Good morning. Let’s really pray for God’s protection from this virus and for us not to fear. Let’s pray for God’s provision about the land and for us not to fret. Let’s pray for the opportunities God’s giving us through this for us to be available.
Genesis 48 and 49 are mostly prophetic. Israel is acting as a prophet and foretelling what would happen to the different sons in time to come. We’ll look at chapter 48 today and 49-50 next week. Let’s look at the different individuals and see what we can learn about God’s faithfulness from this chapter.
- What do we learn about God’s faithfulness from this chapter?
- There’s great emphasis placed upon God and His faithfulness in this chapter. In the early verses Jacob speak of His calling at Luz—this goes all the way back to Jacob’s early departure from home. Jacob, you’ll recall, said, if you bring me back safely you’ll be my God. God more than fulfilled that request. At this point, about 100 years after that experience, Jacob is looking back on his life and he recognized that God has been faithful all the way. While there had certainly been sorrow and trouble (see v7), there was multitudes of blessings.
- God was his Shepherd—v 15. He’s led Israel all the way. Every step of life had been led by the Good Shepherd. A shepherd leads his sheep to find pasture and water, he protects the sheep with his life. We saw Jacob speaking of his own shepherding of Laban’s flock and expressing how he’d lost sleep watching over Laban’s flocks. We know of David fighting a bear and a lion to protect his sheep. This is what our Good Shepherd does for us as well. He never slumbers nor sleeps. He provides us good things—even allowing Israel to see his grandchildren when he thought his son was dead.
- God was his Redeemer—v16. A redeemer purchases one out of trouble. In the OT, the concept was of buying out of debt—the kinsman redeemer. Israel’s emphasis here is upon the redemption from evil or trouble. God had faithfully delivered him from Esau and from Laban. God had protected him from the Canaanites when his sons acted foolishly in the case of Dinah’s rape. God had brought him safely to Egypt and provided for him when he could have died in the famine.
- We even know him in a greater way as Redeemer—as the One who redeemed us from our sins by dying for us that we might be purchased out of the evil of Hell.
- What do we learn about Israel’s growth from this chapter?
- It is interesting that throughout these last chapters Moses is very consistent to use the name Israel rather than Jacob. I’m not sure entirely of the significance of that, but here at the end of his life, he definitely is living more like the prince with God that he was and less like the supplanter he’d been. Jacob, Israel, has shown great growth.
- Here, at the end of life, we don’t see so much of the melancholy complaining of Jacob. He did mention the death of Rachel, but it was in the context of his seeing Joseph and his sons. But there’s no mention of all these things are against me or that few and evil are have been my days. Instead, there’s a calm recognition of God’s presence and faithfulness throughout all his life.
- Further, we see Jacob acting in a capacity we haven’t seen before—prophet. As we stated at the outset, these two chapters (48-49) are mostly prophetic in nature. Jacob spoke with the certainty of God’s word. There’s no sense of if you bring me back; there’s the certainty that God will perform these things. Israel is seen here resting squarely upon thus says the Lord.
- There’s even a strength to stand upon the Word that’s almost super human. When Joseph brought his sons to Israel, Israel couldn’t see and yet knew which son was which. Further, he struggled to sit up in bed and yet when Joseph attempted to move his hands and switch them around to bless the first born with his right hand, Israel had the strength to resist and the boldness to tell Joseph, No.
- What do we learn about Joseph’s future from this chapter?
- We need to understand a bit about the custom of the day to see what’s going on here. When a father made out his inheritance in their day the first born son got what is referred to as the double portion. In practice this meant he got double the inheritance of all the rest of the sons. In Israel’s case, he had 12 sons. So the inheritance would be divided by 13 with the firstborn receiving two parts of the inheritance. This is what is taking place in Ephraim and Manasseh being brought in as part of the sons of Israel. To this day, the 12 tribes of Israel are actually 13. We’ll come to a fuller understanding of this as we continue our studies.
- As we’ll see in chapter 49, Reuben, the actual firstborn, forfeited his right by the incident of sleeping with Jacob’s wife. The firstborn portion then went to Joseph and this was carried out by adopting his first two sons into his own family.
- It’s interesting that as we precede, however, in Israel’s history, Ephraim, while a major player, is not the major player. Judah is. We’ll see more of that too as we go.
- One last note, Israel seems to indicate in vv 21-22 that Joseph would receive the area of Shechem that he’d taken with his sword (actually his sons did). If that’s what he’s referring to, it’s curious in that God predicted Ephraim’s portion 400 years before it would be determined by lot. Did you catch that? In Joshua’s day, the land was divided by lot (like flipping a coin) and Ephraim would be appointed this part of the land according to Israel’s prophesy. God even controls the lot.
- What do we learn about our future from this chapter?
- We face incredibly uncertain times and it’s easy to despair. This week we’ve seen the mounting numbers of Corona cases. We all probably know somebody with the disease or who are testing. It’s here. It’s upon us. It’s no longer out there somewhere. We need to deal with it and we’re dealing with it now. And it’s scary! People are dying. Some we know may die. We may die—especially those of us who are older.
- We learned about the problems with the re-zoning. This creates frustration with the system. We don’t know what’s going on whether corruption is playing a part in this or whether there’s a real problem with our purchasing this land. We all felt (and feel) this is the perfect piece of land and yet now we’re being stopped in the process. This creates frustration and anger in us.
- There’s the growing unrest in the nation which could easily explode into more violence as we’re seeing in the US. As the economy fails, crime, unemployment and hopeless rise. All of this can give way to despair.
- But the God who controlled Israel’s life and future is still on the throne. He is still fully able to shepherd his sheep and to redeem us from evil. We don’t have a prophecy that we will all survive this virus, but we do have His assurance that He’ll go through it with us. We won’t have to fight the bear alone. He’s still our Redeemer in a far greater manner than Israel saw Him. He’s purchased us out of Hell and can certainly deliver us from all the evil around us.
- And He controls the future, He doesn’t just know it. He controls my future and yours. So we can rest in this Good Shepherd’s kindness and wisdom, no matter what our future may hold. We fear, we fret and we despair because we’re out of control. But God’s not out of control.
- There’s, therefore, no reason to fear. There’s no reason to fret. There’s no reason to despair. God’s on the throne!
Your Thoughts or questions?