Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Genesis 49:29-33

Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 49:29-33)

Having blessed his sons, Jacob gave final instructions for his burial then “breathed his last.” Jacob lived a long life punctuated with a multitude of mistakes and led a large family, mostly characterized by its dysfunction. We’ve spent a lot of time with this patriarch and his family. We read of his struggles, even from birth, with his twin brother. We saw him trick his father into giving him the blessing that belonged to Esau. Jacob met his match in Laban, who tricked him into working for seven years, only to give him Leah in marriage instead of Rachel. Jacob continued to work for his beloved Rachel - then took on two more wives!

He finally had a personal encounter with God that left him limping and changed. Did that mean he was perfect from then on? Far from it! He continued to struggle as a father. After losing the love of his life, Rachel, he poured his affection into her son, Joseph, creating disaster for all of his sons! So what would his epitaph be? Perfect son, perfect husband, perfect father?? No way! Let’s look at what God’s Word says in looking back over Jacob’s life. What stood out in God’s view?

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. (Hebrews 11:21)

Does God remember Jacob’s multiple sins and failures? Does He commend his cunning as a businessman? Does He praise the great love Jacob had for Rachel? No, in the “roll call of faith” found in chapter 11 of Hebrews, God commends Jacob for his final act of faith: the blessing of the sons and Jacob’s worship of God. In blessing his sons, Jacob was making his final declaration of faith in God’s promises to him. He new that God would indeed provide the inheritance to Jacob’s descendants that He promised in Genesis 35:11-12.

And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”

Jacob BELIEVED God, and, ultimately, that was his legacy. That is what God commended. It is our faith in HIM (not in our works or accomplishments) that counts for eternity.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Like his father and grandfather, Jacob did not live to see the fulfillment of God’s promises, but he BELIEVED they WOULD be fulfilled by the God who keeps His promises. So, are we holding onto that belief? Are there things you have been praying for (including the salvation of loved ones) that you have not yet seen? Like Jacob, we may NOT see the fulfillment in our own lifetime, but we can trust the Promise Maker and Promise Keeper. HE is faithful - even when we are not!

One final note: Jacob requested that his burial be with his fathers in Canaan, next to his FIRST wife, Leah. He did not ask to be buried with Rachel! Again, this shows the priority of his faith in God. He would be buried in the land of promise alongside the wife who gave him the son of promise, Judah.

As I push on toward eternity - which seems to be rushing toward me - I think about what I would hope would be said about me when I’m gone. What do I want on my headstone? “Here lies Sally White, beloved wife, mother, and grandmother?” Nope! As much as I LOVE being a wife, mother, and grandmother, what I hope will be my legacy would be, “She believed GOD.” THAT’S what I want my family and friends to remember! :)


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