Jacob’s Faith (Hebrews #37)

Text: Hebrews 11:21

There are two notable things Jacob does by faith according to Hebrews 11:21.  The first is he blesses Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. The second is he worships God leaning upon the top of his staff.  This is all recorded in Genesis 48.  The final moments of Jacob’s life are pretty moving.

Now, this faith is in contrast to most of the events the Lord talks Jacob’s life in the Old Testament.  Jacob is first recorded as opportunistic when he gets Esau to sell his birthright. The second record is of Jacob tricking Isaac, his dad, for the blessing.  The third record is of Jacob bargaining with God (Genesis 28:20-22). He essentially says if you’ll give me this and that, then I’ll give you a tenth. Then Jacob gets tricked by his father in law Laban.  Instead of being given Rachel to marry, Jacob is given Leah. Then you have Jacob bearing children with Rachel’s hand maids because Rachel could not produce children. Followed by Jacob’s cattle breeding program whereby he diminishes Laban’s flock and multiplies his own.  Next is Jacob’s scheme to meet Esau and save himself.

So here we are at the end of Jacob’s life of which he testified few and evil have been the days of my life.  Jacob’s life was lived in manipulation.  Always trying to angle for the blessing with a wink to God every so often.

Jacob’s blessings

  • First part of the blessing is that God would meet their needs
    • …the God which fed me… the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads… (Genesis 48:15-16)
    • Provision and protection
    • Jacob looks back over the circumstances of his life and notices the hand of the Lord in more places than He thought.
    • Provision – Jacob dies in Egypt.  That is where he is literally being fed by Joseph who got there because his brothers hated him.
    • Protection – The night he wrestled with the angel because he was sure he was going to die when he met Esau.
    • Jacob was a guy that had more plans and schemes than he knew what to do with.  Everything with him became a scheme.
    • God is not a formula.  And your relationship with God is not a formula.  And to what end? Jacob ends up being saved, living in Egypt because of something he would’ve never done, not could he control.
  • Second part of the blessing is Israel’s name
    • …let my named be named on them… (Israel) – Genesis 48:16.  
    • Genesis 48:5 – The boys are born in Egypt, with an Egyptian mother and are half Egyptian.  But…
    • Joseph’s first two boys become part of the twelve tribes of Israel.
    • There is no inheritance to the tribe of Joseph or to the tribe of Levi, but there is to Ephraim and Manasseh.
  • Third part of the blessing is influence
    • …and let them grown into a multitude…
    • Joshua is from Ephraim.
    • Ephraim becomes such an influential tribe that oftentimes the entire northern ten tribes are simply called Ephraim.  See the book of Hosea.

Jacob’s worship

  • …and worshipped…
  • Look back at Genesis 48:15-16
  • Jacob’s life is the most plotting and scheming life of the patriarchs.  And with all his scheming to get the blessings of God, notice where he is at the end of his life.
    • Contrast of the way Jacob lived and the way Joseph lived, and how their lives turn out.
    • Jacob is in Egypt.  He and all his children are being fed by Joseph.
    • In fact, Joseph accepted his circumstances as though they came from God.
    • Jacob thought all his life that a relationship with God was a product of manipulation, a system.  And here he is at the end of his life looking back, taking stock of where he is, how he got there, and how none of it was in his plans, Jacob acknowledges the hand of God.
  • Men sometimes have the idea that the work of God is a formula or a system.  Jacob thought this way. He thought by manipulation, he could bring the blessings of God.  I’ll do this and God will do that. Or if God does this, then I’ll do that. That’s what Jacob said on multiple occasions.
  • EM Bounds said, “What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.”

Jacob’s staff

  • …leaning upon his staff…
  • His shepherd’s staff was the tool of his vocation as a shepherd and “cowboy.”
  • Only other reference to his staff is in Genesis 32:9-10.  Jacob mentions that he crossed Jordan with only the staff at one time in his life, then returned back over Jordan with cattle and families.
  • It was the tool of his vocation that held him up in death.
  • It was the tool of his vocation that he leaned on.
  • It’s leaning on the tools of your vocation that hold you up.
    • Bible
    • Yielding to the Holy Spirit of God
    • A local church to help you
    • A gift of the spirit so you can help others
    • Prayer so you can speak to the Lord.
    • Charity to keep you together.