Introduction: We focus this week on the joy for Jacob in blessing Joseph’s sons, whom he had never in his wildest dreams expected to greet as the sons of his long-lost son. Jacob’s blessing was a prayer imploring God to come down and claim these grandchildren as Shepherd and Redeemer. Such utter dependence on God’s will to bless us and ours must be the place to which we return time and again. How we need reminders that it is His attitude to our offspring; His commitment to their welfare; His plan to guide their steps each day which gives us hope to cling to His promises through all the trials, doubt and fears in which we travel! May these notes inspire and renew our hope for the next generation and for God’s faithfulness in our lives too.
Monday: read Genesis 48:15-16 and 17:1-7. The blessing Jacob invokes on his grandsons in verse 16 that “they be called by the names of my fathers” is not a pie-in-the-sky wish for “good-luck” in the future. He wants them to experience all the upheaval of God’s claim on their lives, just as Abraham (Gen. 48:16) had his life turned upside down when God changed his name from ‘Abram’ to ‘Abraham,’ meaning “father of a multitude” (See Genesis 17:5). Was it easy for Abraham to tell his neighbors, friends, co-workers about the new name God gave him? You can envision the awkward conversations as well as the strange looks as “Abraham” revealed his new name:
“God changed my name last night; please don’t call me ‘Abram’ anymore; why? Because God has promised me, a man with a barren wife and no kids to inherit the promise, that I will be ‘father of a multitude’ of spiritual children who will believe in the invisible, covenant God just like I do… oh… and one more thing: the kid’s name is going to be ‘Isaac,’ meaning ‘laughter,’ because God knows not only the joy this child will bring me, but also the laughter of those who find this hard to believe. Even my wife Sarah laughed at God’s promise when God told her the other day that He would give her 90 year-old body a child.”
Would you want your grandchildren to share in all that these names “Abraham and Isaac” stand for? Jacob does, and in laying his hands on their heads, He passes on the names which prove that God is a Good Shepherd, who not only “knows His sheep by name,” but even changes those names as well. We are now not our own, even our names reflect that.
Meditate and Pray: Thank the Lord that His will, including changing everything about us, is sweet and right. As Faber’s hymn puts it:
I worship thee, sweet will of God,
I love to kiss each print where thou
He always wins who sides with God,
When obstacles and trials seem
Tuesday: read Genesis 48:16 (NKJV) and 1 Peter 1:18-20. We must be careful, as the scholar B.B. Warfield warned us 100 years ago in an article on the word “Redemption,” not to take part in the “funeral” of good words. We have one such word in verse 16 which the NIV sadly translates to “deliver from harm,” but which in the New King James correctly reads: to “redeem from evil.” Jacob here invokes nothing less than the costly work of redemption, which means to “purchase from slavery, debt or even death by the payment of a ransom.” Jacob with his grandfather Abraham experienced being “redeemed” from his sinful way of life by the “Sent One” (i.e. “Angel”) of the Lord. This is none other than Jesus Christ, who, according to 1 Peter 1:18-20, was sent to redeem sinners by His blood.
Meditate and Pray: Let us thank God for the emphasis in the Bible on blood redemption. As James Philip reminds us, the rally cry of the Scottish Reformation under John Knox was “redemption and justification by blood.” Let us celebrate the preciousness of this blood in a verse from hymn # 246 in our Trinity Hymnals:
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Wednesday: read Genesis 48:16 and 1 Peter 1:18-20. Some of our young people just took vows of membership as they professed their faith in Jesus Christ. You may be interested in two of those vows, which make much of Jesus Christ as our only Redeemer and Lord. Vows 2 & 3 read:
- Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
- Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve him with all that is in you, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?
Meditate and Pray: Long before we take these vows, and long before we are baptized, God has already made a ‘covenant’ to be our God… even before we are born. This is why Jesus Himself is called the Lamb “chosen before the creation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), chosen by God the Father to offer His life as a blood sacrifice to redeem us and our children, as well as Jacob’s grandsons – even before we were born!
Thursday: read Genesis 48:16 and Job 19:25. Jacob, in his blessing of the next generation of Joseph’s children, looked forward to the Cross even as we look backwards. For it was there at Calvary that the Lamb Jesus was slain, and there that all generations of God’s people would be redeemed, “not with perishable things such as silver or gold… but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). There is no more important description of salvation for believers of all times and places than this: ‘redemption.’
Another Bible character who understood by faith this idea of redemption was Job, who lived at the same time period as Abraham. Job’s afflictions were so great as to make even aged Jacob’s trials pale in comparison. Things got so bad that he honestly feared in Job 19:23-24 that no one would remember the record of his life – and so Job longs for someone to write down permanently all that his life stood for. But then he remembers that there is a “Redeemer” who will stand in his place on the earth (verse 25) and will represent all his needs and concerns before God. He will not be forgotten! Why? Because there is one who will take his side – even after death, he will see God!
Meditate and Pray: Thank the Lord for the assurance which this word “redemption” gives us with the words of this hymn:
I know that my Redeemer liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know eternal life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.
I know His promise never faileth,
The Word He speaks, it cannot die;
Though cruel death my flesh assaileth,
Yet I shall see Him by and by.
Friday: read Genesis 48:16-20, Numbers 27:18-23 and Hebrews 12:1. When Jacob deliberately puts the blessing on the youngest son of Joseph, it is a solemn and powerful moment. For the first time in the Bible it is said that the act of blessing is accompanied by the laying on of hands. In this way, God pictures for us that His blessings are something which He gives to His people to share, from one human experience of faith to another. When Moses, for example, was commanded to pass on the ‘Spirit’ and office of leadership to Joshua his successor, it is said in Numbers 27:18 & 23 that Moses was to lay hands on Joshua, taking the Spirit which was on him, as it were, and sharing it with Joshua. Is it not wonderful that in the same way in Genesis 48 Jacob pictures for us that sharing spirit with his grandsons? He believed that He was passing on nothing less than the Spirit of God’s Presence even as Isaiah 59:21 promised – from one generation to the other.
Meditate and pray: Lord, there are so many rich experiences of faith which you give to one generation of believers that they might pass it on to the next. Please give us ample opportunity in our church family to pass on many spiritual riches to those we send forth in your Name. May our church be a “cloud of encouraging witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) to those little ones whom you place in our midst. Amen.