Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger. . . .
As Jacob enters the last days of his life, he has the opportunity to think about what he has learned in a lifetime of encounters with God. He can look back at the pain of life, both from his own sin and from circumstances around him. But he can also look back and see God’s faithfulness throughout his life.
This same Jacob had once tried to manipulate life so that only good, and nothing bad, happened to him. He tricked his brother and father, and then later his uncle, into doing things his way. But something has changed now as he looks back. We no longer see a fearful, anxious, grasping man. We see instead an awareness that God has been at work in his life the whole time.
And it is out of this awareness that Jacob blesses others. He, of course, knows the tradition that older sons would receive the greater share of the family blessing. But he crosses his arms to switch things up again. Jacob isn’t confused, as Joseph assumes. Rather, he has learned that God doesn’t work exactly how we want him to—and that is for our good.
Can you say, with Jacob, that God “has been my shepherd all my life to this day”? His grace may sometimes come unexpectedly, but God will always work for our good.
Lord, we sometimes sing, “I know not why God’s wondrous grace to me he has made known. . . .” But as we see your character and goodness, Lord, may we, like Jacob, claim you as our shepherd, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
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