Like Ephraim and Manasseh [Part 2]

By Alan Wright — December 04, 2018

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)

Once you understand all that it foreshadows, it is one of the most mysterious, breathtakingly beautiful 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 confused and disturbed his son 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 can imagine the angels, like Joseph of old, trying to correct the Creator. “But Father, the right one should remain on the head of the firstborn of all creation.” And I can imagine God replying, “I know what I’m doing.” Thus you, and I, and every undeserving “second born” received the right hand of blessing that we never merited.

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” (Genesis 48:20). It’s the Good News, the great exchange, cloaked in a beautiful Old Testament shadow. It’s simply majestic. In Christ, you’re like Ephraim and Manasseh. And that’s the Gospel!

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