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Genesis Chapter 47:1-31 - Jacob and Family in Goshen - Part 1
As we come to this 47th chapter we begin the story of the death and burial of Jacob whom we’ve been following for a long time now and will carry us to the end of the book. Particularly where we find ourselves, what I find fascinating is that prior to Jacob passing off the scene, he is going to bless his sons and prophecy over his sons. And in the next few articles we’ll see some fascinating prophecy concerning some of these various tribes of Israel that will come forth from these boys.
Prior to bringing forth those prophecies, Jacob is going to adopt and bless his 2 grandsons by the way of his favorite son, Joseph. He is going to bless the sons of Joseph - Ephram and Menassah - and really bring them into the future of Israel prophetically.
What’s cool is that it's this account of the blessing of Joseph’s sons that the writer of Hebrews singles out in, including Jacob, in the hall of faith chapter in Heb. 11:21. And of all the stories of Jacob and all the events that we have covered in this man’s life, it’s pretty wild that the writer of Hebrews chooses this account that we’re going to read in the next couple days, including Jacob among the famous faithful.
Before we get to that, I wanna set the scene from the last few articles. You remember the last few vs. where we left off, we had Joseph preparing his brothers to be interviewed by Pharaoh. So we had the promised land Hillbillies going to the mayor of Chicago, if you will. And he’s giving them counsel, Jacob knows more than they do, and Joseph’s counsel was - “Look guys, you’re shepherds and he’s going to ask you what you are, just be honest about who you are and God is going to honor that.”
I think that what we discover over and over again in our Christian walk is that when conviction or counsel comes to us from the Lord, we’ll often be given immediately the opportunity to then act upon that counsel or conviction, just as we find our brothers here given such an opportunity where we pick it up now in vs. 1.
Vs. 1-10 - “Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.
Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”
“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”
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.”
As we seen the last few weeks, that this whole scene is really a foreshadowing of the Gospel - you have this family, they’ve been blessed by Pharaoh, they have an audience with Pharaoh, BASED UPON the relationship their brother Joseph has with Pharaoh, who was the lord of the land. In other words, if it were not for Joseph this family would have no standing before Pharaoh.
In like manner, if it were not for the person and works of Jesus Christ, you and I would have no standing before our heavenly Father, and we certainly would have no audience with Him. That is one of the beautiful things to appreciate about prayer, is that it is the person and works of Christ that makes that access possible.
In fact, because of Christ, the writer of Hebrews tells us we can even come BOLDLY before the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16)! So another fantastic picture of the Gospel there!
I’ll say it again - if you want to understand any page in the Holy Writ, you put Christ in the center of it! You interpret the Bible THROUGH the lens of the Gospel, and to the degree that you deviate from that view you're going to have a skewed interpretation of the Scripture because Christ said: It all talks about me!” (Heb. 10:7, Ps. 40:7).
Vs. 8 is a classic. I don’t know about you but it made me giggle. Particularly in the KJV, Pharaoh looks at Jacob and says: “Dude, how old art thou?” You know your lookin’ pretty rough when that’s the first question out of the guys mouth when he sees you!
However, I find it fascinating what Jacob says concerning his life here. And I don’t think he’s being cynical, I think he’s taking a very realistic perspective of life this side of the resurrection. He says of his 130 years - “Man, these 130 years, they have been full of heartache! And they have been full of grief.”
And the phrase in this text is: “few and unpleasant” or “few and evil,” and we’ll get to that part in a second, but this Hebrew word for evil or unpleasant, it doesn’t mean in the Hebrew what we typically think of when we hear or read the word evil. This word literally means: :misery, distressing, despairing.” It has the idea of grief to it.
So Jacob is saying, “Look, this life has been TOUGH! This life has had its share of sorrows.” And this is what the Bible points out as being the vanity of life on this planet.
Both the Apostle Paul and Solomon tell us that life has been made subject to vanity in order that you and I would long for that life we will experience someday in the presence of God. (Rom. 20-23, Ecc. 1:2, 12:8).
I love the way CS Lewis expresses this idea when he says: “If I find within myself a desire for which nothing in this world can satisfy, then the only logical conclusion is that I was made for another world.”
Look man, when life gets tough, and it certainly does, don’t be so quick to jump in and say: “Man, somethings wrong with me.” It's just the vanity of life in this world. God has designed all of this in such a way that not only is He using these difficulties to refine us, grow us, mature us, move us along...
That’s how we should rightly look at difficulties and trials, both doctrinally and practically, but again, part of all this that we don’t talk about enough and should talk more about... is that all of this in a very real sense is also God just creating within us, trying to cultivate in us a real longing and thirsting after your true home to come. Don’t bum out when ya have a bad day. You’re human! Every day ain’t going to be just happy happy joy joy. You’re gonna have bad days and that’s just part of life on this planet. And the part of that is God trying to create within us a desire for our true home.
To the “few” part here. “Few and unpleasant.” This guy’s lived a long time. I would imagine if we were given the opportunity to sign up for the 130 year program, alot of us would take it. Assuming of course, we were assured some kind of a reasonable quality of life for that period of time.
We recognize that if we had 130 years, well, we’ve had a pretty good run, right? And yet notice what he says here - he calls this 130 year run: “FEW have been my days.”
Again, the Word of God calls this life a vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow (James 4:14).
But here’s Jacob at 130 saying - “It seems like just yesterday I was just such and such.”
I think there’s just this call on the part of the Word of God for you and I to begin to think eternally, to really see the reality of just how short our time is here: to long for that eternal home, as Christ would say - “To store up for yourselves not earthly treasure, but to store up for ourselves heavenly treasure.” (Matt. 6:19-21).
To order our lives in such a way and to make decisions in such a way that we are investing in, not the temporal, but what God is doing in us eternally.
So a great perspective here from Jacob, and we would do well in the quietness of our hearts this week to take this before the Lord and do as Paul says in Col. 3:2 - “Keep your mind on the things above.”
I think the degree to which we are eternally minded is the degree to which we are going to have success with difficulties this side of the resurrection - I have no doubt in my mind!In vs. 10, very interesting, we’re told Jacob blessed the Pharaoh!! So you’ve got Jed Clampet blessing the most powerful man in the world here!
No doubt Pharaoh allowed this in part because of the respect that he had for Joseph and the father that he revered, but there’s also, I think, a very clear idea smuggled in here that the economy in the kingdom of God: it's not worldly wealth, rather spiritual health that is the real currency.
The writer of Hebrews also tells us: “The lesser is blessed by the greater” (Heb. 7:7).
And here it is Jacob blessing Pharaoh, so the suggestion here is that, God is not impressed by “stuff,” but rather, God is impressed with those who are submitted to Him.