“He (Jacob) blessed Joseph, and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, The angel who has delivered me from all harm, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”…Gen 48:16
There is such a heavy sense of importance in this blessing. Jacob has a profound conviction that it is God who has been the center of his life. His heritage from his father and grandfather is God. His guiding force in life is God. He credits where he is to God — that he hasn’t been harmed or killed.
Jacob sees clearly that his responsibility is to continue God’s plan through his lineage. He takes the business of blessing very seriously. What is God’s plan? That the descendents would be multiply prolifically, and that rulers would come from their midst. Thus, Jacob blesses Joseph’s children that they would become a multitude, and that they would perpetuate the purpose of the patriarchs, the purpose of God. Jacob’s blessing to Joseph reflects how clearly he sees that God has had his hand on Joseph, and it commends Joseph for maintaining his integrity through all of his trials.
Joseph is a fruitful vine,…With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you…with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Gen 49:22-25
There is a theme here — those who have lived their lives with integrity are blessed with the privilege of having God’s plan work through them and their descendents. Those who made bad choices are left out of this. Reuben slept with his father’s concubine and so did not get the rights of the first born. Simeon and Levi avenged their sister’s rape with much bloodshed, and jeopardized the relations of Jacob’s tribe with the surrounding tribes. Their blessing is more of a curse.
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” Gen 49:10
Judah, the fourth son, gets the most important heritage. From his offspring will come a ruler. It is interesting to note that God made sure that Judah had a worthy son to carry this out. Er, Judah’s first born, was wicked and the Lord put him to death. The second son, Onan, wouldn’t produce an heir with Er’s wife, so he was put to death also. Finally Er’s wife, Tamar, tricked Judah into getting her pregnant, and it is one of the two twins born, Perez, who becomes the ancestor of King David. (Genesis 38)
All of this gives me peace and confidence in God. He has always had a plan. His plan has always prevailed. He has zealously and faithfully guarded and watched over His plan’s implementation.
And today I believe we are still carrying out this plan. Our purpose is also to multiply — to go and make disciples of all nations. Our purpose also involves establishing a ruler — Christ. We need to lead every knee to bow to him.
As God was with the patriarchs, God will surely also be with us, to establish his plan and expand it ever more. May we make right choices and be worthy, and may His grace be sufficient. May the confidence of Joseph speak to us through our trials —
- “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen 50:20
- “I am about to die. But surely God will come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 50:24
“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” Zech 4:6