Legacy of faith Genesis 48 Hope In Christ Bible Church 1-12-20
Would you turn with me now to Genesis 48?
And as you do, think about the Bible in your hand. It is not only the world’s best seller. It’s God’ gift to you of a lamp unto your feet & light unto your path!
And our confidence is this: as we follow God’s guidance in this book, He grows our lives.
Yes, God doesn’t let us stay the same, but He changes us! That’s the precious promise of II Cor. 3:18. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
“Transformed”- metamorphoo, gives us our word metamorphosis. It’s the caterpillar in the cocoon miraculously being changed into a beautiful butterfly!
That’s why to grow each day into the beautiful image of Christ, we must gaze into the mirror of God’s Word where we see His glory!
For sure, spiritual growth is not an instantaneous process. It’s is not a microwave zap and you’re done.
Friends, growing in godliness comes down to a daily commitment to letting God change you as you submit to His revealed will.
Now there are 2 dangerous extremes in how we view our spiritual maturity.
The first is thinking you are all good to go in godliness- that produces pride. And the second extreme is thinking you are forever stuck in a spiritual quagmire. And that produces discouragement.
Like Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. He had a rough go in life. Lots of deep discouragement.
In fact, we saw last week how Jacob at the age of 130 looks back at his years as being “unpleasant.”
Well, God wasn’t done with old Jacob.
For 17 years later, at the ripe age of 147, we find that God has grown Jacob into a man of faith!
And here’s the great news: Christian, you don’t have to wait till the end of your life to become strong in faith!
We se that in 3 ways. Jacob’s adoption (1-7), his benediction (8-16), and his confirmation (17-22).
So watch how God has changed Jacob to finish with a legacy of faith. It begins in verse one with 1. The adoption 1-7
Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him.
It’s so helpful that God gives us transitional time markers in the Bible. Because they help us connect the present with what has come before.
When Moses tell us, “Now it came about after these things” he’s telling us what’s in front of us follows on the heels of Jacob’s request.
He’s been in Egypt 17 years, knows he will soon die, and makes a final plea to Joseph: “Don’t bury me in Egypt but take my bones back with you to the Promised Land!
Well, Joseph goes back to carry on his administrative work for the famine in a city not far away (45:10). And not long later he gets word about Jacob, being very sick.
He knows this may be the last time in this world he will see his dad, so he drops what he’s doing to go and see his father up in Goshen.
And Joseph takes with him his own two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
We know these they weren’t little boys since they had been born to Joseph in Egypt before the years of famine (41:50). That’s 7 years plus Jacob lived 17 years in Egypt which makes 24.
So picture Joseph’s sons in their mid-20s. Since they were brought up in Pharaoh’s court with an Egyptian mother, their appearance and manners would have reflected that culture.
Now, it’s honorable for children and grandchildren to pay their respects when a loved one dies. Yet it’s far more meaningful to be with that person during his final days.
Well we find out in the second verse, ‘When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed.’
Aged Jacob, a 147-year old geriatric, is bedridden.
Yet as he awaits his final call home by God, he is informed that his beloved son Joseph has come.
So, he gathers what little energy has left, and sits up in bed. Why? Because he gets to see his son and grandsons once more?
Yes, no doubt that’s part of it. Yet impending death often motivates one to settle family matters. It’s an opportunity to set things in order.
When King Hezekiah became mortally ill, Isaiah the prophet told him: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ ” Isaiah 38:1
So Jacob can’t wait to share his final words with his sons beginning with Joseph. Look at what he wants to impress on him:
Verse 3 Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’
This is wonderful! The first words out of Jacob’s mouth aren’t about his failings and regrets.
What’s uppermost on Jacob’s mind is God Almighty! That’s El Shaddai, the mighty, majestic, all-powerful and all-sufficient God.
Friends, there’s nothing better to have on your mind every day and the day you say your farewell to your family then God Almighty!
For God alone is the One who sustains us with His strong arm to and through the grave. And He is the One whom those who follow in our footsteps can trust every day of their lives.
Now, Jacob may have had a weak body, but he’s got a sharp memory.
For he recounts the words God had told him at Bethel (Gen. 28). What was that all about?
It was that God would bless him so he would have countless descendant. And at that point, Jacob was still a bachelor!
Yet there was even more. God also assured Jacob that land of Promise would be his people’s how long? The word is olam, everlasting. It doesn’t mean just a long time. It means forever!
Well, Jacob clung to that promise of God just like his grandfather Abraham had. For God had
assured Abraham of the same promise: “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” Genesis 17:8
And now Jacob, like Abraham, takes God at His Word. He trusts Him to bring it to pass.
You see, in their minds, it wasn’t a question of if but when God would fulfill His Word.
And so now for Jacob there on his deathbed, his heart is happy because His faith is anchored in the word of God and the God of the Word.
Now faith, may I remind you, isn’t passive belief. It’s active reliance.
James, Christ’s half-brother in the second chapter of his letter describes how genuine faith always leads to good deeds. For “faith” he says, “if it has no works is dead.” James 2:17
Let there be no confusion in our minds. Trying to be saved by doing good works will land you in a bad place- hell. That’s the Mat. 7 wide road of do more religion most people take. And they will hear Christ on judgement day say to them, “I never knew you, depart from Me.” Mat. 7:23
But saving faith in Christ always results in a life of good deeds.
So what’s the good work that Jacob does here through a heart of faith? Adoption. What? Isn’t Jacob way too old to adopt?
He didn’t think so. Look at verse 5: “Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.”
When Jacob says of his grandsons, they are mine, he is adopting them to be his sons.
He’s making it clear they are on the same level as Reuben and Simeon who are his own children.
Here’s what is key to realize. Jacob is not concerned about how long he will live as their adopted father.
Instead, he wants all people from that time on to honor them as being his full-fledged children.
That means these two now have all the rights and privileges of sons of Jacob. Why is that such a big deal?
Because this ties to the inheritance Jacob is about to spell out to his sons (chp. 49). So these 2 grandsons are now on equal standing with Jacob’s other sons.
That means these two adopted sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, will now represent two of the tribes of Israel. They would be included in the apportioning of the Promised Land.
This explain why, though Joseph is a son of Jacob, there’s no tribe named after Joseph.
There are two tribes in his honor, Manasseh and Ephraim.
So, if Jacob has 12 sons, and you add Manasseh and Ephraim, doesn’t that give you 13 tribes?
Well it would, but you have to take out Levi. Why?
The Levitical priests were not a tribe and didn’t have their own land. So the total number of tribes remains 12.
What happens to the rest of Jacob’s grandsons? Does he also adopt them as sons? Not at all. For Jacob has 50 other grandsons besides Manasseh and Ephraim.
In fact, notice what Jacob carefully points out to Joseph. Verse 6: “But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance.”
So it’s just the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, who are adopted by Jacob and take his name as their father.
Now adoption was practiced in the Ancient Near East. In Esther 2:7 Mordecai takes young Esther to be his own daughter.
And adoption is attested in the ancient code of Hammurabi. In fact, in one Akkadian document, a grandfather adopts his grandson and makes him his legal heir.
So when you think of Jacob’s adoption of Manasseh and Ephraim, you need to realize it was his gracious choice.
And here’s what so beautiful about adoption. It was God’s idea!
That’s how you and I, Christian, got into God’s family. “He,” Eph. 1:5 tells us, “predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to
Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”
How marvelous! When we were rebel haters of God and children of the devil (John 8:44), God adopted us to be His sons through Christ. And that’s all based not on how cute we were but on how gracious God is!
So Jacob gives to those 2 grandsons the status of his very own sons.
With their father Joseph there present, Jacob remembers their mom, his precious wife Rachel.
7th verse: “Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
How fitting that as Jacob thinks of his own impending death, he recalls Rachel’s death.
18th century British pastor Mathew Henry notes: “When we come to die ourselves, it is good to call to mind the death of our dear relations and friends that have gone before us, to make death and the grave the more familiar to us.”
I recall my grandfather, then in his 90’s, telling me how he anticipated seeing his beloved wife when the Lord would take him to heaven.
So Jacob recalls how Rachel died at a young age when he returned from Paddan-aram where he served Laban.
It was not far from Bethlehem that Rachel died in the process of giving birth to Benjamin.
That would have been a moving event in Jacob’s life, losing dear Rachel so unexpectedly.
While Rachel only gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin, she now, though dead, is honored in Manasseh and Ephraim being made her sons.
So, we rejoice in how God used adoption to accomplish His purpose through Jacob. And how Jacob participated in that by faith.
His faith becomes more visible as the adoption leads to the:
2. Benediction 8-16
Imagine you are a fly on the wall in Jacob’s room there in Goshen. Joseph walks in with his two grown sons. And, verse 8 tells us, “When Israel
saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?”
Since Jacob has been there in Egypt 17 years, it wouldn’t make sense that he’s never seen Joseph’s boys.
More likely, Jacob asks that question as a legal custom before giving a blessing.
It’s like a pastor asking the father of the bride, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” The pastor knows but the formality requires it to be stated!
So, we are told (v. 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.”
Now you have to remember, we have seen multiple times in Genesis, giving a blessing (barak) by the patriarchs is a big thing. It’s invoking God’s favor on someone else.
So Jacob wants to pronounce a personal blessing on Manasseh and Ephraim. And by the way, don’t miss how Jacob views those boys. He recognizes that God had given them to him!
Don’t believe the world’s lingo that there are illegitimate children. There aren’t. For we read in Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD!”
There may be illegitimate parents but not children. For every child is a precious gift from God. That’s the way parents should view their children whether biological or adopted. They have been given by God.
And by the way, God only gives the best gifts to His own. Our Lord Jesus tells His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Mat. 7:11
Yet there’s a big complication as Jacob seeks to give His blessing.
We find out in the 10th verse: “Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see.
Now does that sound familiar? Jacob was the deceiver who stole his brother’s blessing.
Remember how he pulled that off? By taking advantage of his dad Isaac who was blind and tricking him to think he was Esau.
Well, old Jacob may deserve to be deceived. But thank God, He doesn’t give us what we deserve.
King David did what he thought he would never do in committing murder and adultery. He deserved to die but didn’t.
He exclaims of God in Psalm 103:10, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”
That’s true of Jacob, David, and every one of us in this room.
Though the wages of sin are death and hell, God gave Christ who took the judgement we deserved. And every person who turns from sin and trusts only in Christ gets grace.
That’s forgiveness of sin and life that’s abundant and eternal from God!
Now watch how Jacob blesses those two sons of Joseph. Further in the 10th verse we find: “Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them.”
Jacob shows his huge heart of affection. With all the strength he has left, he wraps his arm around those boys and kisses them as his own children. Then with amazement, (v. 11) Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.”
Now you may be wondering, how can Jacob see Joseph’s face as well as his children if verse 10 tells us he could not see?
Well, the best explanation I found from a Christian eye specialist is this: Jacob seems to have had advanced cataracts which lead to myopic shift. That’s when the lens of the eye becomes increasingly cloudy making it difficult to see. And thus the person can hardly perceive and image unless something is right in front of him.
That fits with Jacob who can’t recognize his son and grandsons unless they are right in his face.
Solomon, in a picturesque way, speaks of what happens to old people’s vision in Eccles. 12:3. He personifies the eyes as “those who look through the windows grow dim.”
So, though Jacob can barely see (and would certainly be legally blind today!), close up he is able to recognize Joseph’s face and his children.
And this marks one of the most joyful days in Jacob’s life. For over 20 years he thought his son Joseph had been torn up by a wild animal. And now as he speaks to that precious son, he’s stunned.
For it was divine drama that elevated Joseph as ruler over all Egypt and saved Jacob’s entire family from famine. On top of that, Jacob is filled with joy that God allowed him to see Joseph’s children!
You see, that’s evidence of real growth in faith- it’s recognizing God’s gracious hand at work in your life!
There were days in Jacob’s life when he was thinking, “Where are you God in this mess?” And now he realizes God was with him in it all.
Then Joseph (we are told in v. 12) took (those adopted sons) from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground.
Now these two young men weren’t sitting on their dying grandfather’s knees.
Instead, we best see this as Jacob placing Manasseh and Ephraim against the knees of their grandfather as he sits up in bed. That may well symbolize how Jacob has adopted them that they are his children.
We saw that in Gen. 30:3 when Sarah told her maid, “bear on my knees” which meant the child becomes Sarah’s.
As Joseph moves his sons away from their grandfather Jacob, did you catch what he does?
He puts his face to the ground. That’s worship!
Picture that in your mind’s eye. Joseph is the prime minister of the most powerful nation of that day, Egypt. Yet he’s got his face on the ground worshipping God!
There are at least 20 other places in the Bible where we see people falling on their faces before God. Very instructive for us, O.T. and N.T. Let me give you two:
Nehemiah 8:6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
Revelation 7:11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders (that’s the church) and the four living creatures (cherubim); and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God.”
Friends, that’s a great posture to be in when you are all alone and no one is looking but God. On your face before Him in humility and worship as the Most High God! Joseph bows his face in worship then gets up. He’s now ready for Jacob to pronounce the blessing.
So, verse 13 explains, “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.”
Maybe you are thinking, this sounds a bit like “Who’s on first, what’s on second?”
But who is on what hand means a ton especially in bestowing a blessing.
Remember, the right hand in the Bible represents honor, authority and favor.
Moses after the Red Sea rescue sang these lyrics to God: “Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.” Exodus 15:6
So Joseph with his left hand on Ephraim positions him directly in front of Jacob’s right hand. He assumes that Ephraim being the oldest should get the greater blessing.
Yet Joseph and his sons are in for a surprise. Following on in verse 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.
O I love unexpected things like this in the Bible. Israel (Jacob) doesn’t follow suit and put his right hand of favor on Manasseh the oldest son.
And shrewdly, he doesn’t ask those 2 sons to switch places where they are standing.
He deftly crosses his own arms and puts his right hand on Ephraim!
And before Joseph can say or do anything, watch Jacob’s move. “He blessed Joseph (v. 15), 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.”
Now that’s an incomparable blessing given to Joseph and to his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Here’s why. Jacob now sees the past as he sees the future- through the eyes of faith in God.
And those words of verse 16 and 17 may well rank as the greatest sentence that ever came out of Jacob’s mouth!
Let me show you why. In just one sentence, Jacob describes 3 great needs every person is created with… that only God can fully supplies:
Friendship, guidance, and salvation.
It’s the friendship Jacob describes that his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac experienced in walking before God.
They enjoyed a close life-to-life relationship to God as their heavenly father and friend.
God was as real to them as people around him. They talked with God and by His grace lived in nearness to Him.
Church, most of us know a lot about God. And we like to talk about Him. But if He’s not our closest friend, then we are missing out on what He has called us to enjoy- Himself.
The second great need every person in this world desperately needs- guidance.
Jacob who had been a shepherd all his life could look back and say, “God has been my shepherd all my life to this day.” This is the first place in the Bible God is called a shepherd to His people
Jacob would agree wholeheartedly with what another shepherd David later writes, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
That included provision, restoration, protection, and supremely, the guidance of God.
If you are a child of God, you have God as your guide. He leads you as you listen to Him speak through His living Word. That’s God’s gift to you Christian to enjoy.
The sons of Korah, after magnifying God in Psalm 48 declare (v. 14), “For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.”
Some years back Sonya, I and our kids had opportunity to drive from where we were ministering in Europe to Rome.
While there, we took a guided tour of the catacombs where many Christian martyrs were buried. The catacombs are a virtual labyrinth over 7 miles total length and over 4 stories deep in the ground.
We were glad we had a guide to follow into the catacombs and out. For he shared how there had been people who had ventured into that dark maze and lost their way never to come out again.
That’s the way it is to take the journey of life without God as your guide. You grope blindly in spiritual darkness unable to find your way out.
Friendship, guidance, and thirdly, salvation.
Still referring to God, Jacob describes him as the malak, (messenger) who redeemed him from all evil.
O what a changed outlook. For Jacob now sees how God had protected him in all his trouble.
Now that’s a big cause for rejoicing. And that’s why we read of God in Psalm 77:15 “You have by Your power redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.”
Stop and think about it. Have you seen God redeem your life by His power? Is there convincing evidence that He has rescued you from a life lived for self and sin and made you His child?
That all flows from real faith in God. And that’s what Jacob longs for in blessing those two sons.
He’s asking God to cause them to walk in the faith of his forefathers and become a multitude and fill the earth.
Well, God answered Jacob’s benediction to Joseph. For the Jews have multiplied and filled the earth at a tune of over 14 million!
I just read a fascinating report this week that Israel was the first of 6 nations that qualified to enter a baseball team in the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo. What’s shocking isn’t only that the nation of Israel has only one full size baseball field and yet outperformed so many other nations.
It’s that these players and people find their identify as children of whom? Israel (that’s Jacob). And so it is, they are part of that multitude that God has given in honoring Jacob’s blessing that day!
The adoption, benediction, bring us to the 3. Confirmation 17-22
Joseph liked what he heard but not what he saw.
Picking it up in verse17: 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.”
Here again we see Jacob’s faith sore like an eagle. Joseph objects to the placement of Jacob’s right hand on Ephraim.
That’s why he grabs Jacob’s hand and tries to get him to put in on Manasseh who was oldest.
But Jacob won’t budge. He knows what Joseph the prime minister of that land didn’t yet know. The younger brother would receive the greater blessing!
Now we must realize, all this flows from Jacob’s faith in what God would do.
Verse 20 explains: 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.
Joseph expected God to work in a certain way. But God chose the younger over the firstborn.
Mark it well. God blesses us not because of our merit but because of His mercy.
His ways are far above ours. And we have seen that in his choosing Isaac before older Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, and now Ephraim before Manasseh.
And yet both of those two sons represent two tribes because of God’s working through Jacob’s blessing them by faith.
Maybe you’re thinking, “it seems we are overstating Jacob’s faith here.”
Well, we need to hear God’s personal evaluation of what happened that day.
Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
There it is! God confirms that Jacob ended well as a man of faith.
No, it’s not because of his great faith but because of his great God in whom he anchored his faith. And that’s the legacy Jacob passes on to his family: trust in God’s Word, trust in God’s way.
That’s the heartbeat of verse 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 faces death not with weeping and wailing but with composure and confidence.
But what’s the extra portion in verse 22 talking about?
That word “portion” in Hebrew is Shechem which has the idea of a ridge. It seems Joseph had conquered some land from the Amorites and now gives it to Joseph through his two sons.
So it is, Jacob assures Joseph that God would be with them and take them back to the Promised Land.
That’s where the double portion on Ephraim and Manasseh would be fulfilled and the tribes of Israel would flourish!
And this will be forever remembered by God’s people. Because on the 12 gates of the New Jerusalem, Rev. 21:12 tells us, will be names of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel! That includes Ephraim and Manasseh, chosen as a legacy faith!
So, in closing, how do you live a life of faith that flourishes?
You fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith. It’s the song we love to sing: By faith our fathers roamed the earth With the power of His promise in their hearts Of a holy city built by God’s own hand A place where peace and justice reign.
We will stand as children of the promise We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward Till the race is finished and the work is done We’ll walk by faith and not by sight. Father, thank you for this reminder that you have called us to walk by faith in Your promises and not by what we see or feel. We long to be faithful and fruitful as Your Word abides in us and we abide in Christ would you make us those who live and leave a legacy of faith? May we be those that walk in victorious trust in You this week with our deepest longing to bring honor to You in all we say and do. We pray this for our joy in You and your glory in Christ Jesus, amen.
Legacy of Faith Genesis 48 Hope In Christ Bible Church 1-12-20
Intro. II Cor. 3:18
1. Adoption 1-7 Isa. 38:1; Gen. 17:8; James 2:17; Mat. 7:23; Esther 2:7; Eph. 1:5
2. Benediction 8-16 Psalm 127:3; Mat. 7:11; Psalm 103:10; Eccles. 12:3; Neh. 8:6; Rev. 7:11; Ex. 15:6; Psalm 23:1; Psalm 48:14; Psalm 77:15
3. Confirmation 17-22 Heb. 11:21; Rev. 21:12; Heb. 12:1-2
How would God call me to be a faith-filled doer of His Word?