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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

December 14, 2016

Genesis 47:28-48:20

  1. Verse 28. Our story begins to draw to a close and Jacob thought he was going to die soon (45:28; 46:30; 47:9), but he lived for 17 more years. It interesting to note that Jacob enjoyed the blessings of God for 17 years--the same number of years he enjoyed Joseph until Joseph was sold into slavery to Egypt by his older brothers (37:2). Coincidence? I don’t think so. God is gracious and merciful. Genesis is silent about these years, but a fast-forward to his ultimate age of 147 suggests uneventful, unruffled tranquility for both father and son. How sweet it must have been for Jacob and Joseph. Jacob’s decidedly dysfunctional family is on the verge of coming together again in genuine community. There is always hope for your family. I don’t care what has taken place in the past; God can still reconcile and restore your family. Don’t give up hope. God loves to bring loved ones back together again. Persevere in your marriage and family and just see what God will do.

  2. Verses 29-31. Jacob calls his sons to himself and makes a request to be buried in Canaan. Why does Jacob insist on being buried in Canaan? This was a reminder that the temporary vacation in Egypt was not to be permanent. God had promised his descendants that they live in Canaan. Knowing that the day of his departure drew near, Jacob made his death a testimony to his faith and a stimulus to the faith and obedience of his descendants. Jacob urged Joseph, his most trusted son, to swear a solemn oath promising that he would not bury his father in Egypt, but in Canaan in the cave of Machpelah with his forefathers (49:29-32; 50:24-25). This would serve as a reminder to his descendants that Egypt was not home, but only a place to sojourn until God brought them back “home” to Canaan, the land of promise (Heb 11:22). Few Christians give much thought to the impact they will have after they have gone to heaven. Jacob’s demand to be buried in Canaan would speak to later generations of the fact that he was living in expectation that God’s future was in despised Canaan, not in luxurious, powerful Egypt. We too should give thought to ways of affecting later generations. DO you have a will? Have you instructed your children of your last wishes? Our passage concludes with Jacob worshipping God.

  3. Chapter 48. In Genesis 48, Jacob has come to the end of his life. He has carried the torch of God’s covenant for 147 years. He has committed many sins and has not always honored God, however, Jacob is an example of a man who finishes well. In this passage, we will see that before he dies Jacob is determined to pass the torch on to those who would follow. This must be our goal as well.

  4. Verses 1-4: The death of which Jacob has so frequently spoken, and even longed for at times, is knocking on his door. Thus, Joseph takes his two sons to say “goodbye.” It is likely that in the 17 years Jacob lived with Joseph in Egypt he invested in Manasseh and Ephraim. Both boys are now about 20 years old. So while Joseph and Jacob were separated for 22 years, Jacob has now been able to invest in his grandsons for 17 years. He likely learned the importance of pouring his life into the lives of his family members. Have you learned this same lesson? Jacob may be losing his health, but he is not losing his memory. In these verses, Jacob shares his testimony. He begins by addressing God, as “God Almighty” (El Shaddai). Jacob didn’t talk about the difficulties of his life (cf. 47:9); he spoke about “God Almighty” and what He had done for His servant. By using the name “God Almighty,” Jacob is acknowledging that only an all-powerful God could have made such far-reaching promises with the assurance that they would be fulfilled (see also 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 49:25). Jacob’s testimony is based on God’s promises and his experience with God. It was in Luz that Jacob dreamed of the stairway to heaven before he left from Canaan to find a wife in Haran (28:10-22). It was in Luz that Jacob built an altar to the Lord after he returned to Canaan from living with Laban (35:6-7). In both encounters, God promised to make him fruitful and give him land. Despite Jacob’s faithlessness, God remained faithful (2 Tim 2:13). Jacob banked on this and so can we. While we may sin and fall short of God’s desires for our lives, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself. This was Jacob’s testimony. This is my testimony. God has been faithful and gracious to me from the moment of salvation to today. And I know He will remain faithful to me until my death or Jesus’ return. Can you say that? If you have a testimony about God’s faithfulness and grace in your life, you need to pass it on. One of the best things you can do is pass your story on to others…especially the story of your spiritual pilgrimage. What a blessing for your children and grandchildren to know how you carne to faith. It is helpful to learn of how you have seen God’s faithfulness demonstrated in your life. So, share your stories. Take time to build a sense of history into those you love.

  5. Verses 5-6. Jacob adopted Joseph’s two sons. Ephraim and Manasseh went from being Jacob’s grandsons to his sons. The adoption was in regards to inheritance. In a sense Jacob was giving Joseph a double blessing by calling Joseph’s sons his sons. In those 17 years, Jacob had been given a chance to relive the childhood of Joseph over again through his sons. The time that he lost he got back through his grandchildren. Beloved, often times God will give you in your grandchildren what was taken from you in your own children.

  6. Verse 7. Some people think this verse explains why Jacob adopted Joseph sons as his own with regards to their inheritance. They reminded him of Rachel. Jacob always wanted more sons from Rachel, but never had any more since she died. Jacob can’t help but see Rachel in his grandsons and possibly wants to bless them because of her. We are not sure really.

  7. Verses 8-12. Israel/Jacob saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” This question is not an indication of Jacob’s blindness but the initiation of the ceremony, just as in modem-day weddings when, near the beginning, the minister may ask, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” The ceremonial response, “Her mother and I do” is also paralleled in Joseph’s ceremonial response, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” So he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them,” thus meeting Jacob’s criteria for adoption. The adoption process continues. This is an incredibly moving scene. It is so important to not just skip over. In 48:9, Jacob blesses his grandsons. He then hugs and kisses them. There is a profound need in every boy to be touched and verbally affirmed by his father and grandfather. A father’s blessing is so crucial. Many children never hear an encouraging word from their father. Instead, they are reminded of their weaknesses and failings. They are crippled by words of criticism and rejection. Fathers and grandfathers, we must bless our children and grandchildren. Verse 10 says that Jacob kissed and embraced his 20-year-old grandsons. Jacob gives God the credit that he is able to see Joseph’s sons. He has come to acknowledge God’s providential working and grace in his life as he realized how faithful God had been to him in spite of his unfaithfulness. Then we see Joseph bow to his father. Joseph may be the second most powerful man in Egypt, but he never loses his respect for his father, and he never ceases to be gracious toward him (48:12). In Gen 47:9, I suggested that the primary reason that Jacob had such a hard life was because he did not honor his father (Deut 5:16). Joseph made sure that he did not make the same mistake. May we learn from Joseph’s example and honor our father and mother, despite how they treat us.

  8. Verses 13-20. Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. But Israel/Jacob stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn. This is the first of many scriptural instances of the laying on of hands. By this symbolic act, a person transferred a spiritual power or gift to another. In this case Jacob symbolically transferred a blessing from himself to Joseph’s sons. Once uttered, blessings were irreversible (cf. Num 23:20; Rom 11:29). We have no way of knowing exactly why this reversal took place, or how Jacob knew to enact it. But remarkably, this simple act was highlighted in Heb 11:21 as Jacob’s outstanding action of faith. Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh also carried prophetic significance and force (48:19-20). Under the inspiration of God, Jacob deliberately gave Ephraim the privileged first-born blessing and predicted his preeminence. This was the fourth consecutive generation of Abraham’s descendants, in which the normal pattern of the firstborn assuming prominence over the second born was reversed: Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Reuben, and Ephraim over Manasseh. This is also something that Isaac should have done with Esau and Jacob, but failed to do. Jacob has learned just to trust and obey God regardless of how things might look or appear. God knows what he is doing.

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