He blessed them that day, putting Ephraim before Manasseh when he said, “The nation Israel will invoke blessings by you, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” Israel said to Joseph, “Look, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers.” (Genesis 48:20-21)
According to the book of Hebrews, this is the most important event in Jacob’s life. Hebrews 11 is the Bible’s all-time spiritual hall of fame. It tells of Noah building a boat in the middle of the desert. It talks about Abraham taking a road trip to the promised land with no map. It describes Moses giving up the life of leisure he had in Pharoah’s house drinking mojitos by the pool, so he could go lead the Israelites.
And when it talks about Jacob, it doesn’t mention the dream he had of the ladder to heaven, or when he wrestled with God, or worshiped God in Canaan. It says in Hebrews 11:21, “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.” Out of all the events in Jacob’s life, this is where he showed the most faith. Because he’s finally recognizing God’s plan and going along with it, rather than fighting against it.
So God is blessing him, and he’s going to bless Jacob’s offspring too, as Jacob reminds them: “God will be with you.” In the Bible, whenever God promises to be with someone, it’s usually just when they’re about to go through some impossible challenge. And this is exactly what’s about to happen to Jacob’s family. In the following 400 years, they will slowly fall out of favor with the Egyptians and become slaves just like Joseph was. And during that whole time, God won’t reveal himself to them at all. He’s not going to speak, or appear in visions, or give anyone symbolic dreams. Complete radio silence.
But the promise he’s giving them is that he will be with them. That’s what Jacob has finally come to understand. So when it seems like God is on the other side of the universe, remember that he’s with you by the grace of Jesus to guide, protect, and bless you through the power of the Holy Spirit.