Genesis | Chapter 48

Genesis 48:1-22

“Viewing the past from the present”

I. Intro.

II. Vs. 1-7 After these things

III. Vs. 8-16 To the head of the family

IV. Vs. 17-22 Blessed assurance

I. Intro.

In Hebrews 11:21 the author mentions the events of this chapter in one sentence saying, “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.” Interestingly enough it is the only event in Jacob’s 148 years of life that makes it into the “hall of faith”. Jacob at the end of his life has matured into the name that God had named him “ruled by God”. This in encourages me in as much as I realize that spiritual growth is not a singular sensational experience that happens in a moment of time, but rather it is a spiritual walk in that takes a lifetime. I’m told that High in the Alps there is a monument in honor to a faithful guide who died while ascending a peak to rescue a stranded tourist. On the stone that bares his name is this simple phrase, “He died climbing”. Oh that this would be our epitaph is it could be Jacob’s. It is God who in His wisdom causes growth in our lives & not we ourselves.

II. Vs. 1-7 After these things

Vs. 1 Joseph is told that his father is sick & that his time on earth is drawing to a close. Finally the death that Jacob had so frequently spoke had opened it’s door for him, so Joseph takes his two sons to say farewell to their grandfather. We know that based upon chapter 41:50 that Manasseh & Ephraim were not small boys by this time as they were born before the first year of the famine & Jacob had been in Egypt some 17 years so these two boys were in their 20’s.

Vs. 2-7 Jacob gathers his strength & is going to reminisce about his life which centers around two great events in two places:

a. Vs. 3 “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me”: Luz you will remember is also known as Bethel & it was here that God appeared to Jacob three times.

1. First in 28:10-17 when he was fleeing his brother Esau after steeling his birthright.

2. The second time was as he was coming back into the land leaving behind his uncle Laban. It was here that he wrestled with the Lord & was given a new name.

3. The third time in 35:9-12 as he was leaving Shechem after his sons had killed the town in retaliation for the rape of Dinah.

Each of these times God blessed him & promised to make him a great nation say that he would again posses the land of Canaan. Jacob recites the threefold blessing of God’s covenant that was made with him, his father, his grandfather & now Joseph’s two sons.

• Promise of a personal blessing

• Promise to make a great nation

• Promise them a land in which to call home

There are several reasons for Jacob to share this with these two men, “Jacob wants them to realize what God had done for him in spite of his faithlessness & failure.” It took Jacob his whole life to realize that what matters most in our lives is not what we have done for God but what He has by His grace done for us!

Vs. 5-6 Jacob informs Joseph of his intent to adopt his two grandsons & make them his sons. In so doing he elevates them to the status of the first & second born replacing Ruben & Simeon who had disqualified themselves from the birthright. We are told why in 1 Chron 5:1-2 “the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright; yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s”. So in giving these two sons of Joseph an individual inheritance Jacob was giving Joseph a double portion, verse 22.       ​

b. Vs. 7 The other great event in his life was the death of his beloved Rachel. The mention of this is to reinforce the reason of adopting Joseph’s two sons thinking that has she lived she might have had more children.

How different Jacob views the sorrows & disappointments of his life now. Before life was just a long series of unfortunate disappointments with no real purpose. He sought peace & prosperity at all costs & realized that the cost was greater then the reward. When he failed to achieve what he sought it was the end of the world now he sees it from God’s perspective. God was not just interested in the temporal blessings & fleeting pleasures of life, no He was interested in making Jacob holy! We are, I’m afraid, far to concerned with our happiness & not near enough concerned about our holiness. Jacob has come full circle & no longer wants to sacrifice holiness at the altar of happiness & in so doing he has found Joy!

III. Vs. 8-16 To the head of the family

Vs. 8-11 Jacob must have the same genetic disorder as did his father Isaac as he doesn’t recognize his own grand children seeing that he has been in Egypt 17 years. Yet what a great time for Jacob as he embraces his grandchildren through a son whom he believed was dead.

​Verse 11 defines why this was such a treasured moment as Jacob remembers his failure to trust God & how the Lord worked in spite of his failure to do more then bring Joseph back into his life, God has allowed him to know his grandchildren. In Eph. 3:20 Paul speaks of this by reminding the Ephesians that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”.

Vs. 12-16 Jacob is being guided by the Lord to put the right hand, the hand of favor, upon the younger Ephraim instead of the older Manasseh. As you trace these two tribes through our their history you will find that this was a prophetically true. Ephraim became the leader above his older brother & later on Manasseh marched under Ephraim’s banner through out the wilderness wondering. It is further interesting to note what their names meant “Manasseh” means “causing to forget” & “Ephraim” means double fruit, thus they were true to their names. At the end of the wilderness journey God would raise up another leader that would bring the nation into the land of promise Joshua who was from the tribe of Ephraim. In Isa. 7:8 the prophet refers to Ephraim as he describes the whole northern nation of Israel. In Jer. 31:9 the prophet records the heart of God saying, “I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.”

​Vs. 15-16 In Jacobs blessing of Joseph he reveals his testimony which is one of grace & not merit or effort. He no longer sees any basis of boasting of how faithful he has been towards the Lord.

a. God, is the God of his fathers who has always kept His promises.

b. He is also the God who has fed him all his life, the God who has shepherded him. The sovereign hand of God has been upon him & God has caused him to lie down in green pastures. Yes he has walked through the valley of death but the Lord was with him. Adversity is not the enemy it is rather part of God’s plan to shape him.

c. In verse 16 Jacob looks back to the time when he wrestled with the Lord & says that God has purchased him out of an evil life. His claim is not that the Lord kept him from all evil for Jacob has told us of his failure but rather that God had redeemed him through them. The evil that Jacob now sees is not the painful experiences of life but rather living a life that falls short of God’s purposes & plans for our lives. God even used those things to bring him & us to where it is best for us. Paul writes in Phil. 3:10 “I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death”. So finally Jacob blesses the two sons & desires in them that his name & the name of their forefathers will live on.

IV. Vs. 17-22 Blessed assurance

Vs. 17-20 As Joseph sees that his father is about to bless the younger above the older he tries to correct the mistake bit Jacob assures him it is  ot a mistake but rather part of God’s plan. God will bless the older son as well but not to the same degree.

Vs. 21-22 Joseph is given the extra portion that Jacob had acquired during his 10 years of wondering in Shechem. The interesting thing about this is the way in which Jacob had obtained this blessing was not how God would have had him go about it but God uses it to bless others.

​In the final analysis we find that God chose a failure like Jacob to be a patriarch & Joseph who was far more righteous then his father does not even have a tribe named after him. Joseph is not the forerunner to the Messiah instead it is Judah who slept with one of his son’s wife. Joseph won’t be a part of the priestly line, that honor will belong to Levi who slaughtered the men of Shechem. God chooses as He wills & clearly it is the foolish things of the world.