Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jacob Asks To Bless Joseph’s Sons - Genesis 48:8-12


When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?”  And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.”  So he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.”  Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see.  Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them.  And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.”  Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground.

During the visit of Joseph and his two sons to the bedside of the aged and unwell Jacob, the patriarch also known as Israel, asks Joseph about the two boys with him.  Joseph replies that these are the sons that God has given to him.  What a joy that must be for an aged father to hear one of his grown-up sons say that his children are a blessing from God.  To know that our children recognize that God is the giver of all good things is truly a remarkable experience and speaks volumes not only for those that utter such words but also for those who have raised them.

And Jacob then asks them to be brought closer to him so that he may bless them.  The text says his eyes were “dim from age that he could not see”.  When I first emigrated from Greece as a young boy of five, a dear Christian lady decided to be my “Canadian mother” and she and her family saw to it that I went to Sunday School and grew up in the church.  Margaret Williams is still alive, lives on her own in the same house, and I get a chance to visit her regularly.  She was born on July 21, 1914 and is now in her 98th year of life.  She can only see blurry shapes.  She has to touch my arms when I go to see her and feel the various things people bring her.  Her daughter has to write the emergency phone numbers for her in literally gigantic print on cardboard in case she needs to use them.  Still, at her advanced age, she refuses to move in with family or go to a seniors’ home.  With the exception of the last statement, I imagine good old Israel was like that.  And he very much wanted to bless his grandchildren.

So Joseph brings them up close and Jacob kisses and embraces them.  Then Israel (Jacob) tells his son that not only did he never expect to see him again, but God has blessed him by allowing him to see Joseph’s sons as well.  That is a double-portion of being blessed in Israel’s eyes.

This portion of scripture ends with Joseph directing the boys away from him, placing them near his father, and bowing down before his father with his face to the ground.  Even though he was a high and mighty ruler in Egypt all these years, and away from his father for so long, he still had, and demonstrated, reverence for Jacob.  This past week leading up to Christmas we hear a lot on the news about seniors in our community and in our lives – elders living alone, or the treatment of the very old in hospitals, how we will be accommodating our aged parents for the holidays, etc.  We would do well to remember Joseph’s regard for his aged father.  Parents are part of God’s plan for our lives.  They don’t stop being “our parents” – not if they’re old, not if they’re sick, not even if they’ve left us.  God makes them “our parents” for life.  And I believe He does so more for our benefit and growth, than for theirs.

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