Sunday, January 18, 2009

God's Blessings

As I read the account of Jacob blessing Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, I am reminded of the story of Jacob and Esau, where the younger son Jacob received the greater blessing. Joseph had tried to secure the greater blessing for his older son Manasseh by placing him by his father’s right hand, but Jacob, moving at the impulse of God's command, crossed his hands prior to giving the blessing. Jacob’s actions were not a mistake, nor was he showing partiality, but he was responding to Divine counsel. Ephraim is God’s firstborn. Jeremiah 31:9 tells us, “For I am Israel’s father and Ephraim is my oldest child.”

Blessings in life do not always flow as expected. The race is not always to the swift or the battle to the strong (Ecc.9:11). Jacob blesses his adopted sons not by birth order, but by character quality. Names often give us insight into personality. Manasseh’s name means “forgetting”, referring to Joseph’s desire not to recall his years of slavery and the cruel treatment of his brothers. Ephraim means “fruitful” reflecting the years of prosperity Joseph has enjoyed since his prison days. One looks back, the other looks ahead. Someone living in the past or preoccupied with yesterday's burdens is held in bondage. In order to move forward, captivity must be left behind.

Jacob was wise in his obedience to the Lord. Jacob would have personally fully understood being the recipient of an ill-fitting inheritance and the burden it inflicted. As parents of children today, encouraging our children in pathways for future vocations, we need to see both the external characteristics as well as the inner dreams and desires. We sometimes impose pressure on our children to follow a certain path without full consideration of their strengths and weaknesses, their limitations and their longings, trying to make an artist into a surgeon or an architect into an athlete. Each child is an individual and should not be forced into a mold or given a cookie cutter blessing.

Man wills but God’s plans succeed. Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”

“God, in bestowing blessings upon his people, gives more to some than to others, more gifts, graces, and comforts, and more of the good things of this life. He often gives most to those that are least likely. He chooses the weak things of the world; he raises the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor does God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleases him.”
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

How has He been pleased to bless you today?

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Laura said...

You have no idea how this makes me think at this particular time, Joy. Both of my boys have birthdays this week, and two more different children one could never find. I've found myself doing that very thing you refer to: trying to make them into something they are not. God gave me some insight into this a few years back and has been so gracious to give me patience to see what they will become. I do not need to make them anything...He already has!

Now that is a blessing!

lisasmith said...

i thought as i pondered this "reverse" blessing that it was then that Joseph must have fully understood the prophetic words spoken over him at birth. hard to accept but once he understood he began to reverse the order of their names likewise. God is so good!