The End of an Era – Chapter 49-50

The end of an era, a lifetime, invites reflection.

Genesis 49-50 is the end of Jacob’s life. As he reflects over each son, he thinks about their lives and what would be appropriate to say. Sometimes it’s uplifting and sometimes it’s shocking.

Again, I cannot help but imagine the boys surrounding their father’s bed, eager to hear of wealth and fame. Instead, one was called “unstable,” another a “donkey,” another a “serpent,” another a “wolf” and two were “cursed” rather than blessed. One son never received land in the “promised land while the linage of Jacob to Jesus would go through Judah, the fourth son. And Joseph got a double inheritance since both of his sons were considered Jacob’s sons, despite their Egyptian heritage. The list goes on…

Not at all what the boys were expecting.

And then Jacob died. His family and Egypt mourned him for a length of time fitting a Pharoah. Then there was another grand parade back to Canaan to fulfill Jacob’s request to be buried in Canaan.

Then they all came back to Egypt to their homes, the brothers herding sheep and Joseph ruling. The brothers become nervous. What if Joseph only forgave them because his father was alive? 

So they sent a message to see if Joseph was going to take revenge. It may have also been tempting for Joseph to take revenge as the years went by, but he held firm to his relationship with God and continued to forgive. Then Joseph died, putting a seal on the end of this era.

What do I take away from these chapters?

First, what we do during our lives is remembered by others. Jacob (his earthly name) knew the character of each of his sons. It came out in his final words to them and was fulfilled throughout history of earthly nation of Israel.

Second, God’s forgiveness is eternal, going beyond history. Joseph forgave his brothers, continued to forgive his brothers. and never went back on his word. And even when the nation of Israel turned away from God, he never turned his back on them, giving them opportunity after opportunity to return to his love and blessing.

And it’s true for us – our character is built on the sum of our actions just as our actions come out of our character. That’s how people will remember us.

And it’s true for God – his forgiveness does not dissolve with circumstances. What he forgives, stays forgiven. Even when we sin, he gives us opportunity to confess and enjoy a personal relationship with him…

The relationship is what he desired when he created us, “In the beginning…”     

Peace Genesis 47-48

But God wanted Jacob around a little longer, so he didn’t die after embracing Joseph. Instead, he settled in the land of Goshen. 

Once there, Jacob first experienced God keeping his nation separate from Egyptians. Egyptians despised shepherds, so voluntarily they wouldn’t have anything to do with them.

Second, Jacob experienced meeting Pharaoh himself. Again, can you picture the encounter? Joseph himself brought Jacob to Pharoah, maybe in his fancy chariot or a parade into the city? Can you imagine Jacob’s eyes as he beheld great monuments being built? Huge storehouses of food? The wealth of the Pharaohs?

And Jacob was Joseph’s father. Earlier we heard Pharaoh saw Joseph was a father-figure, so this was like meeting a long-lost grandfather to him, a piece of who Joseph was.

The first question from Pharoah was about how old Jacob was. Jacob humbly responded, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.”

Jacob knew what he was not. He was not a saint and fell sort of his ancestors. And he wasn’t afraid to admit it.

And then Jacob, after all the grandeur or Egypt he had seen, went on to bless Pharaoh. Can you imagine it? The wandering shepherd blessing the Pharaoh? I would think it came out of gratitude for all Pharoah had done for Joseph, and some out of protocol for all Pharoah had given his family, but I also believe God gave him the freedom to bless Pharaoh for believing Joseph about the interpretation of the dream and providing for not only Egypt but surrounding nations. Pharoah had also recognized God’s power in Joseph.

God does bless unbelieving nations, I believe, to bring them to himself. Blessings also reveal sin. It was also part of the “promise” to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their nation would bless other nations.

Third, by living longer, Jacob was able to bless Joseph and his children. In Chapter 47, we see the precious scene of Joseph with his boys and his ailing father. Thinking Jacob was making a mistake in the placement of hands, he corrected him, but Joseph should have known there are no mistakes in God’s economy.

What God does, God means to do.

So in the midst of famine, Jacob and his family experienced peace. Joseph continued to be successful on Pharaoh’s behalf, bringing the Egyptian people and their land under Pharaoh’s domain. 

But Israel, the first time they are called by their national name, “Settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.

Job – How the Story Ends – Part 2

Now we get to the ending we all remember – Job’s friends are chastised, and he is blessed.

First, God is angry: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right as my servant Job has.” Whereas they were trying to get Job to “fix it,” God wanted relationship.

But God also gave them a way out as he always gives us a way out: “Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.”

Their way out included a hefty fine as I’m sure those bulls and rams were not cheap. It was a foreshadowing of the sacrifice God would make in shedding the blood of his son. And it also included Job forgiving them, praying for them. It must have been humbling for them to go him and ask him to pray, admiting Job was right.

But I’m left wondering…what happened to Elihu, the youngster who came out of nowhere to deliver the last speech? He’s not mentioned. Impatient, maybe he didn’t stay around to hear from God. Maybe God had another plan to deal with him? We don’t know…

But then we get to the good part: “the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave job twice as much as he had before. “ Family came around him and ate with him, showed him sympathy and comforted him, giving him money and rings of gold. 

“God blessed the latter days of Job more than the beginning.” His flocks and herds increased, he had sons and daughters (his wife is not mentioned, but I assume she was a part of this). I’m sure the pain of loosing his first batch of sons and daughters never totally went away, but he had a new hope of legacy.

And just a side note, verse 15 is interesting, “And their father gave them (his daughters) an inheritance among their brothers.” This seems to be an extension of Job’s blessing as Job broke tradition and spread his blessing among his children.

“And Job died, an old man, and full of days.”

Whew, we made it to the end! I’m sure Job was “full” in so many ways. Full of memories, full of lessons learned, full of relationships, full of thankfulness, full of most everything! Most of all, God filled him with a relationship to himself. Job completed his purpose on earth, to be a model to us during unjust suffering, demonstrating to us how to view God’s blessings versus a relationship with him.

Thank you, Job.