Friday, February 12, 2016

Bless Your Pharaoh

Do you ever read a Bible passage that makes you shake your head? So this morning I stumbled onto a couple of strange verses:
Genesis 47:7 NLT  Then Joseph brought in his father, Jacob, and presented him to Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
Genesis 47:10 NLT  Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh again before leaving his court.
Weird huh?  So the "ruler" of the known world who owns everything lets this old, wandering shepherd touch him and speak a blessing over him.  Why would he? And why would Jacob want to bless him? 

Why would Pharaoh want Jacob's Blessing?

He would want Jacob's blessing for several reasons.  First, this guy is 130 years old and still getting around.  Pharaoh also recognizes the blessing and favor of God that is on him.  He has 12 sons and his entire clan numbers 70 people and, oh, they are very rich.  Most importantly, Pharaoh has been the recipient of God's wisdom and blessing that has come through Joseph. 

Why would Jacob bless Pharaoh?

Perhaps Jacob blessed him in recognition of Pharaoh's kindness toward his son, Joseph, by promoting him to be his "Prime Minister".  Perhaps he was moved by ancient custom or tradition to honor royalty. I am not sure, however, some theologians think he was just offering "shalom" to the ruler as a standard greeting.  As I have pondered this passage, I think there are a couple of implications from Jacob's simple act of blessing. 

First, Jacob is taking another step in fulfilling the promise of God to Abraham that through him, "all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him." (Genesis 18:18) Jacob as Abraham's grandson is blessing the nation of Egypt by blessing her leader.

More importantly, Jacob is prophetically pointing to his descendant, Jesus, through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed.  

What does this mean to us?

As Christ-followers, we are called to bless and not curse. (Romans 12:14) More importantly, we are instructed to live by the law of love.  Love believes the best and speaks the best.  Let's find ways to bless our families, our communities, and the nations with words of peace and hope.  I dream of a church that is known more by what we are blessing, rather than what we are cursing.  Do you find yourself in a difficult place today? Bless and do not curse.