Genesis 48:8-22 The greatest legacy we can leave for our children is the testimony of divine faithfulness, wisdom and authority
8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9 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.” 10 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. 11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.” 12 Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. 13 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. 14 But Israel 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. 15 He 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,
16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
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.”
17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” 20 He blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’”
Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 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. 22 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 defied convention by choosing to exalt Ephraim over Manasseh, the first born. The manner in which the blessing was invoked speaks of the legacy that Jacob has left for his descendants. The greatest legacy any man can leave for his children is the testimony of divine faithfulness, wisdom and authority.
“Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.”
After promoting Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob proceeded to bless them. Joseph put Manasseh, the first born under Jacob’s right hand to receive the greater blessing. But Jacob unexpectedly crossed his hand so that Ephraim might receive the greater blessing instead of Manasseh. Jacob blessed Joseph by invoking the name of God in a tripartite structure. In so doing, Jacob ascribed to God the divine qualities of faithfulness, wisdom and power.
- Faithfulness: The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked. God has been faithful to the covenant that He made with Abraham, Isaac and himself.
- Wisdom: The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day. God guided him throughout his life and saved the entire household from famine.
- Power: The angel who has redeemed me from all evil. God protected him from the clutches of his uncle (Genesis 31:42) and later from his brother, Esau (Genesis 32,33).
“And may my name live on in them…” signifies the transference to the boys God’s covenantal favour with Jacob and the fathers. The resources that Israel possessed would mean nothing without the covenantal favour of God.
When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him.
Joseph’s reaction mirrors that of the forefathers (Abraham and Isaac) who are reluctant to exalt another above the first born son. “It displeased him” literally means “it was evil in his eyes.” Jacob, having divine authority overrides the ruler of Egypt. God’s wisdom and sovereignty supersede social convention and human preferences. Abel versus Cain, Isaac versus Ishmael, Jacob versus Esau, Perez versus Zerah, Joseph versus Reuben, and Ephraim versus Manasseh. Jacob, filled with divine insight, placed Ephraim before Manasseh making him greater than his brother. Eventually, the tribe of Ephraim gained numerical superiority and embodied northern Israel.
“By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’” makes Joseph’s descendants the quintessence of God’s fertility and blessing.
The greatest legacy we can leave for our children is the testimony of divine faithfulness, wisdom and authority.
Jacob, in invoking the name of God in a tripartite fashion leaves a legacy that helped Israel as a nation survive the rigours of time. Similarly, when others witness the testimony of God’s faithfulness, wisdom and authority through our lives, we leave behind a lasting legacy. Indeed, the virtues of faithfulness, wisdom and a sense of authority cannot stand apart from the Divine. In other words, unless we experience God’s faithfulness, wisdom in challenging situations and divine authority over the angels, we leave nothing of value for our children. Many prided themselves on their achievements and virtues expecting their children and disciples to emulate them. However, people do not believe what they hear, but what they see in our manner of life. Any attempt to draw others towards our personal righteousness will certainly fall flat and backfire.
Therefore, as fathers and leaders, we must point our children and disciples to God. In so doing, we teach them to depend on God who is ever faithful to His word. In every difficult situation, to be at peace knowing that God is in control and will provide wisdom for breakthrough. And at the same time, know how to take authority over the angels to push back the forces of evil. Human beings are imperfect and beset with flaws, but God is perfect and worthy of following. Even for Jesus, when He was called “Good Teacher” responded, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone…” Luke 18:19.
Nothing can stand in the way of God’s sovereign election over our lives except us.
Joseph’s resolve to exalt Manasseh, his first born over Ephraim could not deter God’s sovereign election over Ephraim. This, Jacob knew full well having been cast aside by his own father in preference for his older brother Esau. Indeed, the sovereign election of God cannot be stopped or altered by human devices. Social convention, human bias, must not discourage us from seeking God’s favour and election. Paul teaches that God has predestined every believer for a high calling according to the calling of His Son,
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (NASB)
Therefore, we must be faithful to bear fruit where we are planted. In following the narrow path that He has predestined, we may in due time arrive at that place of high calling and glory. However, many, in desiring a more glamorous and exciting route, unwittingly strayed from God’s predestined path for them. Consequently, they missed out on the high call and the glory that God has intended.
That said, how do we operate within the structure of human organisations? How do we relate to human authorities? Our bosses and mentors are mere vessels that God uses to equip and prepare us for the high call. But, we do not depend on them for promotion or reward for our work. For God Himself will in His way vindicate and exalt us. The apostle Paul said,
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24 (NASB)
Many in their desire to get ahead, angle their way into the bosses good books by cunning. Such may have gotten the favour of men, but pass up on the high call that God has intended.
1. Are you influenced by social convention or personal bias to exalt one over another? As mothers, fathers and leaders, our goal is not to exalt but rather to equip and prepare our children and disciples for the high call. Therefore, in matters that concern promotion, we must discard human bias and go entirely on divine directives.
2. How do you prepare your children and disciples to meet their high calling?
- Teach them divine faithfulness: how they can be at peace and wait for divine intervention, having done their utmost.
- Teach them wisdom: how they can receive divine wisdom in the face of dire circumstances.
- Teach them divine authority: how they (having understood divine wisdom) can exercise authority over the angels and the elements of the earth (see Mark 11:23).
Dear Lord, I thank you for predestining me for the high call. I endeavour to walk on the narrow path even though I do not understand it. Help me to persevere in the light of your faithfulness. Help me to understand divine wisdom and your mysterious ways. Help me to exercise divine authority over angels and the elements of the earth. Cause me to leave an enduring legacy for my church and my children. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.