“Never be ashamed to cry. No man is too good to get on his knee and humble himself to God. Follow your heart and look for the strength of a woman. Remember who taught you to speak, to walk and to be a gentleman. These are your first teachers, my little prince. Protect them, embrace them and always treat them like a queen.” These words were written by First Sergeant Charles Monroe King to his unborn son, Jordan, in a 200-page journal he left for his son before boarding a plane for his last tour in Iraq. Charles King would never see his son become a man, being killed by an explosion on October 14, 2006, a month from completing his tour of duty.
While King led his soldiers into battle, he had to prepare his son for a life without him. King wrote in a letter to Jordan’s mother, he included in the front of the journal, “This is the letter every soldier should write, he said. For us, life will move on through Jordan. He will be an extension of us and hopefully everything that we stand for. ... I would like to see him grow up to be a man, but only God knows what the future holds.” Only God knows the future, but King lived and died in hope for the future of his son. Fathers, what will be our legacy of our children? We must live and die for the hope of our children, but always remembering that only God knows the future. Jacob understood this great truth.
As Jacob is nearing death, he gathers his sons to him and speaks encouraging them to hold on to the God of the promise. God promised Abraham that his offspring would be in the promise land of blessing so that they would be a blessing to all the earth. Jacob’s last words help to prepare his sons to live without him by encouraging them live unto the God of promise. Fathers, in life and in death, Jacob lived for his children’s future hope in God. I pray that we would leave such a legacy for our children always reminding them that only God knows the future and he has already spoken it in His Word. Jacob points his children to God by blessing them laying out their God ordained futures.
The Father’s Redeeming Blessing
Jacob knew his time had come and he was about to die, but before he died, he had to prepare his son for their future. Genesis 48:1-21,
After this, Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’ And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance. As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
When Israel saw Joseph's sons, he said, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 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 him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). And he blessed Joseph and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.
Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”
Jacob adopts Joseph’s two sons as his children. He realizes that it was a divine blessing for him to see Joseph and his children. As Jacob blesses Joseph and his sons, the reader is reminded of Jacob entering into his father, Isaac’s tent for this blessing. Jacob’s eyes had grown dim, and Jacob blesses the younger brother over the older. Joseph is upset, but is reminded that both children will become a multitude of nations.
Jacob then reminds Joseph of what he learned through his sufferings, “God will be with you.” Jacob wanted to remind Joseph and by extension, all God’s people, that he will be with them. He also says to Joseph, “and will bring you again to the land of your fathers.” Jacob reminds Joseph that he is not of Egypt, but of Israel. God has promised a land to the people of God. God prepared a land for his people in creation and God is preparing a land for his people in re-creation. The preparing of land is an integral theme throughout the Bible culminating in Jesus words in the gospel of John when he told his disciples that he must suffer and die so that he can go ahead of them and prepare a place for them (John 14:2-3). And one day God will bring down his land, the New Jerusalem, to his people (Rev. 21:1-4).
As Joseph is promised this land, this would have reminded Israel as they stood before the promise land that God was with them and promised to give them a land. God would give Israel victory through Joshua in the conquest of Canaan providing them rests from all their enemies…for a while. God would give Israel victory through David in the conquest of Jerusalem …for a while. God would give Israel victory through Jesus in the conquest against death…for all time. With his last words, Jacob is reminding Joseph to trust God’s promise of land. Fathers can prepare their children for the future without them by teaching them the very great and precious promise of God.
After blessing Joseph and his sons, Jacob calls the rest of his sons and blesses them. Genesis 49:1, “Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in the days to come.” Jacob lays down the blessing of each of his sons, the twelve tribes of Israel. We do not have time to examine the specific blessing to each son, but these blessings would have been vastly important for the people of Israel as the rest of their history will be told through the tribes that bear their names. Although we cannot look at all of them, we must look at the promise given to Judah. Jacob said to Judah,
Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey's colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk. (Genesis 49:8-12)
The royal line of the kings of Israel shall from Judah. David, Israel’s first great King, would come from Judah foreshadowing, Jesus Christ, Israel’s final King. (Jesus is the true vine who would ride the donkey’s foal in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.) The scepter shall not depart from Judah should remind Christians of the Scepter imagery in Daniel’s dreams and Psalm 2 which show the Scepter crushing the nations giving victory to the Lord. This blessing alludes to God’s blessing of David being when he says to him in 2 Samuel 7:12-14,
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men.
We know the forever King to sit on the forever throne is Jesus Christ. John writes in Revelation 5,
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals….“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:2-5; 9-10)
Jesus is the only one worthy of redeeming people from every tribe and language and nation giving them reign on the earth. Jesus is worthy because he was perfect, innocent of all sin. And although he committed no sin, he entrusted himself to God and bore our sins in his body on a tree. Jesus died for sinners, but God raised him from the dead. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God as the King of kings and Lord of lords. The scepter, meaning his reign, shall never depart from his hand. He reigns forever.
Jacob did not fully realize the full impact of the prophecy given to Judah, but he was training his children to trust God. Beloved, only God knows what will happen to our children, but we can prepare them for their future by teaching them to trust God. As the old Gospel Song goes,
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living, Just because He lives!
We can trust God with our future because he lives. Jesus was dead and buried, but He is alive today reigning on the throne of God above.
Jacob wanted his children to hold fast to God’s promises so even in his death, he provides hope for his children.
The Father’s Redeeming Burial
Jacob makes Joseph promise to bury him in the promise land of his fathers and not in Egypt (Genesis 47:29-30). The dominate theme in the last three chapters of Genesis is the burial of Jacob. On scholar notes that, “It is as though the dying Jacob wishes to go ahead and to be on hand in the land when it is fully given.” He wanted to be in the land when God gave it to his people. By faith, even in death, Jacob was trusting in the promise of God and teaching his children to trust in that promise.
All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him. Then he commanded them and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah—the field and the cave that is in it were bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people. Then Joseph fell on his father's face and wept over him and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. (Genesis 49:28-50:3)
Jacob asked to be buried in Canaan, but Joseph still needed approval from Pharaoh. Joseph was second line to the throne, but still was a servant to Pharaoh. Joseph had to go to ask Pharaoh to let his father go. Israel was in Egypt, but that was not his home. Jacob needed an exodus from Egypt. Notice how Jacob’s exodus from Egypt foreshadows the exodus of God’s people from Egypt.
And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, ‘My father made me swear, saying, “I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.” Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.’” And Pharaoh answered, “Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear.” So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen. It was a very great company… Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave … which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father. (Genesis 50:4-9;12-14)
Jacob wanted his sons to have faith in God’s promise to give them a land. Moses took a lot of time to portray this funeral procession so that all of God’s people in the future would know that God will keep his promises. Sailhamer notes, “The story of Jacob’s burial in the land foreshadows the time when God ‘will bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel. (Ezekiel 39:25).” The funeral procession out of Egypt back to the land of promise foreshadows the exodus from Egypt to Canaan, foreshadows the exodus from captivity to Jerusalem and foreshadows the exodus from a cursed earth to new creation.
A Gentile centurion saw the power of God in Christ and believed. Upon seeing his faith Jesus, said, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” The funeral procession of Jacob foreshadows that day when God will gather people from all the nations from east and west to eat together at the Marriage Supper in kingdom of heaven. God’s people have always needed to be reminded that we are exiles here on earth looking forward to country whose builder is God. All the nations of the earth will be shaken, but we belong to a kingdom that can never be shaken.
Jacob wanted his sons to experience a brief picture of the promise of God in burying him in Egypt, but his sons had a hard time believing. His sons did not think that they were worthy to return to the land because of their evil deeds. How could they be allowed to enter into the promise land after what they did to their brother Joseph? How could we be allowed to enter into the promise land after the evil we have done?
The Father Redeems the Bad
Genesis 50:15, “When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.’” Joseph’s brothers had been promised redemption, but they could not believe that they will not face retribution from God. His brothers feared that Joseph would pay them back for the evil they had done. Do you feel the same way of God? Are you afraid that one day God will punish you for the evil in your life? Do you feel that you need to do a little more so that God would be pleased with you? If that’s you, you may not have fully embraced the redemption of Jesus Christ.
Joseph’s brothers try to protect themselves from his wrath by conjuring up a lie. This lie brings Joseph to tears. Genesis 50:19-21, “But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Joseph understood how he used the evil in his life for the good of others. Joseph learned to trust God’s sovereign plan.
God took the evil of Joseph’s brothers and redeemed it. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. Beloved, do not fear retribution; do not fear death; do not fear wrath, because your evil has been redeemed by God. Beloved, this is the gospel. We like Joseph brothers have been given the promise of a future not because of our righteousness, but because of God’s mercy. We are forgiven because God took the ultimate evil, the crushing death of the sinless Son of God, and applied it for our good. We are forgiven because Christ died and rose again. Jesus Christ says to us, “Do not fear. Believe in me.” Do not fear retribution from God, but rejoice in your redemption by God. God will provide us salvation. We will be kept alive even after death because of our Redeemer.
I will glory in my Redeemer
Whose priceless blood has ransomed me
Mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails
And hung Him on that judgment tree
I will glory in my Redeemer
Who crushed the power of sin and death
My only Savior before the holy Judge
The Lamb who is my righteousness
The Lamb who is my righteousness
I will glory in my Redeemer
Who carries me on eagles’ wings
He crowns my life with lovingkindness
His triumph song I’ll ever sing
I will glory in my Redeemer
Who waits for me at gates of gold
And when He calls me, it will be paradise
His face forever to behold
His face forever to behold
Beloved, Genesis ends in death, “So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt (Gen. 50:26).” It is a harsh reality of sin. All will die, but because of our Redeemer we have a future. We all have a future. For sinners with God it will be eternal death, but for believers, one day, like Joseph and Jacob, our bones will be carried up from here and placed in God’s eternal kingdom to live forever. We will live with God and God will live with us. When he calls us, it will be paradise. It will be paradise because there will be no sin or death or mourning or tears. It will be paradise because our exodus will be complete. It will be paradise because we will behold the face of our Savior forever. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Beloved, God has redeemed our evil through the death and resurrection of His Son. We can live in hope and we can teach our children to live in hope, because our Father sent forth his Son to redeem us. Genesis starts in God’s good world and it ends in death, but through faith, we now can die in hope because one day God will carry up our bones into the promise land. Beloved, do not fear death; hope in God who will keep His promise.
 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/01/us/01charles.html?_r=0 accessed 6.18.2016
 Griedanus, Sydeney, 468.