A Father’s Reunion
Reunions can be very powerful moments in our lives. Perhaps you have not seen a high school friend for many years or time and distance has kept you away from a cherished family member, but the moment you are reunited it’s as though no time has passed at all and tears of joy quickly appear. Reunions are about hope and restoration. One of the beautiful aspects of our journey with Jesus is that we have been promised an ultimate reunion with God and with those followers of Jesus who have preceded us in death. We grieve when we lose someone we love, but our grief does not need to overwhelm us or define our lives; rather, we have hope that this separation is temporary and that one day we will be reunited.
We are told that Jacob and Joseph are given another seventeen years to be together and as Jacob’s time is drawing near, he asks to be buried back in the land of promise. Joseph promises his father that he will fulfill this final request. Word reaches Joseph that his father is soon going to die, and he brings his sons Manasseh and Ephraim to his father. Jacob shares his story with his son and grandsons to help them understand his journey with God. At important moments throughout the story of the people of Israel, someone will rehearse their story in relationship to God. There is no identity apart from story and the story of Israel is often repeated to remind them of who they are and whose they are.
Jacob has journeyed with God for many years and will give God various names due to God’s response to different crisis or important moments of his life. Based upon your own journey with God, what name or names would you give him? Has he been a Redeemer for you? Has he been a Savior and Deliverer for you? Has he been a Healer and Restorer for you? Has he been a Provider and Sustainer to you? God meets us at our deepest need and continues to show up in powerful ways. Your names for God become the fuel for our worship. When we praise him in music, we remember these names and make them the focus of our response to God.
A Father’s Blessing
Jacob does something really interesting at this point, he takes Manasseh and Ephraim and he takes them through an adoption process. His two grandsons will no longer belong to Joseph, but will be considered as sons of Israel (taking the places of Reuben and Simeon as first and second born). This is why there is no tribe of Joseph in the lists of the sons of Israel beyond this moment. Why does Jacob do this? Jacob shares a portion of his story concerning Rachel as she dies on their way home. Jacob still grieves the loss of Rachel and wants to honor her in one final gesture: she named Joseph as a way to express her desire for more children, and now through adoption, Rachel has been given two more sons. However, Jacob continues the pattern of elevating the youngest son over the eldest son by pacing Ephraim over his brother Manasseh. Jacob gives a father’s blessing to both brothers and gives them the blessing he and his fathers received from God: numerical growth, blessing, and the land.
As we conclude our series, I would like to ask this question: How are you navigating your own darkest moments? I do not know all of your stories, but I do know that so many people in our community continue to struggle with illness, loss of jobs, consequences from broken decisions, loss of hope, and broken relationships. I have to imagine that many of you are facing the same challenges. I hope you have been able to take some helpful steps from this series to help you make through your darkest moments. Do not go through these times alone. Please reach out to our small community to see if we can be of some assistance during these dark moments.
Listen to the message, and others from the entire series.