And he blessed Joseph and said,
"The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth."
Maybe it is just my current wistfulness, but a part of me identifies with the patriarchal blessing like never before. Age has a way of increasing your identification with generational moments in scripture. This is one of them. Right now my kids are adolescents. I have very little precious time left with them until they will be adults making decisions on their own. It is coming faster than I want it to arrive!
So when I read this passage where a grandfather through blessing passes on a spiritual heritage to grandsons, I sit back and think hard. I would call Jacob's story checkered with spiritual failure (on a good day) and marked by copious outpourings of God's grace. His sons were for the most part as spiritually inconsistent as he was (with the exception of Joseph and perhaps Benjamin). Yet God had chosen this patriarchal home to become his source of future and present blessing. And from this generation would arise the vast nation of Israel. Ephraim and Manasseh represented the work that God was going to do. Jacob knew this and as he aged, his heart grew closer to God so that now his finest spiritual work would occur with the blessings he would pass on to the tribes of Israel.
Grandpa Israel, the prophet and the patriarch, places feeble withering hands on two little grandsons and pronounces a future for their tribes that would come to pass. Ephraim would become strong. Joshua would arise from Ephraim's stock. That tribe would become instrumental in the kingdom only to fall away and be judged by God. But in the plan of God, the younger son would rise in prominence. Jacob foresaw this and passed it on with his prophetic blessing.
I am far removed from this culture and manner of God's dealings. I cannot expect the kind of prophetic insight into lives that Jacob was given by God. Still, my two children are important to God and He has wonderful and wise plans for them. I need all the wisdom from Him I can get to help guide them toward what God wants. It is not easy. They are now teenagers and well on the path of their independence. I feel that it is important to them to know God's guidance and my blessing for them as they seek to follow Him. Jacob's example gives me fuel for thought as I parent my kids the next few years.