Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Hebrews 11 says:
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons,
and worshiped as he leaned on his staff.
By faith Joseph, when his end was near,
spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt
and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph had this in common: while preparing to die, their faith looked to the future which God promised the next generations.
Let’s start with Isaac, who made a plan to pass God’s blessing to his older son, Esau. While Esau was off hunting game for a celebration meal, his brother, Jacob, impersonated him and tricked Isaac into giving him the blessing. When Esau returned from hunting, he was so angry he threatened to hunt Jacob. Father Isaac, fearing a rerun of the Cain and Abel story, unhappily sent Jacob and his blessing to a distant land to live with relatives.
Does that sound like what the author of Hebrews describes? Isaac, man of faith, blessing his sons? Or does it read like a story of the weak patriarch in a dysfunctional family, haphazardly bestowing his blessing on a deceitful son?
Next, look at Jacob. After deceiving his father and running away from home, he lived with Uncle Laban, cheating and being cheated, until many years later he returned to his birthplace, still fearing Esau’s anger. Fortunately, Esau had lost his anger. But Jacob’s family continued the story of dysfunction. His favorite son, Joseph, was hated by his ten other sons, so they sold Joseph as a slave into Egypt and generated fake news about his death for father Jacob. Fortunately, God intervened, promoting Joseph as a ruler of Egypt. Joseph invited his family to Egypt to wait out the famine.
When Jacob was dying in Egypt, Joseph brought his sons to receive a blessing. Joseph positioned them so that his father’s right hand would be on the elder son, giving him the greater blessing. But Jacob crossed his arms and gave the blessings backward. Joseph was displeased, but Jacob said, “That’s how it is. The younger will be greater.”
Jacob, the younger son who stole the blessing, now gives preference to another younger son. Is Jacob manipulating history? Or as the book of Hebrews says, are his blessings an act of faith?
Finally, Joseph, when he was dying, predicted that God would bring Israel back from Egypt to the Promised Land, and requested that the Israelites repatriate his bones. But Joseph didn’t see what his bones saw in Egypt–four hundred troubled years until God took his people to their home.
So what do these patriarchs teach us about faith?
Our father, perhaps faith is not a gift that solves our problems. Perhaps it is a gift that believes you are present in our confused and troubled lives. As you did with Isaac, work through the blessings we confer in our confused way. As you did with Jacob, work through the deceits we perpetrate and the lies we live. As you did with Joseph, bring about the future we see dimly, but you see clearly. Like the patriarchs, our road has been long and winding, our character often weak and naive. But we trust our lives to your promises, for the present we see and for the future we hope to see.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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