Like Ephraim and Manasseh [Part 2]
Are you ready for some good news?
In Christ, there is a great exchange: He receives the curse that you and I deserved and we receive the blessing that only Christ deserved.
Today’s text: “And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn).” (Genesis 48:14, ESV)
Today’s radio broadcast is the conclusion of a message on one of the most bizarre, breathtaking scenes in the Old Testament. The aged patriarch Jacob is approaching his death and Joseph has brought his boys to be blessed by the father of the tribes of Israel.
When the dying Jacob extended his hands to bless his grandsons, he did something so shocking that it was unnerving to the boys’ father Joseph. Joseph had properly placed the older son, Manasseh, under the blind Jacob’s right hand and the younger, Ephraim, under the patriarch’s left hand. But “Israel [Jacob] stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn” (Gen. 48:14).
Joseph tried to correct him, but Jacob refused. Jacob kept his hands crossed and said, “I know, my son, I know.” He was saying, essentially, I know what I’m doing, I’m putting the undeserving one in front of the deserving.
When the Son hung on the cross, it was as if the Father crossed His hands. It was as if the strong right hand of blessing was lifted from the Son and, instead, was extended toward you and me. I imagine the angels, like Joseph of old, trying to correct the Father. “But Father, the right on should remain on the head of the firstborn of all creation.” And I imagine God replying, “I know what I’m doing.” Thus you, and I, and every second born received the right hand of blessing that we never deserved.
Manasseh means “forgetting” as in “I’ve forgotten my troubles.” Ephraim sounds like “twice fruitful”. God not only wants to heal you of your painful memories, he wants to make you twice fruitful!
Thus the blessing that Hebrew fathers were given to speak over their children was that God would “make them like Ephraim and Manasseh.” It’s the Good News, the great exchange, cloaked in a beautiful Old Testament shadow. Please listen to today’s broadcast to get the whole story. It’s simply majestic. In Christ, you’re like Ephraim and Manasseh. And that’s the Gospel!
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