Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Joseph Gets “Two Portions” Of Jacob’s Estate - Genesis 48:21-22

Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers.  And I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”

Jacob (Israel) has just finished blessing his son Joseph’s two boys, Ephraim (the youngest) and Manasseh (the oldest), but has given the younger grandchild the traditional blessing of the ‘firstborn’ making him ‘pre-eminent’ by Jacob’s choice as revealed to him by God.  Now Jacob tells his son that he is about to die.

Many of us have heard those words from one or both of our parents.  They are not the words a loving son or daughter wants to hear from his or her father or mother.  At the same time, even loving children realize that a parent’s life must ultimately come to an end.  Blessed is the child that can be left a promise or a legacy that will carry him or her throughout life’s darkest moments.  That was true in my case and it is an experience I pray that my children, and my grandchildren, will have when it is time for their mother and father to die.

In Joseph’s case, Israel, upon feeling his imminent death, uttered the greatest encouragement that a believing father could ever give his child, “God will be with you.”  It was as if he was saying, “Even though your father who was your earthly strength will die, God will be with you, Joseph.  You are not left alone.  You are not left without protection, without guidance, or without a source of wisdom with which to live your life.”  I often think of orphans and how some of them make it through life.  Imagine the power of those words to an orphan, regardless of age, but especially a youngster –“God will be with you.”  If believed, and relied upon, they are, in one spiritual sense, all he or she needs.

And not only did Jacob promise that to Joseph, but he reassured his son that God had a specific plan for him – “God will bring you back to the land of your fathers.”  That was it.  That was Israel passing on to Joseph God’s “promise”.  Matthew Henry calls this promise of God that they would return to their own land and leave Egypt, a “sacred trust”.  And now, Joseph had it and he was to pass it on when he died.  What a wise father.  In his dying days, he points his beloved son, not only to all the resource that is necessary to live life successfully, but he gives him a purpose, a goal, for which to live.  And it is a lofty one.  What a world this would be if each parent could do that for each of his or her children.

By giving Joseph this promise that he would repeat often to his brethren and his children, Jacob was helping them, as Henry suggests, not too fall too much in love with Egypt and their way of life there, but neither to fear Egypt when things started to get tough for them, as ultimately, they would be delivered.  But not until they were kept in bondage first, something that Jacob was not divinely informed of, to our knowledge, in order to allow him to comment on it.  Instead, he could only assure them of what he knew -- their leaving Egypt.  In essence, he gave them, perhaps unknowingly, what every individual needs – hope of salvation.  We would do well to ask ourselves whether or not we have that ‘hope’ and whether or not we have been able to pass it on to our own children.

Jacob then tells Joseph that because he blessed his two sons as his own, he would get one extra portion of Israel’s estate to him than what he gave the rest of his brothers.  With this extra portion Joseph becomes the next patriarch of the family, following in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac, and his own father, Jacob.  And after Joseph, it would be Ephraim and Manasseh.  We cannot say or write enough about the responsibility that accompanies such a position.  God has great expectations from those that occupy that seat among his people.  That was true in Joseph’s days and it is true today where God uses many of His children to ensure His Name continues to be proclaimed in the world.   But the ones that hold such office must not be self-appointed.  God alone can assign the title and He has ways of doing so.  It is our job to discern today upon whom He has bestowed such responsibility and to make sure we are not following false prophets who claim it for themselves.

Jacob also makes a point of telling Joseph that the extra land he is giving him was taken by Israel himself from the Amorites.  We will need to wait to discover the full history of this land, in future books of Scripture, particularly the book of Joshua.  Suffice it to say here that at some point in the past, Jacob had to take back these lands that were properly his (by purchase) and he had to do it by force.  Henry suggests he recovered “his right by violence when he could not otherwise recover it.”  Whether that was a God-inspired thing to do or not, I cannot say.  However, later on we learn that these very lands were given to Ephraim, and it was there Joseph’s bones were buried.

I cannot help but think of this when I think of modern-day Israel fighting for her land today, and having to do it by force to repel the force exerted on her by her enemies.  Whether what Jacob bragged about was right or wrong, it is difficult for us New Testament Christians to determine, but we do know that God used that reclaimed land.

The final thought that comes to mind in this section is that as Jacob was telling Joseph all these things, others must have been present.  If not, Joseph, given the reputation of his youth as a ‘dreamer’ even though he had now become great and mighty, might still have had a difficult time of convincing his brethren of Jacob’s stated desire for Ephraim and Manasseh, or even the promised return of all of them to Canaan.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

No comments:

Post a Comment