< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Genesis 47:27 – 48:22

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Genesis 47:27 – 48:22

Genesis 47:27-48:22
27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.
28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”

“I will do as you say,” he said.

31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

48 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Padda, 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.”

10 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.
11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 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. 14 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.

15 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,
16 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.”

17 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. 18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 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.” 20 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.

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. 22 And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”

Jacob had absolute confidence not only that God would one day take back his descendants to Canaan but also give to them the land for an everlasting inheritance.  His instructions concerning his burial indicate his absolute confidence in God’s promise concerning Canaan. To the Eastern people, the place of one’s burial is all-important. Always, and at any cost, he must be buried in the midst of his own family at their permanent dwelling place. Therefore when Jacob exacted the promise from Joseph that he would bury him, not in Egypt where his descendants were to live for four hundred years more, but in Canaan, this was one of the most practical proofs which Jacob could have given of his faith that God would give them that land. He was to be buried in the very grave Abraham had bought in faith where already Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob’s wife Leah were buried.

When Jacob blessed his favorite son, Joseph, you might have expected that he would follow his personal inclination and impart to Joseph the full, threefold right of the firstborn, which in that day involved the priesthood, the kingship in regard to the family and the double inheritance.

The fact that Jacob did not do so reflects Jacob’s self-renunciation of his own wisdom and his reception of spiritual illumination concerning God’s purpose and place for each member of the family. In Genesis 49 we’ll see that the headship, the kingship, was given to Judah (Leah’s fourth son) from whom Jesus came. And the priesthood was given to Levi.

However Jacob loved Joseph’s mother Rachel and he did in a way give Joseph a double inheritance usually reserved for the first-born. Instead of Joseph’s line being continued through one son, Jacob adopts both Manasseh and Ephraim as his own sons on an equal status with Reuben and Simeon. So instead of Ephraim and Manasseh being just two branches of one tribe, they become two fully recognized tribes in Israel, and Joseph’s own name was dropped. Thus, Rachel, became the mother of three tribes: Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.

When Jacob gave precedence to Ephraim, it was in tune with one of the most striking features of the book of Genesis. The passing over the firstborn and giving place to the sovereign choice of God. Remember it was thru Seth not Cain that God’s seed is chosen. Isaac, not Ishmael. Jacob not Esau,

A commentator wrote, “Thus did God display His sovereignty and prevent anyone imagining that His blessings necessarily follow the line of natural privilege. God has again and again chosen the weak things of the earth, and even those that are despised, to set at naught those that are mighty. Grace is sovereign, and by no means follows, but sometimes opposes the course of nature.”

The tiny nation of Israel among the great nations of the world illustrates this principle of God’s sovereign choice, which is often the opposite to man’s wisdom and selection.

Jacob had come a long way. Remember he stole Esau’s birth rite? He was cunning, a schemer. But from the time God met him at Bethel, Jacob never wavered in his open profession of faith nor in his loyalty to the God he served. Angels conversed with him. He wrestled with God face to face until God broke something in Jacob and transformed those basic traits of caution and fear into the confident trust and patience developed during the further suffering of Jacob-Israel. Gradually he grew to recognize the protecting care of a loving Father over himself and his family. Even though he couldn’t escape the mortal consequences of his early sins, which saddened him, and even though he suffered during domestic upheavals, family treachery and filial disobedience in his middle years, he patiently endured these trials. He kept alive the basic tenets of faith in God and certain standards of righteousness within his family during a turbulent age when divine revelations were few and far between. God graciously enlightened Jacob’s old age.

This shows us that God takes us just as we are and loves us while we are yet sinners. Then He molds us according to His design. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’. (Philippians 1:6)

In chapter 49 Jacob blesses all of his sons. And you can really trace this back to Genesis 3:15 which says,And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

This is where God describes the course of two lines of humanity – two seeds within the world at enmity. One line was the seed of the woman ultimately producing Christ Himself. And this line unfolds in fuller and fuller detail in the Old Testament. Noah’s story, Abraham’s story, Isaac’s and Jacob’s. Jacob ended the patriarchal line. The purposes, promises and prophecy of God will now be continued through the combined twelve sons of Jacob who form the twelve tribes or nation of Israel.

When Jacob blesses his sons in this chapter he also sketches the outlines of their future history. Each prophecy is based on Jacob’s clear perception of the present character and individual traits of his sons. Joseph’s faithfulness. Reuben’s instability for example. Jacob was given this insight from the Holy Spirit and because of this we can see that the future of the twelve tribes was shaped from human character and choice as well as diving predestination.

AND – the pivotal center of the predictions is Christ! If the Holy Spirit hadn’t been involved Jacob would have probably made his blessing centered on his favorite son Joseph. But it’s on Judah. He sees the seed coming from Judah that will bless the nations.

Each prophecy is written in the form of highly symbolic poetry. A great deal of prophecy in the Bible is. Think of Revelation.

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