Last week, in our look at the life of Jacob (through the book "Escaping with Jacob" by David Ramos), we found Jacob on his way to Egypt for a reunion with his son, Joseph. This is Jacob's final journey in life, but God is still with him. Who would've thought that the Israelite father of a shepherding family would meet Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt? But that is about to happen....
Week 26: Read Genesis 47:1-12 (Few and Difficult)
"Joseph presents his family before Pharaoh in two waves. First, he chooses five of his brothers and has them perform what they rehearsed in previous verses: they are shepherds and asking for permission to settle in Goshen. The ruler grants their request and even offers them a position to tend his own royal flocks. The second wave is more intimate. Jsoeph leads his father, Jacob, in to meet Pharaoh one on one. The encounter is book-ended by a blessing: Jacob becomes a source of blessing for the Pharaoh. In between, Jacob answers the ruler that he is 130 years old and that his years have been "few and difficult." The section ends with the family settling in their new home. They have been provided for in every way and are left hopeful for what is to come.
The wording Jacob uses to reply to Pharaoh reveals the mentality he has about his own life. "Few and difficult" denote the many troubles he has faced. And he has certainly faced grief over and over again. As we have seen in his story, for every blessing he has received, there were at least as many sorrows that entered his life as well.
But during the reply to the ruler, he uses an odd word to describe how old he is: the years of my pilgrimage (NIV) - other versions use sojourning - have been 130 years. Why does he reply in this way? We are getting a glimpse into the deepest part of Jacob's heart and mind. He feels as though his entire life has been a journey, and in many ways it has. He ended his adolescence by running away from home. From there, his entire life has consisted of preparing and waiting to move onto the next chapter. Whether it was under Laban's care, or returning home to face his brother, or fearing for his safety after his sons decimated a neighboring town - Jacob has rarely, if ever, felt as though he was home.
Jacob replies to Pharaoh, recounting his lie as this period of constant movement. Maybe now will be different. Maybe now, under the care of Joseph and the Pharoah, Jacob can finally end his days in peace and feel as though he is finally somewhere he belongs.
As Christians, we have the gift of being able to feel both realities. We know this world and this life are temporary, so we should always approach life with a "pilgrim's" mentality: we are movers, obedient to the call of God towards whatever direction it may lead. But also, God has promised to take care of us. Like Jacob in his last years, we can feel safe knowing that the Ultimate Ruler has prepared a place and a role for us; even in this strange, temporary land."
When do you most feel like a "pilgrim?" Like just about everyone else, I suspect, I am not immune from wanting certain things in this world. I buy books, I like a good cup of coffee, I enjoy my recliner - and of course there is much more. But I know there is something much greater than I can even imagine around the corner. While I enjoy this life - my family, my friends, the life around me - I know this isn't all there is and that this is a pale imitation of what awaits me. What do you think?
Takeaway from today's lesson: Just because our life is a constant journey, does not mean we can't have peace along the way.
Prayer: God, I pray that you lead me on this journey of life. Take me where you will and give me peace as we go there together. Amen.