Genesis / chapter 48 (read the chapter)
So, we come to the story of Jacob blessing the sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim. And as he goes to bless the grandkids, Joseph gets upset because his right hand (apparently the hand of “greatest blessings”) is on the wrong boy’s head. He is getting ready to give Ephraim (the younger and, consequently, the lesser) the better blessing.
Joseph tries to correct his father, but Jacob makes it clear that he knows exactly what he’s doing: “But his father refused [to switch hands] and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.’” (vs 19)
Do you see a pattern here? Almost from the very beginning of God’s interaction with His chosen people, there has been this curious interplay between the first- and second-born: Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his older brothers, and now Joseph’s two sons.
It seems that God is in the business of turning things on their heads. Whether it is our customs and traditions . . . or our perceptions. Perhaps we value the “firstborn,” but God makes it clear that birth rank doesn’t hold significance for Him. Perhaps we value the “wealthy,” but God consistently chooses the poorest of the poor and the least of the least.
I think God must love a good underdog story. After all, He has taken each one of us, found us in the pit, and catapulted us higher than we could have ever dreamed of going on our own. He doesn’t limit Himself to our perceptions . . . thankfully!