Jacob, father of Joseph, is a complainer, a deceiver… In today’s Bible reading, arrangements are made for Joseph’s family to relocate to Egypt in Goshen, the lower part of the Nile… When Pharaoh first meets Jacob, he asks a simple question: “How old are you?” (Gen. 47:8). Jacob’s answer is a tad funny, Gen. 47:9 READ. The series is about Joseph, but Jacob, Joseph’s father, is an integral part of the story, so today we pause and look at Jacob…
I found a chart that does a marvelous job of summarizing Jacob’s life (back of handout). … his life is a rollercoaster…(anyone relate?)… The story begins Gen. 25, 27, he is born 2nd and spends much of his life aspiring to be #1… the first story about Jacob: he steels the birthright of his brother, deceives his father, and he runs away… descent…
He’s called to return and reconcile with Esau… On the journey home another high point… in one of the craziest stories of the Bible, at Peniel, he meets a divine being and wrestles with God/angel. Imagine wrestling to try and “win” a free gift of God to bless him…
Jacob reconciles with Esau… all is well, he’s found peace, but not for long… his daughter is raped and there are more family problems…
One more time, God calls him to return to Bethel in Gen. 35 (the third pinnacle.) Maybe this time he will find peace. … Jacobs quest for peace is short-lived: Rachel dies in child-birth, the family is dysfunctional with Joseph as the favorite child and the brothers conspire to sell Joseph as a slave… The messages this Summer are in this 4th downward spiral. It’s been a roller coaster for Jacob ~ mountain top moments of hope, but more often heartache, deception, tension, fighting, tragedy. He wants peace, wholeness, but broken dreams, a broken family, are overwhelming…Jacob does not expect to find peace. His only answer///// death….
When Jacob is first told Joseph is dead, the Bible says, READ Gen. 37:35.
When famine hits the land, the brothers go to Egypt to get grain from Joseph. Joseph, who has not yet revealed himself, sends the brothers back with instructions to not return without Benjamin, Jacob responds, READ Gen. 42:38.
After Jacob is told Joseph is alive, his first response: he’s ready to die: READ Gen. 45:28. When reconciled with Joseph his response: READ Gen. 46:30. Peace has been so elusive in Jacob’s life all he seems to think about is death. Now that he has a moment of peace, he’s ready to die before peace flies away again! Death is not a godly way of thinking. The Lord Jesus Christ wants us to seek LIFE!
My first funeral was a young man in Oakland, CA that died on a motorcycle. The viewing was in S.F. His friend rode with me to Oakland to go to the funeral. In the middle of the Bay Bridge I heard the “real” story ~~ They’d been riding motorcycles all day. The man that died dropped off his girlfriend and said, “I’ve got a girlfriend, a full tank of gas, and a beer in my pocket, it’s a good day to die.” The friend thought he was just talking… they rode off and the man sped up on a long curve he knew like the back of his hand. It wasn’t an accident. The man found a moment of peace. He didn’t want to lose it… There are better ways to overcome brokenness. The peace of God is a promise that can transform your life/heart.
Back to Gen. 47:9… Jacob is in Egypt. He’s on top of a mountain again! He has the promise of land, reconciled with his family, food, rest…But Jacob has a hard time accepting peace after a roller coaster life. How old are you Jacob?, Pharaoh asks: READ Gen. 47:9. It’s time to get off the pity pot Jacob! It’s time to quit feeling sorry for yourself, Carl! (Your name inserted?) We can understand Jacob looking at the cup as half empty, but God wants more…He wants peace and joy. He wants us to overcome the broken dreams and discover restoration and hope. I love one of the memory verses the kids learned at five day club this past week: READ John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you.”
Gen. 47:9 is a turning point. Jacob acts like he wants to die, but he lives 17 more years. More amazing, no more complaints. It’s like Jacob finally sees the wisdom of Lou Holtz: “Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”
Jacob lives out the last chapter of his life in peace. (Side note: Jacob may not realize the significance, but in the historical arc of the Bible leading us to the life of Jesus Christ, one of the first and clearest prophecies foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ is found on the lips of Jacob. READ Gen. 49:10.) The last chapter of Jacobs life is one of peace and contentment. Remarkably, he’s in Egypt, away from the promised land…. But he’s with his family. He has all his needs met. He’s found peace. He witnesses the nation of Israel begin to grow… Jacob’s life is one of overcoming broken dreams, disappointments. Jacobs roller coaster life ends well. How do you overcome broken dreams and find peace?
1. Be patient. God’s promises unfold according to God’s timetable, not ours. 99% of our problems are impatience with God. We want peace and we want it now. The crazy thing is that it’s the impatience that steals the peace… One person calculated that between the time God first promised Abraham that he would make him into a great nation and bless all nations, and today’s scripture, it’s been 215 years. In the middle of Gen. 46 you’ll find a list of all the people who went to Egypt with Jacob. 70 people total (Gen. 46:27). That’s it. A great nation, it’s been 215 years, and only 70 people! There are more Larson’s than that!
How to overcome broken dreams: let God unfold plans of your life in his timing.
2. Let God be creative. The fulfillment of God’s promises almost always looks different from our expectations. Jacob finding peace in Egypt is astounding… those that think there is one way for God to bless them are less likely to have peace…
3. Quit thinking about death so much! Discipline yourself to think LIFE! (Bible reading, prayer, church, small groups, Christian fellowship, etc.) My fear for our world is that we are developing a culture of death. Too much darkness, gloom, thinking nothing good ever happens to me… This is not God’s design… Think life, abundance. (READ verses of life, abundance) We need to be real to the present day tragedies all around, yet we are still called to lift up our eyes to the Lord… one of the great images of the Christian life in the Bible is Peter singing in prison…
4. Make lemonade out of lemons…. The truth about Goshen: It is not the “best” land in the eyes of the Egyptians.… READ Gen. 46:33-34. Goshen is given to Israel and his descendants because that’s where the riff raff hang out ~ the dirty shepherds. to the credit of Joseph and his brothers, they do not hide their occupation. READ Gen. 47:3-6…. Israel loves Goshen, but the Egypians think Goshen is for losers… This is how I know Jacob is at last broken. He’s willing to take the leftovers, that which Pharaoh rejects. How different from the first story of Jacob when he refused to be 2nd place and stole his brothers blessing as the #1 son. Whatever the Lord gives you, take it. In God’s world, there is no second place!
Goshen is a land of lemonade. It is lush and perfect for the family of Jacob. It is near Joseph. It keeps the growing nation separate from the Egyptians in culture, in intermarrying… It is the best. Whatever God gives you is the BEST! (optional story of going to Bloomington, Ill. “I want to deliver pizza like my daddy”)
5. A new perspective: Life is a Pilgrimage. We tend to think of life as attaining a goal, a high paying job, early retirement to travel, a certain number of people in church. Listen again to Jacob’s response to Pharaoh when he asks about his age: READ Gen. 47:9. Pilgrimage. That’s what the chart depicts. You overcome broken dreams by reframing your mind to what it means to be a Christian/a believer in God. Life is not about what we accomplish, but it is a journey with God/towards God… There is something about our lives on earth being a pilgrimage… our walk with the Lord is what’s most important… this is a different way of thinking. I think of my friend who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, rediscovered God, and declared himself to more alive than ever. I think of my friend that travelled across the county, found herself in the completely foreign place named Sumas, Washington, and is now more alive with God than she’s ever known before.
Gen. 47:9 sounds like Jacob is complaining that he has not lived as long as his forefathers, and his life has been one difficulty after another. Look at the chart ~~ it has been rough, much of it his own decisions but not all! Jacob also includes a fascinating word in his response –pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is literally a journey through a foreign land in order to get to special place, but at its heart a pilgrimage is a way of thinking. We are told in Hebrews 11:13-16 that those in the O.T. who had great faith “admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Pilgrims are headed home with God. Our pilgrimage begins in this world and culminates in eternal life with the Lord. By Jacob using the word pilgrimage, he is looking back and casting a spiritual reality to his life journey: how faithful is he to God along the path.
Pilgrimage is not a word we normally use in our modern vocabulary, but it is a great word, a great thought. Pilgrimage implies purpose as always looking ahead, always striving for more of God… The fact that Jacob kept having mountain top experiences as he recommitted his life to God and God affirmed his commitment to Jacob shows that he is struggling constantly with God. That’s part of the pilgrimage. Jacob makes crazy decisions, unfair tragedy visits his life, but he keeps going towards God, towards wholeness, towards peace… in Goshen he is given 17 more years of life and not a single complaint is recorded.
How to overcome broken dreams? Life is hard with broken health, broken relationships, shattered dreams.
Be patient. As the old pin on button used to say in an evangelistic tool when I was a kid, PBPGINFWMY. The idea was for people to see it and ask what it meant which gave the wearer the opportunity to testify: Please Be Patient, God is Not Finished With Me Yet.
Let God be creative. God is the author of our lives, the story he writes will be better than the one we write for ourselves.
Think about LIFE, not death.
Make lemonade out of lemons.
Change your perspective: The most meaning is not found in worldly accomplishments, but Life is a pilgrimage with God.