"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff." (Heb. 11:20,21 NIV)
Blessings. Isaac blessed his sons, Jacob blessed his grandsons. How can a blessing be an act of faith?
The answer lies in the blessings themselves. Let's take a look at Isaac's words to Jacob: "May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness-- an abundance of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed." (Gen. 27:28-29 NIV)
It's true that when Isaac said these words over Jacob, he thought he was saying them over Esau; yet each part of this blessing came true for Jacob. From Jacob's children sprung up the 12 tribes of Israel, which would go on, hundreds of years later, to inherit the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey ("an abundance of grain and new wine"). During the days of David and Solomon, there was no kingdom like Israel, and even Edom, the kingdom that descended from Esau, spent much of its time in submission to Israel ("may nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you").
Now let's look at the blessing he bestowed upon Esau: "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck." (Gen. 27:39-40)
Throughout most of Edom's history, the Edomites lived in submission to Israel ("you will live by the sword and you will serve your brother"). Yet despite this submission, they survived, and history records (2 Kings 8:20,22) that the Edomites eventually revolted against Israel ("But then you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck . . ."), thus fulfilling the promise given in the blessing.
Now let's look at the blessing Jacob bestowed upon Joseph's sons, Manasseh and Ephraim: "Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations." (Gen 48:19).
Jacob proclaimed that the younger son, Ephraim, would be mightier than the older, and so it came to be that Ephraim was by far the larger, mightier tribe.
Jacob then went on to bless each of his own 12 sons (Gen. 48-49), and each prophecy came to pass. To name just a few, Gen 49:16-17 tells us: "Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider tumbles backward." Years later, Samson the judge, would be born to the tribe of Dan.
In speaking about Judah, Jacob said: "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his." (Gen. 49:10). Sure enough, the line of kings descended from Judah, ending, eventually, in the birth of Jesus, the one "to whom it belongs", the one to whom belongs "the obedience of the nations."
I could go on, but for essence of time it is suffice to say that all of these blessings were prophetic, and all of them were fulfilled.
So where does the faith come in?
Have any of you ever heard an unusual word from the Lord? Have you received a promise? One that was kind of hard to believe in the light of glaring circumstance? It's been my experience that it is much easier to accept the promise myself than to share it with others. After all, if I didn't hear right, then I'm the only one who knows. I'm not shamed. My face is saved. But to share it with others? That requires a whole new level of faith. That requires that I face possible ridicule, possible shame!
Why would I feel this way? Because my faith is not strong enough to believe that: a) I actually heard a word from the Lord; and b) that God is faithful in all He promises. When Isaac and Jacob received their prophetic messages however, they did not hesitate, even for a moment, to pass them on to their sons. Why? Because they knew God's voice and they knew that God was faithful about His promises!
Enough to ponder, friends. But do ponder this: Repeating a prophetic message requires a certain degree of faith: Faith in God's ability to be able to communicate clearly with us, faith in our ability to hear His voice, and faith in His ability to be bring to pass what He has promised. That kind of faith can only come from knowing God's voice!
Join us next week for the next lesson in Faith to be learned from the life of Joseph.
God bless you!
Lyn Chaffart, Author, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets website, www.scripturalnuggets.org , Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .