This is our last day in the book of Genesis. So there are a couple of things I would like to touch on in depth. We see the death of Jacob and the death of Joseph. Both of them made the request to be taken from Egypt and buried with their ancestors in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre where Abraham and Sarah and others were buried. We also see the fear that lingered in Joseph's brothers lives when their father died. They were sure Joseph will now enact revenge. However Joseph assured them this would not happen. We look on as Jacob blessed Joseph's two sons, taking them as his own to replace Reuben and Simeon. And once again, we watch as the younger son receives the blessing and the older son is given to serve the younger.
The first thing I want to look at is actually in chapter 47. We read about the famine in the land and how the first couple of years people had money to buy grain from Joseph. But eventually the money ran out, and the famine was still in the land. So, Joseph allowed people to buy grain using their livestock. Scripture tells us Joseph had all the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan. Now he amassed their livestock. There was a point when they ran out of livestock as well. Next Joseph bought all the land effectively making the people Pharaoh’s servants. When the land was all bought up, the people sold themselves. Life was different for the people but at least they had food.
In this day and age Egypt was the bread basket of the world. They shipped their grain all over the world, both by land and by sea across the Mediterranean Sea. With the addition of all the livestock, land, money, and slaves Egypt became the most powerful and the richest country in the world. And they remained that way for nearly 400 years. Once the line of Pharoahs that had some Jewish blood in them no longer ruled, the new pharaoh enslaved God's people out of fear. The Israelites had settled in the land of Goshen, the district of Ramses. As slaves the Israelites helped build Egypt. They tended the livestock and did much of the work. Egypt had never had it so good. Complaining brought more work and no sympathy for the Israelites. They had continued to be fruitful and they multiplied, just as the Lord had promised they would. While the Egyptians were living the good life, the Israelites were groaning under the weight of their burdens. We will see their country come crashing down when the Israelites leave. But that is for another day. Joseph is part of the enlarging of Egypt's influence and power in the world. His descendants will be part of their undoing.
The other thing I want to look at is chapter 49, Jacob blessing his sons. In reality, the only time Jacob used the word bless is with Joseph. I have mentioned before that these blessings given to sons were part blessing and part prophecy. Jacob's words were also a revelation of character and conduct as well as of divine purposes. Three of the sons learned their past conduct cost them their future inheritance. But Jacob assured each son/tribe a place in the promised land which would have brought comfort and hope for them. These words of Jacob were his last will and testimony. In them we see a beautiful revelation of the goodness of the gracious Lord who had cared for his servant for so many years. There is also a revelation of the Messiah, who had been promised to Jacob's people. In verse 10 we meet the one to whom the scepter belongs...Jesus. In verse 18 we meet salvation...Yeshua. In verse 24 we meet the mighty one, the shepherd, and the rock of Israel. In verse 25 there is the Almighty.
Jacob addressed his sons following their birth order, beginning with Leah’s six sons, and ending with Rachel's two sons, Joseph, and Benjamin. God gave Jacob six sons by Leah, the wife he did not want. But Leah was the mother of Levi which was the priestly tribe and Judah, the father of the royal tribe that included King David and eventually Mary and Joseph. Each sons words were tailor made for him. Reuben lost his privilege as the oldest because of his indiscretions with one of Jacob's wives. His costly sin was lust. Simeon and Levi who came next were guilty of anger and violence in the massacre of the Shechemites. When it came time to bless Judah, his father left a few things out. He said nothing about Judah leading the charge to sell Joseph into slavery. It was as though Jacob's feelings for Judah increased because he had offered to take Benjamin's place. When the family moved to Egypt it was Judah who went ahead to make preparations. And so it went, something for each of Jacob's twelve sons.
Jacob still did not hesitate to make it known that Rachel was his favorite wife and her sons were his favorite sons. Jacob said more about Joseph than any other son but he did not have much to say about Benjamin. The blessing Joseph received sounds a lot like the blessing Isaac gave to Jacob, giving prosperity and political influence. He used several names to describe the Lord, names we will see as we move through scripture. If you have children, take some time today and think about what sort of blessing you would give to each of them. How would you weave your faith and theirs into the blessings?
Jacob’s long and sometimes difficult life was over. He had made his last journey, given his last blessing and shared his last request. His work was done. He breathed his last and died. Many years ago he had fled home carrying only his staff. God had gone before him, blessed him, and guided him throughout his life. Hebrews 11:21 tells us he had his staff to the very end. ”By faith, Jacob, when dying blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.” He was a pilgrim to the very end.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W