Sojourners

“And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence. So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered. Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to their little ones.”—Genesis 47: 10-12 (NASB)

Every gray hair, every wrinkle tells a story. So, when Pharaoh saw Jacob for the first time he just had to ask, “How old are you?!” Jacob’s face wore the narrative of his life, surely ragged and spotted with age; his vision dimming with time. Yet, there in the presence of Pharaoh, Jacob stood with a vision bigger than Egypt.

Could Jacob have imagined, dared to hope that his life would end so well? Reunited with a son he long thought was dead, settled in the knowledge his family was secure. The words he spoke to Pharaoh were few, much as he described his days to be. But they were full in the understanding of the pilgrimage God had afforded him and in the man God wanted him to be.

From the moment of his birth, Jacob’s sole pursuit was to obtain more. He conspired with his mother, lied to his father, stole from his brother, and reaped what he sowed. He loved, he lost, and he mourned at the outcome. Jacob described his years as few and unpleasant. What could he offer to the most powerful man in the ancient world, the man who saw himself as a god? Jacob offered instruction and a blessing.

The instruction was that he regarded his days as few compared to the eternity that awaited him. They were unpleasant days, exposing every blemish. While grateful for Pharaoh’s provision, Jacob was adamant he was merely a sojourner in this life—it was not his true home. Even his dim eyes kept in clear focus his eternal home to come. Perhaps that was the basis of the blessing he offered to Pharaoh—the faith he had in the promises of God.

We can offer that blessing to anyone who asks about our life. Our testimony may include darkness and deeds we’d rather forget; but ultimately, we proclaim that we, like Jacob and Abraham, are “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10 NASB). A home prepared by Jesus, upon whom no blemish or wrinkle exists (Ephesians 5:27).

As a young man, Jacob strived for more. Later in life his perspective changed, and now his inheritance is realized—he is home. He had a sense of what Jesus told His disciples: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . but in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-21).

May the “more” we strive to obtain stay focused on the city to come with a commitment to honor the opportunities of our pilgrimage here.

DIG: Where did Jacob’s hope lie?

DISCOVER: Consider the pilgrimage you are on. Observe the things around you. How does anything compare with the kingdom of God? Read Matthew 6:19-21.

DO: Like Moses and the Psalmist, ask God to teach you to number your days and measure their length so you may present to Him a heart of wisdom (Psalm 39:4; 90:12).