Epistle to the Hebrews (11:20-22)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left” Hebrews 11:20-22

As we have seen earlier, Isaac’s wife Rebekah was barren (Gen 25:21) and so were Jacob’s wives Rachel and Leah(Gen 29:31). It was not mere coincidence that Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel were barren. God’s promise to Abraham to have a large posterity had to be endorsed by God’s thumbprint. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah could never brag about their fertility. They had to acknowledge that it was through God’s intervention that a large posterity would happen. Jacob was an ambitious man and many times risked his life by his decisions. But he had godly ambitions for blessings. He was a fighter and was rightly called “deceiver” when he managed to take his elder brother’s firstborn rights (though they were twins) through a stew! Jacob did not end there, his mother and him concocted together so that Isaac’s blessing also came upon him(Genesis 27:6). This caused Esau to become hostile to Jacob. But Jacob leaned on God’s promises when he said:

But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” Genesis 32

Jacob also fought with God’s angel in order to receive a spiritual blessing.

Jacob said: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26

Jacob worked twice 7 years to receive Rachel as wife. Laban deceived him 7 years with Leah but when Jacob left, he left with lot of wealth because he managed to trick Laban. Jacob was not a loser but an achiever. Jacob had 12 sons and he was the father of the nation of Israel. Jacob’s name was in fact renamed Israel by God (Genesis 32). The bible tells us that it was by faith that old Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons when he moved to Egypt. This event is also remarkable. It was not the oldest son which received the blessings but the younger one i.e. Ephraim. Joseph the governor did not understand it though he was a man of God who has seen God do miracles in his life. Jacob was mature in faith and knew God’s will and this is the reason he discerned God’s plan regarding the sons of Joseph. Ephraim subsequently became the most dominant tribe of Israel.

Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”

We see well that Jacob’s precedence over Esau and Ephraim’s precedence over Manasseh were not logical. God’s promise of a large posterity on these generations were remarkable. The bible also tells us that Joseph believed with confidence that his descendants would leave Egypt. Jacob also made Joseph swear to bring his bones out of Egypt. It was God’s plan to make the children of Jacob prosper in Egypt while there was famine in Canaan. Jacob insisted with Joseph and made him swear that he would do it.

When I die, please take my body out of Egypt and bury me with my ancestors.”So Joseph promised, “I will do as you ask.”“Swear that you will do it,” Jacob insisted. So Joseph gave his oath, and Jacob bowed humbly at the head of his bed.Gen 44:30

When the Israelites left Egypt they brought with them massive treasures to Canaan. Joseph had faith that God would bring the children of Israel back to the promised land and he ordered that his bones are also brought in his homeland(Exodus 13:19). Why did Joseph bother about bringing his bones back to Canaan? This might not sound meaningful to us but Joseph’s requests proved that he had faith in God. This little detail to be buried in the promised land was very important to him. Jacob and Joseph were not in Canaan when they died. No they were still in Egypt and were buried there. That’s faith, even though they were buried in Egypt they knew their bones will one day be carried in Canaan(Joshua 24:32). We have seen in the previous verses what it meant to live by faith and these examples showed us what it meant to die by faith. As Christians we should live by faith and also die with the faith that Jesus will raise us from the dead, give us a new body and bring us to our divine rest. During our last minutes on earth let us rest on Jesus’ promise that He will take us home. We will die like Jacob and Joseph in a foreign land but our eyes are set on Jesus’ promise in John 14. He went to prepare a place for us and will soon take us with Him.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:1-3

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Posted May 25, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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