What does it say?
Before he dies, Jacob wants to bless Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 48). They will each become one of the 12 tribes of Israel and explains why there is not a tribe of Joseph. There are two! Jacob intentionally blesses Ephraim first, though Manasseh is firstborn.
Next, Jacob blesses his other sons (Gen 49). When he concludes his blessings, Jacob (Israel) dies and is buried with Leah.
Joseph buries his father in Canaan with the glory of an Egyptian state funeral (Gen 50). His brothers fear that with Jacob dead, Joseph will finally avenge their sin against him. Not only does Joseph allay their fears, he reminds them of God’s promise to return them to the Promised Land and swears them to carry his bones there when they leave Egypt.
What does it mean?
Jacob blessing Ephraim above Manasseh is clearly intentional and explains why this is listed as an act of faith in Hebrews 11:21. This alerts us to God giving Jacob prophetic insight concerning the future of Israel as a nation. Jacob’s patriarchal blessings are ripe with prophetic riches. The history of Israel to come continually measures back to these blessings.
Most importantly, the Messianic promise passes to Judah (49:8-10). Who would have dreamed! The royal scepter (49:10) passes from Judah to Jesus (Heb 1:8). As Genesis concludes, we see that this is what God was doing all along to fulfill his promise of the woman’s seed to come (Gen 3:15).
Joseph’s assurance to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 reflects his deep spiritual understanding and is a principle with direct application to our lives today. More than that, it is a fitting missional summary of the entire Book of Genesis. God redirects the evil intent of human sin for good and to save many people.
How will I respond?
Like Joseph’s brothers, we all began life with a sin nature. The sin in us has often become the sin committed by us; often hurting even the ones we love. Fulfilling the Great Commission by living the Great Commandment to love God and our neighbor is impossible without the new nature of Christ in us due to salvation.
As we conclude Genesis, reflect on Genesis 50:20. Does God have a purpose in saving you from your sin? What specific step of faith will you take to make your life more missional? Pray for specific missional projects or global partners of your church? Start a savings fund to participate in a short-term mission from your church? Reach out to someone God has placed in your life? Geography is not the issue in being missional, but simply to focus your life outwardly.