June 21, 2015 | David Crosby
Passage: Genesis 48:10-16
First Question: Has God Been Acknowledged In Your Family?
“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully (v15)
- Abraham and Isaac are not distant and revered patriarchs in this sentence. They are Dad and Grandpa to Jacob.
- Abraham was not perfect, and Isaac knew it. A conflict had developed between Jacob’s grandmother and an Egyptian lady that Grandpa had a baby with. Her name was Hagar. The child’s name was Ishmael, and he was Jacob’s great uncle.
- Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob’s parents, had experienced conflict in their old age. Jacob was his mother’s favorite. She plotted and lied, along with Jacob, and they stole the birthright that belonged to his twin brother Esau.
- Jacob had four wives and a dozen sons. His was definitely a blended family. He had played favorites with his two youngest sons, Joseph and Benjamin, because they were the children of the love of his life, Rachel, who had died giving birth to Benjamin.
- Jacob’s family is a mess. His sons turned on Joseph. They sold him to slave traders and told Dad that he died.
- Acknowledging God does not mean that your family is perfect. It means that you understand the grace of God, the love of God, and the power of God to rescue and forgive.
- Jacob had some spiritual markers that he could look back upon. He could remember Bethel and the vision of a ladder to heaven. He could remember the remarkable blessings of God with his flocks and herds. He could remember wrestling with the angel and the Brook Jabbok, and prevailing. It is how he got his name used here, Israel, “Prince of God.”
- Your praise to God is shaped by your own story of faith and the journey of the generations before you.
- If you are one in a line of faithful people, then you have much to praise God about.
- If you are the first to be delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son, then you have a very special praise to give to God. And you have a very special blessing to pass on to your children.
Second Question: Have You Been Aware of God as Your Shepherd?
“the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day” (v15)
- This is Israel’s very personal confession: “my shepherd.”
- Jacob was a shepherd. In fact, he worked for 21 years for his father-in-law, Laban, and became very wealthy as a result.
- He counted his wealth in sheep and goats and donkeys and camels. These were indications of his hard work and God’s blessing on his life.
- Israel saw that God was shepherding him while he was shepherding the sheep.
- Saying that God has been your Shepherd does not mean that life has been a bed of roses. No Shepherd can keep the sheep from the consequences of their own stubbornness and stupidity. Jacob’s life took may twists and turns. He fled from his father’s house in fear for his life when he was a young man. He thought his twin brother would surely kill him. And he probably would have.
- We are most aware of God as Shepherd when we have gotten ourselves in trouble. The shepherd shows up. We don’t know how he even knew. He gives his wisdom and strength and guidance, and we are delivered from our self-made mess.
- Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” This also was written by a literal shepherd.
- Your praise to God is shaped by your awareness of his care and provision for you.
Third Question: Have You Been Delivered?
“the Angel who has delivered me from all harm” (V16)
- This question flows from Israel’s affirmation.
- It is in the past tense. We are asking about historical reality in your own life.
- It is in the passive voice. We are not talking about you delivering yourself. We are talking about God’s intervention in your life.
- Jacob had an encounter with angels on more than one occasion. He uses the term here to refer to God himself.
- He saw angels on the ladder up to heaven in Bethel. He called that remote setting “Bethel,” “house of God.”
- The wrestling match at the brook Jabbok was with the angel of the Lord. Jacob would not release him without a blessing.
- Deliverance only happens when you are trapped or caught. Jacob had numerous dilemmas in his life from which he had to be delivered. It was not the story of his life that he never had adversity, setbacks, hardships. Quite the contrary. His own father-in-law lied to him, took advantage of him, and stole from him. He deceived Jacob by giving him Leah, the oldest daughter, to marry, rather than Rachel, the one he loved. He only learned this on his wedding night. He worked 14 years for this dishonest man, Laban.
- Jacob was rescued by God at various times in his life. I am not sure that he knew it was God when it happened. But in retrospect he realized how carefully God was watching over him.
- Your praise of God is always connected to his deliverance.
- It includes the confession of what a mess you made so many times by your own disobedience, pride, and stubbornness.
- It must include your encounter with angels and the protection that God has given you.
- It must include your narrative of rescue.
Fourth Question: Can You Speak the Blessing?
“May he bless these boys” (v16)
- Speaking this word requires a genuine faith in your heart. You must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him, as Hebrews 11:6.
- You must believe that God is really a Shepherd who is guiding you and caring for you.
- You must believe that God is really an Angel, that he sends his angels to watch over you.
- If you believe in the goodness of God, his shepherding and protection, then you are prepared to PRAISE HIM by blessing your children and grandchildren.
CONCLUSION: Do you have a story of rescue by God? Can you look back and see his hand in your life? Then praise him on the basis of that rescue.