We are coming to the end of the beginning. Israel is dying and Joseph is bringing his sons to Israel so that he can bless them. Israel does something unexpected. He tells Joseph that Joseph’s sons do not belong to him. Israel is taking Manasseh & Ephraim and claiming them as his own. Joseph can claim any others that come after them, but these two are his.
Then Israel goes to bless them. Joseph puts Manasseh (the elder) at Israel’s right hand, and Ephraim at Israel’s left. So Israel goes to bless them and he crosses his hands and places his right hand on Ephraim giving him the blessing of the elder while Manasseh gets the lesser blessing.
God does that sometimes. He sets up certain expectations and standards of His own actions and behaviors and of ours. Then He goes ahead and breaks those expectations as if they don’t really matter. Go figure, the God who sets the expectations can rearrange them as He sees fit. 🙂 God blesses / favors him who he wishes to bless / favor, and curses him who he wishes to curse.
Does that mean that we can do the same thing? I would say, absolutely positively, without a doubt, usually not. God puts his rules and expectations into place for specific reasons, they are important and when we ignore them it means trouble (…the rules serve the reasons). However, the purposes and reasons extend beyond the rules.
So when God chooses to bless His favored over the expectations of society and the individual, that is a choice He is free to make.
Everything changes… again. God has taken the promise that He made to Abram and has taken it a step further. This is not God’s first promise, nor even His last. God has made many promises throughout the scriptures and in individual lives, and He always fulfills them. But this is a bit different.
A promise is something that you make to someone. It is a fact; “I will… to/for you.” The honoree honors his promise because he made it. It becomes valid due to the validity of the name and honor of the one who makes the promise. If it is broken, it destroys the honor, name, and respect towards the one who made the promise. Ultimately, a promise is a one-way street. Two people may make promises to one another, but those promises are both one-way.
A covenant, on the other hand, is something you make WITH someone. It is a relationship; “I desire… with you.” The covenant maker honors his covenant because of the relationship. It becomes valid due to the other person, and the validity of the relationship. If it is broken, it destroys not only the honor, name, and respect towards the one who made the promise, but also the trust and relationship between the people and thereby the relationship with the self. Ultimately, a covenant must be a two-way street. A covenant broken not only destroys the relationship with the other, it also destroys the relationship with the self.
Covenant’s should never be made lightly, and the breaking of a covenant will always do as much (if not more) damage to the self as to the other. At the same time, a covenant is the fulfillment of what it means to be a man (or woman). We were formed and created for relationship. We were designed for covenant. In our very nature and purpose is a desire and need for covenant. Covenant with God, but also with other people: “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Are we people of promise, or of covenant? Do we exist for our relationships, or do our relationships exist for us? God made covenant with Abram, and Abram with God. We are a people of that covenant when we pursue (and are pursued by) God. Have you pursued God today?