Sermon: The Doctrine of Israel (Part Twelve): Joseph
God frequently bypasses the firstborn, selecting for His purposes a second or third sibling, exampled in His selection of Abel over Cain, Shem over Japheth, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Reuben, David over his brothers, Ephraim over Manasseh. In principle, God deals with His people in this way, calling those considered the foolish of the world, while bypassing (for the present) those with much more apparent potential. Israel (Jacob's proper name at the time) selected Joseph's second-born son, Ephraim, to receive the firstborn's blessing, at the same time adopting both Ephraim and Manasseh as his own sons. The combined traits of Joseph (whose name denotes increase), Manasseh (whose name denotes forgetting the past but looking continually forward), and Ephraim (whose name denotes prosperity) describe the prophesied future of "the Joseph tribes": 1.) the best of the earth's land (but not rulership over it); 2.) virtually astonishing fruitfulness and fecundity; 3.) vast economic and military strength, flowing from national wealth. God selected the Joseph tribes to receive blessings immeasurably greater than those of any other people on the face of the earth—including the other tribes of Israel. As a result, the modern-day nations descending from Ephraim and Manasseh are the most hated (and envied) peoples on the earth. Most importantly, God separated Joseph's offspring (Genesis 49:26, Deuteronomy 33:16), setting them apart for a special work to be performed in the last days (Genesis 49:1), when Christ returns.
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