Monday, October 31, 2011

Genesis 47:1-12

Jacob and his clan arrived in Egypt, and in this next chapter Joseph first brought in five of his brothers to meet Pharaoh. Don’t you wonder which of the five he chose? I’m guessing that for sure Judah and Benjamin were among the five, and probably Reuben... but who were the other two?? Pharaoh made small talk with the brothers, asking what they did for a living.

“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here awhile, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.” (Genesis 47:3-4)

The brothers were working the family business: they were shepherds! Pharaoh agreed to let them settle in the best part of Egypt, the land of Goshen, where there was good pasture. It amazes me how God moves the hearts of men to grant favor to His people. Haven’t you had moments in your life when you have seen God move someone’s heart to do something of special favor to you? One of my coworkers called me yesterday to tell me that his daughter had received a scholarship offer from a Christian college for an enormous amount of money. I just kept saying over and and over, “It’s a miracle!” It was as if they had won the lottery in these tough financial times! Thank you , LORD!

Joseph then brought in his father to present him to Pharaoh:

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence. (vs.7-10)

Jacob saw his life in terms of a pilgrimage - as a journey through this short life to his real home with God. Hebrews 11:16 says of the patriarchs, “. . .they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” This heavenly perspective is one that sustains Christians in our journey on earth. The realization that this is NOT our permanent dwelling gives us hope during the tough times. Apparently Jacob, too, was looking forward to being out of this world.

Pharaoh wondered what the secret to Jacob’s longevity was, but Jacob’s answer must have been surprising. At 130, he called his years “few and difficult.” Beth Moore conjectures here that possibly Jacob did not feel his years measured up to those of his grandfather, Abraham (who lived to be 175), or of his father, Isaac (who lived to be 180) - not only in years, but in the measure of their faith to his. Beth writes, “His years were marked by deception. His own. His uncle’s. His sons’. The disappointments brought on by his offspring must have added to Jacob’s sense of failure. No matter how many comforts he’d known, his eyes saw his life colored by the dark shades of difficulty.” (The Patriarchs, P. 225)

Where in your life have you felt that you did not or still don’t measure up? Have you failed to reach the bar you saw set by your parents or a sibling? Are you seeing the dark shades as more prominent than the blessings? Beth reminds us that God can turn those difficult times into blessing and beauty when we ask Him. She writes of how light overcomes the darkness - even in the life of a loser like the thief on the cross next to Jesus: “The blackness of a thief’s entire life was instantly changed by a single drop of faith in the One hanging on the next cross.” (The Patriarchs, P. 226)

Jacob had much to be grateful for: he had been blessed with many sons, including one brought back from “death,” grandchildren, plenty of wealth, and, finally, the best land in Egypt as a place of refuge from the famine! God had indeed been good to Jacob! Can we find His blessings, too?


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