The record of Jacob’s life takes up substantial space in the Book of Genesis. Yet in the account of the great acts of faith recorded in Hebrews chapter 11, the writer selects Jacob’s acts in Genesis 48 as most worthy of record. As Derek Kidner writes, “It has the quality, praised in that chapter, of reaching out towards the promise, even in face of death, ‘having seen it and greeted it from afar.’”1 There is a sort of irony here as, just as in Jacob’s youth, the blessing will go to the younger over the older. But now there will be no subterfuge or deception. Rather, Jacob’s is an act of well-tested and mature faith in God’s covenant promise.
Just as we have seen so often in the Book of Genesis, the interest of this chapter is the succession of God’s covenant blessings from one generation to the next. The promise – what we know as the Covenant of Grace – was first given to Abraham in Genesis chapters 12, 15, and 17 through a ceremony and a sign. More than merely the promise of offspring and land, but everlasting fellowship with God. “I will be your God and you will be my people” is a succinct way of explaining all that is meant by salvation. Eternal life in the blessed age to come is described as that place where God will be our God and we will be his people (Revelation 21:3).
1 Derek Kidner, Genesis, TOTC (Downers Grove: IVP, 1967) p. 212