Ahhh...CHOO!!!! (God bless you!)

(Genesis 48:13-26)

People always say...

"God bless you!" when someone sneezes!

Well, here is a story about blessings – and not too much at all about sneezing!

So where were we? Oh yeah, back in Egypt!

At last, the 7 long years of famine were over.

The rains started to fall.

(It's raining!)

The crops began to grow.


And Jacob and his family settled into their new home in the Land of Goshen. And God blessed them.

Their crops grew abundantly. And their families grew abundantly too! They became rich in every way.

(A happy family!)

Jacob lived 17 years in the Land of Goshen, until he was 147 years old. That is old!

And what happens when things get old? They start to wear out, that's what! And that's what happened to Jacob. His eyes were going bad. His legs were getting weak. Until finally, he didn't even have the strength to get out of bed.

(Jacob, too old and weak to even get out of bed)

Jacob knew his time on earth was almost over.

And so he sent for his son Joseph.

As soon as Joseph heard...

...that his father had called for him, he left his home and traveled to the land of Goshen. When he entered his Father's tent, Jacob said,

"Joseph, Is that you?"

"Yes, Father," Joseph said.

"Come here by my bed. I want you to make a solemn promise to me.

"Promise me that when I die you won't bury me here in Egypt. Promise me that you will bury me in the land of my fathers." Jacob wanted to make sure he was buried in the land that God had promised his family.


"I promise," Joseph said.

So Jacob made Joseph make a solemn vow. Joseph promised that Jacob would be buried in the land of his father Isaac, and Isaac's father Abraham.

Time went by...

...and Jacob was getting weaker and weaker.

One day a message came to Joseph that his father was sick and close to dying. So he took his two sons, Manasseh and his younger brother Ephraim, and traveled to see his father once again.

Jacob was lying in his tent with his eyes closed. His body was tired and worn out from a long, long life. But when he heard Joseph and his sons coming, he used all his strength to pull himself up in his bed.

"Joseph, is that you?"

"Yes, Father."

"Come closer!" Jacob said, holding out his bent and bony hands.

"When I was younger, the Lord God Almighty appeared to me at Luz. This was in the land of Canaan, and the Lord blessed me there. The Lord said to me, 'I will give you many children, and they will have many children, and they will have many children, and from them will come many nations. I will give this land to them, and it will be their land forever.' "

And then Jacob said in his trembling, old voice, "Joseph, your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt – from now on I will call them my sons. They will be my sons just as Rueben and Simeon are my sons. And they will share in my heritance just as they will. (And that's why Ephraim and Manasseh will each become one of the 12 tribes of Israel... but we will get to that later!)

"Joseph, I am doing this because I loved your mother Rachel so much!

"She died in the land of Canaan, and I buried her there, beside the road to Ephrath (The little town that became known as Bethlehem. That little town is going to become very famous one day! You might have even heard of it already!).

Now, Jacob could barely see the shapes of two boys standing there.

"Joseph," Jacob said, pointing to the two shapes, "Who are these boys?"

"They are my sons!" Joseph said, "The sons God has blessed me with here in the land of Egypt."

Ephraim & Manasseh

Ephraim & Manasseh

Then Jacob said, "Bring them here so that I may bless them."

Joseph brought his sons to their grandfather, and Jacob wrapped his arms around them and hugged them as hard as he could. His eyes filled with tears.

"Joseph, many, many years ago your brothers told me that you had been killed by a wild animal.  I thought that I would never see you again –

– and now here you are!

"God has truly blessed me!

"And now God has blessed me even more – God has let me see your children!"

Joseph bowed to the ground before his father. And then he had his two sons kneel at the foot of Jacob's bed so Jacob could bless them.

A Word or Two About


Now, in the time of Jacob, a father's blessing was a special and important thing.

When a father blessed his children, he was saying, "God is with us!"

He was saying, "We are a family that lives under God's care and protection."

He knew that all the good things they had were blessings from God. And so he tried his best to keep his family following God's way. He knew that if you try to go your own way, and walk away from God, you walk away from God's blessings too.

And the wonderful thing is that God wants to bless us! It's just who God is!

All of life is a blessing from God!

There! That breath you just took - you did take a breath, didn't you?! - that breath was a blessing from God!

All you have to do is look around at all the good things God has made for us to see that all of that is true!

Well, just think of it. God could have given us crackers and water to eat, and called it good. But no! God gives us bananas and grapes and figs and pineapples, carrots and broccoli and spinach – chocolate! And ice cream and cookies and a million other good things to eat!

God could have made a flower or two, maybe a dandelion and a skunk cabbage, and called it good. But no! God made roses and daffodils and shooting stars and columbine and a thousand different kinds of flowers – and he scatters them everywhere!

God could have put a few stars in the sky and called it good. That would be nice. But no! God put BILLIONS and BILLIONS of stars in the sky for us!

That's how much God wants to bless us!

So some time just go outside and look at all that God has made for us.... the trees and flowers, the big puffy clouds in the sky... and the sun that comes up every morning to warm us and give us light! When you see all those good things God has given us, be happy! That's why God has made them for you! God's blessings are God's love!

And you know what?

YOU are a blessing from God! You are a blessing even more amazing than all the stars in the sky! It's true! The stars are all cool and all, but can they show God's love the way you can?

Can they make someone smile like you can?

Can they do a nice thing for someone who needs help like you can?


God is so good!

Where were we? Oh yeah...

So when a father gave his children his blessing he was putting them under God's care, like putting them under a blanket of God's protection. He knew that if they live the way God wants them to live – if they walk in his ways – God will bring them goodness and joy, and a rich and happy life.

Not that they will never have any troubles. Troubles are a part of life too. But when hard times come, God will be with them and see them through.

One day one of the writers of the Psalms will say,

"Even when I walk through dark and scary places, I will not be afraid because I know that God is with me!"

Well, just look at the troubles God brought Jacob and Joseph through!

(That was Psalm 23 – but it won't be written for quite few years yet! Well, quite a few years after the time of Jacob and his family, that is!)

The Birthright


Now in those days, when a father died everything he owned was divided among his children. But the oldest son received twice as much as the others. That was called the Birthright. When a father died the oldest son became the head of the family. It was his job to keep the family living under God's care and protection.

So Joseph put Manasseh at Jacob's right hand, to receive the blessing of the oldest son, and Ephraim at his left hand.

Jacob's blessing

But Jacob crossed his hands – and put his right hand on Ephraim, even though he was the younger son, and his left hand on Manasseh!

Jacob's blessing

And then Jacob blessed them and said,

"May God bless these boys, just as God blessed my father Isaac, and his father Abraham!

May God, who has brought me here to this very day, bless them!

May the angel who watched over me in times of trouble, bless


May my name be remembered in them just like we remember my father Isaac, and we remember his father Abraham.

May they have many children! And may their children have many children, and may their children have many children. May they become a great nation!"

But Joseph was upset when he saw that Jacob had put his right hand on Ephraim, the younger son.

"No! Not that way, father!" Joseph said, "You put your right hand on Ephraim! But Manasseh is the oldest! Put your right hand on him!"

But Jacob said, "I know, my son, I know! A great nation will come from Manasseh, but a greater one will come from Ephraim!" If you remember, Jacob received his father Isaac's blessing instead of Esau, even though Esau was the oldest too!

Well, just watch and you will see that God seems to like to do the surprising thing! He puts the little brother above the big brother. He picks the smallest and weakest to become the strongest. The ones who are last, God puts first!

And one day a tiny baby will be born in a stable in a little, nowhere town - and he will save the world!

So Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh. He said, "One day our people will say, 'May The Lord bless you like Ephraim and Manasseh.' "

And then he said to Joseph, "I am ready to die, but God is with you. God will take you back to the land of my father Isaac and his father Abraham."

And so Jacob blessed Joseph and his sons that day.


...all good things – like ice cream sundaes, and sunny days, and even your brothers and sisters – are blessings from God!

Ice cream sundaes, and sunny days, and long life are wonderful things, but the best thing is that they are gifts from God. That's really where the happiness comes from! They let us know that God is with us and that God loves us. Sundaes melt, storms come, and life comes to an end – but God's love never ends.

Live each and every day with God. Live each day in God's blessings. Live each day in God's love!

So here is a blessing for you!

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

May the Lord make his face shine upon you,

And be good to you!

May the Lord smile on you,

And give you peace!



2014 Paul Dallgas-Frey

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