Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?”
And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty 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 pilgrimage.’ So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.” – Genesis 47.7-10
“How old are you?”
This can be a penetrating question if we divest it of all the baggage that comes with it in our present-day context. Old age is rarely respected in our climate. But it should be. It is akin to pointing out the maturity and the advancement of an elderly person. We see the wisdom in them as time flies. How much water has gone under the bridge? How much time do we ourselves have left? How can we invest in someone who is just beginning or in the prime of life? Can we help them avoid pitfalls, temptation, and adversity that we experienced? The discouragement and disappointment faced by those more advanced in years become very instructive for the young who will listen. And the young are still listening.
Jacob blesses Pharaoh and leaves his presence (47.10). Jacob was thankful for what Pharaoh and his kingdom had done to help his family. Certainly, this would leave an impression upon Pharaoh. Even as it should leave an impression upon us as a church. Many churches are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but they can sometimes be overbearing and belligerent with that gospel. Other times, they back away from the gospel and compromise the message of Christ crucified.
Our church must make disciples of all the nations, but we must do so gently, persuasively, lovingly, and compassionately in the years ahead. We will surely be a sweet-smelling fragrance to those who will receive the gospel but a foul, pungent, offensive odor to those who don’t.
Unfortunately, sometimes that foul smell is something for which we are all responsible. It has nothing to do with the offense of the gospel and everything to do with the offense of its messengers. We need the challenge of God’s Word to make the gospel the offense and not the messenger, the local church here in Antioch. I love people too much to needlessly drive them away from us.
How old are you, Heritage Baptist Church? What a great question when we consider the end of our lives as individuals. There remains a promise of entering the rest Christ secured for us. The gospel was preached to us as well as to them, but they did not profit from it. It was not mixed with faith. Yet a rest remains. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4.16). Let us do this together as a church.
Jacob did not attain to the years of his fathers. We may not attain to the years of 200-year-old historic churches. We have not by any means attained to the resurrection from the dead. Yet we press on, laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of us. As a church, we shouldn’t count ourselves to have apprehended anything. Instead, we will forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead. Press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
How old are you, Heritage Baptist Church? That is, how mature have we become? As many of us as are mature, let us have this mind of pressing on toward the goal. If in anything we think otherwise, God will reveal even this to us. To the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind (see Philippians 3.11 ff.).
Jacob lived 17 additional years in Egypt. The time was drawing near for his life to end. He requested that Joseph bury him in the Promised Land. Joseph promised he would do as requested by his father. The days of Jacob’s pilgrimage total 147 years. There is no reason to believe that his outlook had changed from the day they totaled 130.
Genesis will end with death of Joseph. Jacob’s family will become a nation within the incubator called Egypt. Israel will have spent over 400 years in Egypt. Exodus 12.37 tells us that when this 430-year period ends, the 70 become 600,000 men besides the women and children. Time flies.
The end is coming for one generation in our church as a previous one is already moving toward its reward. Will another rise up? I believe it will. Time flies, Heritage Baptist Church. Let us endeavor to press on in keeping the Great Commands of our Savior so that we might fulfill His Great Commission. Let’s pass that responsibility to the next generation with eager hope for the Lord Jesus to return and bring us to be with Him!