Friday, December 2, 2011

Genesis 49:22

A dying man has much to reflect on, and certainly he thinks about the value of his own life - how he lived it, to what purpose - and to what degree he has lived a satisfying life. Certainly Jacob, on his deathbed, has a good perspective on what things truly matter in life. So when he blesses Joseph, he first acknowledges the way Joseph chose to live.

Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.” (Gen 49:22)

We will be spending a few days on the blessing of Joseph, because it is so remarkable in comparison to the others. Jacob immediately sets Joseph apart as being the “fruitful” son. Jon Courson has some great things to say about this in his Application Commentary: Old Testament, so I’ll be sharing some of them. He has an essay on this passage, entitled “The Secret of a Satisfied Life.” Don’t we all yearn for a life of satisfaction? Courson says the Bible is very clear about what will bring us deep satisfaction, knowing we have fulfilled our purpose in life:

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, 
for you created all things, 
   and by your will they were created 
and have their being.” (Rev 4:11)

First, God created us for HIS pleasure and to bring HIM glory, so when we seek to please and glorify HIM, we end up with a fulfilled life. What is it that pleases and glorifies our Father?

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)

So Joseph is the example of the “fruitful vine.” Courson says the Bible defines fruit in several areas, including the following: fruit in the winning of souls (Paul speaks of those he led to Christ as his harvest in Romans 1:13); the fruit of holiness (Romans 6:22); the fruit of good works (Colossians 1:10); the fruit of praise (Hebrews 13:15); and, of course, the fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23)

How were these fruit evident in Joseph’s life? Did Joseph win souls to God? Of course he did! He saved his whole family from starvation by bringing them all to Egypt. He displayed the reality of his God to Pharaoh and all of Egypt. Are we pointing others to Christ? Are we giving the good news about Jesus Christ to a world that is starving?

Joseph surely had the fruit of holiness in his life. Being holy is being set apart for God. Joseph was surely distinct, set apart the world in which he lived. He chose to honor God through obedience as he resisted and fled from Potiphar’s wife. Joseph set his mind to live in holiness. Would those around us see as as “set apart?” Or do we look just like every other person in the neighborhood, with no distinction in the way we live out our lives?

Talk about good works! Joseph spent his life serving others - Potiphar, Pharaoh, the nation of Egypt, his brothers, and his father. Just like Jesus, he epitomized the servant-leader. Did those works of service make him more loved by God? No - but they did show all those around him that he indeed loved God. While our works don’t save us, they are a testament to God - they show others the reality of God in our lives, bringing Him glory.

Finally, Joseph gave God the fruit of praise, for he always gave God the credit for everything! (Gen 41:16) When someone acknowledges something we have done that pleases them, do we take in the praise or give it right back to God? How I long to be more like Joseph! What was his secret? We’ll look at that next time!


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