Designed to be Fruitful
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
We normally select to read the smaller and most significant part of a Scriptural passage on which we intend to focus our message, but I believe I need to give you the historical background for what we’re going to look at today. So in honor and respect to God’s Word, and a consideration of the whole context, would you tolerate a reading of this entire chapter? Please turn to Genesis 48, beginning at verse 2:
2And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. 3And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, 4And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. 5And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. 6And thy issue, which thou begetteth after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. 7And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.
8And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these? 9And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. 10Now the eyes of Israel were dim of age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. 11And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed. 12And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him.
14And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, 16The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. 17And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. 18And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
19And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Menasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
21And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. 22Moreover, I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow."
have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my You have now read the historical story that many of us (who grew up in Church and Sunday School) heard about every 7 years. Now, I do understand that not everyone was raised with that privilege, but most Sunday School curriculums traverse through all of the Bible stories in a 7-year repeated cycle. However, this story was usually presented to us as merely that – a story in Israel's history. It did carry meaning in that we understood the blessings of God, but it didn’t have a poignant personal touch to it (at least for me) – until the Holy Spirit began to magnify the details. How many have had that experience with the Word? Suddenly, it is just your portion altogether because He brings you insight and fresh revelation.
Now, when I looked at this segment of scripture just recently, I thought, “Well, what would I say about this story? What, Father, are You leading me to bring forth? What’s significant for us today about this passage? What’s the title you want communicated?” That always gives a clue to what you’re going to say – knowing the title. :-) The thought for the title came to me later, after I had studied and prayed about the course of this message. It even came after I had printed my notes, so I wrote it here in pencil. :-) “Designed to be Fruitful.” Apt and to the point.
We literally are designed by God (Jer.1:5; Ps.139:14). We’re not merely a happenstance. Not just a random assortment of genetic details we gain from the biology of our parents. Those of you that have recently accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior need to know that when you said, “Yes,” to receiving Him, you were actually agreeing with what He had already accepted – you. He picked you. He chose you (Jn.15:16;1Jn.4:19). And the truth is, He chose you long before you knew you needed Him (Eph.1:4). He chose you before you got strung out on drugs, or before your home was torn apart and relationships destroyed, and before all the other messes in life that we might know about.
God said about you: “That’s My kid! That one is Mine. That person is Mine.” He chose each of us long before we chose Him. And more than that, He had a design for our lives (Jer.29:11). Now that is just so amazing to me! But it’s Scriptural. That’s what the Good Book says – “That before the foundation of the world, He knew you…” (Eph.1:4). That is totally astounding! Before all of creation… He had this plan – a purpose in His mind for each individual. A divine design.
So I have looked at that pretty carefully and read books on “purpose.” I’ve heard messages on the topic and so have you. And so we naturally ask, “What’s my purpose, Lord?” I have preached for more than 40 years and you could name anything experienced in the ministry, I promise you I’ve had a little bit of it. :-) I have been busy for God most of my life. I know what it is to serve Him – unreservedly. He knows and I know that I am His and He is mine and we often sing that song in church. I’m in Him and He’s in me and that’s just the end of it – no argument there.
So many songs take their lyrics straight from the Scripture and therefore are the absolute Truth, like: He thinks better than I think and that’s the end of that. His thoughts are higher than mine – His ways are higher and we simply agree with His Truth (Isa.55:8,9). But do you know the frustration that I find in serving the Lord? How many want to know what that is? :-) The frustration I find is that He does not feel obligated to explain things to me! :-) Even when I demand it in Jesus’ Name! :-)
I feel a similar frustration with some songs we sing. Like ones that tell us we have to wait – on (or for) God. I just don’t like those songs! I don’t want to hear it! I don’t want to live it! I don’t want to wait! :-) I like this: “Ask for it (whatever you want :-)) – in Jesus’ Name (of course! :-)) – and it’s done!” :-) I like the magic wand! – “In Jesus’ name!” :-)
But real life simply isn’t like that. Oh, it is for salvation, in that all you have to do is come forward and say, “I do want You, Lord. I need You, Lord.” And then, the design for your life is activated by the Designer the moment you say, “Yes! I want Jesus Christ to be in my life.”
So here we see in this story in Genesis a change of plans. Now, God’s plans do not (and did not) change, but man’s plans changed. Jacob, the patriarch, is old and dying. His name is synonymous with Israel – God re-named him long before this time (cf.Gen.32:28). Jacob – Israel. The names reference the same man. The story related in this passage is: Jacob, the patriarch, is dying and Joseph is desirous that his father Jacob would bless his own sons – because he knows and understands the power of blessing.
Now, in case you don’t know me well, I always try to preach 7 or 8 sermons in one message, so you can take your pick – whichever one God quickens to you. :-) And one of those messages here at the beginning is that we need to know that God has veto power! So – no matter what you vote or how loudly you vote – by stamping your feet and using the Name of the Lord, not in vain but repetitiously (seeMt.6:7) –“In Jesus’ Name! In-Jesus-Name! In-Jesus-Name! In-Je-sus-Name!” :-) You can rapid-fire it all you want, it is not a magical phrase! :-) And you just cannot manipulate God, no matter what you say or do.
There is a divine plan – a design – for your life and you, as His precious child, are not going to get very far away from that master plan. Those of us, who are older and lived longer under God’s direction, have learned – that is a good thing – being unable to get away from His plan! It truly is a positive thing! I have no desire to go it alone – I want His plan to be effective and effecting in my life!
What I want us to see is the intention of God! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul said in Ephesians 1:3, “who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame in Him” – note: in Him!
Don’t let the devil beat you up and toss you around by taunting you: “You’re not holy. You are not holy. Look at you! You think that is holy?” But the Truth is, you are holy – in Him! We are a holy nation (1Pet.2:9). We’re royalty! The royal blood of Jesus Christ the King flows through our veins from the moment we accept Him! And I’m truly tired of Christians getting beat up by the devil! I hear the lament in counseling or at the altar: “Oh, I have sinned – I had bad thoughts today. I didn’t do what I should do. I did this… Oh, Pastor, I just… I don’t feel that I’m holy at all.”
Holy doesn’t feel! It just is!
I’ll tell you who knows you’re holy – the enemy knows that Truth! And he hates you! That’s mutual, isn’t it? He hates me and I hate him in return! I hate everything he does to people! He hates your relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. I hate his plans! Oh, I know they’ll ultimately be thwarted and I know God’s going to win in the end. I know all that – I read the end of the Book! :-) But I don’t like the process – when the enemy just beats up on people. And one of his great, most successful tools – is guilt. I just can see your heads nodding in agreement and understanding, because he has done it to you!
How many would just love to never have another guilty feeling in your life? Well, according to the Word of God, you can be free! “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free!” (Gal.5:1). Paul goes on: “And be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Go to Part 2