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October 18, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.’”—Genesis 48:11 (NIV)
When I was in middle school, my family took a trip to visit the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. One of my favorite experiences was hiking just a little over one mile to Laurel Falls—a beautiful 80-foot waterfall on Cove Mountain. Although a fairly short hike, the sharp curves, jagged rocks, narrow path, and bear warning signs made the process a little tiresome and frightening. However, these feelings couldn’t compare to the wonder, excitement, and awe I felt upon arriving at the site!
I can’t help but reminisce on this experience as I read today’s passage. After a much longer life expedition, consisting of many unexpected twists and turns, Jacob also can’t help but ponder the grace and faithfulness of God through his journey. The same feeling of awe and wonder that I felt upon arriving at the falls is seen in Jacob’s arrival at the end of his life as he reflects on God’s faithfulness. Additionally, we see Jacob’s life come full circle in this moment as he now passes on the blessing, which he once received deceitfully from his father, to his grandsons with grace and obedience.
Despite Jacob’s many downfalls, the Lord never gave up on him! Through Jacob’s life, we can see that the promise Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6 (NIV) has always been a promise of God to His beloved: “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” At the end of Jacob’s life, we can clearly see how his story reflects the same redemption we receive upon salvation!
Throughout this chapter and the rest of Genesis, Jacob is referred to as “Israel.” This name God gave him back in Genesis 32 reflected the promise of becoming a renewed person in the eyes of God. Although Jacob continued to make mistakes, God kept His promise of redemption by allowing him to share the blessing with his beloved sons and grandsons, to be remembered as a father of the faith, and to be known by his redeemed name: Israel.
As we reflect on today’s passage, we can clearly see that the same God who acted faithfully and graciously on Jacob’s behalf, who completed the work within him, and who gave him a new name is the same God who works mightily and mercifully on our behalf! May we respond with an overwhelming awe and a desire to bless those around us with the message of God’s love in the same way Israel responded!
DIG: How does your life relate to that of Jacob? Where have you fallen short?
DISCOVER: How has God redeemed you of your past downfalls? How can you share this with others?
DO: Find a unique way to express your gratitude to God for His redemption or bless someone with your story about His faithfulness!