Remain Faithful

Explore the Bible Series

May 25, 2008

 

Background Passage: Genesis 48:1-50:26

Lesson Passage: Genesis 48:3-6; 49:8-10; 50:15-21

Introduction:

Six months ago we began a survey of the majestic, panoramic Book of Genesis. In the ensuing weeks our study has taken us from the primordial mysteries of creation, to the genesis of the human race, the fall of man, the great flood of Noahís generation, and the divine redemptive plan as traced through the family of Abraham. Among all the books ofthe Scriptures, no portion has a more grand scope than Genesis.Above all, God reveals himself here, in clear and unmistakable ways.We have observed:

 

  1. Godís power: What piece of literature can match the poetic glory of the narrative of Godís creative power as he fashioned the universe?The profound simplicity of the creation narrative defies scientific or philosophical analysis.God spoke, and the worlds came into existence, sun and moon appeared, and seas and dry land emerged.The mere utterance of Jehovahís creative word, and the plant and animal life came into existence.The only exception to this oral creative power occurred when God fashioned Adam from the dust of the earth and Eve from the rib of Adam.Mankind enjoys a derived creativity as part of the divine image, but only God possesses the power to create the world from nothing.
  2. Godís wisdom:As God created the various components of the created order, he pronounced all things good. Like some great cosmic puzzle, each aspect of creation fits the precise niche for which God created it.Furthermore, we observe divine wisdom in the deliberate, gradual self-revelation of God.Step by step, the Lord opened himself to mankind.Unfortunately, Godís ďstudentsĒ often proved poor pupils; nevertheless, the Lord faithfully, patiently taught his people.
  3. Godís goodness: Again, God repeated the refrain, ďit is goodĒ at every step of the creative process.He placed man in magnificent Eden and provided everything necessary for manís existence and happiness.When manís sin sullied the Lordís perfect creation, Jehovah set out to reveal his glory through a gracious plan of redemptionóto set right the devastating effects of disobedience.
  4. Godís sovereignty: At every turn, it seems, mankind was intent on thwarting Godís gracious designs; however, the Lordís redemptive plan remained intact and on course.Everywhere we look in Genesis, God oversaw history and prevented the utter ruin of the human race.†† Even Godís chosen people made one mistake after another; yet, God so superintended the course events that the plan of grace unfolded precisely as the Lord intended.
  5. Godís compassion: From the time of Adamís fall, Genesis describes the Lordís kindness and mercy in dealing with his people.This wonderful Old Testament book never soft peddles the moral failures of his people: Adamís disobedience, Abrahamís and Isaacís lies, Jacobís deception, or the unspeakable cruelty of Jacobís sons.Yet, God remained faithful, and he forgave and preserved his people.

Lesson Outline:

 

I.                   Jacobís Blessings on his Sons (48:1-49:27)

A.    Ephraim and Manasseh (48:1-22)

1.      Jacobís rehearsal of Godís covenant (48:1-4 and 7): Jacob intended to tie future generations to their divine inheritance, the Abrahamic Covenant; thus, he recounted Godís kind dealings with him.

2.      Jacobís ďadoptionĒ of Josephís sons (48:6): Reuben was Jacobís eldest son, but he had sacrificed his favored position by defiling his fatherís bed (See 35:22). Simeon, of course, drew his fatherís disfavor by his cruel revenge against Shechem.Ephraim and Manasseh, in a sense, took the positions of honor normally reserved for older sons.

3.      the pronouncement of the blessing (48: 8-22): In a tender scene, Joseph brought his sons to the knees of the aged, infirmed Jacob.The old man crossed his hand and placed the hand of blessing (the right hand) on Josephís younger son, Ephraim. Joseph tried to correct his father, but Jacob insisted on giving the superior honor to Ephraim.

B.     Reuben (49:1-4): This ďblessingĒ begins with such great promise.Reuben possessed great dignity and strength; yet, his disgraceful mistreatment of his father brought tragic consequences.

C.     Simeon and Levi (49:5-7): Partners in cruel revenge, Jacob lumped these Simeon and Levi together. In effect Jacob disinherited these sons, and their descendents, as a result, would not share fully in the bounty of Canaan.Simeonís progeny would be scattered throughout the inheritance of Judah, and Levi, the priestly caste, would dwell in cities among the other tribes.

D.    Judah (49:8-12): Jacob predicted a royal future for the descendants of Judah.Like a great lion, Judah would reign over his brothers in regal majesty.The line of David and Solomon came through Judah, and, eventually, the Lord Jesus descended through the lineage of Judah.

E.     Zebulon (49:13): Jacob anticipated that this son would dwell along the western shores of the Mediterranean and thrive on maritime trade.

F.      Issachar (49:14-15): Jacob predicted that this tribe would trade its spiritual liberty for the material security as the servants of the pagan citizens of Sidon (the Phoenicians).

G.    Dan (49:16-18): Dan, small but powerful, shall prove treacherous.Like a serpent, this tribe will camouflage its insidious nature and strike at its enemyís heels.

H.    Gad (49:19): Gad would, once the tribe entered Canaan, suffer constant raids from its neighbors, Ammon and Moab.Jacob, however, believed that Gad would gain the preeminence over its adversaries.

I.       Asher (49:20): Asher would inhabit a fertile region.

J.       Naphtali (49:21): This tribe later settled in a mountainous region of Canaan, and Jacob anticipated that it would thrive in its future home.

K.    Joseph (49:22-26): Jacob reserved his richest blessing for faithful Joseph.The old man recalled the severe trials Joseph had endured and described his beloved son as a fruitful tree, spreading its bountiful limbs in every direction.

L.     Benjamin (49:27): Jacob used the image of a ravenous wolf to describe his youngest son. In years to come, Benjamin earned a reputation as a fierce, aggressive tribe.

 

II.                The Deaths of Jacob and Joseph (49:28-50:26)

A.    Jacobís death and burial (49:28-50:14):

1.      Jacobís anticipation of his death (49:28-33): The old patriarch asked his sons to bury him in the family tomb, in Machpelah, in the land of Canaan. His grandparents, parents and his first wife were all buried in a cave that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite (See 23:1f), and Jacob wanted to be entombed with his family.

2.      the preparation of Jacobís body (50:1-3): Jews did not embalm bodies, but Joseph apparently allowed this procedure so he could keep his word about Jacobís burial.The Egyptians, of course, were masters of corpse preservation, and Pharaoh, after an appropriate period of mourning, permitted Joseph to return to Canaan to bury Jacob.

B.     Josephís reassurance of his brothers (50:15-21): After Josephís return from Canaan his bothers feared that the prime minister might exact revenge for the siblingsí former cruelty. Finally, the sinful brothers asked the forgiveness of Joseph, and Joseph pardoned them freely.In his great wisdom, Joseph saw the Lordís hand in his sufferings the brothers had an evil intent, but God overruled their sinister design.Joseph forgave and spoke kindly to his family.

C.     Josephís death (50:22-26): Joseph lived 110 years, and, as death approached, he promised that God would one day return the children of Israel to the Land of Promise.Furthermore, the old man made his family pledge that they would return his bones to Canaan, a promise their descendants kept when they interred Josephís remains at Shechem, early four hundred years later (See Joshua 24:32).