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.
As i was working on the first part of chapter 31 this morning i began to realize just how parallel the concept of this chapter was to the process of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Let’s compare them:
- The people of Israel started out as friends / allies to the Egyptians.
- God blessed Israel and they multiplied greatly.
- What started as friendship / allies turned to animosity.
- The Israelites were treated as slaves by the Egyptians.
- God spoke to Moses telling him to bring the people out of Egypt.
- They left Egypt to return to the promised land (Canaan).
- When they left Egypt, they were chased off by the Egyptians who wanted them back or dead.
- Before they left Egypt they found favor in the sight of the Egyptian people and were given all kinds of treasures, thus ransacking the Egyptians.
- Israel stopped at Mt. Sinai to meet with God.
Exodus from Laban:
- Jacob started out as friends / family to Laban.
- God blessed Jacob and he multiplied greatly with wives and children and blessings.
- What started as friendship turned to animosity.
- Jacob was treated as a servant by Laban with many years of hard work and no pay.
- God spoke to Jacob telling him to bring his family out of that land.
- They left Laban to return to Jacob’s home land (Canaan).
- When they left, they were chased down by Laban who wanted them back or possibly to do Jacob harm.
- Before they left, Jacob found favor in the sight of Laban and was paid for his work by getting some of the sheep and goats. God blessed him and he gained all kinds of wealth and treasure thus ransacking Laban.
- As we will see in Chapter 32 God will meet with Jacob on his way back to the land of Canaan.
Obviously, there are some major differences between the history of Jacob (to later be named Israel) and Laban, and that of Israel’s (the nation) exodus from Egypt to Canaan. However, this is the first time i have noticed the similarities, and i find them to be quite coincidental. Of course if you don’t know by now, you will hear it again and again. I don’t believe in coincidence.
So how about you? Have you ever noticed these parallels?