By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones. (Heb 11:20-22)
I'm a bit stymied by this section of the famous faith chapter. This refers to three of the fathers of Israel and how they spoke, in faith, about things to come in the future. The fatherly blessings here were not of the popish "bless you, my child" nature. They were specific words concerning their child's nature and future -- they were almost predictions. And, of course, Joseph telling everyone that they would return to the land of Abraham was certainly a bit of prophecy.
I've always assumed that these were just special men whom God gifted for the moment in that regard. And I am not so gifted. But Hebrews says they spoke these words not from a special anointing from the Spirit, but from their faith -- and holds them up as an example to us all. So, there must be something to glean from this.
In my nightly reading, I've started a book about the life of George Mueller. This is a 15th century man who opened an orphan house (and eventually four more) to care for orphans, yes, but even more specifically, he says, to serve as a testimony to the community of how God always provides for his children (that's us) when we trust in him. Mueller's places relied entirely on donations, and other than an annual report to make known how the money was being spent (for transparency purposes), he never solicited funds. He simply trusted that God would make available what was needed when it was needed.
One story I've heard (but haven't read yet in this book) is how one time, there was no food left for the evening meal and no money left to buy any food. Mueller got the children and the workers all seated at the empty table and began to say grace . . . because he assumed, in faith, that God would not allow these children to go hungry. As they were praying, they heard a knock on the door -- someone coming with food donations, exactly what they needed for dinner. And this kind of thing happened pretty consistently in his ministry.
So, these stories about Mueller and Isaac and Jacob and Joseph make me wonder: how can you become this confident that you know the will of God? How did Isaac know that Esau would serve his brother and then throw that yoke from his neck? How did Joseph know that Abraham's family would return to Palestine? How did George Mueller know that God didn't intend for his orphans to fast that particular evening? I always think I could pray and act with more confidence if I knew for sure what God's will is in a particular situation.
But I keep coming back to this: I already do know so much of God's will that I don't act on. Why don't I start there?
I'm also hanging on some words of George Mueller's today, in our never-ending job hunt. He said he always started his prayers with a complete surrendering of his own will and agenda. He never came to the throne asking for direction from God until he knew that in his own heart, he was absolutely, completely, perfectly willing to do ANYTHING that God might be about to ask of him.
I suppose when your own agenda is out of the way, it's probably easier to see God's agenda clearly. Duh.