Read Genesis 48:1-22
This passage is one of the strangest in Scripture. For one thing, it ends the story of Jacob’s preferred son and sets up a rivalry between two groups in the later Divided Kingdom of Israel (10th century BCE). Throughout the history of ancient Israel, this rivalry existed between Judah and Ephraim. All the other tribes chose sides, usually with only Benjamin siding with Judah. They only briefly united as a people under the reigns of David and Solomon, but other than that they were almost always in competition.
Jacob chooses the second son as the blessed one – an echo of his own blessing as a second son. For whatever reason, this sets up a situation where Ephraim will always question Judah’s leadership.
And what is really disturbing is that God does not choose to use Joseph’s line to bring the Messiah. The Messiah comes through Judah instead. Joseph’s descendants will be the troublemaking dissenters for the entire history of ancient Israel while Judah’s descendants through his incestuous relationship will become the fathers of kings.
No matter how well you plan and no matter how good things look to you, God has a plan bigger than your machinations. This means that despite Isaac’s desires, Jacob was still to be the chosen son; and despite Jacob’s preference for Joseph and Ephraim, Judah would be king. (Jacob even recognizes this in 49:10.)
You know what is best, and I need to know that, especially when I see a ‘better’ option than what I know you have for us, Lord. I need your help to trust you.