Does God owe me anything?

Does God owe me anything?

prédication Genèse 48 : Patrice Berger, 2023_07_01, église AB Lausanne

titre : Does God owe me anything?

Résumé : God owes us nothing. Point ! Jacob’s blessings demonstrate this principle. Among his sons, those who thought they were due are not the ones who finally have the great blessings. God always acts with justice and grace.

Does God owe me anything?


Did we pass our challenge? From a few days ago?

Did you catch yourself, in your prayers,

to intercede,
For rent,
to thank for
what God is resolutely unrolling for the restoration of all things


did we just stop

on our daily life,
our reality,
our finitude?
Another thought today


Does God owe me anything?

Christian response

For convenience we would say: “no”.


But in reality, 2 principles stick to our skin which, lurking deep inside us, certainly say the opposite…

1) The principle of retribution.

If my life is as fair as it can be, God owes me something.

Even unbelievers have this reflex when they look at each other: « I didn’t steal, I didn’t kill, so… God owes me paradise… »

But what happens

to Joseph and
to Job
proves that this is not necessarily the case.

They had many years of unfair hardships.

And the reverse is not always true either, the wicked are not always punished for their faults during their lifetime…

Just by observing, we can see that this principle is not reality.

But we are attached to it and it sticks to our skin!

2) The principles and laws of our county or country have a huge impact on our outlook on life and our expectations.


If I do right, I’m right and the right is with me

Generally true, but

if your country is bankrupt,
if your country is at war,
if your country has collapsed following an earthquake,
if other factors…
What I expect and demand is likely to wait a long time…

Influence in my expectations of God

Inevitably, these 2 parameters have an influence on my expectations vis-à-vis God.


Does God owe me anything?

God’s answer

The answer is simple.

God owes himself to himself, to what he is

to his righteousness,
by his grace,
as a judge
to his benevolence
God detached from our “jurisprudences”

God has no obligation to our conception,

Swiss normality,
of the normality that I made in my head,
as deemed fair,
of what, in my opinion, should come back to me,
of what is in my favor in law.
Everything is grace

God works by grace.

We live beyond our means because God pours out His grace on us superabundantly. We live much more than we deserve, and yet, we have often made this grace a normality for us, a due, so much this principle of right or retribution is anchored in us.

big test

A great test of whether we have integrated the reality of grace showered on our lives and are less in our due, our « right » is to observe how people react when there is a legacy and loss. also observe how we react when there is a legacy at stake.


I have often been flabbergasted to see the irrational and unreasonable appetite of certain brothers and sisters in the name of right (it goes without saying in their favor).


And been more seldom touched forever by others who have favored peace over law which strengthens the bank account.

Learn to take a step back

The book of Genesis teaches us to detach ourselves from the obligation to which it would be normal for…

The unexpected

It is often the unexpected who find grace or who are included in the path of grace that leads to Christ.

Abel is preferred to Cain the Elder.

Through Isaac passes the fulfillment of the promises, while it is Ishmael the eldest.

Through Jacob passes the fulfillment of the promises, while it is Esau the eldest.

Through Judah passes the fulfillment of the promises, while it is Reuben the eldest.

Ephraim is particularly blessed by Jacob, while it is Manasseh the eldest.

Moses leads the people, when he was younger than Aaron

David was the youngest of the family.

Solomon was not David’s oldest son.


Doesn’t God tell us with his many examples that

God free from our conceptions

God’s blessings are not given following

human notarial laws,
natural laws,
our law does not come into play, even if we are indoctrinated and formatted since childhood in this sense.
Blessings are always the object of His grace.

God is free and in agreement with all that represents Him, in the eyes of grace.

Today’s text illustrates this principle well.

Genesis 48:1-6 / NJEB21

1. After that, they came and said to Joseph, « Your father is sick. » He took with him his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim.

  1. They warn Jacob and say to him, « Here is your son Joseph coming to you. » Israel gathered his strength and sat down on his bed.
  2. Jacob said to Joseph, “Almighty God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me.
  3. He said to me: ‘I will give you children, I will make your descendants numerous and I will bring out from you a whole group of peoples. I will give this land to your descendants after you to have it forever.’
  4. From now on, the two sons who were born to you in Egypt before I came to you in Egypt will be mine: Ephraim and Manasseh will be my sons, just like Reuben and Simeon.
  5. As for the children you had after them, they will remain yours. They will be associated with their brothers in their inheritance.
    Confusing for us

It seems super strange to us, this way of doing things…

But it is a strong and enormous gesture that Jacob decrees.

Manasseh and Ephraim born when Joseph and Jacob were separated become sons of Jacob!

Not a kidnapping but concerns the inheritance

So he did not steal them and presumably the 2 children continued to live in Joseph’s house, but this has consequences on the inheritance shares and much more:

Look at verse 3 (just before -Hermeneutics-), Jacob speaks of the people who come out of him, there is a stake in the constitution of the people.

Legacy Rank Shift

In fact, Jacob moves Joseph’s first children up one rank.

to put them on the same footing of inheritance as his other 10 sons.

Joseph becomes a patriarch

In fact, Joseph also goes up a rank in consideration, he is on the same level as Jacob himself.

Moreover, contrary to Christianity, the Jews consider Joseph as a patriarch. They may be right because there are special instructions regarding his burial (just like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) will be given so that eventually his remains will be in the land of promise.

Genesis 48:7-17 / NJEB21

  1. On my return from Paddan, Rachel died on the road near me in the land of Canaan, some distance from Ephrata. That’s where I buried her, on the way to Ephrata, that is, Bethlehem. »
  2. Then Israel looked at the sons of Joseph and asked, « Who are these? »
  3. Joseph replied to his father, “They are my sons. God gave them to me here. » Israel said, « Bring them near to me to bless them. »
  4. Israel’s eyesight had diminished due to old age, he could no longer see well. Joseph brought them near to him, and Israel kissed and embraced them tenderly.
  5. Israel said to Joseph: “I did not expect to see your face again, and now God is showing me even your descendants!”
  6. Joseph lifted them from his father’s lap and bowed down to the ground before him.
  7. Then he took them both by the hand: he held Ephraim with his right hand, so that he was on the left of Israel, and Manasseh with his left hand, so that he was on the right of Israel, and he brought them near to him.
  8. Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the youngest, and he laid his left hand on the head of Manasseh. It was intentionally that he put his hands like this, for Manasseh was the eldest.
  9. He blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has taken care of me from my existence until today, 16.
    the angel who delivered from all evil, bless these boys! May my name and that of my fathers Abraham and Isaac survive through them and may they multiply abundantly within the land!”
  10. Joseph saw with displeasure that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head. He took his father’s hand to turn it from Ephraim’s head and direct it to Manasseh’s.
    He took his father’s hand to turn it from Ephraim’s head and direct it to Manasseh’s. 18 Joseph said to his father,

 » It’s not fair , my father, because he is the eldest. Put your right hand on his head!”

It’s not in the usual « notarial » order…

Genesis 48:19-22 / NJEB21

  1. His father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will give birth to a people, he too will be great, but his younger brother will be greater than him and his offspring will fill the nations.”
  2. He blesses them that day. He said, “It is through you that Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God treat you like Ephraim and like Manasseh!’” He placed Ephraim before Manasseh.
  3. Israel said to Joseph, “I am going to die, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your ancestors.
  4. I give you a portion more than your brothers: Shechem, which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”
    Genesis 49:1-3 / NJEB21 1. Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together and I will tell you what will happen to you in the future.
  5. Gather and listen, sons of Jacob! Listen Israel, your father!
  6. « Reuben, you, my eldest, you who are my strength and the first of my children, superior in dignity and power,
    Not in “notarial” habits

This is not in the usual « notarial » habits.


Reuben discredited himself by forcibly taking over the leadership of Jacob’s clan, sleeping with Bilhah one of Jacob’s second-ranking wives.

Genesis 35. 22

His birthright is taken away from him in favor of the children of Joseph

In fact, the 2 eldest, Ruben and Simeon, are dispossessed of it.

Genesis 48 verse 5

Genesis 48:5 / NIV 5. From now on, the two sons who were born to you in Egypt before I came to you in Egypt will be mine: Ephraim and Manasseh will be my sons, just like Reuben and Simeon.

Not in “notarial” habits

This is not in the usual « notarial » habits.


Simeon and Levi discredited themselves as heirs to the divine promises, avenging the rape of their sister Dina and planning a calculated genocide of all the men of Shechem and plundering the whole city and taking the women and their children as slaves.

Genesis 34

Genesis 49:8-12 / NJEB21

  1. “Judah, it is you whom your brothers will praise. Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies. Your father’s sons will bow down to you.
  2. Judah is a young lion. You come back from the carnage, my son! *He bends his knees, he lies down like a lion, like a lioness: who will make him get up?
  3. The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes and the peoples obey him.
  4. He ties his donkey to the vine and the colt of his donkey to the best vine. He washes his garment in wine and his coat in the blood of grapes.
  5. He has wine red eyes and milk white teeth.
    Not in “notarial” habits

It’s not in the usual « notarial » habits, it’s the 4th

Genesis 49:13 / NJEB21 13. “Zabulun will reside on the sea coast, he will be on the coast of the ships and his border will extend to the side of Sidon.

The tribe is in the wrong place at Joshua’s division.

Very interesting, because Zebulun will not have possessions along the seashore in the time distribution of Joshua but later around the time of the time of Solomon’s kingdom.

It pulverizes the remarks of those who criticize the Bible by saying that these blessings were written long after Jacob and added to the biblical text to justify the identity of the territory of Israel:

the text is in a Hebrew from before the period of the Judges
and the realization for Zebulon is done afterwards.
The blessings quoted in the name of Joseph, if it had been a late writing, there would have been Ephraim and Manasseh
It could not be an identity make-up but a prophetic word realized in the course of the history of Israel.

Genesis 49:14-28 / NJEB21

  1. “Issachar is a sturdy donkey who lies down in stables.
  2. He sees that rest is pleasant and that the region is beautiful, and he bends his shoulder under the burden, he submits to slave labor.
  3. “Dan will judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel.
  4. Dan will be a serpent in the way, a viper in the path, biting the horse’s heels so that the rider falls backwards.
  5. “I hope in your help, O Lord!
  6. Gad will be attacked by armed bands, but it is he who will attack and pursue them.
  7. »Aser produces excellent food; it will provide the most refined dishes for kings.
  8. “Naphtali is a doe on the loose. He speaks beautiful words.
  9. “Joseph is the root of a fertile tree, the root of a fertile tree near a spring; its branches extend beyond the wall.
  10. They provoked him, they threw arrows at him, the archers pursued him with their hatred,
  11. but his bow remained steady and his arms were strengthened by the intervention of the mighty God of Jacob. He thus became the shepherd, the rock of Israel.
  12. This is the work of the God of your father, and he will help you; it is the work of the Almighty, and he will bless you. He will grant you the blessings of heaven, the blessings of underground water, the blessings of the udder and the womb.
  13. Your father’s blessings exceed those of his ancestors, they reach to the limits of the ancient hills. Let them rest on the head of Joseph, on the skull of him who is the consecrated prince of his brothers!
  14. »Benjamin is a badass wolf. In the morning he devours his prey, and in the evening he divides the spoils.
  15. These are all those who form the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them, blessing them. He blesses them by attributing to each the blessing which was proper to him.
    He blesses them by attributing to each the blessing which was proper to him.

Testament response to promises

Jacob’s testament closes the book of Genesis by showing how God restores in His grace the blessing lost by Adam and Eve.

Answer :

the people of God, under His leadership, in the territory of God, Hebrews, Canaan

By a people, those who shall be of the sons of Jacob; in the territory

reserved and promised by the Eternal, Canaan, under the direction of a particular and powerful royalty.

This trajectory runs through the entire Bible: the people of God, under the leadership of God, in the territory He has designated for them.

In the first phase, God leads His people, the Hebrews, into the territory of Canaan with leaders attached to God, like Moses, Joshua, David…

Answer :

the people of God, under His leadership, in the territory of God;

Christ, the Church, New Heavens and Earth

It is not an end in itself because from this people comes the One, Jesus Christ, who leads His people, those of all nations who put their trust in Him and whose territory is in the new heavens and the new earth.

Contours already hyper precise in the Genesis

Prophetically, the testament of Jacob gives us certain characteristics of this King announced and revealed in Jesus.

Genesis 49:8 / NJEB21 8. “Judah, it is you whom your brothers will praise. Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies. Your father’s sons will bow down to you.

He is the object of praise and adoration of all his family (verse 8), He is triumphant, none resist him (verse 8).

Genesis 49:9 / NJEB21 9. Judah is a young lion. You come back from the carnage, my son! *He bends his knees, he lies down like a lion, like a lioness: who will make him get up?

Dynamic King. No one can stand in the way of His will (verse 9).

Genesis 49:10 / NJV21 10. The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler staff from between his feet, until Shiloh come and the peoples obey him.

The kingship will not be taken away from him for his lineage, until the moment when He appears to whom all peoples belong and to whom all peoples will render obedience to Him (verse 10) (see also Revelation 5. 5,9 ) .

Genesis 49:11 / NJV21 11. He tied his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the best vine. He washes his garment in wine and his coat in the blood of grapes.

This moment opens an era of plenty (verse 11).

He washes his garment in wine and his coat in the blood of grapes.

Genesis 49:12 / NJEB21 12. He has eyes red with wine and teeth white with milk.

But at the same time, this reign is not intended for all, because it is also a question of judgment. We understand that it is intended for his family. (Verse 11-12) (almost apocalyptic language in form) (see also Revelation 19. 11 , 13).

Taking a step back…

Attachment but not the right.

As the rest of the Old Testament shows us, the true people of God is made up of those who really attach themselves to the Eternal, otherwise they are

in defeat,
It’s not the merit,
it’s not nationality,
Canaanites, Moabites are part of it (Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth, for example),

it is not native law,
it’s not the sacrifices,
it is not circumcision (but that of the heart)
which would give rights to which the Eternal would be constrained.

But a heart that really cleaves to Him.

Same dynamic for after the cross

It is the same for His people made up of all those, of all nations who cling to Christ.

No human right which constrains God but the acceptance of the grace acquired by Christ through

Her arrival,
His death,
His resurrection,
His rise.
Grace, starting point and for the future

If the starting point of Life (through Christ) – I am not talking about existence (our birth) – is totally the work of the grace of God (this is also the case for existence), our Life journey must be understood as a grace.

Grace more generous than law

God owes me nothing and in His grace, He gave me and gives me much more than my imaginary claims.

To grace, the answer is gratitude (fidelity, testimony)

If I conduct my life with Christ at best, it’s not to have a secret return on investment, it’s out of gratitude and it’s out of identity as a child of God.

Relationship with the law

If I respect the law, the laws are only an extension of my testimony as a child of God, but my confidence is not in what the law is supposed to bring me; my energy, my expectations are not in the right.

(In parenthesis, the law condemned us and it is grace that makes us live).

Drift from legal attachment


my energy,
my expectations,
my confidence
are in strict compliance with the law, this will be felt by my fellow human beings, by my expectations vis-à-vis God.

I will be in the principle of retribution and more in a process of life of grace.

In the text that we have read, everything is false at the level of notarial law

All is justice and grace.

And by this grace, we join the grace that makes us live in Christ.

Bible Passages

Genesis 49:8

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.

Genesis 49:22-26

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:

The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:

But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel: )

Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:

The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

Related Links / Notes

Series : The Josephs in the Bible

Study Notes are translated from the original French version prepared by the pastor Patrice Berger. The orginal French notes are in « note » form, and are not a direct transcription of the video, however they are quite close the original text preached at the church. The notes provided here follow that form, and are detailed enough to help provide a deep understanding of the texts of the parables.

All services as well as some of the bible studies are streamed on the channel  YouTube église AB Renens-Lausanne.  Also visit the You Tube channel of the Swiss Action Biblique Youth Groups (JAB Suisse Romande).

Bible verses cited in this series are avalaible online in the KJV Bible among others and also as a podcast on Spotify


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