THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 48
The story of Genesis is beginning to wind down. In this chapter we find that Jacob is near the end of his life on this earth. He knew that his time was short. But, as was the custom in that part of the world in that period of history, Jacob had some important stuff to do.
As the chapter opens, we find Jacob recounting his life journey. As he does this, however, he really does put the emphasis on what God did not what he did. Except for the memory of the death of his beloved Rachel, Jacob’s telling of his history is a very positive thing.
When we get to verse 5 a very interesting thing happens. Jacob effectively adopts Ephraim and Manessah. That means they would not be treated as grandsons but as sons. The blessing that Jacob gives Ephraim and Manessah was the first blessing given to “his sons” which puts these two boys in a most important place and position.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself or the story but part of what happens in the adopting of Ephraim and Manessah would be the displacement of the tribes of Levi and Simeon later in the narrative. For example, the tribe of Levi would not receive any inheritance in the promised land of Canaan. Instead they would live in several cities scattered across Canaan. And it may be that the tribe of Simeon was absorbed into the tribe of Judah (Joshua 19:1). This is particularly possible if you will look at what Genesis 48:5-7 says. Levi’s and Simeon’s inheritance in Canaan would have effectively gone to Ephraim and Manessah.
There is another interesting aspect of Genesis 47. When Jacob puts his hands on Ephraim and Manessah to bless them as his sons, he intentionally reverses the birth order. The culture of the time would have said that the elder son should receive the first and greater blessing. Instead the first and greater blessing went to the second son.
This is the fifth time in Genesis that we encounter a reversal of birth order. God chose Abel, not Cain; Isaac, not Ishmael; Jacob, not Esau; and Joseph, not Rueben. And now the choice is Ephraim, not Manessah. One of the take aways from this pattern is we should remember that our ways are not God’s ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts. God is not constricted to follow our plans or cultural patterns. He can do what He wants to do. And what He does is always right.
One last thing… In Genesis 48:17, we read that Joseph “was displeased” with what his father had done when he gave the first and greater blessing to the younger child. To my knowledge, this is the only time recorded in Scripture that says Joseph “was displeased”. With everything that he went through, there certainly had to be many opportunities to be displeased with people and/or circumstances. Nevertheless, as far as I can find, this is the only time I can find that says Joseph was displeased.
There are a couple of take aways from this. One, if we truly trust the sovereign plan of God, there should be few, if any, opportunities to be displeased about anything. Two, if we are displeased about a lot of things or everything (in other words, if we are always displeased), our displeasure will mean very little to very few.
We should strive to live trusting that God is in control. And we should live with few complaints.