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THE DEATH OF A PILGRIM
Intro: In these verses, we are called to the bedside of old Jacob. Jacob is a man who has lived a hard life. When Jacob went before Pharaoh, he told the Egyptian king that his life had been very difficult, Gen. 46:9. Jacob certainly has experienced many tragic and painful turns in the road of his life.
He had been forced to leave his home when he was a young man because of trouble between him and his father and brother. He had been deceived by his own uncle for many years. He had worked hard to build a small fortune and raise a family during some very tough times. His beloved wife Rachel died in childbirth. His favorite son Joseph was taken from him and Jacob was led to believe that he was dead for over twenty years. His oldest son Rueben committed adultery with one of Jacob’s wives. Most of his twelve sons were evil men, who were guilty of many sins including adultery, murder and lying to their father.
Now, Jacob is nearing the end of his earthly pilgrimage. He had been uprooted from his home in Canaan and transported to a new home in Egypt. As Jacob nears the end of his journey, we are invited to his beside as he speaks to Joseph and shares with him his final wishes. I am interested in the content of their conversation.
As we listen in on this conversation between Jacob and Joseph, we see more than just an intimate encounter between a father and a son. We are actually given a small glimpse into life itself. I want to share with you a few simple thoughts that present themselves in these verses. There is A Word About Blessings; A Word About Brevity and A Word About Burying. I want to share those thoughts as we look in on The Death Of A Pilgrim.
I. A WORD ABOUT BLESSINGS
· Verse 27 gives us a brief catalog of the blessings of Jacob’s life. Surely Jacob thought that his life would end in tragedy. That seems to be what he was thinking after Joseph was presumed dead, Gen. 37:35.
But, now those hard times seem like a distant nightmare. Jacob and Joseph have been reunited and Jacob is once again enjoying the blessings of the Lord. This verse mentions a few of those.
When this verse says they “grew, and multiplied exceedingly”, it refers to both their physical and material blessings. Their flocks and herds increased. Their numbers also increased. They entered the country with just seventy souls, Gen. 46:27. When they left 400 years later, their numbers had grown to as many as a few million. The blessings of the Lord in the life of Jacob and his family were many.
· As I thought about this, I was reminded of the need to catalog my own blessings. I think it does us good from time to time to take and inventory of the blessings of the Lord in our lives. Have you thought about it lately? Let’s take just a moment to look at what we have and thank God for it. Family, Friends, Finances, Church, Bible, Jesus, Salvation, and likewise.
· Sometimes, we look at our lives and think that we missed out on the blessings that others enjoy. We think our lot is harsh and hard, but I would suggest that God has been very good to every one of us, and we would see that, if we would only take the time to inventory the good things God has done for us!
· It would do us good to consider how we have been blessed today and to offer up praises to the Lord for His grace and goodness in our lives.
I, for one, have been blessed far more than I ever deserved. God has been good to me and I want to give Him the glory and praise that He deserves.
II. A WORD ABOUT BREVITY
· We are told that the years of Jacob’s life were a “hundred forty and seven years”. 147 years! I can almost guarantee you that no here will live to be that age! I can also guarantee you that Jacob looked at his own life and thought the years had passed by way too fast, Gen. 47:9. The word “few” in that verse means “too little; short; not nearly enough.” After living far longer than any of us will ever live, Jacob believed that his life had ended way too soon.
· That is how this life is. It is over in just a short time. Of course, that is what the Bible teaches. (Ill. James 4:12-17; Job 7:6-7; 9:25-26; 14:1-2; Psa. 102:3)
· We need to remember that death is coming for all of us. Barring the Rapture, every person in this room will die one day, Heb. 9:27. Disease, tragedy, natural causes, and other evils are all conspiring to take us out of this world. We are all in the process of dying!
(Ill. My visit last week to visit the graves of my grandparents. One died at 68; one at 69; one at 81 and one at 85, but they all died. Just up the hill I have a cousin. She died when she was just under 1 year old. Just across the little dirt drive, is the body of a 16 year old girl who died in a car wreck in 1999. Beside her is the body of her mother who also died in a car wreck just over 1 year ago. One day, I will join them and “be gathered to my fathers.”)
· This life has been described as a brief pause between two long eternities. When this life is over, you and I will leave this world behind. We will go either to Heaven or Hell, depending on what we have done with the Lord Jesus Christ.
What kind of preparations have you made for eternity? When your time comes to leave this world will you be ready to meet that hour? Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior? Remember, what you do with Him in this life, will determine what He does with you in the life to come, 1 John 5:12.
III. A WORD ABOUT BURYING
· As Jacob reaches the end of his own earthly journey, he has a final request. Jacob simply asks his son not to bury him in Egypt. He wants his body taken back to Canaan so that he can be buried in the same place as his fathers, Gen. 23. Joseph promises to carry out his father’s wishes.
This tells me something about this man. He was not asking Joseph to bury him in Canaan out of superstition; he was asking in faith. Jacob died with full assurance that all the promises God has made to Abraham and Isaac would be completely fulfilled. He has lived long enough to see the partial fulfillment of some of those verses; he died believing the rest would one day come to pass.
Therefore, he wants to be buried in the Promised Land. He wants to be buried in that land that will witness the birth of the nation Israel. He wants to be buried in that land that will witness the birth of the Redeemer. He wants to be buried in the land the Lord promised to his fathers and to him.
After he receives Joseph’s promise to carry out his final wishes, Jacob goes to his death knowing that his body will be buried in Canaan, but that he, himself, will be gathered to his fathers. Jacob died knowing that one day a Deliverer would come and rescue the Israelites from Egypt. He also knew that one day God would send a Redeemer Who would deliver lost men and women from the bondage of their sins, Gen. 49:10-15. Jacob died with confidence in the promises he possessed. I am sure he didn’t have all the information he wanted, but he took what he had and he believed God. He believed God for the promises. He believed God for what he could see and he believed God for the things that were yet to appear.
· Isn’t that where we find ourselves today? We look at the blessings of our lives and we are thankful. At least we should be! We look at the brevity of our lives and we are filled with dread of the unknown. But, I tell you that we can go to our own burying with peace in our hearts. We can died with the same confidence that has secured to hopes of countless saints down through the ages, Ill. Psa. 73:23-26; Job 19:25-27.
· There are several truths that offer hope and encouragement to us today.
Ø We have the promise of a resurrection – 1 Thes. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:42-44.
Ø We have the promise of a glorified body - Whether we leave this world through the clods or through the clouds, these bodies will be changed and we will go to be with Him, 1 Cor. 15:47-54.
Ø We have the promise of a heavenly home – John 14:1-3; Rev. 21:4. (Ill The glories of that city!)
Ø We have the promise of a heavenly reunion – Ill. With loved ones and with the Lord, John 14:3; 1 Thes. 4:17.
Ø With these promise, plus many others, we can face our own times of departure with hope and peace.
· Jacob received the promise he was seeking from Joseph. He died with the confidence that his son would honor his legacy. And, he did, Gen. 50:1-13! These verses talk about the fulfillment of Joseph’s promise to his father. In fact, Pharaoh had such respect for Jacob that he ordered a royal funeral for him. Joseph took his father’s body, along with the rulers of the land of Egypt, and they traveled to Canaan to mourn Jacob’s death and to bury his body. The funeral made an impression on the inhabitants of Canaan.
When we leave this world, it will comfort us to know that others are carrying on for the glory of God. I look behind me and I am comforted by what I see!
It is hard when the people we love and admire pass from the scene. When they do, we need to consider the lives they lived and the legacy they left behind. We need to honor that legacy. If we were blessed to have had godly parents and a godly heritage, we should honor their desire that we live a good and godly life.
In this church we are privileged to walk in the footsteps of some godly people who paved the road of holiness for us. They left us a standard of living that we would do well to honor and uphold.
· According to Heb. 11:21; Jacob died worshipping the Lord. When the Bible says “And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head”, it does not mean that he died, but that he worshipped. How could he worship in the face of death? He simply believed the best things in life can only come to us after death! He believed the best days were still to come!
I believe that too. I would like to live my life for the glory of the Lord and leave this world worshipping Him. That can happen; all it takes is faith in the Person, Plans and Promises of God! He has big plans for His people and I am excited by what lies ahead!
Conc: If the Lord has spoken to you about your soul, your blessings or your future, you need to come to Him now.