Had one of those “Don’t think I’ve ever noticed this, much less thought about this” encounters with the Word this morning. Reading in a passage I have read in many times before. Seeing things in it I had seen many times before. But then, an encounter of the divine kind with a verse I’ve always skimmed over many times before.
Passage in question? Genesis 48. Big idea? A dying patriarch, Jacob, blesses the boys of his “resurrected” son, Joseph, adopting them as his own and grafting them into what would eventually become known as the twelve tribes of Israel. What’s more, the theme of “the son of favor” continues in Genesis as, rather than following the ways of men and conferring the greater blessing upon the firstborn, Jacob switches hands and blesses the youngest above the oldest. So far, so good. This I remember.
But then, this . . .
Israel said to Joseph, “Look, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. Over and above what I am giving your brothers, I am giving you the one mountain slope that I took from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”
(Genesis 48:21-22 CSB)
I am giving you the one mountain slope. That’s what grabbed me this morning.
One mountain slope — not even the whole mountain — that’s what Jacob the head over “seventy persons” (Gen. 46:27) gifts to Joseph the ruler over all of Egypt (Gen. 41:41). A piece of land where he pitched his tent that held all his earthly belongings, that’s what Jacob gives to the man who for years has been building grain silo after grain silo and then accumulating, literally, the world’s wealth. One mountain slope in a foreign land — out of sight, but evidently not out of mind — given to one who seemingly already has everything.
Not much to look at really (actually nothing to look at as long as you’re still in Egypt), but what a powerful tether to Joseph’s true identity, himself a favored son. Though Joseph literally has the world at his feet, his father gives him a double portion of a land of promise. Though Joseph is firmly entrenched and preoccupied with a place that has provided for him abundantly, his father reminds him of place God will bless him with eternally.
Hmm . . . sounds familiar.
This world is not my home. No matter how much a part of it I feel, no matter how much of it I’ve accumulated, no matter how much it preoccupies the daily affairs of my life, I too have had one mountain slope, a slice of another land, promised to me.
“In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” ~ Jesus
(John 14:2 CSB)
For Joseph, it was a bequeathed hillside in his father’s homeland. For me, it’s a room being built in my Father’s house. A tie to another place, a reminder of a yet to be realized future. An incentive to not get too entrenched in this place because I was born again for another place.
Being tethered by a promise to a land I’ll live in someday has a way of keeping my internal GPS fixed on my true north today.
By His grace. For His glory.