Summary: We usually like for things to stay the same. However, sometimes an exchange takes place for our good. Some things need to be “Switched!”
Text: Genesis 48:1-2, 5, 8-20
1Some time later Joseph was told, "Your father is ill." So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. 2 When Jacob was told, "Your son Joseph has come to you," Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.
5"Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.
8When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, "Who are these?" 9"They are the sons God has given me here," Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, "Bring them to me so I may bless them." 10Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, "I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too." 12Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.
15Then he blessed Joseph and said,
"May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd
all my life to this day,
16the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
—may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
upon the earth."
17When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to him, "No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head." 19But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations." 20 He blessed them that day and said, "In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing:
’May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’ "So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.
4Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
I. The Switch
Israel (Jacob) is now, due to his advanced age, very sick. Joseph, his son, is told about his father’s condition so, he grabs his two sons, the oldest, Manasseh, and the youngest, Ephraim, and goes to see his dying father. Israel tells Joseph that he is taking Manasseh and Ephraim (his grandsons) as his own sons. In fact, he is legally adopting them as his own. He grants them sonship. These two boys now take Joseph’s place and Levi (due to being set apart as the priests) as tribes of Israel. They are now the 11th and 12th tribes. Now that they are the legal sons of Israel and perceiving his coming death he prepares to give them his patriarchal blessing. However, something peculiar takes place.
Joseph brings Manasseh and Ephraim to stand in front of Jacob. Since Manasseh is the firstborn Joseph puts him on his left so that when Israel reaches out he will place his right hand on Manasseh. However, the Word says that Israel “knowingly” in the KJV it says “wittingly” or “purposely” crossed his hands so that his right hand was place on the head of the second or younger son, Ephraim.
A SWITCH has occurred. A change has taken place.
Joseph sees what his father has done and grabs Israel’s hands to change them. However, Israel will not change them and declares that Ephraim will be greater than his brother Manasseh. Ephraim is placed in front of Manasseh. Then Jacob blesses them.