when joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from ephraim’s head to manasseh’s head. and joseph said to his father, “not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” but his father refused and said, “i know, my son, i know. he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” so he blessed them that day, saying,

“by you israel will pronounce blessings, saying,

‘God make you as ephraim and as manasseh.’ ”

thus he put ephraim before manasseh.

 [genesis 48:17-20]


God does not work the way we work, and this can be really frustrating.


jacob’s life was defined by exactly this kind of frustration. his was a constant story of the unusual becoming usual, and youngest going before oldest.

jacob was born the second to a twin brother, and even at birth it is said that he was trying to pull his oldest brother back and take his place (Genesis 25:26).

jacob fooled his older brother esau into giving him his birthright (genesis 25:33) and then took his father isaac’s deathbed blessing that also should have belonged to his older brother (genesis 27:30).

after tricking his father in this way, jacob was tricked into marrying the older daughter of laban, leah, when he really wanted to marry the younger daughter, rachel (genesis 29:26).

jacob favored his younger sons over his older sons, and at this deathbed moment, we now see the unusual happening with younger going before older.

i’m seeing a pattern.

this deathbed blessing should have been for jacob’s oldest son, reuben. yet he chooses to give his blessing to the grandsons of joseph. knowing his favoritism for joseph, this is not terribly surprising. yet he has one last “younger before older” trick up his sleeve, which frustrates joseph to the point of anger.

regardless, this frustrating younger-before-older-upside-down pattern is exactly what had led joseph to where he was, how God chose to move to save his people. even today God chooses to work in ways that we don’t understand, and sometimes ways that we may not like.

the lesson for us is to not assume how God is going to move, or what and who He is going to work through, because it will likely surprise us. let us instead strive to be faithful and available join in His work wherever we see him working.


~ jason soroski