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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE FAITH OF ISAAC AND JACOB

Hebrews 11:20-21 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

To Abraham, God made this promise, That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (Gen. 22:17-18, also see Gen. 12:2-3). The same promise of God was made both to Isaac (Gen. 26:4), and to Jacob (Gen. 28:14). Neither of these faithful patriarchs inherited the promised land of Canaan, neither saw the nation of Israel at the height of its population and supremacy, and neither saw the promised Seed, Jesus Christ, through whom all the nations of the earth be blessed. Although these events were promised, neither Abraham, Isaac, nor Jacob physically saw them. Yet by faith they knew God's promises would be fulfilled, and, with their "mind's eye" firmly fixed by their obedient faith in God, they were able to see these events as plainly as if they were present at the time they occurred.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. The story of Isaac is well known by all. He was the child of promise to Abraham and Sarah. When he was approximately forty years old he married his cousin, Rebecca. From this union were born twin sons, Jacob and Esau. The firstborn was Esau but the bible notes that when they were born, Jacob was holding onto the heel of Esau. In Genesis 25:29-34 we know that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for bread and a bowl of red pottage, and by doing so, gave to Jacob the double portion of the family inheritance that he would have been due him.

Reading Genesis, chapter 27, we find the story of Isaac's blessings bestowed on his sons. Both were blessed, but seemingly, in a deceitful way. Because of the poor eyesight of Isaac, and because of the "plot" conceived by Jacob and his mother, Rebecca, Jacob received the blessing intended for Esau, who was the firstborn of Isaac. Because of this, Esau was given an inferior blessing and was destined to serve his brother Jacob. We can't point an accusing finger at Jacob, or his mother Rebecca, for their actions, after all it was God's will that this was to take place even before they were born. Notice what God told Rebecca: Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger (Gen. 25:23).

By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. Here we find additional occasions when the younger brother was given greater blessings than the elder. First of all Joseph was blessed above Reuben, his brother, and the oldest of the sons of Jacob. It was an indirect blessing in that Joseph's two sons received blessings equal to that of his brothers. Because of this Jacob told Joseph, I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren (Gen. 48:22). Both the families of Ephraim and Manasseh received portions of the land of Canaan as if they had been the sons of Jacob. Manasseh was the elder brother, while Ephraim was the younger.

Jacob asked Joseph to bring his two sons to him to receive his blessing. Joseph did so, placing Manasseh before Jacob's right hand in order to receive the blessing as the elder son, and Ephraim before Jacob's left hand to receive the lesser blessing. Now the eyes of Israel (Jacob) were dim for age, so that he could not see (Gen. 48:10). Because of his poor eyesight, Jacob stretched out his right hand and laid it upon Ephraim's head (instead of the head of Manasseh, the older son) (Vs. 14). Joseph observed, what seemed to him to be a mistake, and asked Jacob to change his hand, so Manasseh would receive the greater blessing. Jacob refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh (Gen. 48:19-20).

Here are two instances when the younger brother was given a greater blessing than the elder. In both cases, blame could be attributed to bad eyesight. However the true reason was because it was the foresight, and the will of God. It was God's will that the younger receiver the greater blessing. Here we have two great, faithful patriarchs that were servants of God. Through obedient faith, both strived to please God. It was God's hand that intervened allowing the faith of Isaac and Jacob to rightly choose their heritage.