Greater Blessing

Genesis 49:22-27

22“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. 23With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility.

24But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, 25because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.

26Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. 27“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.”

Introduction

It’s vacation time! Just relax a little bit. It’s helpful! Have you dreamed of going to school lately? Have you dreamed of rushing out of bed and don’t want to be late or miss your bus? You wake up, and realized that you’re on vacation!

A graduate had often dreamed of his student life. In his dream, he talked about escapades with his peers. Instead of going to school, they would venture on behaviors, rascality or pranks that are not worthy to be told publicly.

Then, he woke up and wondered why he often dreamed of his youthful wickedness. He checked his heart. Did he feel guilty of his improper behavior as students? No! He had peace, why? He realized that when he repented of his sins, the Lord forgave him and removed even guilty feelings and doubts.

If you recall your escapades, wickedness, pranks, rascality or naughtiness of your teenage years, do you still feel guilty? When the Lord crucified our sins with Jesus, doubts and guilt were included. So, when God forgave us, He also removed guilt and doubts. Do you agree? Pray that God’s peace prevails in you.

It says in Psalm 25:7, Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.

King David did not give details when he testified that he had his own share of youthful rebellion. He trusted that God won’t bring out his wickedness that he committed when he was a young person. He trusted that with goodness, the Lord will remember him and take care of his needs, and not mention his wickedness.

King David declared in Psalm 32:1, Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

To be forgiven by the Lord is blessedness. In God’s forgiveness, supreme happiness is added. Really? How? We cannot sense blessedness or supreme happiness when we have doubt or guilt. When God forgives, He forgets our sins. He does not bring about our sins again to make us feel guilty or doubt.

When we repent our sins and believe that God has forgiven us but still feel guilty, there’s a hint of doubt in us that God has taken away our sins and guilt.

Creative activity, busyness or busybodies cannot replace joy of freedom from sin, freedom from guilt feelings and freedom from doubts. By faith in Christ, we repent of our sins. God forgives us and removes our guilt and doubt. When we let Christ prevails in our life, His righteousness becomes our lifestyle.

It says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Christmas reminds us of Christ’s birth, death on the cross, resurrection and His Second Advent. As we hope for His return, we are tasked to tell His story.

As believers of Christ, what should we testify about Him? What should we tell others about our blessedness? If you were to reflect on your life this year, do you think you’ve been blessed more than the past year? What was the greatest blessing you’ve personally received this year? Have you thanked the Lord for it, yet? Will you hope and expect to receive greater blessing this coming year?

The first command of the Lord that includes a promise of blessedness had often ignored or disregarded. It says in Ephesians 6:1, 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Listen: God has commanded children to honor parents, right? So, God’s command to honor parents, was it given to parents? No! To children! God didn’t say, “Hey, parents! Command your children to honor parents, did He? No!

Many parents often rebuke disobedient children with God’s command for children to honor parents. Most often the results, children keep disobeying, huh!

In relation to “honor of parents,” what is the command of God for parents, then?

God commanded parents to “raise children in the training and instruction of the Lord.” How is that? Most likely, children resist or ignore commands. Parents don’t command but teach children about godly life including honor of parents.

Children: Believe when God promised that it may go well with you and enjoy the fullness of life, when you obey and honor your parents. Pray for more faith and believe this promise of the Lord. Do you want success? The term, “to go well” means “success” and you may enjoy with obedience and honor of parents.

Jacob had trained his children. Joseph exemplified obedience and honor of parents. He was blessed and successful because he obeyed God’s commands.

1. Successful

22“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. 23With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility.

Fruitfulness is a result of success. Obviously, Joseph was more successful than all his brothers. Jacob compared Joseph to a fruitful vine, and his other sons and their families relied upon Joseph for their needs during the severe famine.

The fruitfulness of vine relies upon the source of water. Vines are also very dependent on trellis or anything they can climb over to extend their branches.

A wall is more stable than trellis, arbor or wooden fence. And, Joseph was like a vine planted near a spring, a source of water, and his branches climb over a wall. So, to be planted near a spring implies abundant source of water, and to climb over a wall, it implies stability of growth even during story weather.

The Lord Jesus said in John 7:38, Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

By faith, Christ secures and sustains our need even when life is stormy. Joseph trusted the Lord from a very young age. He was his father’s favorite son.

He may have been very attentive to his father’s teachings, and put his faith in God. His faith was tested when he was sold as a slave and imprisoned for false accusation. Remember this: When God blesses you, there will always be somebody who will get envious, hostile and unhappy for your blessings.

Hostility toward a blessed person like Joseph is the story of mankind that started from the first brothers Cain and Abel. It says in Genesis 4:3-5, 3In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

You know what happened! Cain killed his brother. He did not want Abel to appear better than him. That deplorable situation was very similar to the story of Joseph and his brothers. More than his brothers, Joseph was favored by Jacob.

Could you agree that the blessedness of Joseph was added bonus of his faith in the Lord that was exemplified in his obedience to his father Jacob?

Joseph was hated, sold as slave, falsely accused, and imprisoned—those challenges of life didn’t make him doubt. He grew stronger in his faith in the Lord instead. Joseph was like a fruitful vine planted near a spring whose branches climbed over a wall, and his family have benefited from his success. Jesus said in John 15:4, 4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

The Psalmist described his dependence upon the Lord in Psalm 61:3: For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.

We can learn from the lifestyle of Joseph. He trusted in the Lord, and he was fruitful and more blessed than his brothers. Christ is River of Living Water. He sustains our needs. We rely upon Him as our strong tower like a vine that climbs a wall, and He makes us fruitful, successful and steadfast in our faith.

2. Steadfast

24But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,

Warriors have strong arms to use bow effectively. The Lord, the Mighty One of Jacob enabled Joseph to aim steady with steadfastness in all his tasks.

Joseph was a shepherd. He was a slave. He was a prisoner. His life experiences are not the most desirable. In every situation he had, he trusted the Lord as his Shepherd. He did not doubt the Lord has great plan for him. Can you accept that being slave and prisoner were essential parts of his success in life?

25because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.

When Jacob gave his blessing to Joseph, he mentioned the word “bless” multiple times not just once, but he never said the word “bless” to his other sons. Was it because Joseph was his favorite son? Or, was it God’s indirect way to teach the lesson that blessing accompanies obedience and honor of parents?

Jacob emphasized that the God of Jacob, helped and blessed Joseph with abundance of blessings from the skies above, abundance of blessings from the deep springs below, and abundance of motherhood. What did Jacob mean?

In every aspect of life, Joseph was blessed. Joseph didn’t grumble when he was separated from his family, and became a slave and prisoner in Egypt. Joseph didn’t worry about life and future. He didn’t complain about his situation.

What is it that you are struggling or complaining in life? Have you been accused of thing you did not commit? Are struggling on how you become better parents to your children? Have you been struggling to become better employee or student? To have faith in Jesus is to follow Him without hesitation or doubt.

It says in Luke 9:57-62, 57A man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus said that He had no place to lay His head, did He imply that He was poor? The man may have expected material blessings when he said that he will follow wherever Jesus went. Scholars agree that Christ didn’t accumulate material wealth, and Christ implies that His followers won’t focus on materialism.

Christ told another man to follow him, but the man wanted first to bury his father. Did his father die? As responsible son, he assumed his obligation was to wait for his father’s death, and bury him, before he can commit to follow Christ.

The third man wanted to follow Christ after saying good bye to his family. It could be a cultural practice not to leave his family out about his personal plan.

Materialism, obligation, cultural practices are but few among many reasons of not following Christ completely. The requirement of Christ for His disciples is to avoid distraction and focus on the goal to be with Him in the Kingdom of God.

It says in Ephesians 3:17-19, 17Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The more we trust the Lord, the more challenges of life we may face, but the greater blessedness we may have. Joseph overcame greater challenges in his life than his brothers but he kept on trusting the Lord, and his father Jacob declared greater and more superior blessing for him than his brothers.

3. Superior

26Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

The terms “ancient mountains” and “age-old hill” are figurative descriptions for Jacob’s ancestors, Abraham and Isaac. Previously, Jacob said that Joseph was blessed by the Lord. Yet, he also prophesied that his fatherly blessings were superior or greater than all the blessings of his ancestors, Abraham and Isaac.

Did Jacob imply that Joseph had superior blessing than his brothers because great blessing was included when Joseph diligently obeyed him? Did he imply these? “You’ve got greater blessings when you obeyed me! My fatherly blessings are greater than the blessings of my ancestors combined!”

27“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.”

Benjamin was Jacob’s youngest son, and the last one to receive Jacob’s blessing. Jacob compared Benjamin to ravenous wolf. The Benjamites were known for their ferocity and courage. Joseph and Benjamin were sons of Jacob and Rachel but interestingly, Joseph had blessings even greater than Benjamin.

Many parents give special attention to their youngest child, right?

Jacob said that the Lord blessed Joseph. He also added that his fatherly blessing was greater than the blessings of his ancestors. It practically illustrates God’s grace when the Lord grants greater blessings to obedient believers.

The Lord Jesus has explained obedience acceptable to God the Father in John 10:14-18, 14“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

By faith, we believe that Christ received the highest praise and honor from God because He was obedient to God the Father even to His death on the cross. Obedience to the Lord is the most practical proof of faith in Christ.

Joseph has proven that his faith in God was genuine, steadfast and firm when he trusted the Lord even when everything seemed unfavorable to him.

We recall in Genesis 39:1-3; 20-231Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. 2The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did.

 20But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

As we look forward to the coming New Year, we hope to receive greater blessings than the previous year. Joseph has exemplified blessedness lifestyle.

Blessedness comes from the Lord by faith in Christ. Joseph exemplified faith in the Lord by his obedience to his father, by trusting the Lord despite the trials and struggles of life that he endured, and the Lord showed His faithfulness in all those predicaments and unpleasant experiences in the life of Joseph.

Let’s continue to pray that God may increase our faith in Him.

No matter what may come, we trust that our Lord Jesus Christ is in control of everything in heaven and on earth. Amen!?!

Have a blessed and prosperous New Year to all!

><((‘> … ><(((‘> tmec\2019 <‘)))>< … <‘))><

 

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