Blessing Declared

Genesis 48:17-22

17When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” 20He blessed them that day and said, “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

21Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. 22And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”

Introduction

A student worked in an institution while completing his university degree. He expected to be promoted after graduation but was terminated instead. What would you do if the result is far different from your expectation or dream?

The Lord Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a parable of workers.

Early in the morning, a vineyard owner hired workers who agreed to get a denarius for one day work. A denarius was minimum wage for a day. Throughout the day, the vineyard owner hired more workers and promised to pay them all.

At sunset, the owner ordered his foreman, ‘Pay the workers their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ Those who worked for one hour were given a denarius each. And, those who worked for one whole day received a denarius also. So, they grumbled and said, “Those who worked for just one hour, you made equal pay to us who worked one whole day!?!”

The vineyard owner responded in Matthew 20:13-15, 13‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

Do you feel envious when others seem to have more material blessings? Romans 2:11 teaches, ‘God does not show favoritism’, and He blesses all He deems deserving of blessings. How does God bless? The Lord Jesus declared in Luke 11:28, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.

Obedience to the Lord’s commands and blessings are inseparable twin. Blessings are inclusive to God’s commands. There are rewards stipulated in the Lord’s commands that the obedient can expect. Sure, there are things that Lord has given by grace, yet He decreed blessings as reward for obedience to Him.

Discover the blessings of the Lord. Read His words meditatively and obey them. Of course, only by faith we can truly obey the Lord with the help of Christ. So, we pray for increase of faith and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. And, when Christ prevails or performs His lordship in us, blessings are given for sure.

That is exactly what the Lord Jesus instructed in Matthew 6:32-33. 32Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom  and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

‘Blessing’ is not limited to material things. Anything that brings supreme happiness or gladness of the heart is blessing. Our life, safety, health, job, family, relatives, friends, neighbors, classmates, home, circumstances, and all things we need to live a godly life (wisdom and behavior) are all blessings from the Lord.

Have you ever counted how much blessings you have received? Can you accept that the Lord gave them to you? How much gratitude do you have in you?

Israel declared blessings for the sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, but Joseph did not get it. So, Joseph tried to reverse his father’s decision.

1. Reverse

17When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

Joseph reversed the hands of his father. Joseph wanted his firstborn son Manasseh to have more blessings. He may have believed that the right hand of Israel bestows more blessings than his left hand. His concept of blessing was for his firstborn to have more. Interestingly, Joseph was not the firstborn son of Israel, yet he received a double portion of inheritance intended for firstborn sons.

When Joseph tried to reverse Israel’s blessing, did he assume that his father was just mistaken because of weak eyesight? Or, did he assume that it’s not proper for his younger son to have more blessings than his older son? Why did Israel insist that what he did was right? Was it God’s will for Joseph’s sons?

The desire of Joseph to reverse his father decision may represent human instinct to reverse, repair or make adjustment whatever God has done or created.

Are you easily satisfied with new circumstances? Don’t we like to do things we personally decided? We plan for things but we don’t have control of results.

Faster

Have you ever wondered why high technology and modern civilization did not occur in the Bible times? Travelling has become faster. Communication has become faster. Food preparation has become faster. Others are tempted to grow their muscles faster. Yet, we cannot force to grow faster our spirituality, why?

Someone said that many people missed out on their blessing because they decide to settle for a microwave dinner instead of waiting on the feast God prepared for them. Did you know why one of the fruit of the Spirit is patience? Patience is practical proof that Christ’s Spirit is at work in a believer’s life, to wait upon the Lord’s right timing in giving His blessings. Learn to wait upon the Lord.

The Lord says in Psalm 46:10, 10Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

It’s great when things are acquired in our timeline, but it is godly attitude to wait upon the Lord to exalt His name in and through us. Waiting upon the Lord’s godly timing exhibits faith in Him. We trust that the will of the Lord is best for us.

Christ says in Luke 16:15, 15What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

What does it mean? Anything that we prioritize more than obedience to the Lord is not pleasant to Him. Faith in Christ is practically manifested in confidence that He does what is best for us in His godly timeline, and we are thankful for everything and in all circumstances that the Lord allows us to have or achieve.

Apostle Paul testified in Philippians 4:11-13, 11I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

We can agree that blessings include material abundance and social status. We praise and thank God if we’ve got those things. But when the Lord allows our relatives to get sick, involved in accidents or misfortunes, can we still count them as blessings? Apostle Paul testified that he discovered the secret of contentment whether in plenty or in need through Jesus Christ who gives him strength.

We may or we may not let Christ perform His Lordship in us, it does not exempt us from pains or difficulties common to mankind. Most often, we want to get out immediately when life storm strikes. We want to reverse our situations.

Similarly, Joseph tried to reverse the blessing his father gave to Ephraim and Manasseh, why? He did not readily understand why his father wanted to bless the younger Ephraim more than the older Manasseh. He assumed that his father was mistaken, but Israel refused to do what Joseph suggested him.

2. Refuse

19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” 20He blessed them that day and said, “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

Jacob decided to put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. It was his choice. Was it also God’s plan? Possibly! In that situation, Israel was a picture of the Lord who knows which person He would prefer to bless more. This is not to prove that God has favoritism. Instead, it shows, it represents the authority, freedom and power of the Almighty God who designed what He knew to be the best for His people.

We recall in Genesis 41:51-52, 51Joseph named his firstborn  Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

The Hebrew name ‘Manasseh’ means ‘cause to forget’ and ‘Ephraim’ means ‘twice or double fruitful.’ Joseph gave names to his sons but didn’t decide who would be the first child. Like most parents, Joseph desired to have healthy children, but how many parents are thankful to have children with special needs?

Red White and Brew

Have you heard of the Red White & Brew coffee shop, and how it started?

The owner of Red, White & Brew coffee shop is a person with autism. People with autism have difficulty responding conventionally to people and actions and have limited use of communication and social interaction.

Michael Coyne the owner of Red, White & Brew lives with autism, (ADHD) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and bipolar disorder. “As soon as I turned 21 and applied for a job, they did not hire me,” he said. After several attempts at employment, he grew tired of being told “no” and used that constant rejection as motivation to make a living on his own terms. So, with the help of his parents, he started his own business, the Red, White & Brew coffee shop. His mother hopes this business model can help open doors for individuals with similar challenges in life who may also be struggling to find employment.

You may have been rejected at one point. Pray and ask God for wisdom and revelation so that you may know how you may face challenges. Many times God prevents us to pursue our dreams, why? His plan is far better that our plans. The Lord would surely redirect our path to His plan. It says in Proverbs 16:9.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Joseph tried to reverse what Israel has decided but Israel refused, why? Israel believed that his blessing comes from the Lord that shouldn’t be reversed. Anyway, Israel sensed that he was about to die, so, he reaffirmed that Joseph would certainly receive double portion of inheritance in the Promise Land.

3. Reaffirm

               21Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. 22And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”

A ridge is a long narrow elevation, hilltop, mountain range or watershed.

Israel conquered the Amorites and took their land and gave it as Joseph’s inheritance. Eventually, the descendants of Joseph lived in the said ridge of land. It may have been very strategic place to pasture their sheep and build their city.

Israel reaffirmed that Joseph will get one more ridge of land than his brothers. So, at that moment, Joseph reaffirmed to have a double portion of inheritance. Do you think Israel declared the inheritance of Joseph secretly? Did Israel’s other sons and grandsons listen while he blessed the sons of Joseph?

Have you ever heard of siblings who quarreled because of inheritance? Would go to court and appeal your case if you feel like you’re treated unfairly?

The life of Joseph teaches us that sometimes God allows us to be at the receiving end or treated unfairly to teach, train, and prepare for our betterment.

Joseph had been treated harshly by his cruel brothers. He was imprisoned for false accusation, but he continued to trust that his troubles were essential to God’s design for him. And when time was ripe, Joseph became ruler of Egypt.

Appearance

If you were to choose a leader, how do you choose? The Lord instructed Prophets Samuel to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as the next king of Israel.

It says in 1 Samuel 16:6-7, 6Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Possibly, Eliab the oldest son of Jesse was very tall, and together with his two brothers, they served in the army of King Saul. One can easily imagine that they have strong and healthy physical appearance just like many soldiers in our generation. Yet, the Lord did not choose the older siblings of David. Like many teenagers, David was young and had no muscular body at that time when the Lord chose him as king of Israel. And, his brother Eliab disregarded his ability.

The Israelite army went to war against the Philistines, and Jesse instructed David to deliver food supplies for his brothers. David observed that all Israelite soldiers were scared when the giant Goliath shouted and challenged the Israelites, and that included the three brothers of David who are soldiers.

David asked what reward is given to anyone who can defeat the giant. And it says in 1 Samuel 17:28, 28When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

It’s possible that Eliab was concerned about the safety of David. Like other Israelite soldiers who had done nothing against Goliath, Eliab was scared. He thought that it’s out of curiosity that David inquired about the giant. But that very day when every Israelite was scared, David defeated the giant Goliath. The Lord reaffirmed that David was the right person to be the next king of Israel.

Many times we assume that others are more blessed because of their physical appearance. We dream to be like those popular and talented individuals. Most often, we feel helpless, and did God have great plan for helplessness?

It says in Isaiah 53:2-6,  2He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Think about that for a moment! The King of kings, the Lord of lords, our Savior Jesus Christ personally experienced mockery, pains and difficulties. The Lord took all our iniquity, suffering and pain and nailed them with Christ on the cross. Yet why is it that we still feel pain and suffer if they’re taken from us?

It is by faith that such truth becomes reality in our life. How could that be?

We feel the pain and suffer if we are focused upon ourselves. But despite of pain and suffering, we can still have joy peace, patience, self-control when Christ’s Spirit bears fruit in us. By faith, we let Christ reigns and prevail in us.

Apostle Paul testified in 2 Corinthians 11:23-30, 23Been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

The Lord Jesus decreed that disciples should expect persecution.

Why would Christ allow us to be persecuted similar to the experiences of Paul?

Do you normally thank God in all circumstances and for everything you’ve got?

Can you persevere and still have joy, peace and patience despite of not so pleasant situation? Be still, relax, trust and know that God is at work in you!

And remember what the Lord Jesus decreed in Luke 11:28, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.

We can obey the Lord when we allow Christ to reign and prevail in us.

Pray and ask the Lord to enable you to submit to Christ as Lord in practical ways.

Obedience to the Lord’s commands and His blessings are inseparable twin.

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