for dads and granddads

Watch your average TV sitcom and you will see dumbed down dads on display. I can think of Homer Simpson, Al Bundy, Ray Ramone, and half-dozen others who fit the role. Today expectations for men are at an all tie low. The average man—including dads and husbands—are expected to be nothing less than a remote-holding-couch-glued-family-forsaking-caveman. That might be the way of some men, but certainly not all men. Our world craves and aches for real men.

Some will say the church is too girly. Sure. Whatever that means. I suppose it is because too many men run home to the lazy boy and hide behind the TV. Or they make their wife do all the spiritual heavy lifting in the house. That’s sad. It’s sad because the Bible places great responsibility upon men. In Genesis, we’ve already seen this:

The Bible calls men today to rise up and lead their families. It calls fathers and grandfathers to pass the spiritual baton to the next generation. It is their role to pass the blessing onto their children and their children’s children. Here in the closing portions of Genesis and Jacob’s life that kind of role is rolled out before our eyes. It begins with a beautiful scene between an old man and young boys.

Speak Blessings your Grandchildren [Genesis 48:1-22]

Jacob is old. He’s now a grandpa. He’s got the gnarly white hair and weathered skin to prove it. He’s got shortness of breath from chasing the grandkids around the barn. He spends most of his time sitting with his grandkids on his lap telling them long stories about the old days on the farm and how he thought he lost a son to ravenous wild animals. The grandkids listen, even though they have heard the stories hundreds of times.

By the time we come to Genesis 48, Jacob’s life is coming to an end. He is ailing. Joseph gathers his sons Manasseh and Ephraim to visit their grandfather, possibly for the last time. Jacob musters up strength, sits up in bed, and shares with his son and grandson of how God[1] appeared to him in Luz (Bethel) and blessed him with the covenant of promise spoken to his grandfather Abraham. Grandpa Jacob gives them some real spiritual steak to chew on.

What Jacob is doing is passing the spiritual baton to his son and grandsons. He is charging them to continue the faith so that the covenant family would prevail long after his death. It’s as Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Therefore Jacob brings in his two grandsons (Manasseh and Ephraim) to replace his first two sons who had fallen out of favor with him because of their sins.[2] In a final blessing, Grandpa Jacob purposefully reverses his hands in order to bless the younger (Ephraim) over the older (Manasseh).[3] Jacob then blessed his son Joseph and prayed over his grandsons, asking God to covenant with them, as He had been with him, his father Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham.

What we see and hear from Jacob is unique. He’s a manly man. He’s God’s kind of man. He’s not afraid to admit his dependence on God. He’s not too busy or tired to tend his children’s needs, particularly their spiritual needs. He’s not too proud to miss an opportunity to point his kids to God. He fears God first. Proverbs 14:26 says, “In the fear of the lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.”

Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see your children’s children!  [Psalm 128:1–6]

According to this song, the blessing from God is man’s highest goal. That blessing includes fearing God, walking in His ways, working hard and honestly to provide for his family, enjoying his godly wife, eating dinner around his table surrounded by his children, and living long enough to see the fruits reproduce in his grandkids.

It is important for men to spiritually lead their families and pass on words of blessing and spiritual direction. If fathers and grandfathers expect their children to live for God they are best to speak them to their children and grandchildren, and intentionally pray over them. Do it out loud, so they can hear it and see you do it.

I will never forget the day my dad spoke at my wedding ceremony. He called me to live righteously like Christ, and blessed our marriage. Equally, I will not forget when grandfather with tears in his eyes on his deathbed spoke blessings over my family and ministry. Though both are not the most spiritual men, their words still ring clearly in my ears. I long to retell them to my children and grandchildren.

Speak Future Altering Words to Your Children [Genesis 49:1–50:14]

Last words often are lasting or life altering. As Jacob nears his last breath he gathers his sons around him and they are baited upon every word. As father and grandfather he blessed them, but now he takes the role of a prophet revealing to them their futures. As with most messages from prophets, his message has both blessings and curses. It’s an unforgettable tell-it-as-it-is ceremony of sorts for the entire family.

Jacob begins by cursing Reuben for having sex with his father’s concubine [cf. Genesis 35:22], and Simeon and Levi for being violent men [cf. Genesis 34]. He blesses Joseph. He then appoints Judah as the son of the promise. Throughout Genesis Judah has transformed from godless to godly man, much like his own father. And, his father, Jacob prophesies a coming king from the line of Judah [Genesis 49:10], which included David [2 Samuel 7] and ultimately will be fulfilled by a greater King—Jesus Christ—the King of Kings.[4]

Jacob’s last request is to be buried next to his favored wife Rachel and his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham, which was the Promised Land. It’s his final act of faith trusting that one day God would allow his family to return from Egypt just as God promised. After he passed Joseph and his brothers honored their fathers requests.

If Genesis 48-49 were a TV sitcom or modern day movie it would stand out. It might be ridiculed because modern media has castrated the manliness right out of men. But these last words from Jacob are heroic. They are words that pack a punch, much like William Wallace commanding his Scotsmen or Maximus proclaiming to the spectators in the Roman arena. Jacob calls fathers and grandfathers everywhere to stand with him and pass the spiritual baton to the younger generations. And if you wont who will?

What kind of grandfather do you want to become? What will you be remembered by as a father? Proverbs 17:6 points you to the future, saying, “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” In order to be a godly man, good father, and unforgettable grandfather, you have to be a good Christ follower. It takes grace and guts to mimic the God-Man. True manhood will only be found inside the Body of that One New Man—Jesus Christ—the Son who joyfully obeyed the words of His Father. I charge you, men, follow Him.

Must Read Resources for Men who are or hope to be Fathers and Grandfathers:

[1] The name for God used here is El Shaddai. It is also used five times previously in Genesis.

[2] Reuben in Genesis 35:22 and Simeon in Genesis 34:25, 49:5-6.Therefore the rights of firstborn were passed onto Judah and Joseph (Genesis 49:8-12, 22-26), and Joseph’s two sons replaced them as the heads in the twelve tribes of Israel.

[3] This happened throughout Genesis. It happened to Jacob himself when his father Isaac blessed him over his brother Esau.

[4] The remainder of the Bible following Genesis points us to and gives more understanding towards who this promised coming king will be. According to Matthew 1:1-3, 2:6; Luke 3:30-33; Hebrews 7:14; and Revelation 5:5 Jesus is the promised descendant of Judah. And, according to Numbers 24:17; Hebrews 1:8; and Revelation 19:15-16 Jesus Christ is the King of Kings who is coming again to rule all nations of the earth in fulfillment of Genesis 49:10.