Read Genesis 48

Beginning in chapter 48 of Genesis we walk into the deathbed scene of Jacob.  This is one of the only people that we get such a detailed description of the time around their death.  Jacob has lived 17 years in Egypt – 17 years longer than he anticipated! It seems he had been prepared to die when he saw Joseph again (Genesis 46:30).   He had already told Joseph to be sure to not bury him in Egypt – take his bones back to Canaan – the land of covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and himself.  Joseph had agreed to that plan. 

I love the closing of chapter 47.  “and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.”  I see an old man – at peace with God – worshiping.  We never retire from the need to worship God.  It forever is appropriate behavior from us.  We are never too old … to wise … to tired … to worship.  Have you done that today?

What unfolds in the next 3 chapters is a beautiful passing on of heritage – of blessing – of this grand, old Patriarch pronouncing upon his progeny their place in the plan of God.  There are three things that I want to mention for your consideration from chapter 48. 

First, Jacob gives Joseph the ”double portion” that traditionally went to the first-born.  A father had the right to make that call.  Reuben, the first son that Jacob fathered, had proven himself unworthy when he slept with Bilhah, one of Jacob’s ‘wives’.  But more than that … I think Jacob truly saw Joseph as his first born.  He never wanted another wife other than Rachel.  She was the woman who captured his heart, his love and his actual request for marriage.  The other women came because of deception and manipulation.  So Joseph, through his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, receives the double portion.  In reality, Jacob “adopts” these boys and they become heirs along with the other sons of Jacob.  Therefore, as you read later about the 12 tribes of Israel, you do not read of a tribe of Joseph … there are 2 tribes from Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. 

Second, don’t miss the power of one’s story.  Jacob tells Joseph his “testimony” – a bit of his life story in 48: 1 – 11.  I suspect some of these details had been told to him when he was a boy … but how differently he would hear them now that he was a man.  I can see Joseph hanging on every word.  Be sure that you are passing on “your story” to your children.  If your children are now adults … let them hear again the how and the why you are who you are. 

Third, there are 2 “firsts” in Genesis 48: 15 – 16.  One is the reference to God as a shepherd.  This is the first time that image is used.  It is such a tender and poignant one.  We will find it many more times in scripture but the first is here … where an old man, about to die, recognizes and verbalizes that God has shepherded him all the days of his life – through the good and the bad, the righteous and the unrighteous.  God is a faithful shepherd.  He was to Jacob … and He is to you.  Can you do that right now?  Will you stop a moment and think of the ways that God has been your shepherd all your days to this point?  It will increase our confidence to walk upright into whatever our future days hold.  “The Lord is my shepherd … I want for nothing.” (Psalm 23:1) 

The other “first” is in verse 16.  The NIV translates “the Angel who has delivered me from all harm…”  The Hebrew word is the word for “redeemed”.  A more literal translation would read: “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil…”  The “Angel” is none other than the preincarnate Jesus.  Jacob recognized that His work is redemption.  And His work is still redemption - reclaiming precious souls, created in the image of God, back into the family of God.

This intimate exchange between Joseph and his father closes with Jacob reassuring Joseph that “God will be with you.”

You know that, don’t you?  You don’t walk through any of the struggles you face alone.  Even when you feel the most abandoned and alone – “God is with you”.  Oh – may we know that truth deep within our core!  May we rest in the surety of it.  May we stand in the confidence of it.  May we walk in the steadiness of it.   

Blessed assurance …