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A Father’s Blessing

A Father’s Blessing

Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, Shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, And the arms of his hands were made strong By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob.” (Genesis 49:22-24)

These are the deathbed words of Jacob to his son Joseph. Now consider the context of these words of blessing:

As a very young man, Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, who then added to their guilt by convincing their father Jacob that his son Joseph had been violently killed by wild animals.

Meanwhile, Joseph suffered many abuses, lies, attacks, prison time in Egypt, until finally God’s perfect plan (providence) led Joseph from the dungeon, to a place of great prominence in the Egyptian government.

In due course, because of a drought in the land, Jacob and his sons are ultimately brought to Egypt in search of food, and of course God then places them at the foot of Joseph who has control of all the food in the land.

From a purely human perspective it could be said to be a coincidence of epic proportions! Yet, as God lays out the divine narrative, we know that this has nothing to do with coincidences, and everything to do with God’s perfect care for his people. Joseph himself later comforts his brothers with these words: “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen. 50:19-20)

In Jacob’s words of blessing as they are recorded in our text, the sins of family and foreigner alike are described as arrows of war; arrows which were meant to hurt, maim or kill their victim. That is what the attacks upon us and upon our character can feel like isn’t it? We even use the common expression “I’ve been stabbed in the back” to describe the treachery of those whom we trusted.

Yet, the attack upon Joseph did not result in death, but rather, as the remarkable events of Genesis unfold we see that God used those “arrows” of attack to strengthen the “bow” and arms of Joseph for good. Rather than become (or remain) embittered against his family, Joseph recognized that God had prepared him to be a blessing to those who sought to destroy him. In this way Joseph is shown to be a “type of Christ” for us. By this we mean, that the perfect work of Jesus is illustrated to us by the godly example of Joseph.

The  “arrows” of attack have been leveled against our Lord, the prophet Isaiah speaks of it thus, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (Is 53:3). We attacked Him, we turned out backs on Him, and yet, as the far greater than Joseph, our Lord Jesus returned our arrows with His “strong arm” of saving grace.

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrow…But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Is. 53: 4 5) 

Rev. Travis Grassmid
Zion Reformed Church, Menno, SD

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