Word of Encouragement (06/01/2022)

Pastor James
June 1, 2022

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. 23 The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, 24 yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), 25 by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26 The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.” (Gen. 49:22-26)

Yesterday, we saw the Almighty God of Jacob as the Fount of every blessing. We also saw how Jacob claimed his blessings were greater than his parents. Today, we will continue our reflection on that thought.

Jacob goes on to show why his blessings are greater than his parents: his blessings are “up to the bounties of the everlasting hills.” The bounties he prays for Joseph are the bounties of the everlasting hills. We can understand “the everlasting hills” as an expression that symbolizes the lasting existence of this creation. This expression highlights particularly the abundance of produce. Because of the particular topography of the Palestine region, which lacked wide, flat fields, most of the farming as well as raising the livestock was done on the hills. So, we have expressions like “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10); “And as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe...” (Isa. 7:25); “I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their vegetation…” (this being a curse implies that hills were filled with vegetation); “Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill” (Isa. 5:1), etc.

But “the everlasting hills” that Jacob speaks of may refer to an eschatological reality. Even though hills and mountains symbolize the durability of this creation, they are not everlasting: “The mountains will melt under Him, / And the valleys will be split, / Like wax before the fire, / Like water poured down a steep place” (Micah 1:4, NASB). “The everlasting hills” point to a new heaven and a new earth, which are truly everlasting. So then, “the bounties of the everlasting hills” do not refer merely to the rich produce of Palestine but to the surpassing and everlasting riches of the heavenly promised land. Jacob prays that these bountiful blessings will be on the head of Joseph, on his brows, like a crown. We share in this benediction and have received the fullness of it in Jesus Christ: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places...” (Eph. 1:3).

Joseph is described as someone who was “set apart from his brothers”. This again reviews Joseph’s separation from his jealous brothers by being sold into slavery by them. It can also refer to the place of honor he occupied in Pharaoh’s court (John Gill). And, as John Gill points out, Joseph also points to Christ—His identification with us as our elder Brother but also His distinction from us as our Redeemer: “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Heb. 7:26).

May the Lord give us the wisdom to value our everlasting blessings more than the fleeting blessings of this world!