Would you like some advice? Do you think a 130 year old man (who has seen his share of blessing and betrayal; terror and triumph; wonder and worry) would have advice for you?
The last few chapters of Genesis focus on Jacob in a unique way. He has a lot of wisdom to offer, but the most important tip he has is in Genesis 47:9, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage…”
You probably were not expecting that to be the best tip from Jacob, but listen to what the old man is saying.
The children of Israel are about to experience privilege and blessing in the land of Egypt for more than a century because of Joseph’s wisdom. You can see the contrast between the Egyptians and the Israelites in Genesis 47. While the Egyptians run out of money, herds, lands, and freedom, the children of Israel are given food, herds, land, and freedom. While the Egyptians are becoming slaves of Pharaoh, the Israelites are earning favor. Yet, Jacob says it is all a pilgrimage. Do not grow attached!
It is a subtle insight into the mindset of this old man and he must have taught it to his children. It was not caught though. The children of Israel obviously enjoyed their choice position in Egypt too much for too long. It took a couple hundred years of slavery for God to eradicate the pleasure of Egypt from His people. Even with all the slavery and persecution, once God delivered His people from Egypt, it has been said, “God got his people out of Egypt, but getting Egypt out of his people was another story.” If only they had lived life as a pilgrimage! They would have been better for it.
God’s blessing in this life is not designed so you can anchor yourself to this terra firma. The more you indulge yourself with the blessing of this life, the more indelibly its impression upon your identity. The more comfortable you become, the less delight you have for eternal things. Keep your eyes looking ahead for the greatest blessing. Like Jacob, see this life as a pilgrimage. “These…confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth. For they…seek a country…a better country, that is, an heavenly” (Hebrews 11:13-16). This was the signature of those champions listed in Hebrews 11. They did not settle for the pleasantries of this life. They saw it as God’s blessing to accomplish His will through their lives. The promise given to Abraham was still echoing through their minds.
“I will bless thee, and make thy name great…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).
Take the advice of an old man. Live this life as a pilgrimage. Use God’s blessing now as a tool to bless others. Keep looking forward to the eternal blessing.
Have you ever had that kind of day where everything went the wrong way? And it was so bad you finally said, “I can’t take it anymore!” Certainly, you have.
Have you ever had a day so full of good things and great news that you finally had to say, “I can’t take it anymore”? Jacob had that kind of day.
There are some sermons you hear in your life that forever echo in your mind whenever you reread a passage of Scripture. As a student, I sat under the teaching of one of the most joyful preachers I have ever known. Pastor Jim Schettler preached about the life of Joseph and especially these last chapters in Genesis. What I share with you today is my desire to forever record this wonderful sermon.
Joseph is a picture of Jesus Christ, and the tearful revelation of his identity sends the brothers off with an excitement unmatched. They rush home to Jacob with wagons and donkeys loaded. They burst into Jacob’s tent and share the news, “Joseph is living!” This spikes the old man’s heart, but there’s more. Not only was he living, he also was lord over all the land. But there’s more! Not only was he living and lord, he was loving. The reality of Joseph’s forgiveness was a glue that drew the family together unlike anything else. Not only was he living loving and lord, but he also was longing for them. He was preparing a place for them in Goshen—the choicest of places for them to live. Then Benjamin comes in loaded with all the extra clothes and money and exclaims, “He’s loaded!” Jacob has had all the good news he can handle. He can’t take anymore. The spirit of Jacob was revived.
As we see Christ in Joseph, you will notice he is alive. The most important announcement ever proclaimed, “He is not here, he is risen” (Luke 24:6). He is Lord of lords, and at his name, every knee shall bow and worship Christ (Philippians 2). he sincerely loves you and desires full pardon so you can be restored to Him. He is loaded with all blessings. Your God can supply all your needs according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). What is most dear, he is longing for you. He is preparing a place for you so you can be with him in the best of the land forever and ever.
How’s that for good news?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin
Imagine ho different the story could have been if Joseph had simply coasted. He was sold into slavery at the age of seventeen and stood before Pharaoh when he was thirty. Through thirteen years of slavery and incarceration, the temptation must have been there to settle. It was his lot in life.
When Moses wrote his prayer in Psalm 90, it was over four hundred years after Joseph’s legacy, but I wonder if he had Joseph in mind. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Solomon was nearly a millennia removed from Joseph, and he wrote, “See thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings” (Proverbs 22:29).
Paul encouraged followers of Christ to be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
The preacher instructed the reader, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days…Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth” (Psalm 39:4-5).
Have you failed to prepare? Have you settled into your life like an overstuffed recliner ready to watch the world pass you by? If you have ceased sharpening your mind and skills you have ceased to truly live. When the opportunity comes for you to make an eternal difference, you will not be summoned for great moments do not call for dead men. “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion” (Ecclesiastes 9:4). Are you in the land of the living? Rise up to the challenge to press your God-given talents to the maximum.