Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Last Shall Be First

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Thursday, January 24, 2013: Genesis 48:1-49:33

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”  19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”  Genesis 48:17-19 (NKJV)

It is amazing throughout Scripture how many times God reverses the natural order of things.  Jesus referred to this when He said, So the last will be first, and the first last. (Matt. 20:16)  That's what happens here when Joseph brings his sons to blessed by his father Jacob.  Manasseh was the older, but it is Ephraim the younger that receives the strongest blessing.

This is the same thing that had happened between Jacob and his older brother Esau.  There had been a role reversal.  Now the old man Jacob remembers that God's calling and God's blessing is not according to man's wisdom or man's choosing, but according to God's election. 

From the beginning of Genesis to the end of the New Testament we see this pattern.  It is not the firstborn Cain but the second son Abel who finds favor with God (Gen. 4).  When it came time to name the king of Israel, it was not the first six sons of Jesse that were chosen, even though they looked the part.  It was the weakling last son, David (I Samuel 16).  God reverses the natural order of things and choses whom He will!

The entire Bible is like that.  Adam was the first man.  By him, we fell.  It is Jesus, the second man, that restores, that saves, that brings the blessing.  We've got to see things from God's perspective.  The natural order of things is rarely the way God works.  He takes those who are "behind the eight-ball" -- those who were left out of the inheritance -- those who did not have a future -- and says over them, YOU ARE MY CHOSEN.

One further word: Manasseh means "forgotten".  Ephraim means "fruitful".  Manasseh says the past is behind me and I am forgetting my misery.  That's a good thing, but remember: it's focused on dealing with the past.  Ephraim speaks of the future.  It says, "I will now be fruitful and prosper." 

It is an important thing to deal with the injuries of our past.  But the greatest blessing comes on us when we move ahead and embrace a fruitful future.  That is one of the lessons of the sons of Joseph.  God says that He not only forgives you, but He also gives you His riches.

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