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October 18, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number. Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.’ ‘I will do as you say,’ he said. ‘Swear to me,’ he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.”—Genesis 47:27-31 (NIV)
A very important, yet sometimes forgotten, aspect of our lives as Christians is the role of celebration in our lives and ministries. The Lord is constantly at work within each of us as we commit ourselves to serving Him in every area of our lives. Therefore, we should often celebrate the smaller victories and successes that constitute the greater work that God is doing!
For instance, I think about my journey through college applications. With every submitted college app, the digital confetti on my computer screen encouraged me to celebrate despite the waiting season to follow. With every acceptance, my friends and family reminded me to thank God for every possible open door. As the time drew nearer and I interviewed for various scholarships at different schools, I praised God in the hallway before He gave me the answer to my prayers! All this to say that in this passage, we see Jacob do the exact same!
The context we find ourselves in for today’s passage involves Joseph’s role during the famine in Egypt. Despite the economic fluctuations and lifestyle changes, the Egyptian people still praised and thanked Joseph. This evidently showcased the favor of God on Joseph for his obedience and integrity! When we get to verse 27, we see the continued favor of God upon Joseph’s people as they settled in Egypt and “increased greatly.” In the midst of this, our eyes turn to Jacob. Although he is nearing the end of his life, the Lord still allowed him to see a glimpse of the family promise He made Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, back in Genesis 17 being fulfilled.
In view of this, we can better understand why Hebrews 11:21 says that “By faith Jacob, when he was dying, . . . worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” It was by faith he was able to celebrate the goodness of God in the middle of his fulfillment of the promise. It was by faith because Jacob knew that, though he would not live to see the ultimate completion of God’s promise for his family and his people, God would still keep His promise in the future. He had such faith because he personally knew his God and had seen His grace and faithfulness time and time again throughout his own life and the life of his ancestors.
I pray we take on the same attitude of worship and celebration as Jacob—that in the midst of our stories and God’s unfinished work, we would be able to praise Him for who He is and for what He has already done, is doing, and will do!
DIG: Where else in the Bible, or in life, have you seen God’s people praise Him before the completion of a promise?
DISCOVER: Where do you need to praise God in the middle of your story?
DO: Praise Him today like Jacob did! Worship Him regardless of any difficult circumstances and celebrate the smaller victories He has written in your story!