Genesis 47-48 – The Unexpected Nature of Grace


In blessing his grandsons, Jacob deliberately crossed his hands, so that his right hand rested upon Ephraim, the youngest, instead of upon Manasseh, the oldest, as Joseph had planned. When Joseph tried to correct his father, the old man said, “I know, my son, I know.”

Why did Jacob do that? Because God had revealed to Jacob that Ephraim would take prominence over Manasseh among the tribes of Israel. In fact, this didn’t happen for hundreds of years. Even in Moses’s day, Manasseh outnumbered Ephraim by more than 20,000 (Num. 26:34, 37). Moses shows his faith in recording this prophecy which wasn’t yet fulfilled in his day. But finally Ephraim did grow larger and more prominent than Manasseh, fulfilling Jacob’s prophecy.

There was no human reason that Jacob blessed Ephraim above his older brother. But in so doing, Jacob was illustrating a divine principle which he had learned: that God blesses us apart from any merit on our part. The world would have picked the skillful archer, Ishmael; God picked quiet Isaac. The world would have picked the rugged outdoorsman, Esau; God picked conniving Jacob. The world would have picked the older, Manasseh; God picked the younger, Ephraim.

Why doesn’t God operate on the merit system? Why doesn’t He choose the most gifted, intelligent, upright, promising people for His church? Paul tells us that He does it to shame the wisdom of this world, so that no one can boast before God (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

Manasseh could have grumbled, “It’s not fair that my younger brother gets first place ahead of me.” But if he had said that, he would have missed God’s grace. Grace doesn’t operate on the basis of human merit, but on the basis of God’s sovereign choice. If God gave us what we deserve, we would all go straight to hell.

That’s a beautiful picture of what God did for us in Christ. We were enslaved to sin with no way to free ourselves. The price was more than we could ever afford. But God sent our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us and paid the price with His own blood.

Steven Cole

Read Genesis 47-48.

God again shows his grace in numerous unexpected ways throughout these chapters: through God’s grace to Pharaoh through Jacob, God’s provision for his people through Pharaoh, and the blessing of the younger son over the older. Where can you see God’s grace demonstrated to you in unexpected ways? If you can’t see, how you can you develop a better eye for what God has done for you?

All I Have Is Christ by Sovereign Grace

Posted on: June 2, 2016 - 10:00PM

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