Blessing Joseph’s Sons (48:1-21)
As he faced death, Jacob was looking to the promises of God (c.f. Hebrews 11:21). The first words he speaks are, “God Almighty” (v. 3). He is on his deathbed, sick and bedridden, exclaiming the omnipotence of God! He looks back and remembers God’s promise to make him “fruitful and numerous” (v. 4). Here we find the hope that was lost in Eden would be found in Canaan.
As Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons, he says that the “younger shall be greater” (v. 19). Joseph, like many before him and so many of us after him, had to learn that covenant blessings and God’s grace are not obtained through natural birth or background—they are gifts of God. Our salvation is not because we belong to a special family or race or nation, but it is solely based on God’s free grace.
Blessing Leah’s Sons (49:1-15)
Reuben’s preeminence gave way to defilement. His might, strength, dignity, and power were combined with an ungoverned impulse and his undisciplined character forfeited him his place of privilege (vv. 3-4). Simeon and Levi were two of a kind. They demonstrated violent cruelty against the Schechemites, and as a result of that slaughter, they will be scattered (vv. 5-7). Judah is positively contrasted with his brothers (vv. 8-12). From his line, the promised one would come—the ruler of the nations who would usher in the earthly paradise. This includes David, but also David’s greater Son. And it includes Canaan, but it also points forward to the entire earth (c.f. Psalm 2:8; Matthew 5:5).
Blessing the Servant’s Sons (49:16-21)
Dan’s blessing reminds us of the destructive nature of sin and its effects on mankind. However, the coming King would heal all the effects of that fatal bite inflicted by the old serpent, the Devil. Sin continues to do its damage, and yet we hope the Lord’s final salvation.
Blessing Rachel’s Sons (49:22-28)
Both in the depth of his character and in the width of his influence, “Joseph is a fruitful bough” (v. 22). He possessed great earthly prosperity. He was also protected from all his enemies: his brothers, Potiphar’s wife, the forgetful cupbearer. Because of the help of the God of his father, he became a blessing in every possible way.
- Jacob, on his deathbed, showed his family the way out of Egypt to the land of promise. He finished well. In his dying day, he remembered the hope of the promises of God. In the same way, while the course of ours lives will take us through trials and afflictions, as long as we have an interest in God’s covenant, a place and a name among God’s people, and the hope of the heavenly Canaan, we may consider ourselves blessed.
- Jacob’s life was lived between the tension of wonderful promises and the bitter reality of life’s struggle. Often, this is where we find ourselves. Bitter disappointment, grievous loss, severe challenges, tears, and suffering—they are often a part of our earthly journeys, yet the sovereign God is able to bring fruit out of our pain and sorrow, shining light in the midst of deep darkness. How do you respond when you feel that tension in your own life? When you go through dark and difficult times, are you turning to look with hope at all that God has promised you in Christ?