God’s Purposes in Grace

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Genesis 48:1-49:23
When Jacob was about to die, Joseph brought his two sons to him to receive a blessing. Jacob spoke so beautifully of how the Lord had led him all the years of his life, caring for him and feeding him and recalled once again His wonderful promises of blessing. It is grand to see a bright sunset — a happy ending to a believer’s life, even though they have had a rough passage. Surely Jacob had had a stormy journey through life, but the end was bright.
Jacob’s eyes were dim, but he was in communion with the thoughts of God about what he was about to do. When Joseph put Manasseh, the oldest of his sons, at Jacob’s right hand, and Eph­raim, the younger, at his left, Jacob crossed his arms so that his right hand was on Ephraim’s head. The right hand in Scripture is looked at as the hand of power, and Ephraim was the one appointed of God to get the blessing even though he was the younger. God’s blessings are by sovereign grace and not because we deserve them, and His thoughts are not ours. Joseph was dis­pleased, and how often we, too, fail to understand God’s ways of grace, be­cause we bring in something of self.
Special Blessing for Judah
In the forty-ninth chapter, we read of the blessing of Jacob’s twelve sons. We could write a good deal about this, but since we are writing mostly for young folks, we will just draw attention to a few simple points. There was a special blessing for Judah. Now we know that the Lord Jesus was born of that tribe, and here, hundreds of years before His birth, all these things were foretold of Him. “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.” Isn’t that wonderful? Who is worthy of praise? Surely this refers to the Lord Jesus — the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5), and Jacob said that all were to bow before Him. Then we also read, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” Judah was marked out as the royal tribe long before there was a king in Israel at all. Shiloh tells us of Christ, the one around whom the people will gather when He sets up His kingdom in a later day. His name of Jesus means Jehovah the Saviour, and He is the One who bore all the judgment of God against sin to bring about the promised blessings. In a coming day his clothes will be “washed in the blood of grapes,” when He treads the winepress of judgment (Revelation 14:18-­20). Will you meet Him now as your Saviour or later as your Judge?
One Rejected of His Brethren
The blessing of Joseph brings the Lord Jesus before us as the One who was rejected of His brethren the Jews, and just as God overruled and turned the wicked plans of Joseph’s brothers into blessing, so He turned the awful act of crucifying Christ into blessing, not only for Israel, but for all the earth. The Jews were enclosed, separated from the Gentile nations by a wall, but now through Christ the “branches (of blessing) run over the wall” to us poor sinners of the Gentiles.
Christ was hated and cast out, but the “arms of His hands were made strong,” and now He is mighty to save. What a wonderful Saviour He is! Is He your Saviour? He is both able and willing to save you now.
Further Meditation
1. On whose head did Jacob put his right hand?
2. The prophecies about the Lord, such as the lawgiver from Judah, are thrilling to any Christian. What prophecies about Christ from the Psalms can you name that have already been fulfilled?
3. You’d no doubt benefit from pondering the fifty fulfilled prophecies found in Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah.