Have you ever been a guest in someone’s house when they are having an intense family conversation? You know, maybe they’ve invited you for dinner, and suddenly a matter comes up and suddenly they are discussing family issues among themselves, and you suddenly feel really out of place, like maybe you shouldn’t really be there? If you felt a little like that when we were reading through these chapters earlier, I wouldn’t blame you. In Genesis 48-49 we are dropped into a really intimate family moment, as Jacob the great patriarch calls his sons to his death bed and pronounces his final words to them. It’s an intimate scene. It’s a personal scene. It is a difficult scene - difficult to understand, especially for those of us coming thousands of years later, not really familiar with this family and these customs.
Yet amazingly, these chapters are specifically referenced in the New Testament as the one shining example of Jacob’s faith. In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, we have the hall of faith, a list of highlights from the lives of Old Testament saints meant to encourage us and give us a picture of what faith is and what it does and what it looks like. And Jacob’s life, well, as we’ve seen in Jacob’s life, there haven’t been many highlights, as for much of his life he was more a man of spiritual failure, than a man of faith. Yet, this chapter is highlighted as an act of faith:
21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
So the question before us this morning, that I would ask is, in what sense are Jacob’s last words an act and expression of faith? And secondly, to what do these last words point us to that might encourage and mature our own faith?