The ancient practice of an elderly father pronouncing a blessing upon his children is vividly seen when Jacob’s children assembled before him in Genesis 49. He called his sons together to “….tell them what shall befall you in the last days” (verse 1). He revealed what lay ahead for them. The Divine record of Jewish history shows God gave Jacob such insight. “And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.”
His words to Joseph are filled with lessons which can help us today. He first talked about Joseph being like a fruitful bough, planted beside a well with branches spreading in every direction. This happened, for when the Jews left Egypt the number of his descendants outnumbered any other tribe.
The spiritual lessons from this blessing come as Jacob looked at all that had happened in Joseph’s past. “The archers have bitterly grieved him. Shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength.” As Joseph heard these words, he could no doubt recall that day when his own brothers “shot their arrows of hate” as they decided to kill him. That hate was seen again when they sold him for twenty pieces of silver. There were those arrows of hate which came his way when Potiphar’s wife lied about him. They continued as he spent more than a decade in an Egyptian prison.
However, his bow remained in strength. We read the text, but Joseph lived the text. As God described Joseph’s life, He said, “The Lord was with him” and made whatever he did to prosper (Gen. 39:3, 23). Herein lies the strength for our faithful service to our Master. God is with us!
Look again at the text. “The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob.” The power in his life to overcome trials that came his way was not from his own inward strength. It was from God. Joseph was strong as a teen in Egypt and was strong as he watched his father die. We must learn the lesson that any strength that we have does not come from us but from the Almighty.
Jacob reminded Joseph his help came from the Lord when he further described God. He was the Mighty God of Jacob, the Shepherd and the Stone of Israel (Gen. 49:44). The twenty-third psalm would not be written until a thousand years later, but Jacob and Joseph knew God was the Shepherd. He was the source of strength and comfort. Read Jacob’s words and make them part of your soul.
God is the Stone of Israel and He is the Stone of Christians. God help us to be wise enough to build our house on the Rock and not on shifting sand.