WHO’S BLESSING WHOM?
Mighty Lord, You are the God of wisdom, power, and love. I am grateful for all that You are to me.
Read GENESIS 47:1–12
47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” 2 He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.
3 Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”
“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” 4 They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”
5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”
7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed[a] Pharaoh, 8 Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”
9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed[b] Pharaoh and went out from his presence.
11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.’1
It’s a topsy-turvy world. Joseph, long thought of as dead, is not only very much alive, but powerful to boot. Brothers who have been riddled with guilt and fear can stand tall again. Fearsome Pharaoh is showing himself to be merciful. A desperate, famine-stricken family is now settled in the lushest of territories. Despised shepherds are welcomed and even entrusted with Pharaoh’s own flocks. Truly, God has turned everything upside down.
The most extraordinary upside-down moment occurs when Jacob is presented to Pharaoh. Pharaoh is the powerful one who governs the country and dispenses patronage at his own pleasure. In contrast, Jacob is there because his family is in need and has nothing to offer. He is elderly, weak, and scarred by the many severe struggles of his life. Yet, when he meets Pharaoh it is as if he doesn’t know his place. Rather than being the supplicant, he’s the one who blesses Pharaoh. Admittedly, Pharaoh has blessed Jacob’s family by settling them in Goshen, but twice we’re told that Jacob blesses Pharaoh (7,10). Usually, God is the chief source of blessing and blessing is always bestowed by a superior on an inferior. So what is Jacob doing? After all the hardships he’s endured over 130 years, he is now acting on the basis of God’s promise to his grandfather Abraham. God told Abraham, ‘I will bless those who bless you’.2 So Pharaoh, having blessed Jacob with a welcome and with land, is being blessed by him. Thus, Jacob is expressing his belief that, in spite of everything, God is keeping His promise to make his family a great nation and a channel of blessing to the world. Jacob blesses Pharaoh because, although he appears the inferior partner, he’s the significant one, chosen by God, whose providence has been at work all along.
Some people’s lives are a blessing to others – and others a drain. What makes people a blessing? To which group do you belong?
Loving Father, the old hymn says it so well, “Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray; Make me a blessing to someone today.” That is my prayer for today.
1 Luke 13:30 2 Gen 12:3
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