Genesis 49:13-18 (The Blessing Upon Zebulun, Issachar, and Dan)

Genesis 49:13-18
The Blessing Upon Zebulun, Issachar, and Dan

Introduction: Today we will continue on through three more blessings upon three more sons of Jacob. Each word was selected by the Spirit of prophecy which rested upon him to show us what would come upon the tribes of each son.

But each word is also intended to show us the marvel of the work of the coming Redeemer. Zebulun, Issachar, and Dan were real people and their tribes actually existed in the nation of Israel. But God has used them to show us His Son.

Again, as over the past two sermons, we will see how each son and the blessing upon him is actually written in the stars above our heads at night. And again, I will remind you that astrology is forbidden in the Bible. We are not to look to the stars as heavenly portents concerning our lives, futures, or destinies. But the constellations are there, they were placed in the heavens and are named in the Bible, and they were so placed to show us something much more wonderful – the story of the redemption of man through the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

In the final blessing today, that of Dan, we will see a most striking and clear picture of His work. Many times the Bible gives reasons why Jesus came. Even He made such statements. For example, He said “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38.

In John 9:39, He tells us that “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” In John 10:10 He says that, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

These and other reasons are given for us to understand the work of Christ. But in an all-encompassing reason, John explains the main work of God in Christ. Understanding and remembering what John says will always help us to remember that we have a foe, we are in a bad spot without Jesus, but that in Him we have the victory.

So take time to remember these words from our text verse today:

Text Verse: “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

The devil is our foe. Without Jesus to undo his work in our lives, we have no hope. But in Jesus, and because of Jesus, we have complete assurance of victory, blessing, and eternal life. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested. We will see an amazing portion of that work prophesied in our sermon verses and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Blessing Upon Zebulun (verse 13)

13 “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea;

Jacob, after blessing Judah, now turns his attention to his tenth-born son, Zebulun. Judah was the fourth son of Israel, so this seems out of place, but Zebulun was born to Leah, not to one of the maidservants.

And so the blessing is upon her sons first. However, Zebulun has another brother, Issachar, who was born to Leah before he was. And yet, Jacob first blesses Zebulun before Issachar.

The record of Zebulun’s birth is found in Genesis 30:19, 20 –

“Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. And Leah said, ‘God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.’ So she called his name Zebulun.” Genesis 30:19, 20

Zebulun means Glorious Dwelling Place, and so her words at his birth and Jacob’s words now are both making a play on his name. Using the thought of “dwelling,” Jacob says, “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea.”

In this verse, the word “sea” is plural. Literally, it says zebulun lekhof yammim yishkon – “Zebulun at the shore of the seas shall dwell.” What it implies is that this tribe would fill the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee, or at least they would have access to it.

The allotment of their land after they arrived in Canaan is recorded in Joshua 19 and it doesn’t seem to indicate that they actually have land on either coast at that time. However, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus confirms that they did. Here’s what he says –

“The tribe of Zebulon’s lot included the land which lay as far as the Lake of Genesareth, and that which belonged to Carmel and the sea.” Antiquities 5, 1, 22

Because the land was granted to them by lot, 200 years after the death of Jacob, it shows us that Jacob was speaking under the Spirit of prophecy by God who knew, in advance, that they would possess this land, reaching across the span of Israel from sea to sea.

Having said this, in the allotment in Joshua, it appears that the tribe of Asher is actually placed between the Mediterranean Sea and Zebulun. In Judges 5:17, it says these words about Asher –

“Asher continued at the seashore, And stayed by his inlets.” Judges 5:17

So how can it be said that Zebulun reached to the Mediterranean? The answer is found in the blessing of Moses upon Israel prior to His death. In Deuteronomy 33:18, 19, it says this –

“And of Zebulun he said:
“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
And Issachar in your tents!
19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain;
There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness;
For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas
And of treasures hidden in the sand.” Deuteronomy 33:18, 19

In other words, the land of Issachar is jointly used by Zebulun who has been given priority over Issachar in this blessing of Jacob. This is the reason for Jacob’s words first to Zebulun before Issachar, even though Issachar was born first.

Although this might seem trivial and unneeded to know, it shows that the spirit of prophecy upon Jacob was correct, the order of the blessing has meaning, and that God’s word is vindicated as truthful. We have all the assurance that the difficulties we think are found in the Bible are simply our difficulties, not the Bible’s.

Difficulties come from our unwillingness to study and check which is in question, not the surety of this beautiful treasure, the Holy Bible.

13 (con’t) He shall become a haven for ships,

The Hebrew here literally says, “and he to a shore of ships.” His inheritance includes a shore where ships are unloaded. These words are used to expand on the first words. As Zebulun will dwell by the haven of the sea, he will be a haven for ships that venture onto the sea.

It is a poetic repetition to solidify his previous statement and which shows us that the people of Zebulun will be a people predominantly engaged in commerce. Something which is then confirmed in the final portion of his blessing…

13 (con’t) And his border shall adjoin Sidon.

Sidon was the firstborn of Canaan. His territory was at the northerly end of the land of Canaan and is known for its prominent cities of Tyre and Sidon, cities still known and occupied at Jesus’ time. The city of Sidon was at the extreme northern border between Canaan and Lebanon, quite a ways from Zebulun.

But the larger territory was known for the city. This is just like the city of Tokyo in the prefecture of Tokyo. Tokyo city is just a small place, but the prefecture is large. The use of the name of the city for the larger territory is seen in the gospel of Luke –

“But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath,in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” Luke 4:25, 26

The name Sidon means “catching fish” or “plenty of fish.” Because the name is given, the Bible confirms that Zebulun will have a portion of coastal territory. People attempt to tear apart the Bible as wrong because of their own lack of understanding, but Jacob’s prophecy was fulfilled exactly as he spoke it to his son Zebulun.

In the witness of the stars, Zebulun is portrayed in the constellation Cancer, the crab. This is because of Jacob’s words to him that he would be a “haven for ships.” The companion star clusters of Cancer are Ursa Minor – the lesser bear, Ursa Major – the greater bear, and Argo – the ship.

The Greek name of Cancer is Karkinos, which means holding or encircling, which is the exact same meaning as the word used for “haven” in Jacob’s blessing. That Hebrew word, khoph, means “surrounding” or “enclosing,” just as a crab would do. The Latin, Cancer, means the same as well.

As each constellation so far has pointed to Christ, this one does too. Zebulun, or Glorious Dwelling Place, is that place where Christ dwells and where we are promised someday to reside in His presence forever. We are brought into the presence of God because of His work.

The concept of the crab, which holds or encircles us, is a picture of the eternal security of the redeemed. The great bear of Ursa is referred to in Job 38:32. It speaks of it and its cubs –

“Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?”

As the Bible notes several times, a bear will guard its cubs vehemently, just as will Christ who is our Defender. The ship star-cluster known as Argo means “a company of travelers” and is speaking of us, the redeemed of the Lord. The reason for mentioning Sidon is in this verse is because it speaks specifically of the work of Jesus.

As Sidon means “catching fish” or “plenty of fish” it is speaking of the very work of Jesus in the gospels, that of His work being a Fisher of men. The entire blessing of Jacob upon Zebulun is looking forward to the work of Christ.

God has placed the stars in the heavens to tell us the story of our redemption and he has again used a son of Israel to direct our attention to this wondrous work.

Of Zebulun Moses said, prophesying of future events
“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out
And Issachar rejoice also in your tents
Rejoice with a resounding, magnificent shout

They shall call the peoples to the mountain
There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness
For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas
And of treasures hidden in the sand which God did bless

II. The blessing upon Issachar (verses 14 & 15)

14 “Issachar is a strong donkey,

Jacob now pronounces Issachar’s blessing. He is Jacob’s ninth son, but the fifth born to Leah. The record of his birth is found in Genesis 30:17, 18 –

“And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.” Genesis 30:17, 18

His name means “He is wages.” He is placed into a subordinate position behind Zebulun, but his blessing is a good one none-the less. First he is called a strong donkey. In Hebrew it is khamor garem – a donkey of bone. The thought of bone is one of being strong and stout.

In other words, Issachar will be like a strong stout animal. This type of donkey is a servant animal, used like an ox for plowing and other such heavy work.

14 (con’t) Lying down between two burdens;

There appears to be a multi-level play on words in this thought. The first is that Issachar will be placed between two borders – the region of Syro-Phonecia on one side and Samaria on the other. But the word translated here as “burdens” is used only twice in the Bible.

The other time, it is translated as “sheepfolds” in Judges 5. Let’s read that now –

“And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
As Issachar, so was Barak Sent into the valley under his command;
Among the divisions of Reuben
There were great resolves of heart.
16 Why did you sit among the sheepfolds,
To hear the pipings for the flocks?
The divisions of Reuben have great searchings of heart.” Judges 5:15, 16

The idea here is that Issachar will be like a servant animal who finds rest in a comfortable spot. This is seen as we continue to the next verse…

15 He saw that rest was good,

The word “rest” here, menukhah, is the same word used to describe the still waters of the 23rd Psalm, the waters of rest. It is also the word that speaks of the Lord’s resting place in the psalms and in this verse from Isaiah 11:10 –

“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:10

So far, we’ve seen a strong servant animal, enjoying his rest between two sheepfolds. If you know the symbolism, you can already imagine the fulfillment in Christ.

15 (con’t) And that the land was pleasant;

Jacob prophesied that the dwelling of Issachar would be a delightful place between two areas which would provide him safety and rest.

15 (con’t) He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden,

Because of his delightful surroundings and his well-placed position between two areas where there is safety and rest, he will be willing to bear a heavy burden upon his shoulder in order to obtain what he desires. Servitude being the key to enjoying the land of delight.

15 (con’t) And became a band of slaves.

The words here are v’hi lemas obed – and became a forced servant. The word forced is defined as “a burden causing one to faint.” In this there is certainly a play on the name Issachar. As his name means “He is wages” the thought is that in his future he will be a man of hire. In other words, his labors will be his pay; he will be a bondservant. Anyone yet seeing Christ?

In the witness of the stars, Issachar is represented by Taurus, the Bull. The strong donkey is, like the bull, used for farming as a servant animal. Jesus Christ is reflected, particularly in the Gospel of Mark as a servant. In Jacob’s blessing, he says that Issachar would rest between the two sheepfolds.

This is seen in Christ, who after accomplishing His work as the Servant, He brought together the two sheepfolds He speaks of in John 10 –

“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16

In completion of this work, we saw Isaiah’s words which said that the place of His rest would be glorious, perfectly fulfilling that portion of Jacob’s blessing. In this place of rest, the land will truly be pleasant. It will be a return to the perfection that was lost when we were cast out of Eden, the Garden of Delight.

But in order to obtain this, Christ would have to bow His shoulder to a heavy burden, the cross. Thus, He exactly fulfills that portion of Jacob’s blessing. In this act, Paul sums up the bondservant ministry of Christ in Philippians 2 –

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

In exact fulfillment of Jacob’s blessing upon Issachar, we see the work of Christ as it is testified to in the witness of the stars placed in the heavens by God.

I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep
And am known by My own, yes they know Me
As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father
And I lay down My life for the sheep willingly

And other sheep I have which are not of this fold
Them also I must bring, and My voice they will hear
And there will be one flock and one Shepherd, so behold
My words are true, thus you shall not fear

Christ was found in appearance as a Man
He humbled Himself and became obedient
Even to death on the cross to fulfill the glorious plan
To reconcile us to God, His work all-sufficient

III. The Blessing Upon Dan (verses 16-18)

16 “Dan shall judge his people

Jacob now pronounces Dan’s blessing. He is the fifth son born to Jacob and the first of four born to his two concubines. He is the first born to Bilhah, the maidservant of Rachel. The work of Christ is so exactingly referred to in these three verses that we cannot overlook a word. Here is the account of his birth from Genesis 30 –

“Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!”
And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’
So she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.” Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, ‘God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.’ Therefore she called his name Dan.” Genesis 30:1-6

His name means “Judge.” And so both at his birth and now at Jacob’s final words to him, a pun is made – In Hebrew he says, dan yadin – “judge will judge.” Dan shall judge his people. By saying this, it would ensure that Dan and the other sons of the maidservants would be considered as equal in status to the other tribes.

They would have the right to their own independent rule within their tribe. If Jacob didn’t pronounce this now, then the other tribes may have subordinated them after his death. And so Dan remained an independent tribe, just as the other sons of the maidservants did. The term judge here means “to plead the cause of” or “to help” as much as it means “one who judges.”

In this, we see a prophecy pointing to Jesus, the true Judge of His people. In 1 John 2:1, we see Jesus called our Advocate, something which the term “judge” implies –

“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1

However, He is also our Judge in the sense we often think of – one who determines a judgment or sentence concerning a particular matter. This is seen many times in the Bible, such as this from Acts 10:42, 43 –

“And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:42, 43

16 (con’t) As one of the tribes of Israel.

In addition to self-rule within the tribe, Dan also produced a judge for all of Israel – Samson, who was from Dan. And like Jacob’s blessing upon Dan, Samson himself will also picture Christ.

17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way,

In these words, Dan is likened to a serpent. The word for serpent here is nakhash. It is the same word used for the serpent in Genesis 3:1, which speaks of the devil –

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” Gen 3:1

Because Dan is likened to this serpent, and because the tribe of Dan isn’t listed among the tribes of Israel in Revelation 7, it has been speculated that the antichrist may be a descendant of Dan.

However, even if this is so, this prophecy is still looking forward to the greater work of Christ. The same word is used also in Numbers 21:4-9 during the wilderness wanderings –

“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

Jesus referred to this exact account in John 3 while speaking to Nicodemus. Yes, when Jesus spoke to “Nick at night.” –

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish buthave eternal life.” John 3:14, 15

The serpent by the way is figuratively speaking of Jesus hanging on the cross on the highway outside the city of Jerusalem. There at Golgotha, He, like the bronze serpent, was placed on a pole for all the world to look to for healing.

17 (con’t) A viper by the path,

The word “viper” here is the Hebrew word shephiphon. It is an adder, a horned serpent. Dan is likened to this, but again the word is pointing to Christ. This word, shephiphon, comes from a root word, shuph, which means to bruise.

This word, shuph, is used in Genesis 3 after the serpent deceived Adam and Eve. There, in Genesis 3:15, comes the first explicit hint of the coming Redeemer and His work –

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

17 (con’t) That bites the horse’s heels

The adder, or the horned serpent, is the color of sand and so it’s not so easy recognized. Because of this, he can easily bite at a horse or anything else that fails to see it. This snake’s bite is both poisonous and fatal. It is a perfect description of the devil who deceives those around him. Paul exactingly speaks of such deceit in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 –

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

The devil disguises himself and deceives us. He melts into the world around us and before we realize it, he bites at the heel. In his bite we sin, and in our sin we die. This is how the Bible portrays the work of this vile serpent.

But we are given hope, help, and a cure for such things, just as the people of Israel were. In the wilderness wanderings as we saw, the people were bitten by snakes. The word for “bite” used three times in that passage is the same word, nashakh, that Jacob uses here.

The cure for the bite of the serpent was the bronze snake which pictured Christ. The cure for all false teachings and being deceived by the devil is likewise Christ. Jacob is continually tying the two together. Word after word is pointing back to the fall and forward to the work of Christ – the One who will be bruised in the heel and yet who so marvelously crushes the serpent’s head.

17 (con’t) So that its rider shall fall backward.

The viper which bites at the heels will cause it’s rider to fall backward, implying that he is thrown from his horse. The symbolism is to the fall of man. Adam was to be the ruler of his domain, but the serpent deceived him and he fell.

However, the opposite is true for the One who is coming and who would practice righteousness and justice, Jesus. He will remain in control of His mount and will never be thrown. Jeremiah speaks of this, looking forward to any such king who would come –

“Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates! Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David.” Jeremiah 22:2-4

Revelation 19 shows us the fulfillment of the reversal of the curse brought about by the viper –

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16

“Faithful and true and in righteousness He judges.” The words to Dan in this ancient blessing by Jacob are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The same themes keep coming up again and again, permeating the pages of the Bible and showing us the glorious work of Jesus Christ.

Thus far, the blessing upon Dan has looked time and again back to the fall and forward to the One who would undo the work of the devil. And as if in a crescendo of joy and anticipation, Jacob now cries out as if he cannot wait a moment longer for Him to come.

From his beating heart where the home of eternal hope is, he cries out for that moment…

*18 I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!

lishuatekha qiviti Yehovah! לִישׁוּעָתְךָ קִוִּיתִי יְהוָה׃(2:53)

In the first use of the word yeshua of the Old Testament, the Spirit of prophecy which has rested upon Jacob directs him to the greatest pun of all. The word yeshua means “salvation.” But it is also the name given to the Lord. Though we call Him Jesus, His Hebrew name is Yeshua.

In essence, and certainly not understanding his own words in their fullness, Jacob cries out for the Redeemer who will undo all the wrongs. He is the promised Seed of the woman; He is the fulfillment of every type and picture one could imagine. He is the anticipation of every story and every hidden treasure of Scripture.

He is Jesus. And so Jacob cries out, “I have waited for Your Jesus, O Lord!” In the witness of the stars, Dan is represented by Scorpio, the Scorpion. According to the work of Dr. Hales, “On the celestial sphere the Scorpion is actually represented as biting the heel of the horse of the archer Sagittarius.”

The three clusters around Scorpio are, Serpens – the serpent struggling with the man; Ophiuchus – the man grasping the serpent; and Hercules – the mighty man who is kneeling on one knee, humbled in the conflict, but holding high the tokens of victory and with his foot on the head of the dragon.

It is a picture of the final fulfillment of the promise made all the way back at the fall of man. The serpent would strike the Redeemer’s heel, but He would crush the serpent’s head. It is the witness of the stars and it is all about Jesus Christ.

Now, as I do each week, I’d like to ask you for another moment to explain to you how you can be saved, redeemed by the One of whom all the Bible speaks and who is even testified to in the stars at night. Please let me tell you how you too can meet Jesus…

Closing Verse: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; 12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. 13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.” Psalm 96:11-13 Next Week: Genesis 49:19-21 (The Blessing Upon Gad, Asher, and Naphtali) (126th Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Dwelling Place, Wages Paid, and Judgment Rendered

Jacob blessed his sons before he died
And three of them were Zebulun, Issachar, and Dan
By the leading of the Spirit of God, the words he cried
All showing us clues to the redemption of man

These are the words upon these three he did pronounce
The ancient oracles which through him the Spirit did announce:

“Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea;
He shall become a haven for ships,
And his border shall adjoin Sidon.
“Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between two burdens;
He saw that rest was good,
And that the land was pleasant;
He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden,
And became a band of slaves.
“Dan shall judge his people
As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent by the way,
A viper by the path,
That bites the horse’s heels
So that its rider shall fall backward.
I have waited for your salvation, O Lord!

In these six verses are treasures of life and of love
Woven into them are pictures of our Lord Jesus
Spoken through Jacob came words from the heavens above
Words that show us of Christ’s work for us

How can there be so much love, how can it be so?
That God would send His Son for us, to die
But He did and through the Bible we can know
The marvelous story revealed, every how and why

Thank You for this glorious wondrous word, O God
Thank You for these stupendous things You have done for us
May we forever praise You while in this life we trod
May our lips exalt You through our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer… Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…





Genesis 49:8-12 (The Blessing Upon Judah)

Genesis 49:8-12
The Blessing Upon Judah

Introduction: As Jacob blesses his sons, a celestial drama is revealed, one which was placed in the heavens by God to show us the work He would accomplish through His Son Jesus. Astrology is forbidden in the Bible because it attempts to reveal our future and the choices we should make from the creation rather than the Creator.

But what God has revealed in the constellations was intended to reveal Jesus and how God would conduct His affairs. There is a world of difference between the two. For example, if we use the Bible for divination, then we are misusing what God has given us. But if we use the Bible to see Jesus and His plan for the ages, then we are following what God intended for us to see.

Text Verse: In Judah God is known; His name is great in Israel. 2 In Salem also is His tabernacle, And His dwelling place in Zion. 3 There He broke the arrows of the bow, The shield and sword of battle. Selah Psalm 76:1-3

Today, we will see Jacob’s blessing upon Judah, his fourth son. Through Judah, will come Christ the Lord. Not only is this revealed in the Bible, but it is also revealed in the very sky above us. And the Bible shows us how. So let’s turn to that precious word again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Praise of His Brothers (verses 8, 9)

8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;

Judah was the fourth son born to Jacob and the fourth son born to Leah. His birth is recorded in Genesis 29:35, which reads –

“And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Now I will praise the Lord.’ Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing.” Genesis 29:35

This first part of verse 8 is intended as a play on words, just as it was at his birth. The name Judah means “praise” and Jacob acknowledges that it is his brothers who will praise him. In other words, as his name is, so is he. The word translated as “praise” is an elegant variation of the name Judah.

It is a delightfully palpable sentence which is lost in translation, but in Hebrew it reads, Yehuda, attah yodukha akhekha (1:12). The same word for “praise” here is used numerous times elsewhere in the Bible, such as this verse from Psalm 111:1 –

“Praise the Lord!
I will praise the Lord with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.” Psalm 111:1

The term “Jew” that we know today comes directly from the name Judah and like Jacob’s words now, Paul uses the term in a pun. There in Romans 2:28, 29 we read this –

“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28, 29

Jacob’s note in this prophecy is that God was praised for him at his birth, God was praised by him, such as in the psalm I cited, and God is praised in him because Jesus descends from the tribe of Judah. Because of this, his brothers shall, and indeed do, praise him – Yehuda, attah yodukha akhekha.

Already, at the very beginning of his oracle, Jacob has placed Judah above his brothers. In this now, and for the rest of the prophecy, we can be certain that the words are not pronounced based on Jacob’s exceptional love for him.

That already belongs to Joseph. His advancement of Judah above his brothers is a direct result of the Spirit of God and prophecy which now rests on him. Being the first of the brothers means that he will be first of the tribes. And this is seen with all surety throughout the rest of Scripture.

Judah first began to attain ascendancy when he spoke on behalf of all the brothers before Joseph revealed himself to them. After that, he was sent by Jacob ahead of the others as they traveled to Egypt to point the way to Goshen.

In the future, Judah will be the first tribe to break down and march ahead of the other tribes as they carry the Ark of the Covenant in the wildness on the way to Canaan. Once in Canaan, Judah will repeatedly be selected as the first of the tribes to go into battle.

After Joshua’s death, Judah will have the first lot of land assigned to them as it is divided among the tribes. It is a land which is very large and very fertile. The first judge of Israel will be Othniel, of the tribe of Judah. From Judah will come the great king, David.

All of this is intended to teach us a lesson. Judah, meaning “praise,” sets the example for each of us. In all things, let praise go first. If we can remember this simple lesson which has been revealed to us in these many patterns concerning Judah, we will always succeed in our endeavors. Praise the Lord first and praise the Lord always. Let the praise of the Lord never depart from you.

In these first words of Jacob to Judah, there is an ultimate fulfillment found in Jesus. It is through Him that we offer our own sacrifice of praise to God. In Hebrews 13, we read this –

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15

In the end, it is all about Jesus. Every word testifies to this.

8 (con’t) Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

To have one’s hand on the neck of their enemies is an expression indicating the conquest of, and victory over, them. In the book of Job, we read his feelings of defeat before God who afflicted him. In his discourse, he uses this same terminology –

“God has delivered me to the ungodly, And turned me over to the hands of the wicked. 12 I was at ease, but He has shattered me; He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces; He has set me up for His target…” Job 16:11, 12

This prophecy by Jacob is exactingly fulfilled in the Psalms. In Psalm 18:39, 40, we read this from the hand of David –

“For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. 40 You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me.” Psalm 18:39, 40

In this is more than just a literal fulfillment by David, but it is found in Christ, the ultimate King of the Jews. He has conquered not only the physical enemies of God’s people, but all the spiritual ones as well. In Him sin is defeated, Satan is destroyed, and death is conquered. This then is what is intended in these words.

8 (con’t) Your father’s children shall bow down before you.

Once again, Jacob makes a prophecy that one would think he would have bestowed upon Joseph. In Genesis 37, we read this –

“Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.'” Genesis 37:5-7

Jacob’s words though are directed by the Spirit of God and not the knowledge he already possessed and leaned upon. Reuben in his blessing was called the “excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.” But he was told he would not excel. Now that honor is transferred to Judah. Jacob’s sons would bow down before him.

After God selected David, who was from Judah, to replace Saul as the king of Israel, the kingly line continued on through him all the way to Jesus. And it is to Jesus, as Paul records in Philippians 2, this honor ultimately belongs –

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

“Every knee” includes the knee of every descendant of every brother of Judah. No person is exempted from the honor which will be bestowed upon Jesus Christ.

It was fitting for Him, our Lord Jesus
For whom are all things, and by whom they are as well
In bringing many sons to glory, even us
As the precious words of Scripture do tell

To make the Captain of our salvation
Perfect through sufferings, His great tribulation

For both He who sanctifies
And those who are being sanctified too
Are all one, in His death each of us dies
A marvel in how His children He does accrue

For which reason He is not ashamed
To call them brothers, you and me too
Saying “I will declare Your name to my brethren
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You

Judah is a lion’s whelp;

Jacob now assigns a striking metaphor to Judah which will continue to be used until the last book of the Bible, that of a lion. He begins with calling him “a lion’s whelp.” This is a young lion, one of little power. At this point in the history of Judah, he is one among his brothers, with no seeming advantage above them.

However, as a lion, he will act, and as a lion he will grow. He begins like all cats do, feisty and full of activity. And yet cats follow their own course not worrying about their surroundings as they explore. This has been seen clearly in Judah already.

But this is seen in Jesus as well. Very little is recorded of his youth, but at the age of 12, Luke tells us that Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem after a feast while His family headed back to Nazareth, not realizing he stayed behind.

When they found Him, He was in the temple sitting among the teachers, both listening and asking questions. As a lion would be curious of its surroundings, so Jesus acted in the same manner. There He was in the temple, astonishing His audience with His prowess.

9 (con’t) From the prey, my son, you have gone up.

As the lion matures, they take hold of their own prey and they “go up” with it normally to their mountain lairs to eat. The tribe of Judah eventually matured into a grown lion in its own right. It became the largest of the tribes and was known for its many conquests, defeating prey in all directions as they prospered.

In Jesus’ life, He also matured into a formidable Lion. The enemies would gather and He would defeat them. Whether they were the enemies of physical afflictions, demons, the leaders of Israel, or even the devil, He would easily overcome them by standing on the word of God.

9 (con’t) He bows down, he lies down as a lion;

The symbolism here is of a lion that crouches in a satisfied way over his prey, with no worries about it being taken from him as he devours it. Eventually, he is satisfied with his victory and filled with the meal and he enjoys rest and repose as he lies down. He is at peace and he has no fears.

At the same time, his enemies are vexed by him, always on the alert should he raise himself again to go on the prowl. As a full mature lion, satisfied with the catching of his prey, Judah found itself in this position as well. In 1 Kings 4:25, we read this about the state of affairs in Judah –

“And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.” 1 Kings 4:25

And this is the state of affairs for the Lord too. After His victory over His enemies, Hebrews 1:3 says that Christ “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” He is in a contented state which defines the completion of His work on our behalf. But a lion in such a state is still lion. Christ is never inattentive to His surroundings…

9 (con’t) And as a lion, who shall rouse him?

The word for “lion” here is an entirely different one than what was said a moment ago. This lion is a fully mature lion, maybe even a lioness which is more fierce than the male, resenting angrily when it is disturbed from its rest.

A lioness is also the caretaker of the cubs and will defend them with ferocity. When Judah had finally subdued her enemies and the people were at rest, the other nations sought peace with them. Many treaties were made in an attempt to pacify them and stay their desire to conquer them as well.

In Ezra 4:20, in a letter from King Artaxerxes, the following is noted about Judah –

“There have also been mighty kings over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all the region beyond the River; and tax, tribute, and custom were paid to them.” Ezra 4:20

In Isaiah 31:4, this same terminology that Jacob now uses is applied to the Lord –

For thus the Lord has spoken to me:
“As a lion roars,
And a young lion over his prey
(When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him,
He will not be afraid of their voice
Nor be disturbed by their noise),
So the Lord of hosts will come down
To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.” Isaiah 31:4

The Lord, even now, is reposing in majesty, but someday, He will rise from that position. After the church age, Israel will again be at the center of His focus. And like a lion in defense of her cubs, He will be prepared to defend His children.

Many verses scattered throughout the Bible reflect this metaphor. So, let’s take a moment to evaluate the Lord, our great Lion. Either directly called a Lion, or using the symbolism of rising up as one, He is the defender of Israel and the protector of His people. In Isaiah 28, the Lord is said to rise up and break out in His anger –

“For the bed is too short to stretch out on,
And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.
21 For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim,
He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon—
That He may do His work, His awesome work,
And bring to pass His act, His unusual act.
22 Now therefore, do not be mockers,
Lest your bonds be made strong;
For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts,
A destruction determined even upon the whole earth.” Isaiah 28

In Hosea 5, the Lord is likened to a lion to fight against His own people when they depart from Him –

“When Ephraim saw his sickness,
And Judah saw his wound,
Then Ephraim went to Assyria
And sent to King Jareb;
Yet he cannot cure you,
Nor heal you of your wound.
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear them and go away;
I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.
15 I will return again to My place
Till they acknowledge their offense.
Then they will seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Hosea 5:13-15

However, in Hosea 11 the Lord is likened to a lion who will roar for His people, re-gathering them to the land of Israel –

“‘They shall walk after the Lord.
He will roar like a lion.
When He roars,
Then His sons shall come trembling from the west;
11 They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt,
Like a dove from the land of Assyria.
And I will let them dwell in their houses,’ Says the Lord.” Hosea 11

In Joel 3, speaking of the tribulation period of the future, we get a hint as to the ferocity of the Lord –

“The Lord also will roar from Zion,
And utter His voice from Jerusalem;
The heavens and earth will shake;
But the Lord will be a shelter for His people,
And the strength of the children of Israel.” Joel 3:16

And finally, we see that the Lord, Jehovah of the Old Testament, is the Lord Jesus revealed in the New. The Lion of the tribe of Judah is given the scroll to open –

“But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5

Jacob has prophesied over Judah in words which point directly to the Messiah. Time and again, his prophecies have echoed throughout history and have alighted on the Lion of the tribe of Judah, our Lord Jesus.

They shall walk after the Lord
He will roar like a lion at that time
When he roars, as the Bible does record
Then His sons shall come to a land sublime

They shall come trembling from Egypt like a bird
And from the land of Assyria like a dove
And He will let them dwell in their houses
Because He is the covenant keeping God of love

II. Until Shiloh Comes (verse 10)

10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

The scepter is the symbol of rule and authority. This was prophesied by Jacob as ultimately going to Judah and staying there. Judah would be the predominate tribe and the ruling tribe. Eventually, the term “Judah” became synonymous with “Israel.” To Judah was given the rule and the acknowledgment of that rule is in the scepter.

10 (con’t) Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,

Most modern versions say “ruler’s staff” instead of lawgiver. The idea is that the ruler would rest his staff between his feet while sitting on his throne. The older versions, saying lawgiver, implies that a line of lawgivers would descend from Judah. The symbolism of procreation being intended when it says “between his feet.”

In the end, they have the same meaning. The scepter is the symbol of rule and so whether it is a person or a thing being spoken of, the idea of rule is what is being conveyed. This rule would continue on, unabated in Judah until a specific point in time…

10 (con’t) Until Shiloh comes;

The word Shiloh is understood by almost every scholar, Jewish and Christian alike, to be speaking of the coming Messiah. The exact meaning of the word Shiloh is debated, and it could even be a play on several words. It is from the same root as shalah, which is “peace.” But it may also be a play on words from a verse used in Ezekiel 21:27 –

“Overthrown, overthrown,
I will make it overthrown!
It shall be no longer,
Until He comes whose right it is,
And I will give it to Him.” Ezekiel 21:27

Shiloh would then mean “that which belongs to him.” It is the right to rule which is mentioned in the scepter and in the lawgiver. If it is a pun, then it is speaking both of the Prince of Peace mentioned in the famous passage of Isaiah 9:6, and also of the true Lawgiver, mentioned in Isaiah 33:22, which says –

“(For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Lawgiver,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us)…” Isaiah 33:22

And so a dual meaning is probable. Both speak of Christ the Lord. And we see this in Paul’s writings. In Ephesians 2, he calls Christ our peace and in Galatians 3, he says this about Him and the law –

“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.” Galatians 3:19, 20

Judah was the lawgiver until the true Lawgiver came from Judah.

10 (con’t) And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.

This is speaking of Shiloh, not Judah. However, because Jesus descends from Judah, it in essence still applies to him as well, but in a more splendid form than before. It is to Christ Jesus, of the tribe of Judah, to whom the obedience of the people will come. Everything so far has pointed to the work of God in Christ. It is all about Jesus.

III. The Blood of Grapes (verses 11, 12)

11 Binding his donkey to the vine,

In the land of Judah, vines were more than in great abundance, as they are again today. So much so that a donkey could be tied to them almost anywhere. This then shows the immense productivity and fruitfulness of the land where Judah would dwell.

11 (con’t) And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,

The “choice vine” is literally “the vine of Sorek.” It has a purple berry without any seeds and it is highly valued. And yet, it would be so common that that the donkey’s colt would be tied to it. As these words are given by the Spirit through Jacob, it asks us to look at what their ultimate fulfillment is.

The same terms for donkey and donkey’s colt are used in Zechariah 9:9 which speak of the coming Messiah –

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

But even the vine has a fulfillment in Him. In John 15, Jesus calls Himself the “true Vine.” Under the law, donkeys are considered unclean animals and thus they represent the gentiles – impure and ignorant of spiritual matters and yet we are tied to the true Vine, Jesus, by faith.

11 (con’t)  He washed his garments in wine,

In the land of Judah, wine would be so common, it could be used like water for the most ordinary purpose, even washing clothes.

11 (con’t)  And his clothes in the blood of grapes.

Next Jacob prophesies that he would wash his clothes in the blood of grapes.

In this seemingly odd parallel thought, there is again a prophetic fulfillment. In Jesus, we have both a Kinsman Redeemer and an Avenger of blood. Both terms come from the same Hebrew word, goel. As our Kinsman Redeemer, Christ put on garments of flesh and became like us in His human nature.

He, in fact did wash his clothes (His flesh) in His own blood, becoming entirely red in His apparel, from head to foot in order to redeem us. His bloody garment became our righteousness. And Christ is also our Avenger of blood. In Isaiah 63, we see His work as the Avenger of His people –

“Who is this who comes from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
‘I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’
Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
‘I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.'” Isaiah 63:1-3

In His return at the end of the tribulation period, we see the fulfillment of this verse from Isaiah realized in Jesus –

“He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13

Again as with each set of parallel thoughts, the ultimate fulfillment of these verses is found in the majestic work of Jesus Christ.

12 His eyes are darker than wine,

The word “darker” here is used only this once in the Bible. Some translate it as “sparkling,” “beautiful,” “bright,” or “red.” The idea given here is a richness of the eye from enjoying the pleasure’s of life given by God. It is a state of health and contentment.

12 (con’t) And his teeth whiter than milk.

Again, teeth which are whiter than milk implies health and strength. Such teeth belong to the prosperous and well fed, not the poor or underfed. There is a bountiful blessing pronounced upon Judah in this parallel description.

And again, this points to the work of the Messiah. In Him, there is eternal health, abundance, wholeness, and blessing. In Christ there is the free enjoyment of the good things of life which well up into everlasting contentment. Isaiah speaks of this, using the same elements, wine and milk –

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.” Isaiah 55:1-5

In the witness of the stars of heaven that God set in place, Judah is represented by the sign Leo, “the strong lion.” In the heavens, Leo’s feet are over the head of Hydra, the great serpent as if descending on it to crush it. A celestial battle reminiscent of the Messiah crushing the serpent’s head is seen in this depiction.

Between the feet of Leo is the star Regulus, which means “regal” or “kingship.” In verse 10 it said that the scepter would not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes.

In an amazing heavenly display, on 17 February 2 BC, the Moon was positioned between Jupiter and Regulus. At 5am, looking at the western horizon, the moon would have been covering up the star Regulus with the lower fifth of it’s diameter.

Then 82 days later, on May 8/9th the same conjunction occurred again. This time moon covered up Regulus by the top one fifth of its diameter. In essence, the lawgiver departed from between the feet of Leo. Thus, it was a heavenly sign that the Messiah had arrived.

Again, as in last week’s blessings upon Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, everything points ultimately to Jesus Christ, even to the point that the stars themselves witness to His glory. It is all about Jesus Christ because it is He who reveals the unseen Father to us.

In Him, we see the heart of God who longs to have a relationship with us, but this isn’t possible without Jesus. Only He can restore the relationship that was broken between God and man so long ago. Please give me a moment to explain to you how you can become a son of God by faith in Jesus…

Closing Verse: “And it will come to pass in that day That the mountains shall drip with new wine, The hills shall flow with milk, And all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord And water the Valley of Acacias.” Joel 3:18

Next Week: Genesis 49:13-18 (The Blessing Upon Zebulun, Issachar, and Dan) (125th Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Praise of His Brothers

When Jacob blessed Judah his son
He made him ruler over the tribes of Israel
A praise among his brothers
As his prophetic words did foretell

But these words also affect each of us
His blessing upon Judah was spoken thus:

“Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.

Like all of the Bible, the words point to Jesus
As the Spirit of God, carried Jacob along
Giving out clues of the coming Messiah to us
Words which now fill our heart with song

In Christ we see the beauty of the plan of God
And in Christ we see His hand upon the ages
When in this difficult world we trod
We can contemplate the beauty revealed in the Bible’s pages

There we find God’s written and precious word
Recorded to give us hope, joy, and strength
It is truly a precious perfect sword
Given to carry us through life’s length

Thank You, O God, for Your superior word
This gift which reveals Jesus our Lord

Hallelujah and Amen…

Genesis 49:1-7 (The Blessing Upon Reuben, Simeon, and Levi)

Genesis 49:1-7
The Blessing Upon Reuben, Simeon, and Levi

Introduction: Is it possible that God wrote the gospel story in the heavens? In the first chapter of the Bible it says “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.” Genesis 1:14

The heavenly bodies were first given as signs and then for seasons according to the first page of the Bible. Throughout the Old Testament, there are references to stars, planetary alignments, and other heavenly occurrences which point to prophetic signs concerning the work of God in Christ.

There are also constellations mentioned in the book of Job and elsewhere. Therefore the formation of clusters of stars into pictures is something acknowledged by God in His own word. He uses them like the seasons of the year to point to His redemptive work.

God uses agriculture, geology, and even points on the compass to show us what He is doing in history. He also uses the stars to  show us what He is doing and He will do in the world. It isn’t coincidence that groups of people from all over the world see the same constellations and merely use different names for them.

And with the corruption of sin, they are, like all of God’s other signs, misused for idolatry rather than for what He intended. But the Bible shows us that they are there, they are there for signs, and those signs will reveal Christ.

Text Verse: “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the belt of Orion? 32 Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?” Job 38:31-33

In Chapter 49 of Genesis, Jacob will bless His sons and pronounce prophetic utterances over them. Like all biblical prophecy, there are multi levels to be derived from such things. There is the immediate, present application and there are applications which expand out into the most distant future in redemptive history.

But in Jacob’s words, there is also a prophetic parallel to twelve constellations which swirl about our heads in the night sky. God has written His testimony concerning Christ there. These aren’t to be viewed as astrologers do, telling us how to discern matters for our lives. Rather, they are to be viewed as God intends, which is how to discern matters of redemptive history as revealed in Christ.

There is a vast difference between the two. Astrology is forbidden in the Bible, just as is worshipping the seasons through fertility rituals. But God ordained that the work of His Son would be revealed in the skies, the changing of the seasons, and even in metaphors about rocks, water, grain, and the like.

Let us be careful never to deviate from fixing our eyes on Jesus. If we do this, we will be sound in our observance of what God has placed around us in order for us to see Him. The place where we go to find out what is right and wrong is the Bible, His superior word. So let’s go there now and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Jacob’s Final Blessing (Verses 1 & 2)

And Jacob called his sons and said,

Jacob the man is now going to pronounce his prophetic blessing upon his 12 sons. In this chapter, the name Jacob will be used five times and the name Israel will be used five times. In this, there is the natural and the spiritual – Jacob, the man of flesh and bones, and Israel, the people who strive with their God.

Using the names in this way is known as synonymous parallelism. There is an equivalent aspect to using the names, and at the same time, there is a distinction. The man is Jacob and the man is Israel, but there is also the race of people who descend from the man.

Something similar is seen throughout the Bible concerning the name of God. In the Old Testament, there is the word Elohim, or “God” and there is the word Jehovah, or “LORD.” In the New Testament, there is also God and there is Jesus. In both testaments, they form a synonymous parallel.

Elohim, or God, is the eternal God who is before creation and related to the entire scope and substance of the universe that He created. And then there is Jehovah and Jesus. Jehovah is the self-existent God, “I AM.” He is prior to the intelligent beings He created and has a special relationship to them.

Jesus is the Word of God who is likewise related to the sentient man He created. Both Jehovah and Jesus relate to the moral attributes and conduct of their creatures, both are the monitors of their covenants, and both are the ones who are faithful to their word, and to the keeping of their promises,

If we can remember this about Jacob and Israel, about God and Jehovah of the Old Testament, and God and Jesus in the New, then we can understand more readily what God is showing us as the Bible unfolds before us.

(con’t) “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days:

Jacob has called together his seed in order to pronounce this prophecy which is under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We know this is so, because it wasn’t actually recorded until the time of Moses. The substance may have been remembered, but the words were penned at Mount Sinai along with all of the law received at that time.

In this verse, he uses the term, b’aharit ha’yammin – at the end of days. This is the first of 16 times that the term will be used in the Bible and there is debate over what it means exactly, but it certainly covers the total time of Israel, from the Exodus all the way through until the millennial kingdom of Christ.

All of the pictures we’ve seen in the lives of Jacob and Joseph include things which haven’t yet happened; they are future to us now. And so it would be unreasonable for us to think it meant anything other than all the scope of the history of Israel – even to the end of human existence as we currently know it.

Despite portions of the prophecies extending beyond our time, many of them were precisely fulfilled in Israel’s later history, leading up to the time of Christ. And some of the words he will speak will be of the coming Messiah Himself. They are so exact and so precise that it leaves no room for us to expect any other than the One who has come. The words lead to Jesus and to no other.

In John 6, as some of His disciples were turning away from Him, Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Simon Peter’s response gives exactly what can be discerned from the coming verses of Jacob’s prophecy, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68

If the words which Jacob speaks here point to the work of Jesus, then they are the eternal words of God, and in Him must then be the words of eternal life. One cannot escape the beauty of the structure of the Bible which gives us such a sure and strong foundation in our faith.

“Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, And listen to Israel your father.

Again the words “gather together” are used by Jacob, who is Israel. This is repeated to show the elevation of his mind from the earthly (Jacob) to the spiritual (Israel) as he prepares to give his divinely inspired oracle. It is calling to their attention the importance of what is about to be uttered to them.

In the last verse, he was Jacob, the dying man who was calling his earthly sons. Now they are the earthly sons of the father who is to prophesy by the Spirit. They are the sons of Jacob and He is Israel their father who is the father of Israel, the people. It is that type of synonymous parallelism which the pages of the Bible will continue with, even to the book of Revelation.

Jesus said to the twelve
Do you also want to go away – let me know
But Simon Peter answered Him,
“Lord, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life
Also we have come to believe and know
That You are the Christ, the Son of the living God
All Scripture tells us that this is certainly so

You are our Lord, and we shall follow You
Wherever You go, likewise we will go as well
Those things You direct are that which we shall do
The ancient words of God, about You they do tell

II. The Blessing Upon Reuben (Verses 3 & 4)

Without a detailed examination of each line, we will miss more than we see. Because of this, the blessings of the sons of Israel will be divided into 5 weeks of sermons. Every word that Jacob utters is a part of a heavenly drama being worked out in a group of people born to this man.

The first son to be born to Jacob, Reuben, was to his wife Leah. His birth is recorded in Genesis 29 –

“When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 32 So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, ‘The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.'” Genesis 29:31, 32

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,

Because he was the firstborn, he should have been blessed with the rights of a first born. They are the three portions of honor – the birthright, the priesthood, and the kingdom. Instead of a one-twelfth portion, he should have received two-thirteenths, but that went to Joseph. Instead of receiving the priesthood, that went to Levi, and instead of receiving the kingship, that went to Judah.

This verse points to both Israel and to Jesus. Israel is called the Lord’s firstborn in Exodus 4:22. Jesus is called the Firstborn over creation in Colossians 1:15. There is a difference though. Israel was the first born according to adoption and is after creation. Jesus is God’s Son within the Godhead and He is prior to and above His creation.

3 (con’t) My might and the beginning of my strength,

This phrase is intended to convey the thought of procreation. A man’s strength is found in his seed as much as it is in his arms or legs. As a man tires, the seed of the man continues the strength of the man and of the family. Every year, my father asks me to come to visit him for a week. I go and it is never a vacation.

Because he’s older, he doesn’t have the strength to drop the trees, cut the logs, and chop the wood. He doesn’t have the footing to climb the ladder and clean the gutters or to fix the vents on the roof. And as I get older, my strength is also fading.

Someday it would be hoped that our own children will help with the things we can’t do for ourselves any more. This was the hope and expectation of Reuben as he came from the womb of his mother. This verse again points to Jesus who is the Incarnate Word of God. Fully God and Fully Man.

3 (con’t) The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.

The word “excellency” here is from early English and means less “that which is noble” and more “that which is first” or “preeminent.” This was the state of Reuben. He was firstborn and thus should have been in the superior position over his brothers. But as Israel continues, this right and honor will forever be removed from his line.

Again, this prophecy ultimately points to Jesus whose preeminence is described in detail in Colossians 1:15-18

Unstable as water, you shall not excel,

This is an unfinished sentence which contains a metaphor. It literally reads pakhaz khamayim or “boiling over like water.” There is a double meaning here. The first is that Reuben was unstable in how he conducted himself. It was as if he was a foaming torrent, like a pouring waterfall that couldn’t be controlled.

At the same time, it is an illusion to the act he committed in the past against his father and which will be described in a moment. What he did was a form of debauchery which Israel now brings to memory in front of all the brothers. And because of what he did, he is told he will no longer excel.

In his bubbling over with pride, he will no longer have anything of note to be proud of. Because of his unstable ways, there would continue to be nothing stable within his clan. Those things that should have been his will disappear into the air.

And sure enough, nothing of superiority or excellence is noted concerning Reuben for the rest of the Bible. No judge, prophet, prince, nor any person of renown will come from him. At the same time, two of the Bible’s most noted bad men, Dathan and Abiram, who come against Moses, will descend from Reuben.

During the census which will be taken when Israel leaves Egypt at the Exodus, the tribe of Reuben will be not even a third the size of the tribes of Judah, Joseph, or Dan. And when the exile of the northern kingdom comes, Reuben will be one of the first tribes carried off to the nations.

Because of one disgraceful act that occurred forty years earlier, Jacob is now in the position to remind him and punish him for what he did. It was a permanent mark upon him and his family that would never heal. Now Jacob specifically mentions it…

4 (con’t) Because you went up to your father’s bed;

The incident is described in Genesis 35:22. There it says, “And it happened, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard about it.

In 1 Corinthians 5:1, 2, there is a similar incident which occurred in Corinth and the same attitude is mentioned by Paul that Israel speaks of concerning Reuben here –

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”

For Jacob, no amount of time could ever take away the memory of such an act and now, at the end of his life, he relays to the corporate body of Israel the severity of discipline deemed necessary for such an infraction.

But more so, because the Spirit who was prophesying through Him was involved, it has been recorded in the Bible for all generations of people to read and remember.

4 (con’t) Then you defiled it

This is another unfinished sentence. The verb is used in the complete sense here. It is indicating that what Reuben did was to violate something which should have been considered sacred. There could be no excuse of any kind for what he did.

4 (con’t) He went up to my couch.

Jacob’s words are, yetsui alah – literally my couch he ascends. In the order of his words and in changing them from the second to the third person, Israel is expressing the immensity of the abomination which the act represents.

In the last words ever uttered to his oldest son, he uses the third person as if he weren’t even in his presence any longer. The disgust of the action was unforgivable in his eyes.

Later, Reuben and his tribe would be separated from the land of Canaan by the Jordan River. Their inheritance would remain to the east. Other than one small successful campaign in battle, there is no other note of any achievement by them.

And in the Song of Deborah, which is a great song of achievement and praise, Reuben is noted, not for their heroics, but for their apathy. However, even in this sad prophecy, the fact is that Reuben has been blessed, even if in a shameful way.

He remained an inheritor of a portion of the promised land and a part of the covenant community. As is seen throughout the Bible, God’s grace radiates even through the wickedness of man. In the witness of the stars of heaven that God set in place, Reuben is represented by Aquarius. Jacob said he was “unstable as waters.” Aquarius is represented by a man pouring out waters from an urn.

This constellation points to the Messiah mentioned in Numbers –

“He shall pour water from his buckets,
And his seed shall be in many waters.
His king shall be higher than Agag,
And his kingdom shall be exalted.” Numbers 24:7

Later in Isaiah, we see a clearer picture of the coming Messiah, represented by the blessing upon Reuben –

“Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, And Israel whom I have chosen. Thus says the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you: ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring;” Isaiah 44:1-3

In Christ, we see the picture in John 7:37, 38 –

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

This will be realized, in it fullness, in the heavenly Jerusalem as noted in Revelation –

“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.'” Revelation 21:6

The prophecy ultimately points to the Man, Jesus Christ, who poured out His life that He may pour out on us every spiritual blessing. He has removed the curse, opened the gates of paradise, and will pour out an eternal, endless stream of life-giving waters for us to drink. The prophecy points to Jesus.

If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said
Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water
This is true for the soul who has Christ as his Head

It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega
I am the Beginning and the End
I will give of the fountain of the water of life
Freely to him who thirsts, this grace I will send

If you call on me I will respond
I will lead You in the paths of righteousness
For my name’s sake I will do these things
For all eternity, your soul I will bless

III. The Blessing Upon Simeon and Levi (Verses 5 – 7)

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;

The next two sons of Israel are blessed together. They were also born to Leah and their births read as follows from Genesis 29 –

“Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.’ And she called his name Simeon.34 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, ‘Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Therefore his name was called Levi.”

Of all the sons to be blessed by Israel, only Simeon and Levi are united in a single blessing rather than individually. They are sons of the same mother and workers together in the evil deed of killing an entire city of men. Because of their actions Jacob goes on…

5 (con’t) Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.

Rather than acting in the manner of shepherds, they put aside their staffs and picked up swords to commit a horrendous deed. The account is recorded in Genesis 34 –

“Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males. 26 And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out.” Genesis 34:25, 26

In this sentence there’s an unusual word translated here as “dwelling place.” It’s used only one time in the Bible and it is the word mekerah. The term “dwelling places” or as the KJV says “habitations” isn’t correct. Translating it this way would require the preposition “in” before it which is not in the Hebrew.

Most translators call it a sword from the Greek word machaera which is a knife. Israel is on a trade route between Egypt and Greece and these would have been a common commodity sold by the Greeks. It also could be a pun on another word as well.

The word macher which means “counsels” or “agreements.” This fits much better with what happened, because the brothers made an agreement with the people of Shechem to circumcise them so that they could marry into the family, but after circumcising they killed them. It then is a pun on the words  “sword” and “agreement” in their one action.

Because of what they did by killing a whole city with the sword, Jacob removed them from the positions of honor that should have followed Reuben’s rejection. Remembering that Israel was under the influence of the Spirit, it is God who likewise looked with disfavor upon their actions. And so the prophecy continues…

Let not my soul enter their council;

This verse shows us that the previous verse meant “agreement.” It is forming a parallel between their secret council to kill the people of Shechem and that Israel should not enter into their council. Because of one action, the second action should not take place.

The word for council is sowd, which is a little carpet or cushion that the people would sit on. For two people to sit on the same carpet would indicate friendship and intimacy. Israel is saying that such intimacy was not recommended with these two sons of his.

6 (con’t) Let not my honor be united to their assembly;

First he said “let not my soul enter their council.” The soul is the true self of a person. It is what animates us as humans. Now he repeats himself, but heightens the meaning, “Let not my honor be united to their assembly.” The honor or khavod is what makes man glorious.

It is what gives him his dignity, self-worth, and honor before God and man. Such things could only be degraded by joining with them in the congregation. We can refer to the same man we mentioned earlier from 1 Corinthians 5 to see what Paul recommends in such an instance –

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” 1 Corinthians 5:11

It is a word for each of us, from both testaments, that we are to hold sexual immorality in contempt and we are to not associate with those who are called brothers but who are perverse in their actions, like Simeon and Levi. Paul, like Jacob, understood and spoke by the Spirit to warn us.

6 (con’t) For in their anger they slew a man,

This goes back to Genesis 34 and the killing of the people of Shechem. It is speaking specifically about the killing of Shechem the son of Hamor the one who defiled their sister, but it is also referring to the whole town – the singular being used for the whole.

6 (con’t) And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.

This is the second half of the parallel thought, but the Hebrew is very difficult to understand. Three different translations prevail –

They… hamstrung oxen as they pleased. NIV
…in their selfwill they digged down a wall. KJV
(Or) they… in their self-will eradicated a prince. YLT

Because the verse is used in parallel, the last is probably right. They killed a man; they eradicated a prince. It was a willful, self-pleasing act which Jacob is condemning as unacceptable in his eyes. It caused him stress and trouble that he never forgot.

Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;

In this, Jacob is careful to curse their emotions, but not the sons. Even in his condemnation of their actions, he is still granting them the blessing of the covenant people for their future. In this is another set of parallel verses as he cries out against their fierce anger. It is a destructor which can only cause destruction.

Paul instructs us to “be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). And in Ecclesiastes 7:9, Solomon says –

“Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.”

7 (con’t) And their wrath, for it is cruel!

Throughout the Bible, there is a place for wrath. It is the obvious result of offense, but wrath is to be tempered and appropriate to the situation. In the case of these two brothers, they allowed their wrath to make a mockery of justice. Again, Solomon advises on this matter –

He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
But he who is impulsive exalts folly.” Proverbs 14:29

Simeon and Levi allowed their anger to take hold of themselves and it cost them a prominent blessing from their father. Instead, in their blessing will come a prophetic rebuke concerning the generations which follow and which conclude the parallel verses spoken to these two sons…

*7 (fin) I will divide them in Jacob
And scatter them in Israel.

These words are literally fulfilled in the Old Testament. The two names, Jacob and Israel, are used to show the certainty of the prophecy. The descendent people would be divided and their unified tribes would be scattered among the other tribes.

And there will be a marked difference between the destinies of the two. Levi will ascend to the priesthood and be given the highest blessing by Moses before he dies. Simeon will be reduced to become the smallest of the 12 tribes. They will become so insignificant that they will be passed over for any blessing by Moses.

Levi will be divided into 48 separate priestly cities, scattered around Israel, and Simeon will be incorporated into the land of Judah. They will be sprinkled in pockets throughout the territory, taking over only 15 cities. Eventually they will be absorbed into the greater tribe of Judah.

In Numbers 25, during the time in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land, Simeon will be noted for a man named Zimri who will fall into idolatry and sexual immorality. On the other hand, Levi will be noted for a man named Phineas who will defend the honor of the Lord against that idolatry and will kill Zimri in his zeal for the Lord.

There is a contrast between the two and yet there is a confirmation of this prophecy in them as well. And in them is seen in the witness of the stars the second constellation, that of Gemini, or the Twins. It isn’t coincidence that Israel blessed these two together and all the other sons separately. They are the united brethren of the stars.

These picture Christ in His incarnation, the God/Man in his two-fold work; that of suffering and glory. It also shows us his two comings, first in humiliation and then in triumph. In the constellation, there are the two figures named Apollo and Hercules.

In the head of one is the star Apollo, which means “Judge” or “Ruler” and within the head of the other is the star called Hercules, which means “Who comes to labor, or suffer.” In his left foot is another star called Al Henah which means “hurt or wounded.” They form a beautiful picture of Christ’s work.

As EW Bullinger says, “Here the two great primeval truths are presented in two persons; for the two natures were one Person. God and man in one Christ. As man, suffering for our redemption; as God, glorified for our complete salvation and final triumph.”

In the hand of one is a palm branch, or as some depictions show, a club but in either it is hanging down in repose. It is a state of rest and peace after a victory. This branch is referred to in Isaiah 11 –

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.” Isaiah 11:1-5

The word Isaiah uses for branch is the word netser. It is believed to be where the term Nazarene comes from. Thus, again, we see in the stars the second of 12 constellations a testimony to the work of God in Christ Jesus.

This constellation is mentioned by Luke in the book of Acts. There in Acts 28:11 it says – “After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island.” The word is Dioskourois – the two brothers, also called in the NIV Castor and Pollux.”

These are the first three of the blessings upon the sons of Israel. They point to the future history of the people and they also point to the work of God in Christ, both in the Bible and in the stars themselves. Time and time again, God reveals His Son to us in an attempt to wake us up out of our sleep and to call on Him.

Without Christ, there is no purpose to life and no ultimate point in our existence. But in Him there is the eternal hope of glory in the presence of God. The stars themselves testify to the great work of God in Jesus Christ.

Do you know this wonderful Lord who came to earth to reunite us to His Father and whose testimony is written in the stars? If not, please give me a moment to explain how you too can be forgiven and free through the shed blood of Jesus Christ…

Closing Verse: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4 He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” Psalm 147:2-4 Next Week: Genesis 49:8-12 (The Blessing Upon Judah) (124th Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Blessing Upon Reuben, Simeon, and Levi

And Jacob called his sons and said
“Gather together, that I may tell you
What shall befall you in the last days, the days ahead
I will now utter my prophetic view

Gather together and hear
You sons of Jacob
And listen to Israel your father, please draw near

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,
My might and the beginning of my strength,
The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.
Unstable as water, you shall not excel,
Because you went up to your father’s bed;
Then you defiled it— He went up to my couch.
“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.
Let not my soul enter their council;
Let not my honor be united to their assembly;
For in their anger they slew a man,
And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
And scatter them in Israel.

Jacob blessed his sons as the Spirit upon him rested
His words a prophecy of things ahead
And the words have proven true, tho tested
And they confirm the message which in the skies is spread

There is a message of hope for fallen man
And it is found in the giving of God’s Son to us
All of creation as well as the Bible in your hand
Tells of the glorious work of Jesus

Open your heart and receive the gift so blessed
Call on the Lord Jesus and be saved from sin
And in the purest garments you will be dressed
Found free from guilt and covered by Him

Thank You, O God, for this blessed hope given to us
Thank You, O God, for our glorious Lord Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…



Genesis 48:17-22 (The Fullness of the Gentiles)

Genesis 48:17-22
The Fullness of the Gentiles

Introduction: In the late 1920s Alexander Fleming was investigating the properties of staphylococci. These are various bacterium responsible for many infections, some of which can be lethal.

He was a well-known researcher, but he wasn’t noted as a particularly tidy one. On the 3rd of September in 1928 he came back to his laboratory after having spent a month with his family. Before his vacation, and in his usual untidy way, he’d left all of his cultures on a bench.

When he came back, he found one of the cultures contaminated with fungus which had surrounded the staph culture… and destroyed it. All the other cultures that weren’t tainted remained unaffected. Something life-changing had occurred.

He grew the mold in a pure culture and realized that through it a substance was produced that killed a number of disease-causing bacteria. Through research, he identified the mold with the Penicillium genus. Because of this, he changed the name he had given it from “mold juice” to penicillin.

In what was a misunderstanding of what he originally thought, that of having ruined an experiment, he came later to realize that he had revolutionized all of medicine by producing the world’s first antibiotic.

Like Andrew Fleming, Joseph misunderstood what was occurring around him as well. He watched his father place his hands on his own two sons in a seemingly untidy way. But Joseph misunderstood the details because He misunderstood that God was in the details, directing his father Jacob according to an infinitely higher wisdom.

Today we are going on a journey… It is a journey which affects all of us and it is a journey which hinges on an ancient blessing pronounced upon the two sons of Joseph. The order of the blessing upon the boys, from that time on, would affect all of redemptive history, for both Jew and Gentile.

It shows us the immense care God takes in every detail of His word.

Text Verse: “I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.” Hosea 11:3, 4

Ephraim, a name associated with the northern ten tribes of Israel, was cared for by God, but they rejected His care. And so, God rejected them and they were exiled from their homeland. But in their exile, God never forgot them and He did something wonderful for them while the southern tribes later went into their own exile.

The rejection of the tribes, the church age, the calling back of Israel by God – all of it is hinted at in a few short verses which detail a misunderstanding by Joseph of what was occurring. It is all to be found in, and drawn out from, God’s superior word. So let’s turn there once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. His Younger Brother Shall be Greater Than He (verses 17-19)

In order to understand the context of what occurs in today’s verses, we should go back and see what happened to bring us to the point we’re at. Here are the verses from last week –

Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said, “Who are these?”
And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.
And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”
12 So Joseph brought them from beside his knees, and he bowed down with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:
“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

Jacob guided his hands knowingly, crossing them over so that the pre-eminent blessing would fall upon Ephraim, the younger son, instead of Manasseh, the older brother. As we saw, every detail of what occurred was given to picture the work of Jesus Christ in redemptive history.

Where Adam failed and incurred a debt which could never be satisfied, Jesus Christ prevailed and His work made it possible for all of Adam’s sons to share in the grace and mercy of God. It is the same story being re-explained and repeated over and over again in the book of Genesis so that we don’t miss what God has done.

At the time however, Joseph didn’t understand. He thought his own father Jacob was confused about the placement of the sons and so he attempted to rectify it by intervening in the ritual…

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.

Joseph is one of the very few people in the Bible who has a substantial amount of detail about his life recorded and yet nothing overtly negative is said about him. Most of the time, when someone is highlighted as much as he is, there are notes of failings as well as notes of favor. In Exodus 33, it says this about Moses –

“So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Exodus 33:11

In Numbers 12:3 it says that “Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” And yet, despite these and many other accolades, his failings are also recorded. In one instance, he openly disobeyed God’s command. When he did, we read the following –

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.'” Numbers 20:12

The same is true with so many others, David, Solomon, the Apostle Peter, even Jacob, the great patriarch of the twelve tribes and the one who is now pronouncing the blessing had moments of weakness which are recorded for us. But of Joseph, this instance right now is as close to a failure as one could find.

He failed to recognize the hand of God’s Spirit upon Jacob as he prophesied and blessed the boys. It further says that he was displeased. These aren’t equal to the great transgressions of Moses and David, among so many others.

Instead, he merely misperceived what was occurring and he failed to understand the repetition of the same pattern which had occurred many times already within his own family in the past.

As I noted last week, already in Genesis we’ve seen Abel placed before Cain, Shem before Japheth, Abraham before Haran, Isaac before Ishmael, Jacob before Esau, Jacob’s second wife Rachel before his first wife Leah, and Perez before Zerah.

What Joseph saw as an error, was a repetition of God’s continued selection of the second over the first. In this case, it would turn out to be one of the great moments in redemptive history.

This one failure of Joseph, as recorded in God’s word, is succinctly stated by the Geneva Bible, “Joseph fails by binding God’s grace to the order of nature.” In other words, it is the same failure that almost all of us have made, and it is the same failure that many still make in the world we live in.

We attempt to shove God into a box of our own choosing. We perceive that the world should work in a particular way and we think that God will act in that way. But this is only the beginning of error. No sooner do we put God into the box, then He surprises us with amazing wisdom – far beyond that which we could ever imagine.

Paul explains it this way in the book of 1 Corinthians –

“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness..” 1 Corinthians 1:20-23

Jacob had the hand of God upon him for what would become the reality of the supremacy of Ephraim over Manasseh, and he had the hand of God upon him for what would become a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The hidden wisdom of God cannot be limited to a box of our own making.

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe?
Where is the disputer of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
What says the next philosopher? Please… turn the page!

For since, in God’s great wisdom
The world through wisdom did not know God
It pleased Him through the foolishness of the message preached
To save those who believe, while on this earth we trod

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks after wisdom seek
But we preach Christ crucified
To the Jews a stumbling block and foolishness to the Greek

18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

When Jacob was a young man, there was a sense of favoritism between his parents and he and his brother. The Bible told us about that in chapter 25 of Genesis –

“So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Genesis 25:27, 28

There is nothing in the Bible, however, to show us any type of favoritism between Jacob and his two grandsons. Instead, we are left with only one impression – that Jacob has been guided solely by the Spirit of prophecy upon him.

And so, even in the participants of this drama we see a picture of man as he wars within himself. In picture, Jacob is the spiritual man, guided by the Spirit and Joseph is the natural man, guided by the flesh. Jacob has leaned on Christ to conduct his affairs in this moment and Joseph has leaned on Adam.

It is the constant struggle that any believer faces, and it is a struggle Paul explains in Romans 7. There he writes –

“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:20-25

It is to the spiritual side of Joseph that Jacob will now petition. He will ask him to put aside his natural thoughts about how things should be and to rely rather on the wisdom of God and the guiding of the Spirit as he conducts his affairs concerning these two boys…

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know.

In an attempt to allay his cherished son’s fears that he has erred, Jacob calmly repeats himself, yadati. beni, yadati – “I know my son, I know.” The repetition is intended to highlight to Joseph that he is fully aware of what he was doing. And so with his hands firmly in the proper place, he continues his explanation…

19 (con’t) He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

There is literal truth in this statement, and there is spiritual truth as well. For the people of Israel, the literal truth is that when they are to come out of Egypt at the Exodus, there will be 8300 more fighting aged men in Ephraim than there will be in Manasseh.

And, of the hundreds of thousands of people who beheld God’s glory at Mount Sinai, only two of accountable age, Joshua and Caleb, will be allowed to enter the Promised Land. Joshua, the successor of Moses is from Ephraim and Caleb is from Judah. And these two tribes will become the two predominate ones mentioned throughout the rest of the Old Testament.

From Ephraim will come Jeroboam who will become the first leader of the Ten Tribes of Israel as they break away from the southern kingdom of Judah. Because of this, the northern tribes are often synonymously called both Israel and Ephraim. The southern tribes will be known as Judah.

It is the ten northern tribes called both Israel and Ephraim that will be exiled by Sennacherib King of Assyria in 722BC. From this exile, they will be dispersed to the ends of the world, losing their identity and mixing in with the gentile peoples. This exile will include both tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. It doesn’t sound like greatness, unless one understands what occurs in their dispersion.

In his words to Joseph, Jacobs says, v’zarow yihyeh melo hagoyim – “his seed shall become a multitude of nations.” This phrase translated “multitude of nations” is more completely understood in a literal rendering which says, “a fullness of the gentiles.”

The rest of the Bible will continue to explain this phrase which is actually only used here in the Hebrew and one other time in the New Testament. Imagine the impossible nature of Jacob being able to deduce any of this in his words upon the boys. How could he know that Ephraim would excel over Manasseh?

How could he know that Ephraim would become the representative of the northern tribes of Israel, completely separate from the southern kingdom of Judah? And how could he even consider what it means when he spoke the words “the fullness of the gentiles?”

His blessing is one of faith in the hand of God upon Him. Though his natural eyes were dim from age, his vision of the future through spiritual eyes was sharper than a needle. In his weakness, God’s hand of grace upon him was made perfect.

I find then a law, that evil is present with me
The one who wills to do good, O how can this be!

For in the law of God I delight
According to the inward man, so kind
But I see another law in my members, one not right
Warring against the law of my mind

And bringing me into captivity, like fiery embers
To the law of sin which is in my members

O wretched man that I am!
Who will deliver me from this body of death?
I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
I will praise Him with all my soul and all my breath

II. Ephraim First! (verse 20)

20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

The blessing was pronounced upon the two adopted sons and the explanation for it was given to the wary son. But despite the higher blessing granted to Ephraim, both sons are noted as being in Joseph. Jacob says, “By you” or “In you” Israel will bless.

In other words, though the sons are named directly, the blessing is implicitly “in” the name of Joseph. This has to be considered in what is being proclaimed by Jacob. Joseph’s life has been an on-going picture of Jesus – from his birth on. So when the blessing is pronounced, it is a blessing directed to the work of Messiah.

And so, to understand this, we have to go back and revisit the term, “the fullness of the gentiles” from verse 19 and see what it is picturing. It is important to know and understand, right now, that although the ten northern tribes of Israel were exiled, there are no “lost tribes,” something many cults and sects claim, saying that they are the lost tribes of Israel. This is entirely incorrect.

Israelites from all those northern tribes are noted throughout the rest of the Old Testament after that exile, and they are noted throughout the New Testament as well. Jesus, Paul, and James all mention there being twelve tribes at their time. Implicit references to them are made also. Thus a remnant from each tribe was preserved as God promised – there are no “lost tribes.”

However, the majority of the people in the northern tribes, known as Ephraim, went into exile and were scattered among the nations. They have genetically mixed into all nations on earth. This isn’t an unreasonable stretch, but it is exactly what occurs in the course of human movement.

Today we know it as the principle of Six Degrees of Separation. There is no person on earth who isn’t within the spectrum of this formula. All people on earth are connected to the Jewish blood of the dispersed tribes, collectively known as Ephraim.

In Romans 9-11, Paul writes about the state of Israel, meaning the Jewish people, during the church age. In this discourse, there in chapter 11, he says these words – a mystery revealed to him which had been unknown to the world before the ink left his pen.

“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.” Romans 11:25-27

Despite this being a mystery, unknown before Paul revealed it, this is what Jacob was prophesying of. His words, “a fullness of the Gentiles” is the same phrase which Paul uses in the New Testament there in Romans 11, “a fullness of the Gentiles.”

Unfortunately, it is a mystery still not comprehended by the majority of Christianity. Paul is speaking of us. It is the church whom Jacob was referring to in his ancient oracle, as we saw so clearly in last week’s sermon.

While the Jewish people, represented by the tribe of Judah is under punishment according to the law, God has directed his attention to the Gentiles, represented by the dispersed of Ephraim. And He is, in them, continuing on with His remarkable plan of salvation.

The Gentile people are brought into the commonwealth of Israel because of the work of Jesus Christ. We become partakers of the Holy Olive Tree, apart from the law, because He fulfilled the law in our stead. Only when the Jews of Israel receive Him in the same way, will they be returned to favorable status once again.

Paul explains this clearly and succinctly in Ephesians 2:11-13 –

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

In confirmation of this then, we have to return to the Old Testament book of Hosea. There in Chapter 2, we read this –

“Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth,
And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;
Then I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!'” Hosea 2:23

Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, uses this exact verse in Romans 9 to show that God had rejected His people, the Jews, and called another group His people. This is the church; this is the gentiles; this is the seed of Ephraim. Here are his words –

“As He says also in Hosea:
‘I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.’
26 And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.'” Romans 9:25, 26

In the New Testament, after Paul’s letters come the letters to the restored Jews, which happens after the church age. In them, Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, again cites a portion of Hosea’s words –

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9, 10

And if these things aren’t clear enough, Ezekiel chapter 37 tells us this explicitly. Using Judah as the representative of the Jewish people from southern Israel and Ephraim as the representative of northern Israel, we read this passage which perfectly confirms Jacob’s words upon his grandsons –

“Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 16 “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17 Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.
18 “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’— 19 say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’ 20 And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.” Ezekiel 37:15-20

We are awaiting the day when this physical bonding will take place. Israel must first go through terrible times before it occurs. When they are brought through the fire, they will be refined and tested. Those who survive will call on Jesus and together, Jew and Gentile will be united in the commonwealth of Israel in reality. Until then we enjoy the blessings of Messiah by faith.

The reason for the placement of this blessing should be obvious. Israel has been brought to Egypt, they have entered the times which picture the tribulation and they will have to endure the time of plagues upon Egypt, picturing the Great Tribulation to come.

Jacob’s words now, show us the miracle of the church age, all pictured by the ancient blessing which elevates the younger over the older. All of the sons of Adam, pictured by Manasseh, will be reconciled to God through Christ, pictured by Ephraim.

To this day, Jewish people still pronounce upon their children the blessing, “May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!” They do this before the beginning of Sabbath and at other times throughout the year. How wonderful it will be when they realize its significance in its fullness. May that day be soon.

As a final note concerning what is being pictured in this beautiful blessing, we need to turn to Hosea one more time and see it actually laid out in a chiasm which shows us what God is doing in redemptive history.

Hosea 1:9-2:23 – “But Me she forgot,” says the LORD. (11/23/07) A Chiasm of Contrasts – Our Unfaithfulness and God’s Unlimited Mercy a 1:9  You are not my people, I will not be your God.

b 1:10  Jezreel (God will sow.)
c 2:3  Dry Land, thirst.
d 2:5  Wife departs from her husband.
e 2:7  Wife returns to her husband.
f 2:9  Take away the new wine.
g 2:10-12  God punishes Israel.
h 2:13  God will punish her.
x 2:13  “But Me she forgot,” says the LORD
h 2:14a  God will allure her.
g 2:14b  God comforts Israel.
f 2:15  Give vineyards.
e 2:16  LORD says, “That you will call me ‘My Husband.’”
d 2:19  Husband betroths wife.
c 2:21, 22  Grain, new wine, oil.
b 2:22  Jezreel (God will sow.)
a 2:23  You are my people; You are my God.

I found this chiasm on 23 November 2007 and it has proven a great source of comfort to me since then as I’ve continued to see God’s word unfold before my eyes. The middle, or anchor verse, is the woeful cry, “But me she forgot, says the Lord.”

All God would ask of us is to remember Him, to love Him, and to honor Him as He unfolds our lives before us. When we do, by calling on Jesus Christ, we enter into the commonwealth of Israel and are entitled to all her wonderful blessings.

I will call them My people, who were not My people
And her beloved, who was not beloved
I will be praised among the Gentiles under every church steeple
While my disobedient Israel is from place to place shoved

And it shall come to pass in the place
Where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people
There they shall be called sons of the living God
Righteous Gentiles worshipping under the church steeple

III. A Portion Above Your Brothers (verses 21 & 22)

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am dying,

In completion of his blessing and prophecy, Jacob now returns from what is spiritual, to what is natural for a moment. He utters the words which terrify all except those who live by faith, hinneh anokhi met, “Behold, I die.”

But in Jacob, there is no sense of anguish or any lack of joy. Instead, it is the inevitable state of every man to which he confirms he is a part. Man lives, and man must die. But as a sign that he is a man of faith and unafraid of the future, he continues his words…

21 (con’t) but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers.

From faith to faith. His blessing was one of faith and his words to Joseph now follow that path. Though he had left Canaan about 37 years earlier, having been sold by his brothers, Jacob confirms that Joseph himself will again return to the land of his fathers.

At this point, he is firmly established in the land. He is the second ruler of Egypt. His entire family has moved there and they have resided there already for many years. And yet Jacob, through his spiritual eyes knows fully that Joseph and all of Israel will return someday to Canaan. He is Jacob, the man of flesh; He is Israel who trusts His God.

*22 Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”

The final words of this meeting are uttered and they again are words of faith. Not only will Joseph and his seed after him return to Canaan, but they will receive an inheritance as is now granted to them. It is for one portion above his brothers, meaning that the adopted sons will in fact receive the inheritance they have been promised.

Ephraim and Manasseh, upon whom the prophecies have been pronounced, will accompany Israel’s march from Egypt, they will share in the covenant blessings, and they will inherit a specific piece of land named by Jacob.

In this grant, the Hebrew words for “one portion” are shekhem echad – “one shoulder.” It is also the same word as the name of the city of Shechem, which Jacob obtained many years earlier. There is a lot of debate about his words here because he bought some land from the Hivites, and then the sons killed the people of the city, but these people weren’t Amorites. There is no record outside of this verse to support the words of this verse, and so some scholars say that he is stating this prophetically, meaning the land will be taken from the Amorites by Israel in the future. But this isn’t correct either. In Joshua 24, it says exactly the opposite when the Lord speaks to Joshua –

“I sent the hornet before you which drove them out from before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword or with your bow.” Joshua 24:12

Further details of how Jacob obtained the land isn’t needed apparently, because the Bible doesn’t record them, except in this verse. What is important is that an extra portion is granted and that grant is then recorded in the book of Joshua. And the land they received was in the general area of Shechem.

It is the same piece of land which is noted in John 4 when Jesus spoke to a woman at a well which belonged, as it notes, to Joseph –

“So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.” John 4:5

The history of the Promised Land is recorded because it is God’s land and He has given it to His people Israel. But God also has called out another group of people from the world to be His own. They are the unworthy recipients of God’s grace which was prophesied by an old man when he blessed his two grandsons.

Surely Jacob couldn’t have known the significance of his words and so surely the words were spoken by him as the Spirit of God moved him. What an amazing thing God has shown us and continues to show us as He unfolds His word before our very eyes.

Just so you know, although it can’t be identified to the exact number, it is believed that Andrew Fleming’s discovery of penicillin has saved 100,000,000 or more lives. Imagine that, a mistake in a laboratory which changed the world as we know it and which saved all those people.

But that is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the billions of eternal souls that have been saved by the plan of God as revealed in the pages of the Bible.

Like Fleming, Joseph thought he was witnessing a mistake, but instead, he was beholding with his own eyes the acknowledgment of a plan which includes each person who has called on Jesus Christ as Lord.

If you’ve never had a moment in your life where you can say, “I have received Jesus,” let me please explain to you how you can and why it is so important that you do…

Closing Verse: “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst; And I will not come with terror.” Hosea 11:8, 9

Next Week: Genesis 49:1-7 (The Blessing Upon Reuben, Simeon, and Levi) (123rd Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

May God Make You as Ephraim and Manasseh

Now when Joseph saw that his father
Laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim
It displeased him; he found it a bother

So he took hold of his father’s hand
To remove it from Ephraim’s head
And thus over to Manasseh’s head, instead

And Joseph to his father said
“Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn
Put your right hand on his head
Let the blessing, his soul adorn

But his father refused and said
“I know, my son, I know
He also shall become a people
And he shall be great also

But truly his younger brother shall be greater than he in acclamations
And his descendants shall become a multitude of nations

So he blessed them that day, speaking this way
“By you Israel will bless, as they declare
‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’”
By them may they all others so compare

And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh
This is what transpired on that day

Then Israel said to Joseph
“Behold, I am dying, without cares or bothers
But God will be with you and bring you back
There, to the land of your fathers

Moreover I have given to you, and in your sight
Above your brothers one portion
Which I took from the hand of the Amorite
With my sword and my bow, this is my proclamation

Living in the presence of the Lord
Dying as an old man, full of faith and hope
Jacob pronounced his prophetic word
Which is revealed in redemption’s scope

God had a plan for his people Israel
But this plan involves all other nations too
And we see it as history does tell
In the salvation of Gentiles like me and you

God’s love for His creatures is perfect and pure
And it is demonstrated in the giving of Jesus, His Son
In Him there is a wondrous hope, eternal and sure
And in Him all that was needed has been done

Now by faith we can in the presence of God be made just
And for eternal years praises to Him will flow from us
Because of the work of Another in which we trust
Because of the majestic work of our Lord Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…

Genesis 48:8-16 (By Faith Jacob…)

Genesis 48:8-16
By Faith Jacob…

Introduction: Take a second and think… what is it that you believe is your greatest achievement that you will be rewarded for by Jesus. Romans 14:10 says that we’re all going to stand before Him at the judgment. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul says that our foundation is Jesus Christ. He then goes on to say this:

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

So again, the question is, what do you feel you will you be most rewarded for? What is it that pleases God the most? Is it how much money you gave to the church or charities? Is it how many times you read the Bible? Is it whether you kept the speed limit all your life? What thing or things do you think God is most pleased with.

The answer is so basic, so seemingly unimportant in our world, and so simple that we tend to skip right over it. And yet, it is the thing the ancients were most noted for, and it is the thing which allows us access into heaven itself. It is simple faith. Today, we will see Jacob’s greatest act of faith, which is recorded in a few short verses which seem to have nothing to do with faith.

It is a beautiful passage which is deep in its theological significance.

Text Verse: …let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1, 2

Hebrews chapter 11 details the faithful actions of God’s people and it shows us those things with which God is most pleased. Then, at the beginning of the 12th chapter we are asked to follow suit with them, laying aside everything that could weigh us down and to focus our eyes on Jesus.

If we pursue this end with all of our souls, this will be the thing we are most noted for when we stand before Him as we receive our rewards. It is all about Jesus and we are asked to place all of our faith in Him. And He is to be found in His superior word, so let’s go to that word now and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Sons Whom God has Given Me (verses 8-11)

Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said, “Who are these?”

In verse 10, we’ll see that Jacob, who is now an old man, has eyes that are so dim that he can’t tell who is near him any longer. He has been in a conversation with Joseph while the his two sons stood silently and listened. Now, after having explained to Joseph why he wanted to adopt his sons into the family, he asks about the two who came with him.

Rather than Joseph being the one to introduce them first, he waited for Jacob to ask about them. They could have been friends from the royal court, royal bodyguards, Joseph’s chariot men, or anyone else. Israel didn’t know, and so he now asks about them.

Not recognizing them is important, because it shows that his desire to adopt Joseph’s sons wasn’t simply based on sudden affections for them when they came with Joseph. Instead, it is something he had already decided on apart from any impulsive tugging of his heart strings. God has placed this in his heart for His reasons and Jacob was following through with the Spirit’s prompting.

And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.

His response is given as a confirmation of what Israel said earlier in verse 5 –

“And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.”

The sons born to him in Egypt before the arrival of the family are the sons who are now presented to him. And in credit to Joseph’s character, which has been exceptional throughout the narrative of his life, he recognizes that it was God who gave him those sons.

The obvious directed care of his life, from the beginning even to this point shows more than luck or happenstance. Everything that happened to him has been a result of God’s attention to him as he has directed him.

If this is true with the many personal details of his rescue from the pit, his being sold to an Egyptian noble, the timing of his stay in prison which led to his being brought before Pharaoh, and everything else that has happened, then it must also be true with the granting of his sons.

In faithful acknowledgment of that, he credits God with their bestowal upon him. And the concept is borne out in the psalms with these words –

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; Psalm 127:3-5

9 (con’t)And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.”

Of all of the acts of Jacob’s life that are recorded, beginning at his birth in chapter 25 and continuing until his death in chapter 49 – a life which encompasses more detail than any other person in Genesis, this act that he is about to engage in, in conjunction with something he previously requested, is what he is highlighted for in Hebrews 11.

There in the great hall of faith of the Bible, this is what is remembered of this man of God –

“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.” Hebrews 11:21

The blessing of his sons and the worshipping on his staff are noted as his greatest moments of faith. And they are reversed in Hebrews. The worshipping was seen at the end of the previous chapter after he had been given the promise by Joseph that he would be buried with his fathers in Canaan.

Now in this chapter, the blessing of the sons is given, but it is highlighted first by the author of Hebrews. One must ask, “What is it that makes this such a momentous event that it is singled out as his greatest act of faith?” Is it that he blessed them? Is it what the blessing said? Is it the unusual manner in which he will bless them?

Why did the author of Hebrews decide on this as his greatest act of faith? To understand, we have to go back to Hebrews 11:1 and read the Bible’s definition of faith –

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

The answer isn’t found in the act of the blessing. That is present and tangible reality to Jacob. As he blesses, the act is performed. However, the words of the blessing and the way the blessing is conducted are in anticipation of the future. Combined, they form this great culminating moment in the life of Israel.

This man spoke with God personally several times. He wrestled with Him in the night. He held the covenant blessings and inherited all of the possessions of his fathers before him. He beheld his son Joseph whom he believed to be dead and who had become the savior of the known world.

He had even acknowledged God’s blessing upon his life in all ways. But it was the unknown future which he spoke of and acted towards that God found pleasing in His sight. This is what we should learn, if nothing else, from what Hebrews 11 says about Jacob.

The greatness of the man wasn’t credited by God because of any of the many things which occurred during his life, but for his faith in the things coming after his life. This is what God was pleased with in Jacob and it shows us what God will be pleased with in us.

The things we do may be right and noble – helping others, donating to support your church, taking care of God’s world as you pass through it. These are good and right things to do, but what God is most pleased with are the not the things you can see and act upon, they are the things you cannot see and yet you put your faith in.

And those things must… must be centered on Jesus Christ for them to be reckoned as worthy of note in God’s sight. All of this history of Jacob, all of his acts and blessings, all of his interactions with God, and yet his faith in the future is what he is noted for.

After Jacob’s dies, it won’t be until the time of Moses that another person receives such remarkable detail concerning his life and his deeds, but it is only his faith that is singled out for note. Don’t forget this lesson. Your faith is of great value in the sight of God.

Without faith it is impossible to please God
And so He seeks those who will simply believe His word
And those who cherish and love Him with each step they trod
Who accept the gift of His Son, Jesus our Lord

It is these with whom God is pleased
And upon them His favor will last for all eternity
Through the blood of Christ, God’s wrath has been appeased
And with His Spirit we are sealed, our pledge of surety

10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see.

This is reminiscent of Jacob’s own father Isaac. In Genesis 27:1 we read this about him prior to the bestowal of his blessing –

“Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” And he answered him, ‘Here I am.'” Genesis 27:1

There is a difference though. In Isaac’s case, the word translated as dim is kahah, dark. His eyes had lost their light and he was unable to see because of it. In Jacob’s case, the word is kaved, heavy. His eyes were poor and vision was strained so that it was difficult to see.

As has been the case many such times so far, and as will continue throughout the Bible, when two things which are similar are noted, it is to show us both a contrast between the two, and a confirmation of something. In the case of Isaac’s blessing upon his son, the Lord had spoken to Rebekah before their birth with these words –

“Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23

In contrast, God’s plans were accomplished through Isaac’s blindness. It was because of his infirmity that the prophecy was fulfilled. In the case of Jacob however, we will see that it is despite his infirmity that God’s will is accomplished.

In confirmation, these two accounts demonstrate God’s sovereignty over time and circumstance, as well as over human choice. This doesn’t mean free will is excluded, but that God uses our free-will choices to direct his ultimate purposes.

We can’t say that free-will was excluded in Isaac’s blessing since he couldn’t see, because Jacob and Rebekah exercised free will in order to deceive him. If free-will were excluded, the fault would have to be credited to God and that is certainly not the case.

Thus as I said, God’s sovereignty is the confirmation between these two accounts. One is in Canaan; one is in Egypt – He is sovereign over all the earth. One shows a voluntary blessing over the wrong son which turned out to be the correct one to bless.

One shows a voluntary blessing over the right son; who is perceived to be the wrong son. Despite the contrasts, they confirm God’s sovereign hand over every aspect of every situation that arises. In other words, God is in complete control over even the things we think are out of His control.

10 (con’t) Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them.

We need to remember that these two sons are around 20 years old. They aren’t little children, and yet they allow their father to direct them, and guide them. In this tender moment, Jacob kisses the two boys. In all of the accounts of his life, Jacob is only noted as bestowing kisses three times. The first time was when he deceived Isaac and kissed his father before receiving his blessing. The second time was when he first met his beloved Rachel and kissed her. And now this time, when he kisses his two grandchildren, descendants of Rachel and those who will be included in the covenant blessing received from Isaac. It isn’t coincidence that only these three instances are recorded. Others are noted as kissing him, like his father in law Laban and his brother Esau, but out of certainly many kisses he bestowed in his long life, only these three accounts are given. They tie the life of Jacob together into a picture of God’s sovereignty and His grace.

11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”

It was a gap of more than 20 years that Jacob thought his son was dead. Never in his wildest imagination did he expect to see him again. But God had different plans and they were reunited. And even more, he now beheld the sons of his lost son as well.

However, though being translated as “sons” or “children” by some, the word Israel uses is zarekha, “your seed.” And there is a reason for this which goes back to the promise to Abraham. He was told he would be the father of many nations and that through his seed, the nations of the earth would be blessed.

Paul builds on this in the New Testament and says that we are sons of Abraham by faith in Jesus Christ. Joseph has pictured Christ married to a gentile bride. Those sons of his are being adopted into the commonwealth of Israel by Jacob, but they are already Abraham’s descendents because of Joseph’s lineage.

This then is reflected in the letter to the Hebrews. Listen to how closely the words there reflect what we see in Joseph picturing Christ and his sons picturing gentile believers who are the seed of Abraham by faith in Christ. The parallel is exact –

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Hebrews 2:13-14

The author of Hebrews is writing to the Hebrews, but he is including all of Abraham’s descendents in his letter.  This adoption by Jacob pictures our adoption into the commonwealth of Israel because we are sons of Abraham by faith in Christ.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord
The fruit of the womb is truly a reward

Like arrows in the warrior’s hand
So are the children of one’s youth
Happy is the man with a quiver so grand
Children of wisdom, obedience and truth

Imagine the multitude of Abraham’s seed!
How pleased Father Abraham must be
God has done a most glorious work indeed!
By faith in Christ we are adopted into his family tree

II. Led By the Spirit (verses 12-14)

12 So Joseph brought them from beside his knees, and he bowed down with his face to the earth.

After Jacob bestowed his affections on his grandchildren, Joseph conducted them out of the way in order to provide a clear path between himself and his father in order to humble himself before him. This is a demonstration of the immense respect seen often in the father/son relationship found in the Bible.

Joseph surpassed his father in worldly greatness, wealth, and honor, and yet he humbles himself before Israel prior to the bestowal of the blessing. Thus he is acknowledging that inclusion of his sons into the family as equals is greater than any other honor he possessed and it is the highest he could receive.

13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him.

This is the first time in the Bible the position of the right hand is noted as the preeminent position. It will be noted many times after this. Only one blessing is given, but a distinction is made between the right and the left. The one blessing actually becomes two.

If there were only one person, one or both hands would still transfer only one blessing, but when two are present, the right hand is shown to be the one of greater note. Joseph knows this and so he is purposely placing them in birth order to allow the older to receive the higher conferral.

Because of what happened between Jacob and Esau 70 years earlier when Isaac blessed the wrong son, the Bible is careful to record the measures Joseph took to make sure there would be no error in this blessing. In the case of Isaac and Jacob there was intentional deceit to secure the blessing

In the case of Jacob and Joseph’s sons, there is intentional care to properly secure the blessing. In both cases, there is misunderstanding concerning God’s plans. Jacob’s father Isaac misunderstood and Jacob’s son Joseph now misunderstands. Israel is the link between the two, and the Spirit is the guide for both.

14 Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn.

Despite Joseph’s care, which the Bible meticulously notes, Israel does the unexpected when he pronounces his blessing. He guides his hands knowingly to cross over to the opposite son. The word translated as “knowingly” is sikel. It means “to consider” or “deliberate,” however, it may come from an unused root word meaning to “intertwine,” hence “to cross.”

This is why some translations say it one way and some another. But in the end, the result is the same, he deliberately crossed his hands to pronounce this blessing. Thus, he is placing younger Ephraim above older Manasseh. This is something that has happened repeatedly so far in the Bible and which will continue through the rest of it.

Already in Genesis we’ve seen Abel placed before Cain, Shem before Japheth, Abraham before Haran, Isaac before Ishmael, Jacob before Esau, Jacob’s second wife Rachel before his first wife Leah, and Perez before Zerah.

Again and again, God is returning us to this theme and He is doing it for a very important reason – to show us the work of Christ, the second Man, being accepted over the failings of the first man, Adam. Paul explains this in detail in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

How though does this specifically prefigure the work of Christ? In order to understand, we have to look again, as we did many sermons ago, at the names of the two sons. Joseph named the first Manasseh who pictures Adam. The name comes from the verb nasha, which means “to forget.”

In Hebrew, and thus in the Bible, to forget something doesn’t mean what we think in English. Something can be forgotten because the memory fades, but the Bible’s idea of forgetting is active. It is taking something away.

And so Joseph, was taking away the memory of his past. Joseph named his son Manasseh because he forgot, even though he hadn’t really forgotten. The word-play on his name is that he “forgot by taking away – nasha.”

However, there is more to the name Manasseh. The name is derived from nasha which means to forget, but the same word also means “a debt.” The Bible’s concept of a debt is different than we handle a debt today. In the Bible, when something is lent, it is pushed out of mind. For example, Jesus says this in Luke 6 –

“And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” Luke 6:34, 35

The idea is that only a person in need would ask for a loan and so the loan should be forgotten. If the debt is repaid, then it is brought back to mind. If it isn’t, it is to be water under the bridge. And so as much as the name Manasseh means “to forget” it also means “from a debt.”

The second son is named Ephraim. He pictures Christ. Ephraim comes from the word apher which means “fruitful.” The IM at the end of the name makes the word plural – double fruitful, or twice fruitful. But apher also means “ashes.” Ashes are emblematic of grief or sorrow, especially for judgment on sin, such as when Abraham said, “I who am but dust and ashes…”

He meant that he is a man made from the dust and one deserving of the judgment of being reduced to ashes. And so the double play on this name wasn’t just that Joseph was doubly fruitful in the land of his affliction, but that he remained filled with grief over being separated from his father and his home in the land of his affliction.

By knowing this, the naming of the sons, and the wordplay involved in those names will now make all the sense in the world. Manasseh means “to forget” but it also means “from a debt.” He pictures Adam, who is the man who owes a debt but whose debt… is forgotten in Christ.

Ephraim means, “twice fruitful”, but it also means “ashes.” He pictures Jesus. He is twice fruitful in the land of His affliction, prevailing over the law and thus becoming the Savior of Jew and Gentile, but his work also meant that sin was judged in Him, thus the ashes. Hence, “the land of His affliction.”

This account of Jacob blessing Ephraim over Manasseh is given to us to specifically show the work of Christ replacing the fallen state of Adam. This is why such minute care was given concerning the placement of the sons by Joseph and then the knowing movement of Jacob’s hands to override the decision. It is all about Jesus.

Finally, this verse begins to explain why Jacob is noted for this in Hebrews chapter 11. Despite not being able to see, he allowed the Spirit of God to guide his hands for the blessing upon the boys. In placing Ephraim above Manasseh, he firmly believed it would be fulfilled that the younger would be greater than the older. He was blessing them based on faith; faith in the work of Christ.

You and I, we owe that which we cannot pay
But God in Christ is willing to forgive and forget
It is His shed blood that washes the debt away
And through His work, our reconciliation with God is set

Jesus came to undo what we had done wrong
In His work, He became doubly fruitful, blessing Jew and Gentile
Now, of His time of affliction we sing a joyous song
Because of His work, God can again upon us smile

III. The Blessing is Pronounced (verses 15 & 16)

15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:

Anyone? He blessed Joseph… The blessing on the sons is actually a blessing on Joseph. By blessing them, he is elevating Joseph to a double-status among his brothers. Thus, in this blessing, the naming of Joseph so long ago is again fulfilled. Like his two sons, his name is based on two words, asaph, meaning to “take away,” and yoseph, meaning “he shall add.”

In this blessing, Jacob has taken away the reproach of his brothers who sold him off, and he has added in not one, but two sons to the covenant people. The work of Christ as pictured by the two sons Manasseh and Ephraim is seen complete in the blessing upon Joseph. A heavenly drama is being pictured in this earthly ritual.

15 (con’t) “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,

It is an unfortunate translation. Both times God is mentioned in verse 15, it says ha’elohim, “the God.” It is emphatic and it is intended to show us that the God of the covenant, Jehovah, is the one true God. He is El Shaddai. He is Jesus. He is One. It is in the name of this God, before whom Abraham and Isaac walked, that the blessing is being pronounced.

He is the God of the past, belonging to his fathers. He is the God who authored the covenant and who gave the promises. He carried the recipients of the covenant throughout their lives and he continued to do so after they were gone.

15 (con’t) The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,

After carrying Abraham and Isaac, he also tended to Jacob. And so Jacob says, Ha’elohim ha’roeh oti, “The God who has fed me” is literally translated “the God shepherding me.” He is the Shepherd of the 23rd Psalm; He is Jehovah.

He is the Good Shepherd of John 7. He is the One who tends to and cares for His flock, meeting their every need as they anticipate the eternal days ahead in the new heavens and the new earth where there will be One Shepherd and one flock.

16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,

Still speaking of the same God, he calls him ha’malakh ha’goel “the Angel, the Redeemer.” The Angel of the Lord is the Lord. He is the visible, tangible manifestation of Jehovah already seen, and who will again be seen many times in the pages of Scripture.

And He is the Redeemer of man. This is the first use of the word goel in the Bible. This word will be translated in two main ways – one is “avenger of blood” and the second is “kinsman redeemer.” Both of these are ascribed to Jesus in the New Testament. He is the One who avenges the blood of His saints and the One who redeems us from our sin, being our Kinsman of the flesh.

16 (con’t) Bless the lads;

The word “bless” is singular, not plural. Thus the names which were invoked are all One. The God of the fathers, the God who watches over us, and the Angel who redeems us are One. To this One – our.Lord.Jesus, Jacob requests a blessing be made upon the two sons of Joseph.

16 (con’t) Let my name be named upon them,

Let my name be upon them. He is asking that his name, Israel, be upon them and that they will be accounted as Israel. These sons, born of a foreign woman in a foreign land are to be reckoned as those who have striven with God and prevailed.

They are you, and they are me. They are the multitudes of gentiles who have been grafted into the commonwealth blessings of Jesus Christ by faith. Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 2:11-13 –

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

16 (con’t) And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;

As Jacob is the son of the promised line and as Isaac was before him, leading back to father Abraham the man of faith, so may these two be reckoned. Isaac was the submissive son who was known above all for his obedience to his father’s will. Abraham was the man of faith who received the sign of promise.

Jacob asks that the name of these two great patriarchs rest upon these two foreign-born sons. May these sons be known for their submission and for their faith. May they be reckoned among the redeemed because of this.

*16 (fin) And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

We finish with this final portion of verse 16 with the words v’yidgu larov b’qerev ha’eretz. Literally translated, this says “and increase like fish into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” It is not coincidence that this concept of multiplication like fish transfers into the symbol of the fish among Christians.

The fish symbol comes from an acrostic of the words Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ”, (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr) – Jesus Christ God Son Savior. The letters of this acrostic are ichthus, Greek for “fish;” hence, the Jesus fish – something prefigured in an ancient blessing by a dying man upon his two adopted sons, born of a gentile woman, from almost 4000 years ago.

It is vast multitudes of people like you and me in the midst of the earth, all members of the body of Jesus Christ our Lord. This verse then gives the final explanation for why Jacob was noted for this blessing in Hebrews 11.

Not only did he allow the Spirit to guide his hands as he blessed the boys, but he, by faith blessed them concerning their inheritance, firmly believing that it would be fulfilled even though they were in a foreign land. This, combined with his faith in the promise of being buried in Canaan, is what he is most noted for.

“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.” The reversal of the order, listing his blessing first is because the blessing, like his father Isaac’s blessing, speaks of their future and the covenant blessings.

The deathbed charge from the last chapter is listed second because this, like Joseph’s deathbed charge which is coming in Genesis 50, both speak of the inheritance of the promised land. The first is an earthly hope for abundance in life; the second is a heavenly hope for eternity in the true Promised Land.

Both look forward in a different way and together they are what Jacob is above-all noted for. He has faith in the promises of God, something we too can be found noted for if we are simply willing to believe… to accept God at His word.

In order to be noted among heaven’s roles though, you have to first be a member of God’s heavenly family. And the Bible says that this can only happen by belonging to Jesus Christ. He is the only way to be reconciled to God and to have your sins forgiven. So please let me explain to you how this can come about…

Closing Verse: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

Next Week: Genesis 48:17-22 (The Fullness of the Gentiles) (122nd Genesis Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and purpose for you. Call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.

By Faith Jacob…

Then Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said
“Who are these? Are they friends, or family instead?

And Joseph said to his father
“They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.”
And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.”
And I will petition them for God’s grace

Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, heavy and overwrought
So much so that he could not see
Then Joseph near to him them he brought
And he kissed them and embraced them tenderly

And Israel said to Joseph this thing
“I had not thought to see your face
But in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”
The many years of sadness, in this he did erase

So Joseph brought them from beside his knees
And he bowed down with his face to the earth
In humbled submission, his father to please

And Joseph took them both in a manner forthright
Ephraim with his right hand toward the left of Israel
And Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right
And brought them near to him as well

Then Israel stretched out his right hand
And laid it on Ephraim’s head
Who was the younger we understand
And his left hand on Manasseh’s head instead

Guiding his hands knowingly although
Manasseh was the firstborn as he surely did know

And he blessed Joseph, and said:
“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

In his blessing upon these boys
They were brought into the covenant graces
And God has done the same for the Gentiles
From all nations, from all peoples, from all places

We share in the heavenly promise by simple faith in Jesus
We are the redeemed of the Lord and set on a heavenly course
God alone has done all of these wondrous things for us
Of our faith, of our works, of our lives – He is the Source

Thank You O God for the opportunity to be reconciled to You
Through the shed blood of Christ, who is ever-faithful and true

Hallelujah and Amen…