Peninsula Community Church
October 4, 2015
Joseph: Dysfunction, Detours and Destiny – Part 4
Genesis 48:1-6 – 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.
Today, we finish the series “Joseph: Dysfunction, Detours, and Destiny.” We began this series by looking at the dysfunction in Joseph’s family and the passivity of his father Jacob. As we come to the conclusion of this study, there is one last aspect of this story that needs to be shared. In Joseph’s day, it was important for the father who was dying to gather his children around him and pronounce a blessing on each one. We find Jacob doing that in his latter days. There is a sense in the way Jacob did this that he was saying I have blown so many opportunities to be the father over this family I should be, I don’t want to miss this one last opportunity to love them. Perhaps, I can undo some of the pain and hurt I have caused.
In our culture, today, we do not always understand the power of blessing as much as they did in Jacob’s day. For Jacob’s sons this was a big deal. This was huge. The blessing was in essence an opportunity for the father to speak words of encouragement and life over his children. The blessing was a means to present their children with a future dream and hope. It was in essence a prophetic word. The blessing not only included words but it also included touch. The father would usually extend his right hand and place it on the son’s shoulder. This was an act of honor and respect for his son. Upon doing that he would pronounce a blessing that encouraged and gave that child a picture of what his future could look like.
As we read the story before us, we find that Jacob blesses his sons but he also does a couple of things that were outside the norm of their day. For one, he blessed Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim and adopted themas his own. It seems he wanted to be sure that they were to be treated fairly by his other sons. We cannot forget that Jacob loved Joseph and his brothers had resented that so he wanted to be sure that they were taken care of. The second curios thing is that Jacob blessed Ephraim, the youngest son, first. This displeased Joseph and he reacted to his dad’s choice.
Listen to the story from Scripture. 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 (Genesis 48:17-22).
Did you hear the words of blessing? Jacob knew what he was doing. He prophetically stated that the younger brother would be greater than his older brother. The younger son would become a multitude of nations. Notice that he was not critical of the older brother, but Jacob was sure that Ephraim would be a greater nation. Jacob wanted to be sure that Ephraim understood that this was the destiny to which he was being called. To make this a tangible blessing, Jacob gave Joseph’s two sons a significant peace of property where they would live and ultimately reign.
With all of that said you may ask how does this apply to my life? Well let me say this. While we may not have an official rite of blessing in our society, we need to be in the business of blessing those in our lives. Parents should bless their children. Grandparents should bless their grandkids. Husbands should bless their wives and vice versa. Here is the bottom line. The principles of blessing can transform marriages, friendships, and adult-siblings and grown children for that matter. We must look for ways to bless and not curse or destroy. And we must do so before we are on our death bed. It must be a regular occurrence.
John Trent counselor and author has suggested five key things to consider ways to blessing others. These include 1) meaningful and appropriate touch, 2) a spoken message, 3) attaching high value to the one being blessed, 4) picturing a special future for him or her, and 5) an active commitment to fulfill the blessing.
Let’s review these for a moment. Meaningful touch is the act of physically communicating warmth, acceptance, and affirmation by touching the other person in a meaningful way. In the Old Testament, before a word was spoken, there was the laying on of hands, a hug, or a significant touch. Appropriate touch is a powerful, non-verbal way to communicate our love and affirmation. If you read the blessing Jacob gave to his sons, you will see that he kissed his grandchildren. He held them close, and he placed his hands on them.
Studies have shown that meaningful touch elevates the hemoglobin in the blood. When this happens, the cells in the blood are able to carry more oxygen which invigorates body tissue. A study at UCLA found that men and women need eight to ten meaningful touches a day to maintain emotional and physical health. This does not mean that we touch our spouses or children repeatedly ten times so we can check that off of our list. There is much more to it than that. Touch must communicate love and respect.
A spoken message is the verbalization of love and acceptance. We need both touch and spoken words to communicate our love, affection, and affirmation. We must understand that words have the power to build up but they also have the power to destroy. Solomon one of the authors of Proverbs knew this well when he stated that Death and life are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Spoken words are critical as individuals are not left to fill in the blank in terms of what we think of them. Through the verbal communication of our love and appreciation others will know they are valuable.
In many homes today such words of love and acceptance are seldom received. Too often, we can believe that love is communicated simply by our presence. What a tragic misconception? A blessing fulfills its purpose only when it is actually verbalized. It must be spoken in person, or written down. For a child and for that matter an adult who is searching for affirmation and blessing, once’s silence communicates mostly confusion. Children who are left to fill in the blanks when it comes to what their parents think about them will often fail the test when it comes to feeling valuable and secure. So speak words of life and hope today.
Attaching high value sends a message to our children and loved ones that they are seen as valuable and accepted. This involves the words themselves. To bless another means we believe that the person you are blessing has incredible worth and value. Even an imperfect person has value. In short, you are helping others see that they are special, useful, and have great value. Use word pictures if necessary to help them understand your love. Tell them that you love them more than just at holidays and special events. Speak life over your loved ones. The idea here is that we don’t just use random words but we look for those things in one’s life where we can encourage them and help them see their own value. That is what Joseph did to Ephraim. He saw something in him and he communicated that vision to him.
Picturing a special future involves helping our children and the people around us know that God has awesome plans for their life and he has something wonderful for them to do in the future. When we touch, we use words that attach high value, there comes a response in a child or loved one’s heart that can be nothing short of transformational. When the light of understanding is turned on in their heart and mind and they catch a glimpse of how God has made them, they can do more than they ever dreamed in living out a God-honoring future. God did that for us when he spoke through Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:11. I know the plans I have for you…
Finally, an active commitment communicates a willingness to do everything possible to help the one being blessed be successful. Genuine commitment is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person that says as long as I have breath, I will be there to seek to build these five elements of the blessing into your life and life-story. Why is active commitment so important when it comes to bestowing the blessing? Words alone cannot communicate the blessing; they need to be backed with a willingness to do everything possible to help the one blessed be successful. We can tell a child, “You have the talent to be a very good pianist.” But if we neglect to provide a piano for that child to practice on, our lack of commitment has undermined our message.
Parents today, in particular, need to rely on the Lord to give them the strength and staying power to confirm their children’s blessing by expressing such an active commitment. They, too, have God’s Word through the Scriptures as a guide, plus the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Can you imagine with me for a moment how different life would be if we were all giving words of life to those around us? Now I know there are some in this world who seem too far gone but that is never the case. Look for ways to give life giving words and hope to them as you encounter them. Don’t lie to them, but sincerely look for ways to give and communicate blessing to those in our lives. What they do with those words and actions are their choice but you have honored God and you have accomplished you part in the task.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
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