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.