Editor's Note: Eeach Sunday, DrydenWire.com publishes a submitted article in a weekly series from Pastor Brian Cole. If you would have a question for Brian or would like to learn more about him, visit his website or his official Facebook page.
Today we are going to wrap un this chapter with Israel’s last words...
Vs. 21-22 - “Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”
Remember who we’ve been studying here. And remember who we’ve been talking about. This is a remarkable statement coming from this man, a great man, a powerful man, a man who has spent much of his life in what he thought was “self-reliance,” yet notice what he’s saying here... “I’m going to die, but GOD is going to take you into the land - my dying is not important Joseph, but God doesn’t die, and that’s what’s important!”
What is he doing? He’s making himself lesser and making God greater. And it's a glorious thing to recognize that the world is not going to come to an end even when you come to an end. So the days of Jacob’s sojourn here on earth were almost over. Before he died he wanted to pass on the blessings of this faithful, shepherding, redeeming God to his children.
I want us to understand that this same blessing belongs to US also, since we are the spiritual descendants of Jacob. From where we stand, we see the enormity of what it truly cost God to become our redeemer. In order to become our Kinsman redeemer, God’s own Son had to enter this world of suffering and evil.
Jesus Christ had to expose Himself to the hatred and hostility that the world has for whatever is good and holy, and to learn, through some pretty harsh experiences, how to trust His Father in the dark times as well as the good times. Jesus received a body that could experience evil in its most vicious forms.
He had a back that could be scourged and beaten until it was bloody and raw,
- hands and feet of living flesh that could be pierced by rusty nails,
- a side that could be stabbed with a spear,
- and a heart that could be broken by hypocrisy, treachery, ingratitude, faithlessness, and abandonment.
The one who is Himself the Good Shepherd took the place of His naughty sheep in order to rescue us from the dangers of the valley of death’s deep shadow. The faithful Son was abandoned by His own Father in order to buy us back from our bondage and return to us the inheritance that we squandered through our own sin and evil. He redeemed us from all that evil by taking upon Himself the punishment that our sin deserves as its penalty and by covering us with His perfect holiness and purity.
That is the power of the cross: the Son of God who was slain for us now clothes us with His perfect righteousness, thereby accomplishing God’s eternal purpose to have a holy people who would belong to Him forever.
Do you now see the power of Jacob’s last testament? Here was a man who was ready to die because he understood the true meaning of his life and knew personally the one who had promised to be with him in life and in death. The shepherd who had walked with him all the days of his life would not abandon him now that he was dying. The redeemer who had purchased him from his bondage to sin and death would not give up ownership of his soul to the last enemy - death itself! The promise that God gave him in his youth was always deeper and richer than just giving Jacob a people and a land.
It was a promise to be Jacob’s guide until death and his God forever (Ps. 48:14). God undertook to prepare a feast for Jacob and to welcome him to dwell in His house forever (Ps. 23:6).
We are all dying. None of us knows how long we have to live or when God will call us to meet Him. Are you ready to meet this God, as Jacob was? Do you have a similar testimony that God is your Shepherd and Redeemer? Maybe today is the day that He is calling you to enter into a relationship with Him as your Shepherd and King?
If you are already trusting in this God, remember today that He is your faithful shepherd who will redeem all of your evil. That means that all of the evil circumstances in your life right now - the sins that others are committing against you, or the sins that you have committed that are bearing bitter fruit, or those out-of-control aspects of your life that are so painful - are under His sovereign control and will not be wasted. Yes, they really are evil. We don’t have to pretend that these things in our life are anything other than that.
We live in an evil and broken world. However, as the cross and the resurrection of Jesus shows us, we serve a God who regularly brings glorious light out of the deepest darkness, beautiful good out of the ugliest evil, perfect healing out of painful sickness, and resurrection life out of death itself.
THIS is the faithful, shepherding God who has committed Himself to lead you until the day of your death and then welcome you into a glorious inheritance in Christ, in which all of the evil of your life will be beautifully and wondrously redeemed!
Blessings to you all.