By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
1. Isaac, 11:20.
Genesis devotes about 10 chapters to Isaac; the writer to Hebrews gives him 11 words, and these are about his sons, Jacob and Esau. Genesis 27:26-40 gives us the actual account. The writer of Hebrews passes over the favoritism of Jacob for his son Esau and the deceit fostered by Rebekah for her favorite son Jacob (cf. Genesis 25:27, 28) because when the truth came out, Isaac probably remembered what had been said of these sons even before their birth. Rebekah evidently had a hard pregnancy, and so she went to the LORD, who told her, “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger,” Genesis 25:23, emphasis added. Isaac had been ruled by fleshly desire and natural inclination, but God overruled everything and brought about His own desire and will. Notice, also, that God doesn’t just refer to these two boys, but the “nations” which will come from them. We talked about this in our post on “An Eye for an Eye,” how that there’s a whole world wrapped up in a “baby bump,” though we never think of it that way. And this is true, whether you look back or ahead. God says to take care of it.
2. Jacob, 11:21.
The story is found in Genesis 48. Hebrews leaves out all the travail of his life recorded in Genesis and just gives us the last thing that Jacob did: the blessing of his grandchildren. The blessing was that these two young teenagers would grow “into a multitude in the midst of the earth,” v. 16.
3. Joseph, 11:22.
Each of these three men were at the end of their lives. Jacob and Joseph were dying and Isaac knew that his time was rapidly coming to a close. Yet the record doesn’t show them focusing on this, but rather on the future. The nation had fairly recently moved to Egypt, but Joseph thinks of their departure. Remember, it would be 85 years until the birth of Moses and 165 years until the Exodus. Still, Joseph wasn’t looking at the frailty of human nature, but at the faithfulness of God. He said, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” Genesis 50:24.
Too often, we look to some mere human being. And God made us that way. He made us as social beings; very few of us are content to be by ourselves all the time. But whatever relationships we form tend to come and go, especially as we get older ourselves. Only God is “forever.” His word is forever, and His promises. And, in His faithfulness, those promises are as good as done, even though far in the future, as with Joseph.
Indeed, His word says that His people have already been “glorified,” Romans 8:30, though the mirror tells us otherwise. My mind has a hard time sometimes believing that I’m as old as I am, but my body says, “You’d better believe it!” Not glorified, yet, but it’s as certain as that the Sun rose this morning and is shining brightly on the covering of snow on the ground.
God has promised it.