Joseph Study | Day Nineteen
By: Brittany Green | Blessings
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Just like there were several definitions we established and discussed on Day One of this study, there’s a lot of technicality in today’s reading as well. So, buckle in and hang with me! Let’s wade through all of this together.
Describe in your own words what it means to be righteous:
Who is our main example of righteousness in this study?
Which of Joseph’s brothers have we discussed as being especially unrighteous?
Though we’re going to look at how righteousness and unrighteousness come into play in Joseph’s family, we must first need to talk about typical family dynamics of their culture. At the time, a father’s inheritance was extremely important for his sons—primarily his oldest one. Unfortunately for us girls, daughters never received a part of their father’s inheritance, but they were always taken care for. However, to the fellas, their father’s inheritance was highly valuable.
This Biblical type of inheritance is way more detailed than the inheritance we know of today. Typically it would go to the oldest son, but it could go to a younger son. It rarely happened, but it was ultimately the father’s decision.
Basically, the inheritance was broken into two parts:
The blessing was a spoken statement showing authority of a son for the whole family. He would be seen as the leader of the family once the father died. God typically used this as a way of showing the son His will.
The birthright is a double portion of the inheritance. They would take all of the possessions and divide it among the sons, but give double to the oldest son. So for Jacob, who had 12 sons, he would divide all of his wealth by 13 and give two parts to the oldest son and one part to the other 11.
Genesis is centered on the family fighting over the birthright and the blessing of Israel (Jacob). Genesis also centers on the favoritism of the younger son. So we might expect the youngest to get the inheritance. For example, Jacob was the youngest son, but was given the inheritance because Esau was hungry and gave it to him for some soup. It happens over and over that the youngest son is ruling over the older, that the youngest gets the inheritance, that the youngest is more favored, and so on.
So let’s see how it plays out for Joseph and his brothers and how the righteousness plays into it all.
Read Genesis 48. (Here we’ll meet Joseph’s sons! Manasseh is the older one; Ephraim is the younger brother.)
Now read Genesis 49:22-26.
If we were just quickly reading through Joseph’s story, we might not really care about this part. But it’s important.
Verse 5 says that Jacob took Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own. This is Jacob giving Joseph the birthright. Through his sons, Jacob is giving Joseph a double portion. We’ll see in further history that this turns into a tribe for each son. So the Twelve tribes of Israel include two from Joseph’s line. Even in this interaction between Jacob and Ephraim and Manasseh, the younger is over the older.
Jacob honors Joseph’s sons, as well as Joseph (in 49:22-26), giving him the birthright. His family prospers. The disposed son ends up saving a nation, saving his family, and gaining blessings from his father! It must have been such a special moment for Joseph’s father to recognize him and his sons.
Now, let’s look at who gets the blessing. Who do you think it is?
Read Genesis 49:8-10.
Were you right about the blessing? Judah gets it!
Judah who is a mess! Judah who sold his brother. Judah who has a messed up marriage (see Genesis 38, if you want)! Judah who has been painted as especially unrighteous. This guy is going to lead the family? Whaaat?! So why Judah?
A few reasons:
#1: Judah’s three older brothers had made many sinful mistakes in their lives. They had a history of moral failure. They had wronged their father and wronged their brothers. A couple of them killed a family to defend their sister’s honor. None of these brothers repented of their actions. They might have felt bad for their sins, but they did not admit their sins or repent from them.
#2: Judah repented. It’s that simple! Judah really messed up in the past. But at the end of the day, he saw his unrighteousness, confessed, and turned from those ways. His story is one of redemption. And because of that redemption, because he sought out salvation, God blesses him through Jacob. He is now the leader of the family. You can see this coming out a little bit in Gen. 46:28, and also when Judah steps up to take responsibility for Benjamin. Judah is different from his brothers because he repented.
Judah’s family line is where Jesus comes from. King David was a descendant of Judah. Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was a descendant of David. See why it’s important? The leader of the family, Judah, brought forth the savior of the world! Out of the mess of Judah came the Messiah Jesus.
The whole story of Jacob’s sons has been contrasting Joseph’s faithfulness and steadfast righteousness with Judah’s changes. Judah repents. Joseph never acts out of line. Both took responsibility to be righteous. Both could only be righteous because God was with them. Both were blessed. Dang. I love that!
The Lord doesn’t want us to come to Him when we have our lives together, for we would never come to Him if so! Rather, God wants us to pursue Him—messy hearts and all. He wants a relationship with us, not just rituals.
God just wants you. He wants you in a right relationship, walking with Him.
He’s constantly pursuing you. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows your worries. He knows your hopes and dreams. He knows your crush and which friends you’re having drama with right now. He knows you. All of you. And he loves you.
Jesus puts it this way, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
God wants to bless you and use you in your mess. We’ve received the greatest inheritance. We’re called co-heirs to Christ. We all get to experience the inheritance of salvation!
So how can you let God work in your mess today? I so wish you would let him into the mess, into the good, into all of it. God makes beautiful things out of us. That’s my prayerful cry for you today.