The Agate (Heb. Shvoo)

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Tins stone, like the preceding is unknown. It occurs only in the two passages in Exodus where the stones of the breastplate are enumerated. The name of Joseph's elder son Manasseh was engraved upon it. The meaning of this word is " forgetfulness." " And Joseph called the name of the first-born, Manasseh; for God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house." Gen. 41:5151And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. (Genesis 41:51). The order in which the names of his two sons occurs, is reversed in the arrangement of the tribes, because in Jacob's blessing, the younger, Ephraim, was preferred before the elder, Manasseh. But in Christian experience, forgetfulness must precede fruitfulness. Joseph very emphatically declares that it was God who enabled him to forget two things-all his toil, and all his father's house.
The power to cast off the remembrance of the past, so that it shall not intrude in the way of stirring up either murmurings or vain regrets, must come from God. He alone also, can give deliverance from old habits and associations, so that the believer may be able to walk at liberty, both from the bondage of his own evil nature, and from all alliances with the world. It is the power of the Cross alone that can accomplish this. By it the Apostle was able to say, he had been crucified to the world, and the world to him. He could speak also of another crucifixion, viz: that he, Saul of Tarsus, the man in the flesh, had been crucified with Christ; so that he no longer was alive, as in the flesh; he was blotted out from the land of the living in the reckoning of God. Saul the persecutor, the Pharisee, the religious self-righteous man, way gone; and he lived again, not as of the old creation, but Christ lived in him. Though he had a life still in the flesh, which he lived by the faith of the Son of God, who loved him, and gave Himself for him; yet he himself was not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. By that same cross of Christ he was able also to forget the things that were behind. His toil after salvation-his rigid observances under law-things that formerly had been gain to him-all these he could count but loss; and remembering them no more, he pressed on to win Christ.
Death is the true land of forgetfulness: and it is our happy privilege, as believers, to reckon ourselves to have died; to count that God Himself has forgotten us as lost sinners, blotted out of the book of His remembrance, in the death of His Beloved Son; and to know that we are in Christ raised from the dead, that we may bring forth fruit unto God.
Manasseh (forgetfulness) thus precedes Ephraim (fruitfulness.) But not only did Joseph, by the help of God, forget all his toil, but all his father's house. Not indeed that his affection was one whit the less towards them: his heart was still full of love for his brethren; and his father was ever preserved with filial affection and reverence in his memory. But he had no wish to return again into those scenes and circumstances from which God had delivered him. He had no lingering regrets after the earthly fellowships in which his mere natural heart had been once engaged. He yearned after his kindred with a true heavenly longing for their eternal welfare. And God gave him wondrous skill so to deal with the hearts and consciences of his brethren, when the time came, that they truly felt their sin, and had their thoughts directed towards God.
Abraham was the first who was thus called to forget his country, kindred, and father's house: and he, and the patriarchs Isaac and Jacob turned not back again towards the country from which they came out. If they had been mindful of it, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But their hearts were so occupied with the better heavenly country, to which by faith they looked forward, that the former things dwelt not in their memories.
Lot's wife affords a solemn warning to the contrary. In Psa. 45 10, the bride is exhorted to forget her own people, and her father's house, and thus to become more attractive to the King. But, in order to do so, she must first hearken and consider. Her ear must be filled with His voice, and she must consider His comeliness and perfection.
God has placed before us one object of attraction-the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, and exalted to the throne: and in order to have the true Manasseh character, we must fill our eyes and hearts with Him: and then shall we be able to count as dung all other things, and to close our eyes and ears, like dead men, to the world around us; having our hearts filled with the melody of His voice, and by faith already standing in the midst of a new creation, where " old things have passed away, and all things have become new, and all things are of God."