“By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.”
Jacob had many trials throughout his life after he received Isaac’s blessing. He had to flee his home because Esau was angry and planned on killing him. In Haran, Jacob worked for Laban, and as stated in Genesis 31: 41, “Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou has changed my wages ten times.” Jacob sorrows over his sons’ poor choices, for example, the choices that lead Reuben to not be worthy of the birthright. His suffering after his beloved Joseph was supposedly killed by a beast, and all Jacob and his house had to endure during the famine.
Jacob’s faith was rewarded many times during his life. We briefly discussed some of the things that weighed down on his mind. It is possible that he thought about how he was going to carry out the Abrahamic covenant without a rightful heir. Unbeknownst to Jacob, God had preserved, molded, and prepared Joseph during the years he had been thought of as dead. At the end of his life, God showed Jacob mercy once again by allowing his entire posterity to survive the famine and reuniting his family. Jacob rejoices in that he was permitted to live and meet more of his posterity. He graciously adopts Ephraim and Manasseh and grants them his blessing.
Of all people, Jacob knew how important the birthright and the Abrahamic covenant were, as we discussed in the last blog post. On his deathbed, Jacob’s faith strengthens him to deliver the rightful blessings to Ephraim and Manasseh. He knew how God had guided his father, Isaac, to grant him his blessing. I would like to think that Jacob had learned the process and was in tune with the Spirit and revelations granted unto him by God. It is evident that Jacob knew exactly what he was doing despite his sight becoming dim, just like his father’s had, when Joseph questioned him right before the blessings were conferred upon Ephraim and Manasseh. Let’s review what transpired in Genesis 48:13-20
13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.
14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.
18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
Jacob knew God’s will, and he obediently followed through with granting the correct blessings upon Ephraim and Manasseh. His faith in fulfilling those commandments did not falter, even when his beloved Joseph doubted his judgment. He let his son know that he knew who the firstborn was, but he also let him know his testimony that God had made known unto him what would take place in the lives of his grandchildren.
Again, to me, this is a message that we must not doubt the blessings that are granted unto others. God knows the purpose of every human being who has lived, is currently living, and will one day live on this earth. We are all God’s children. He knows us personally. He knows our potential. We must rely on our faith that He will shape us into the individuals we are destined to become. Don’t question how He molds the people around us, despite their religious or social background. God is no respecter of persons. Everyone is entitled to partake of the gift of the Atonement and become new creatures through the process of repentance. We must help them in their journey without being judgmental of their circumstances. After all, isn’t this one of the purposes of our community, to become united in purpose with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
I challenge you to find ways in which you can bless the lives of others by helping them fulfill their divine purposes. Ask God, your Father and their Father, to guide you in this process. Ask Him to help you see these individuals as He sees them. You may want to start with a family member or a close friend. Maybe a co-worker. How will your faith be strengthened as you do this, you may ask? Let me reiterate the purpose of faith, as stated in Hebrews 11:1 "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We may not see the fruits of our labors in this life as we help these individuals. But you have no idea how your words, your actions, and your obedience to the promptings God gives you will aid these people even if it is years down the road. We are placed in each other’s paths for a reason. It is not by coincidence. Can you think of a time of great need when God introduced you to an individual that helped you through a physical or spiritual trial? Can you remember your thoughts of gratitude or joy as you pondered God’s great love for you in sending this individual to help strengthen you? In my experience, these are the people that I end up developing very strong bonds of friendship.
I feel inspired to share a personal story with you. A few years ago, I went through a very difficult trial, in which I had to leave a situation which was damaging me spiritually and emotionally. I literally had nowhere to go. I had great friends and family that opened their hearts and their homes to me and were there for me during that time of need. But I needed a place to live in more permanently. I found a few options and started calling the numbers. I connected with a young woman close to my age, and we agreed to meet as soon as I returned from my parents’ home out-of-state. I was nervous about living with someone who was a complete stranger to me at the time. However, God granted me peace. As soon as I met her and saw her home, I knew we had been brought together for a purpose. We became roommates, but more importantly, she became a great confidant and friend. I cannot imagine how my life would have been during those years, especially the first few months after I moved in, had I not been guided to her. My life was truly blessed, and I am forever grateful to God for placing us in each other’s path when he did.
Read all the post from the Hebrews 11 Part 2 Series:
Sacrifice without Hesitation
Trusting the Promised Blessings
Don’t forget to download the study guide!