Life-Study of Genesis, by Witness Lee

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Now we come to some practical points concerning blessing. The Lord’s blessing crosses man’s natural maneuvering (48:13-20). When Joseph brought his sons Manasseh and Ephraim to Jacob, he maneuvered the situation so that the firstborn, Manasseh, would be in front of Jacob’s right hand. The father put the firstborn in front of the grandfather’s right hand to receive the first blessing and the second in front of the left hand to receive the second blessing. Joseph’s maneuvering was according to the natural concept. According to the natural concept, Joseph was right. However, Jacob crossed his hands. Although his eyes were dim, he was very clear in his spirit. Genesis 48:17 says, "And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it was evil in his eyes: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head" (Heb.). Then Joseph said, "Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn: put thy right hand upon his head" (v. 18). Jacob refused and said, "I know it, my son, I know it" (v. 19). Thus, the Lord’s blessing crossed man’s maneuvering.

Because parents have their natural taste, natural choice, and natural concept, they are always maneuvering the situation. But maneuvering must be crossed out. I have done a good deal of maneuvering, even in the preaching of the gospel. As I considered the audience, including some who were brilliant and very promising, I said to myself, "These are the good ones." However, most of them never believed at all or else believed in a sloppy way. But others, whom I considered useless, believed in a good way and became useful.

Another kind of maneuvering is found in the church service. In the past we thought that certain ones were trustworthy, spiritual, and superior. But many times we were disappointed because they did not measure up to our expectations. Our maneuvering does not correspond to God’s blessing. Maneuvering is our choosing, our selecting. More than thirty years ago I said, "These are very good. They are growing, they will be built up, and they will be one." Eventually, however, the best ones did not come from the group I had chosen; they came instead from another direction. This is an instance of the crossing of hands.

The Lord never places His hand according to our maneuvering. Therefore, in our families, in the preaching of the gospel, and in the church service, we must learn to keep our hands off. We should simply bring our two sons to God and trust them to His sovereign hand. We all are Josephs. We like to bring our Manasseh to the right hand of the Lord and our Ephraim to His left hand. But time after time the Lord crosses His hands. If you consider the church life and study church history, you will see that God’s blessing is always sovereign, never subject to man’s maneuvering. For example, Peter was a leading one in Jerusalem. Do you believe he prayed that Saul of Tarsus would become an apostle? Certainly not! Rather, Peter might have prayed, "Lord, Saul is too active. I ask You to bind him." But the Lord’s hand crossed over the twelve Apostles and was placed upon Saul. Apart from Peter, James, and John, nothing is mentioned about the other Apostles in the book of Acts after the first chapter. But as Saul was on the way to Damascus, the Lord guided His hand purposely, and the blessing came upon him.

We parents should not have our own taste concerning our own children. We simply cannot tell which of them the Lord will choose. We cannot foresee which of our children will be saved. It absolutely does not depend on our maneuvering; it depends on the Lord’s blessing.

In the church life I have come to have no trust in my choice. Often my hand has been held back in the choice of elders, deacons, and the leading ones in the church service because I have no trust in my discernment. Most of the time our choosing leads to maneuvering, and God’s crossing hand comes in to bless the one we did not choose. Those who are parents and those who are leading ones in the church service must be careful about their choosing. Do not exercise any kind of maneuvering according to your likes and dislikes, for God’s blessing always crosses our maneuvering.

There is something about Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim which should be very encouraging to us all. Probably there have been times when you considered yourself hopeless and useless. During the past few months I heard of many who were disappointed and felt this way about themselves. Some even felt that life was meaningless. Some may have said, "I have believed in the Lord Jesus, and I have come into the church life. I know that I must function in the church, but I have not been chosen to do anything. Apparently, there is no hope for me. If I cannot function in the church, then life has no meaning." Be encouraged; you are not through. Among many churches, especially the large churches, there has been an atmosphere that made people feel they are not needed. Although in a large church only a few can be elders, everyone is still important. Do not maneuver your situation in any way, for the Lord’s blessing hand will cross over to you.

Although we never know where the spiritual blessing will go, we do know that the blessing hand of the Lord always crosses man’s natural maneuvering. You may say, "This is the firstborn," but He says, "I know it." The Lord’s crossing His hands may be evil in your eyes, but it is altogether beautiful in His eyes. Blessing does not depend on your maneuvering; it depends on God’s desire and selection. In any selection we make there is the possibility of maneuvering according to our taste or choice. Do not maneuver, and do not be disappointed. Rather, believe that the Lord’s hand will cross over to you.

(Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 95, by Witness Lee)