob. When Jacob lays hands upon them, he gives the younger Ephraim, the greater benediction. Joseph didn’t like this and tries to correct his father, but Jacob insists, being led by the Spirit to affirm that God doesn’t choose us according to our station in life, our social order, or our own qualifications or lack thereof. When you feel left out or unqualified – get ready because God’s choice is you!
The chapter presents for us the last days of the life of the patriarch Jacob. Joseph is reigning in Pharaoh’s house and receives word that Jacob is sick and pays him a visit. When he comes in to see his father, Jacob recounts for him the visitation of God that came to him in the land of Canaan. Jacob gives thanks that the promise of God at that time has indeed come to pass, and in token of Joseph’s part in Israel’s deliverance, Jacob confers upon Joseph’s children the same tribal status of the remainder of Joseph’s brethren. For this reason, we call Ephraim and Mannessah the half-tribes of the kingdom of Israel.
In v. 1, we see that as soon as Joseph hears that Jacob is sick, he drops everything and goes to see him. After all, Jacob is over 140 years of age, and doubtless, his strength is waning, and he has yet to confer upon his children after him the blessings of God that were his right to bequeath under the dispensation of the patriarchs.
When Jacob hears that Joseph has arrived to meet with him, v. 2 says that he strengthened himself upon the bed. I know in my own life when my father was dying, we were driving in from a great distance. The hospice attendants marveled at his strength as he held out awaiting our arrival. Once we came into the room, we spoke with him for a time, and shortly after that, he passed away, having waited just long enough to say his goodbyes.
When Joseph presents himself to Jacob, the dying patriarch rehearses for him the day when God came to him at Bethel and imparted the blessing upon him that Jacob now intends to parcel out to his sons beginning with Joseph and specifically with his two boys, Ephraim and Manasseh. This should give us the understanding that the blessing of God that rests upon one person can be imparted to another at his own free will. What God has given you can be conferred, released, and bestowed upon others as you determine by the will of God to carry out.
What is Jacob giving to Ephraim and Manasseh? He is giving them the same promise that God gave him years before. What was the promise that God gave Jacob? It was the promise to bless him not only with spiritual blessings but with temporal blessings as well, which Jacob repeats to Joseph to make it perfectly clear to him what his possession was in the inheritance. This is the same level of blessing and favor that originated in God as an impartation to Abraham; hence, we call it “Abraham’s blessing.” This is the same blessing that Paul assures us in the book of Galatians is also our bequest through the shedding of the blood of Christ on our behalf.
[Gal 3:7 KJV] 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
The blessing that Paul refers to is found in Genesis 12:2-3:
[Gen 12:2-3 KJV] 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
What does this mean for us today? As God blessed Jacob so you and I in the community of the redeemed by the new birth are also blessed. As God promises to make Jacob fruitful, so your portion and mine is to be made fruitful both spiritually and in temporal increase and fruitfulness as well. As God promised to make Jacob a multitude of people, so the promise is ours as well to be of a great multitude in the things of God and in His kingdom.
So we see that Jacob speaks a blessing over Joseph’s children, giving them the same inheritance as Joseph’s brothers (Ephraim and Manasseh’s eleven uncles). This is the only instance of a patriarch directly blessing his grandchildren. Jewish families often repeat this blessing over their children “may you be like Ephraim and Mannessah.”
Manasseh: means to “forget.”
Ephraim means “double fruitfulness.”
Jacob’s grandchildren by Joseph, namely Manasseh and Ephraim, thus became two independent tribes — on par with their uncles, Jacob’s other sons. What do we know about Joseph’s two sons? They were born and raised in Egypt, in a profoundly secular society, a place where the people were not of high character. Yet they apparently remained faithful to the morals and ideals that were espoused by their grandfather Jacob, as they were transmitted through their father, Joseph. To be great amongst a great people is also a challenge, but to maintain a high level of spirituality and character amongst a society that is devoid of morals and ethics is the real test. This is why Jacob chose these two boys to be his own. They were able to prove true strength of character. How does one know if a fish is healthy? If it can swim upstream, against the tide of society.
This is what we wish for our children, too. We would love to forever protect them in our loving, nurturing environment. However, that is usually not a possibility – nor should it be. There will be times in their lives when the beliefs and morals that we raised them with will be challenged by their peers, society, or the environment. Our prayer to God and our admonition to our children is: “Be like Manasseh and Ephraim.” Have the strength to be able to withstand the pressures of society and do the right thing.
We also see in v. 14 that Israel (Jacob) put his right hand on the younger son Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh. The right hand is the hand of greater blessing. Joseph tries to correct this, thinking his blind father made a mistake, but Jacob refuses saying that Manasseh will be blessed indeed, but Ephraim will be greater. In fact, Ephraim and the tribe after his name in time became by far the most powerful and the most numerous tribe in all of Israel for the preponderance of its history. What can we learn from this?
The word of God over Jacob and Esau was “the elder shall serve the younger.” God doesn’t do things the way men think they should be done. God doesn’t choose according to our value system. Paul makes the following declaration:
[1Co 1:25-27 KJV] 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
This kind of thinking needs to get down in our soul when it comes to the choices we make and the potential we see in ourselves and others. Disqualification is a qualification when God’s choice lies heavy upon our lives. You don’t need to make yourself into what men think you ought to be – God is in charge and sets one up and takes down another all according to His wisdom and not man’s. In that regard, we can enter into rest by trusting in God and not our knowledge, strength, or wisdom that never measures up and in fact, is often opposed to what God is doing and how He goes about to choose us for the work He has called us to.
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