Next, we see Jacob’s prophetic action: the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh (48:12-20). This was more than a godly grandfather’s concern for his grandchildren. Jacob communicated a message from the Lord. And so, he blessed them in the name of the God who had blessed him. Two aspects of this blessing:
- Jacob blessed them by the Lord of providence. God had blessed him by caring for his physical needs. When we are old, we will do well to express our thanks to God for his provision for us before others that they might be encouraged.
- Jacob blessed them by the Lord of redemption. The Angel mentioned is not a mere created angel but the Angel of the Lord. See Genesis 16:7; 31:11; 32:24. Jacob confessed his need for deliverance. Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name—is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 47:4 NIV).
Jacob blessed them according to the covenant of promise. He included them with those already blessed by God, Abraham and Isaac. This renewed the promise of being part of God’s great nation through Abraham’s seed. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing (Genesis 12:2 NIV).
Jacob blessed them contrary to human expectations, for the younger was blessed before the older. Since every blessing is unmerited, the Lord is free to give to whom he pleases. To one he gives more, to another he gives less. God is free and sovereign in the exercise of his grace. What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (Romans 9:14-16 NIV). God often gives to the least likely (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
Jacob’s prophetic has been fulfilled, because many years later the northern kingdom of Israel came to be called Ephraim. But let us notice this: Joseph was not very happy about this reversal of human expectations (48:17), though he himself had advanced higher than his older brothers. In this he was inconsistent. Let us not criticize God’s sovereign grace when we have benefited by it. One of the many exercises of faith is calmly to trust the holy and wise God to do what is best for his glory in our lives. This is not easy, especially when the Lord’s actions are contrary our comfort, our plans, and our preferences. Trust in God. He knows what is best for his dearly loved children.
Grace and peace, David