Have we ever been upset with God and His decision to bless us in a different way than we had expected? How do we respond when this happens? Let's look at an example from Joseph's life and see what we can glean.
All right. What a blessing to be able to, uh, share this time together, uh, wherever you may be right now, as we are connecting online, my friends and my brothers and sisters, uh, our church, far away, you may be, or a close by, we’re sharing this time and my prayer even now, Lord, is that You would bless what we’re about to do, at this word
that we’re going to sit with, would come alive and it would affect us and strengthen us. Yeah. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen. You know, the way of blessing, it’s what we’ve been talking about, sitting with Jacob and a little bit with Joseph and just exploring the book of Genesis and how it, it captures the way of blessing.
And today I want to talk about what happens when the way of blessing is different than the way we want. I’m calling it the blessing of the crossed arms. And you’ll see why in a moment, but I was reminded of a great verse. Some of you are very aware of it in Isaiah 55, actually it’s two verses verses eight and nine.
For the Lord says this, for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord for, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Whereas I once heard someone put it, you know, God’s ways are not our ways. They are better.
They are better. Ya know, I want us to look at today one of the most remarkable examples, certainly in the Older Testament, but I think actually in all the Bible of how the Lord, the Lord’s plans are sometimes different than ours. So let’s jump into book to the book of Genesis chapter 48 verse number one, it says after this, Joseph was told behold, your father is ill.
At the time, if we hit this 48th chapter, Jacob’s life is coming to a close and he’s sharing his final blessings. And right now he’s, he’s sick and he’s he’s dying. And yet he still has a spark in his soul, a spark of life in him. And, uh, that sparkle, it was there. And, uh, we’re, we’re told that when Jason, Joseph hears the news, that, that Jacob is, is, you know, nearing the end,
it says he took with him, his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, uh, and it was told to Jacob, your son, Joseph has come to you. So Joseph arrives and then Israel, that would be Jacob, summoned, his strength, right? The old man, uh, pushes himself. And, and, and sat up in his bed. All right. It took a lot of, of energy.
Didn’t have a lot of it, but whatever he had, he, he, he, he struggled to get himself ready for this moment where he was going to give his blessing on Joseph’s sons, his grandsons. And Jacob said to Joseph, God almighty appeared to me, I guess Joseph and the boys enter into the room. And Jacob’s mind wanders back to an earlier time.
He says, God, all might -ty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan. And he blessed me and he said to me, he gave me a promise. He. He affirmed his word. He said, behold, I will make you fruitful and I will multiply you. And I will make of you a company of peoples. And we’ll give you, give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.
And now your two sons who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, I said, they are mine. Yes. Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine. These two boys shall be mine, even as Ruben and Simeon are, are mine, right? And the children that you fathered after them, they shall be yours. And they shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.
As for me, when I came from Paddan to my sorrow Rachel, that was Joseph’s mother died in the land of Canaan on the way. When there was still some distance to go to and I, I, hi, he’s again, he’s, he’s just thinking back in time, but there’s a reason. I buried her there on the way to Ephrath, that is Bethlehem.
Think about that. I buried her there on the way to Bethlehem, you know, Bethlehem would become a very prominent, significant place for the place that was near where Rachel was buried on the way to Bethlehem baffled heaven would be the place where the savior of the world, one of Jacob’s descendants would be born and he would change everything.
Right? They just didn’t see it nor could they have known the connection to the small town old Bethlehem. Right? When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he saw the two boys, his eyes were dim with age. He says, who are these? These? And Joseph said to his father, they are my sons they’re your grand, -sons, they’re my sons whom God has given me here.
Uh, Manasseh and Ephraim. And, and Jacob said, bring them to me, please. That I may bless them. And Israel said to Joseph, I, I, and I, I see him looking at Joseph. I, I never expected to see your face and behold God, He has let me see your offspring. Oh. Oh, God, you are so good. And then Joseph removed them from his knees we’re told, I keep, the boys were kind of, I’d probably afraid a little bit of this older man now nearing his end, frail, sickly.
Um, maybe a little scary, dressed very differently then the kinds of people that they were normally around and they were kind of hiding a little bit and, and Joseph moves them up from we’re told from his knee, his knees, and then Joseph himself bows down his face to the earth. And, and he, he, he falls down and he moves the boys
up and after he gets up, he says he, he took them both. Ep -phraim in his right hand, towards Israel’s left hand and Manasseh in his left hand, towards Israel’s right hand. And he brought them near to him. He brought them near to, near him. Now what Joseph does is very strategic. He’s clearly thought about this moment.
He wants his two sons to be blessed. He’s he’s I I’m assuming overwhelmingly thankful for this moment, it, for him, it is far more than just a symbol. It has sacred meaning and it has value. And so he wants it to go just right. No different than you and I might in a special situation where we sense this moment is, um, something that God is in and we want this to go just.
right and so he wants them to be positioned properly so that his father can easily bless them. So what he does, knowing that the greater blessing is with the right hand, right. That had been the, the way of the east. And it was the right hand that gave the greater blessing. And so he wants his older son, right.
To be, um, uh, the one who gets the greater blessing, Manasseh. So he positions Manasseh under jacob’s right hand. And then he positions to, uh, Jacob’s left so that he, you know, he can just bless each one of them and, and it it’s clear what he’s supposed to do and, you know, it’s, it’s all set up, but then, but then something happens.
Something happened that I think initially Joseph assumed was an oversight. Right? Look, we were told to verse 14, it says the Israel, Jacob stretched out his right hand, but he laid it on the head of , Ephraim, who was the younger. And then he took his left hand and crossed his hands and he laid his left hand on Manasseh, who was the first born.
And then he, he, while he’s doing this, he blessed Joseph. And he said the God before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who, who has been, I love this, my shepherd, all my lifelong to this day. And I just, I just want to pause for a moment. I mean, what a gift it would be if we, you and me have the opportunity to end our days.
this way. That we are able to, to say with some of our final words, I would, I would love to be able to say them to, to the God who has been my shepherd all my life long, to this day. God, who has been my shepherd, all my lifelong to this day, the day, uh, as I near my end, in my uh earthly suit. When this tent cannot contain the life that is within for, we were made with eternity in our hearts to know God and to live.
And so I would say to you, oh, my friends, uh, all of you who love Jesus. And those of you who are just coming and starting to follow him. And some of you who are right on the edge of it, welcome the Shepherd into your life. You’ll never regret it. I would love for us to be able to walk with the great shepherd all the days of our lives, for, as he taught us,
His sheep know his voice. In another, they will not follow. And of course the great shepherd Psalm, the 23rd. Right? And it’s awesome ending. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. I’ll never be far from the goodness of God and his mercy always with me. And then I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Huh? Wow. That’s that’s our promise. Secured in Jesus. And we can dwell in the house of the Lord forever, but then let’s go back to, to Jacob and Joseph and the crossed hands. And Jacob is saying these words, the God before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac walked the God who has been my shepherd all my life long, to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from evil ah this is my blessing.
Bless the boys. Bless the boys and let my name be carried on through them. The name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. Now that’s an awesome blessing. That’s being given here. But notice we’re told, and it’s just an amazing, you know, description of what’s taking place because Joseph, far from just being overwhelmed by the beauty of the blessing of Jacob, he’s bothered and, and concerned.
And. And honestly, he’s, he’s not happy with what’s happening look what we’re told, verse 17 when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Eph, -rai -aim’s who was the youngest and had his, and had his left hand on Manasseh, who was the oldest. It says that it displeased him. It displeased him and
notice, Joseph reaches out and grabs, grabs the hand. His father’s hand, he grabs the hand to move it, to move it, to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh said he starts, he starts trying to get him to, to switch hands. And I was just fascinated by this because another version says that, that Joseph was upset because it was not going the way that he envisioned.
Father father, father, father, father. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, you you’re. You’re you’re you’re you’re you’re blessing the wrong one and he takes the hand, but, but when Joseph takes down the old man resist now, no, he won’t. He won’t, he, he won’t let Joseph switch it.
Have we ever been upset with God?
And listen, his, his apparent decision to bless in a different direction than what we had expected in such times. I know this has been the case for me. We may be tempted to say with Joseph, Father, Father, you, you are, you are making a mistake. Listen, God doesn’t make mistakes.
His timing may be different. His purpose may be obscured, and we may never understand in this land of the shadows, what can only be known in the land of the eternal son. But what we do know is that all things were together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. I remember, I remember reading something that Mother Teresa wrote.
She said, I don’t know what God is doing. He knows we do not understand, but one thing I’m sure, he doesn’t make a mistake. Human beings. We make mistakes. And in fact, we can do incredible harm to one another and even nature, or the natural world that we live in, that God has set in motion though, soul-less. And, and it is, it is still, nature is still beautiful.
The natural world is still beautiful and ferocious, and as we’ve witnessed, sometimes incredibly unfair. So human beings make mistakes. Nature can wreck havoc, unpredictably. Sometimes we provoke it, as human beings, but for the most part, um, what I’m trying to get at here is that God does not make mistakes.
His ways are perfect, our world is broken. Human beings are broken. Situations here don’t always make sense to us, but I was reminded of the Lord’s prayer and something more than a few of us have prayed quite often. I know I have over the years. Our father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Holy is your name, your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Do you? And we pray that prayer. We’ve prayed that prayer. That’s the Lord’s prayer. The way Jesus responded when they said, can you teach us how to pray? And he gave him this, this model prayer, and it begins with our father who, who is in heaven. Holy holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Can you hear me? When I, when I say that there are times in our lives when the Lord’s prayer must be truly entered into, times of surrender that lead us into a way of blessing. Times when the Lord says this is the way walk in it. And if I’m honest, I’ve known times when I have said to the Lord, no. No no no, not this way.
It’s it’s the other way. No, that’s not what I asked for. Why? I asked for this. Right? Have there been times I’ve, yeah, where I found, where I find myself displeased bothered, uh. Unable to rejoice, disappointed like Joseph, I, I, in a way I’m T I take God’s hand and I say, no, that’s not, that’s, that’s not the way the blessing’s supposed to be given, you got it mixed up here.
Look what it let’s go back. Look at verse 18. It says, and Joseph said to his father, not this way, my father says this one is the firstborn. Put your, put your right hand on his head. But his father refused and he says, I know my son. I know. And he shall also become a, a people. He also shall be great. Never the less, his younger brother shall be greater than he and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.
And so he blessed them that day saying, by you Israel, will pronounce a blessing saying, God make you as Ephraim and Manasseh. And thus, he put Eph -raim before Manasseh. Now, when we find ourselves in situations where God’s way is different than ours. We have a couple of options. You guys, we do. When we find ourselves in a situation where the blessing isn’t going the way that we assumed it would go, or feel it should go,
the first thing we can do, I’ll just put this up there, is we can resist and insist on our own way. We can go our own way and refuse to surrender.
But that’s, that’s so foolish. It’s a losing game. I mean, think about this for, just for a moment. Joseph, Joseph could have said father, I insist. I mean, Manasseh is first. He’s the oldest. He deserves the blessing of the right hand. You, Father, you must bless him first, or I will allow neither of them to be blessed.
I mean, Joseph could have done that, but that would have been so foolish. He didn’t remember. I uh. We, listen, we don’t control the blessings. We can only receive. We don’t control the blessings. We can only receive them. The blesser decides, the blesser decides. I remember in CS Lewis -‘s The Great Divorce, that it’s an outstanding book.
He said this, there are only two kinds of people, he’s talking about heaven and hell, is there’s only two kinds of people. Those who say to God, thy will be done and those to whom God says, all right, then have it your own way. Which person are we going to be? I want the blessing. I don’t want to go my own way.
Cause my own way, if it means losing the blessing, then no, that’s not, I don’t want to go there. Uh I want to go, where he wants, the way a blessing. He decides. And then we get to choose, you know, that’s the, um, the mystery of the cross as well. Isn’t it? The Lord has said, this is the way of life. This is the way of blessing.
This is the Jesus way. The way of blessing is the Jesus way and the world, our culture, people throughout history can say, well, I don’t, I don’t want that. I like, I like it this way. I like every way is, is the right way. Or, you know, I don’t think Jesus is, is what you’re saying He is, well, the, the Lord will say to us, this is the way, the blessing is coming.
This is the way salvation is found. This is the way of life. For Jesus said, I am the way the truth. And if you want to get to the father, you must come through me. Now. We, we, we get to decide, well, if those are the terms, then I don’t want the place blessing. That’s kind of what Lewis was getting at, CS Lewis.
Right? He’s kind of saying, look, the Lord has said, this is the way of blessing. It’s our choice to receive it. But I mentioned, and that also means that we have the capacity to reject. And we can insist on our own way and we can refuse. No, the hands have to go the way that I, it, this has to go the way I want it to go.
Let me say, uh, no the way the blessing is the way the cross hands. And the other thing that can happen, you know, is, uh, you know, we may, we may cooperate and I’ll put it this way. We can surrender with a bad attitude. I call, what I call that, is negative submission. We can surrender with a bad attitude, but that’s a negative submission.
It’s like the older brother in the prodigal son, parable. Right? We might, we might never leave the father’s house, but we miss the joy. We miss the joy. We miss the blessing. Oh Lord. You know, keep us from this, you know, compliance. That’s what we’re talking about. I can comply, but with a disconnected heart, resentful, resigned, joyless miserable.
Like I could, like Joseph could have said, this is. You know, he could, he is, you know, I don’t like it. You know, you can just, whatever could have been very, he could have made, he could have: fine. Right? Whatever. But see, I mean, Joseph in his displeasure could have thrown up his hands. In in front of his sons and said, whatever, do whatever the old man says, the old man is losing it, but that’s not what he did.
That wouldn’t have been Joseph, anyway. He yields it. He yields it with humility. It didn’t mean that for a moment, he wasn’t caught off guard. I love that, because in a way it shows me how that Joseph was human and had flaws in him and, and felt, you know, felt things, uh, sometimes and struggled with, with how he thought something was supposed to go that that actually connects with me.
All right. I hope it does with you too, but then he, he yielded with humility and that’s, that’s the third way, right? The better way, surrender, but with a good attitude, I call that positive submission, not negative submission. The Jesus way is the way of blessing. And it involves trusting God and allowing him to, ah, to work out His will for our lives.
You know, we’re all invited to do that. Sometimes then I, this is us to remember this. You guys, all of you and me too, is that sometimes the blessing of the Lord is the blessing of the crossed arms. Isn’t it? Like the breakthrough comes, but it comes different than what we were expecting or anticipating it comes differently than how we would have done it.
But no, I think about where we’re at right now in this season. And, uh, I just, you know, just think that there’s a blessing to be found in this season with all of his challenges, if we can align ourselves with the right attitude and submit to the Lord and submission think about it is bringing our mission underneath His so that he can give us the blessing, you know, let him, let Him have his way and watch life flow.
When we let Him have his way, life flows. It does true freedom. Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about, you know? Perfect submission. Yeah. The song of His love singing all around us, alive. Yes. This is what he wants us to be, alive in His goodness. Uh, let that be our story. Bless -ed assurance Jesus is mine. So, uh, I’ve got, I’ve got a song, actually.
I actually have something I want to share that it’s not just a nominal wrap-up actually, I have one final thought for us to consider behind the song that we’re going to be sharing and, you know, songs about opening up our heart and, and just trusting the one who has a path for us. Right? But I do wanna remind all of you as I get to do, and yeah, just so thankful for your faithfulness, but, uh, I get to remind you about our giving.
And remember, you can, you can give of your tithes and your offerings. And I’m talking to those of you who are part of our church and committed to following Jesus as your life’s priority. Um, so don’t forget to give of your first fruit. You can do that, right? You can do that by sending it into our offices. You can give online directly or through the app, which is what I do.
But I say always, firstly, um, give him, give him your heart, so here we go with our song and then we’ll come back around and close this out. Here we go.