Vayechi “And He Lived” ·Genesis 47:28-50:26 ·1 Kings 2:1-12 ·John 13:1-19, 1 Peter 1:1-9
In this portion we read of the ending of the patriarchs Abraham, Issac and Jacob also called Israel. Israel dies in Egypt but is buried in the land of Canaan in the burial plot of his fathers. Picking up where they leave off is Joseph who watches over the family until he also dies at 110 years old. There is then a period of a few hundred or so years until God raised up Moses to be the eventual deliverer of the people from slavery.
This portion also is the end of the book of Genesis or Bereshyt. From this point the narrative of the people of God shifts from a family structure to that of a nation. The incidents which take place in this portion are critical for the understanding of later passages in the prophets and apostolic writings. This is especially true when it comes to the later dividing of the tribes into two houses or kingdoms, Israel/Ephraim and Judah. These also will be represented as the northern and southern kingdoms. But back to our text.
Jacob, but not before he charges Joseph to bring his body back to the promise land to be burred with his fathers, reiterates a very important point that must not be lost to his childrens’ forth coming generations. In Gen. 48-4 he tells of the promise from God that his generations will be a multitude of people and that the land of Canaan will be for an everlasting possession.
This point must not be lost on us either. The Land is an everlasting possession to God’s people. It is their eternal home; it is our home. All who call themselves by the name of the God of Israel and have put their trust in Yeshua as their Messiah have a possession in the land of Israel. This is such a reassuring promise. By it we know God’s faithfulness to His people. Even now, though not yet fulfilled there are some of God’s people in The Land. We also, who are grafted into Israel by faith in Yeshua, have possession in The Land. True, we may not be able to take possession now due to current issues with those running the secular nation of Israel. But we trust and look forward with the same hope of Joseph that one day we will be in the land of our inheritance from our God.
Though unknown to us we, like Joseph, could have an important job to be doing wherever we are scattered over the earth. So we must not loose hope or vision, but persevere in the work of our Messiah to bring the lost to the knowledge of life and truth found in the Scriptures. It is still my prayer that I will take possession in the land of promise during this life. And I hope you have the same desire too. You should. This is the ancient desire of our forefathers and the eternal promise of our God. Why would it not be our desire? So look deep inside yourself. Do you desire to dwell in the Land? If not then why? What do you need to change about your values and desires so they align with God’s? Are you scared to leave the perceived comfort of the exile? Too often and definitely for too long we have forgotten that exile is punishment for sin, our sin and the sins of our forefathers. Do you realize we are living in punishment here in the exile. I’ll be honest. I have not always thought of life in the exile here in America in such terms. But this is the truth. America or wherever you live outside The Land is not our home. Israel is our home. So, is your life, family, and heart prepared to return to The Land of Promise? Is this the yearning of your heart? if not then look deep inside and ask why. Pray to God for His desires to be yours. I realize it may not be possible for us to pack up and return. What I am driving at is the condition and alignment of our hearts in this life. They need to be focused as Jacob and Joseph’s were.
The next significant event is the adoption of Ephraim and Menasseh as the first and second born in the twelve tribes, the placing of the name of Israel on them and setting Ephraim as the firstborn with all the blessings. Ephraim was actually the younger of the two but Jacob placed his right hand of blessing on him in spite of Joseph’s efforts to correct the perceived error of his blind father. But Israel’s hands seemed to be guided by God knowing the eventuality of Ephraim’s descendants as the leaders of the northern kingdom of Israel.
What I love about the Bible is typified in this very passage. Here you get a glimpse into the future of Israel. You don’t know what it will be, but later you read and it’s kind of depressing. We as people always falling short of what we should be are somehow rescued and used by God in spite of and through our faults and mistakes. Through all this God makes His sovereign will to bring about the salvation of His people. This same story and scenario is seen starting there. In 48:19 we get another insight into what will happen with Ephraim’s descendants when we are informed they will become a multitude of nations. At first glimpse the seems like great news. And it is for those who will be joined to God’s people, but the process by which this happens is the result of sin. God, our loving father, knows all and uses this for His glory and to save those from the nations whom He chooses.
In chapter 49 Jacob calls his sons and prophecies over them what will befall them in the last days. There is much here but that will be for another time. Closing out the book of Genesis we read Joseph’s final words to his brethren. “God will surely visit you out of this land unto the land which He swore unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and ye shall carry my bones from hence.” This same hope we have too. For one day God will visit us and carry us out of this land unto the land of our forefathers. If not in this life, then in the resurrection. Shalom!