Last words, last words that people say before they die are usually remembered because they are so precious, so special. My mother’s last words to us as she went into triple by-pass surgery was “no stroke”. Her greatest fear, especially as a nurse, was to be paralyzed, we’re grateful God granted that request, no stroke but she died 6 days later, always remember her last words.
This last week, we’re looking at LAST WORDS…Jacob’s and Joseph’s. Encouraging to read that their last words were filled with HOPE and Faith in the Covenant=covenant keepers
I. Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons - Genesis 48
II. Jacob blesses his twelve sons - Genesis 49:1-28
III. Jacob dies and is buried in Canaan - Genesis 49:29-50:14
IV. Joseph forgives brothers - Genesis 50:15-21
V. Joseph dies with faith in Covenant - Genesis 50:22-26
A. Jacob sick. Genesis 48:1,2. One day news came to Joseph “your dad is sick”. READ Genesis 48:1,2. Dad don’t sit up, you’re too weak, I’ll help you lie back down, Jacob is determined to sit up, he’s in the process of dying but while he was alive he would act as head of the family, God’s covenantal blessings needed to be passed to the next generation. This is the scene recorded in Hebrew 11:21.
B. Jacob reviews covenant. Genesis 48:3,4. His body is wearing out, but there is no problem with his memory, he reviews the past “sovereign, in control of all things, God appeared to me at Bethel, and the God of Abraham, Isaac became my God too and He gave me the Covenantal blessing”
C. Jacob no doubt at the end of his life is looking forward to the time when his sons would be multiplied, into tribes, proceeded to adopt Joseph’s two sons as his own, READ Genesis 48:5,6 on par with Reuben, Simeon and the rest. Reuben’s birthright, which was normally given to the eldest son, is now given to the two sons of Joseph= Joseph becomes a collective noun in Genesis 48:15,21. The two tribes, Ephraim/Manasseh would reflect that double portion, this explains why Joseph did not become head of a tribe, but his sons did.
D. Rachel. READ Genesis 48:7
Genesis 48:7 has long puzzled biblical interpreters. Why the mention of Rachel at this point in the narrative, and why the mention of her burial site? If we relate the verse to what precedes, then the mention of Rachel could be prompted by the fact that just as she had borne Jacob “two sons” at a time when he was about to enter the land, so also Joseph gave Jacob “two sons” just at the time when he was about to enter Egypt” 1
Or it’s possible that something in Joseph’s face, his mannerisms, reminded him of her, and his mind wandered to think about her, the love of his life, remembered that sorrowful time of her death, never forgot that moment.
E. Jacob turned his head, saw shadow of Joseph’s sons. READ Genesis 48:8,9. His old eyes were failing, cataracts, macular degeneration? Arms wrapped around them, kissed them, turned to Joseph remembered the long painful years when he thought he was dead READ Genesis 48:11. Boys were brought close for the blessing, Joseph positioned them by birth order but with prophetic insight Jacob crossed his hands, so that his right hand was on the head of the younger, and the left hand on the elder. READ Genesis 48:15,16 the blessing. This is the first of many biblical accounts of “laying on of hands” to bless or dedicate someone. This is the fourth consecutive generation of Abraham’s descendants to reverse the birth order in the blessing. How often God reverses our order, our plans of doing things. God is many things but one He is not= predictable. God and His ways will not be put in a box, He will not be described by a formula, His ways are not our ways.
Why was this blessing so important that the book of Hebrews included it? These boys belonged to Jacob, yes they were born in Egypt, educated there, but they were to be Hebrews, God’s chosen people, they needed their grandfather’s testimony, to know their grandfather’s God. Same today w/our children, our grandchildren must be taught the truths of our faith, so that one day the baton can be passed on to them and then on to their children…responsibility of all who are part of the community of faith. Application: what are you doing to pass on the faith?
F. Request. READ Genesis 48:21,22. Speaking to Joseph directly he gives the “ridge of land” mountain slope, area of Shechem that he had won in a battle from the Amorites that’s not recorded in Scripture. We’ll see some 400 years later, that’s where Joseph’s bones are buried.
A. READ Genesis 49:1,2. Likely that this scene was immediately following Jacob’s blessing the grandsons. When Joseph saw how sick his father was, word was sent to all the brothers to come quickly, as they arrived, Jacob was sitting up in bed waiting for them. As Jacob looked around the room at his sons he knew them well, he had observed their strengths, weaknesses, their character. Now with the enabling of the Holy Spirit he would predict their futures as Tribes of the nation Israel. It seems each son’s life is reviewed then rebuked or rewarded. NOTE: Jacob’s style of speech is not the normative narration, and the sons were probably shocked to hear their father speak in poetic form. Sons are grouped according to their mothers, Leah, concubines, then Rachel.
1. Reuben: KEY word= instability Genesis 49:3,4 there were great hopes as the first born but he became unstable and uncontrollable and forfeited his position and birthright.
2,3. Simeon and Levi: Disgrace of Treachery Genesis 49:5,6 instead of standing together for GOOD they stood for wickedness, seemingly encouraging a violent streak in each other. Like Reuben they forfeited their family position because of sin, massacre at Shechem. I will scatter them=Simeon’s land was actually inside Judah’s territory. Levi’s scattering was very different, example of the mercy of God. God turned this curse into a blessing after the Levites opposed idolatry, stood w/Moses, they became the priests and were scattered through 48 cities in Israel.
4. Judah: Blessing of Sovereignty Genesis 49:8-12 He was the 4th son of Leah, already heard his father’s stern rebuke of his 3 older brothers, tremble when he heard his name for he had sinned too, slept w/his daughter-in law, suggested selling Joseph, amazingly instead of judgment he heard praise, pre-eminence, power, prosperity in his descendants’ future
His very name means Praise, Judah would be the family leader and his would be the royal tribe as the Lion was the king of the beasts, the Lion of the tribe of Judah would be King of Israel. Both Jews and Christians look at these verses as being messianic, referring to the Jewish Messiah. But Jacob could not have known himself that one day Jesus Christ would be called in Revelation 5:5 “lion of the Tribe of Judah”
Genesis 49:11,12 are Hebrew idioms describing a time of abundance, When Judah’s lion comes to reign the land would be so productive, so fruitful, vines would grow abundantly, wines presses would be full, a land of milk and honey. This prosperity is God’s doing, not based on merit but the sovereignty of God, His plan. If I were choosing the son through whom Messiah would come, I’d vote on Joseph. God chose Judah.
5. Zebulun: Position of Opportunity. Genesis 49:13. Positioned well for trade, merchant tribe.
6. Issachar: Weakness of Contentment. Genesis 49:14,15. Image of a strong donkey, useful, capable of hard work, yet docile, lazy, complacent. Later we see that while other tribes are fighting for possession of their land, Issachar is not mentioned.
Now Jacob comes to the sons of the concubines. The culture allowed them to be sons but would Jacob count them in the inheritance? Would they be included? Even though their prophecies are short, Jacob does include them, there is no distinction made between the children of the wives and the sons of the concubines.
7. Dan: Poison of Criticism. Genesis 49:16,17. Dan was evidently very shrewd, analytical and intellectually gifted. A family of Judges comes from Dan, most famous = Samson. But like a serpent, Dan could be sharp and critical, biting rather than helping.
8. Gad: Victory. Genesis 49:19. His name means to overcome, he chose his inheritance of the far side of the Jordan, but also fought with his brothers for their land. Gad stood with David during his time of rejection (I Chronicles 12). Captains in David’s army came from Gad.
9. Asher: Privilege of Prosperity. Genesis 49:20. They inherited a fertile strip of land along the Mediterranean coast, the breadbasket area, out of Asher, food for the kings were supplied. His lot was the good life, prosperity, abundance, affluence.
10. Naphtali: Gifts. Genesis 49:21. Picture a beautiful female deer, swift, graceful, sensitive, artistic that speaks beautiful words, reproducing herself in others.
11. Joseph: Joy of Fruitfulness. Genesis 49:22-26. Through his 2 sons Joseph would receive a double inheritance, although he was attacked and persecuted he remained strong in his faith because he relied on His God “The Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, the God of his father” that’s who strengthened him. Joseph would be blessed by God with material blessings and spiritual blessings. Deborah, Joshua, Samuel, Gideon were all his descendants.
12. Benjamin: Possibility of Change. Genesis 49:27. After Joseph’s blessing this blessing seems insignificant, seems strange to give a beloved son this prophecy. He calls him a wolf, largest of all canines, powerful predator, fierce, ready to fight, whose strength could turn to cruelty and it did (Judges 20) in the Benjamite wars. His land was small, rugged but strategically close to Jerusalem. When the 10 tribes rebelled and split, Benjamin remained with Judah. Through Benjamin God gives the encouragement that w/ Him there is always the possibility of change. Saul, a Benjamite, became Paul the apostle.
A. Dying request. READ Genesis 49:29-32. Jacob’s final words are filled with hope and faith in the Covenant that had been passed to him from his father Isaac. He wanted to be back in the Promised Land.
B. Death. READ Genesis 49:33. For Jacob death was not the end, it was a going home to be with his family, His God. It has always been true for Covenant Keepers, believers.
II Corinthians 5:8 NLT© 5:8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. Absent from the body and present with the Lord.
For the believer, for Jacob, there is no sting of death, only the sorrow of temporary separation for those left behind.
Jacob, this man who names mean trickster, supplanter, deceived his father for the blessing, walked life in his own strength in his own ability until he met God personally at Bethel, learned to worship, learned to trust, then 20 years later, as he faced another crisis in his life he met the Lord face to face, wrestled to the point of being broken, learned then to cling to God, Jacob became Israel, prince of God. His warnings and prophecies were all intended to bring these 12 sons to a new individual commitment to God so that he could pass the baton of faith to the NATION of Israel. Convinced that he had finished his race, done his part, gets back in bed, puts down his staff, lies back and gives up his spirit to be gathered to his people, not death, but a homecoming celebration. Application: will that be true for you?
C. Burial READ Genesis 50:1-3 Hebrews did not embalm bodies, normally buried the deceased the same day but Egyptians did embalm, at least the upper-class. Embalming would be necessary to transport Jacob’s body on the long trip back to Canaan. To honor his father’s request, Jacob gets permission from Pharaoh to travel. READ Genesis 50:7 it would seem over 100 people: family, brothers, wives, servants, soldiers left children, flocks and herds and traveled to Hebron. What an impact on the Egyptians this must have had. If Joseph had not grieved- he didn’t care. If all he did was grieve-his religion was no different than theirs. The trip back to Canaan was a sermon in itself, an opportunity to tell others of the true God and His promises made to His people. They grieved, but they grieved with hope of an eternity with God, with the Covenantal promises that were made forever.
A. Fear. Their father is dead, they’ve had elaborate funeral arrangements, buried the body in Canaan now they’ve come home, back to their routines, brothers start whispering to each other “Now that dad’s gone, what’s to prevent Joseph from getting revenge, he could have us arrested, even killed, or make us slaves like we did to him” They have reason to fear, they had committed a horrendous crime, but their fears were unnecessary, why? READ Genesis 50:17b
B. Forgiveness. Joseph wept because they were confessing a sin that was already forgiven, forgotten. What an arrow of hurt their suspicions must have been to him. Think of all the kindnesses he had shown them, how could they have doubted his love?
C. Foresight of God. Joseph again told them READ Genesis 50:19-21. What gave Joseph the ability to speak these powerful words? He knew God, He knew God’s ways, He knew God’s purposes. Two things specifically he trusted in 1. God is Sovereign- nothing happens by accident, God is in control. 2. God is good- He desires what is best for us always. On the surface it looked bad for Joseph, sold into slavery, forgotten, abandoned but God was preparing him, setting the stage for him to be ready to be God’s spokesman, God administrator “to preserve many people alive” both in Egypt and the world.
Between Genesis 50:21 and 22 more than 50 years pass.
Joseph spends the rest of his life being involved with his family, his children, 3rd generation, means he saw his great-great grandchildren. What a wonderful “Papa” he must have been, exciting stories, little surprises in his pockets, telling them about God’s creation, Adam, Eve, the Flood, Noah, how their great-great…grandfather Abraham had visited Egypt, offering of Isaac on Mt Moriah, how God provided, Jacob, lots of stories about him, of a ladder reaching up to heaven, and all the other stories that Moses would write in the book we call Genesis. I think that’s why God created grandparents, to form a living link not just with the past but with the eternal future.
We don’t know how many of the eleven other brothers were still alive, but they gathered around him READ Genesis 50:24-26. He had been Prime Minister, he could have been buried in a pyramid but his last desire was that his bones return to the Promised Land because he believed in the Covenant. He believed in the Promises of God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Desire was fulfilled Moses (Exodus 13:19) “took the bones of Joseph with him” when they left Egypt, Moses carried them across the sands of Sinai (Joshua 24:32) Joshua buried Joseph’s bones in Shechem.
God is Sovereign, He will accomplish His plans for us.
God’s plans are not our plans, He is in control and nothing takes Him by surprise.
God blesses His children each uniquely and individually.
ENDING: Wonder what will my/your last words be? Pray they will be filled with hope /faith.