THE CROSS OF BLESSING
2008 John H Mattox

   In the forty-eighth chapter of Genesis, which relates the story of Jacob's blessing the sons of Joseph, we are given a remarkable foreview of the cross and its meaning. When Joseph brought his sons for their grandfather's blessing, he placed Manasseh, the older, opposite Jacob's right hand, with Ephraim opposite the left. However, instead of stretching his hands out in parallel fashion and putting his right hand on Manasseh's head, he placed his right hand on Ephraim's head and the left on Manasseh's. When Joseph protested that Manasseh was the older and should receive the greater or right hand blessing, Jacob assured him that he was not making a mistake - that the younger would be more blessed of God than the older. Jacob's switching of the blessings resulted in his crossing his hands, or making a cross with his arms. As we consider the effect that Jacob's cross had on the lives of his grandsons we are reminded of some things which were accomplished when a greater Father bestowed a blessing on his sons - also through the medium of a cross.

The Cross Of Blessing (cont)

    Thinking, then, of the cross of blessing, we note that the cross gave the second-born precedence or preference over the first-born. So it is in our Christian experience - it is the second-born nature in the believer that is pleasing and acceptable to God. The flesh may share, to a degree, in the blessings which God bestows upon his people, but nothing of a permanent nature is done for it. God does not repair it, patch it up, or try to improve it. God's rejection of the first-born nature and his acceptance of the second-born nature are illustrated in numerous ways in the O.T. The stories of Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Saul and David, all illustrate the principle that he taketh away the first. that he might establish the second.    Next, we may note that the cross is the medium of our blessings. In Eph. 1:3, God is said to have blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ; but it is through the medium of his cross, i.e., his sacrificial death, that we are able to enter into his merit and receive and enjoy these blessings. Ephraim and Manasseh received a blessing from Jacob because of their relationship to his son. He was not passing out blessings to all of the children of Egypt, but merely to those who were related to his son. So, God's blessings are ours because of our relationship to his Son, the greater Joseph, and this relationship is grounded upon his cross.

The Cross Of Blessing (cont)

    We see further that the cross makes us acceptable in the family of the Father. Jacob said to Joseph:

" ... thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine."
Gen. 48:5.

Thus, he adopted Joseph's two sons into his own family, making them to share equally with his other sons, thereby making of Joseph a double tribe (or rather two separate tribes). Just as Ephraim and Manasseh were adopted into Jacob's family because of their relationship to Joseph, the son of Jacob's love, so the Father has adopted into his family those who are related to the greater Joseph, and has made them accepted in the Beloved.
    Finally we see that the cross puts Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. The name Manasseh means causing to forget, and in bestowing this name upon his firstborn, Joseph said:

" ... For God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house."
Gen. 41:51.

It is plain that Joseph did not mean to say that he had forgotten in an absolute sense either his life as a slave or his early life in his father's house; but rather that God had so richly blessed him that neither the joys of the one nor the anguish of the other had any power now to bring forth any feeling from his breast. Both the joys of his childhood and the sufferings of his slavery were swallowed up in the greater joys of his exaltations. So it is with the Christian; God has made him to forget his previous life in that the joys as well as the griefs of it are swallowed up in the joy of being exalted in Christ. But even more important than the Manasseh aspect of our Christian experience should be the Ephraim experience. Ephraim in Hebrew means doubly fruitful, and as Ephraim was placed ahead of Manasseh so we should regard fruitfulness as of more importance than the fact that God has richly blessed us so as to make us forget our toil and all our father's house.

John H Mattox

return to index